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The Health Benefits of Herbs for Chickens

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Nearly every culinary herb offers immense health benefits for you AND for your chickens!

Almost every culinary herb (plus spices and many common flowers such as roses, nasturtium, bee balm, etc.) has amazing health benefits for both humans and animals.

I grow a wide assortment of herbs to use in cooking and also in conjunction with raising our chickens and ducks. 

Many are perennials, such as lavender, mint, thyme and pineapple sage, or reseed themselves like dill, parsley and cilantro, so I just add a few more annuals, such as basil, marjoram and sage each spring to achieve a varied selection of herbs.

I put fresh herbs in the nesting boxes to calm setting hens, repel insects and rodents and add an aromatic scent to the chicken coop.

I brew herbal tea for our chicks and ducklings to give them a good start in life and also for our laying hens - warm in the winter, iced in the summer. I put fresh herbs in my brooders for the newly hatched little ones also because the essential oils benefit their growth.

All of the culinary herbs are perfectly safe to use around the chickens, so there's no worry about any being toxic or harmful to them. I just make up a mix of whatever needs to be cut back at any given time. It's a great way to snip and trim your herb plants when they need clipping without anything going to waste.

The Health Benefits of Herbs for Chickens

Here is a quick reference of some of the more common herbs and their specific benefits for us and for chickens:

Common Herbs and their Benefits for Chickens (and People)

Basil - antibacterial, mucus membrane health, repels flies and mosquitoes, high in protein and calcium
Bay Leaves - antiseptic, antioxidant, immune system booster, insect repellent
Bee Balm (bergamot/monarda)- antiseptic, antibacterial, respiratory health, calming

Borage - high in calcium, betacarotenes and niacin, soothing, supports cardiovascular health, antioxidant, mucus membrane health, helps keep bugs out of the garden
Calendula - heals wounds
Catnip - sedative, insect repellent
Cayenne pepper - aids circulation, appetite stimulant, antiseptic, digestive enhancement
Chamomile - kills mites and lice,  repels fleas, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, calming, relaxant, detoxifier
Chervil - heals bruises, thought to prevent illness
Chives - aid digestion, stimulates appetite, good source of iron
Cilantro - antioxidant, fungicide, builds strong bones, high in Vitamin A for vision and Vitamin K for blood clotting
Cinnamon - promotes healthy breathing
Comfrey - pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, heals wounds, promotes muscle, cartilage, and bone growth. Not to be taken internally, but instead used as a poultice or applied externally.
Dandelion - antioxidant, digestive aid, vitamin-rich, high in calcium
Dill - antioxidant, relaxant, respiratory health, stimulates the appetite, high in protein

Echinacea antibacterial, aids in respiratory health and strengthens the immune system, treats wounds, combats staph infections
Fennel - laying stimulant, insect repellent
Garlic - laying stimulant, anti-fungal, benefits circulatory and respiratory system, relieves diarrhea
Ginger - stress reducer (don't laugh, chickens have stress in their lives too at times!), appetite stimulant, anti-oxidant
Goldenseal - Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, useful for treating wounds
Hyssop - improves circulation, heals wounds, detoxifier
 Lavender - stress reliever, increases blood circulation, anti-inflammatory, highly aromatic, insect repellent, improves digestion, antibacterial, antifungal, combats staph infections
Lemon Balm - stress reliever, antibacterial, antiviral, highly aromatic, rodent and insect repellent, calming

Lemon Verbena - aromatic, fly repellent, antiviral properties
Lemon Grass (citronella) - fly repellent
Lovage - aids respiratory and mucus membrane health, blood detoxifier, anti-inflammatory
Marigold - vibrant egg yolks, feet and beaks/bills, insect repellent, antioxidant
Marjoram - laying stimulant, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, improves blood circulation, detoxifier, high in protein and calcium
Mint (all kinds) - insecticide and rodent repellent, antioxidant, aids in respiratory health, digestive aid, lowers body temperature naturally. Feeding results in larger eggs, thicker eggshells and increased egg production.

Nasturtium - laying stimulant, antiseptic, antibiotic, insecticide, wormer
Oregano - combats coccidia, salmonella, infectious bronchitis, avian flue, blackhead and e-coli, strengthens immune system
Parsley - high in vitamins A, B,C calcium and iron, aids in blood vessel development, laying stimulant
Peppermint - anti-parasitic, insect repellent,
Pineapple Sage - aids nervous system, highly aromatic, antiseptic

Plantain - Antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. Prevents infection.
Raspberry Leaf - antioxidant, relaxant, supports healthy reproductive system.
Rose Petals - highly aromatic, high in Vitamin A, B, C and D, antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, detoxifier, good for heart and digestive health, help clear up diarrhea, calming
Rosemary - pain reliever, respiratory health, insect repellent
Sage - antioxidant, anti-parasitic, general health promoter, thought to combat Salmonella and staph infections
Spearmint - antiseptic, insect repellent, stimulates nerve, brain and blood functions
Tarragon - antioxidant, appetite stimulant.

Thyme - aids in respiratory health, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antioxidant, anti-parasitic, stimulant, combats staph infections
Yarrow - antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, clears sinuses and respiratory systems, stress reliever

Herbs are easy to grow, generally not picky about the soil they are grown in and many come back year after year. Think about growing an herb garden for your family - and for your chickens. You'll be glad you did.

This information is excerpted from my book Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens....Naturally and also covered in my book Gardening with Chickens. Buy your copies online from Amazon or anywhere books are sold.

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