I love to grow herbs; I love their flowers colour, shape and of course their smell. My garden here in Meredith is slowly taking shape and herbs are planted everywhere, as they are so important for our health and wellbeing, but did you know that they are very useful in the chicken house? The great news is most herbs are easy to grow. Most are not finicky about their soil and can live on less water and in full sun more than some other members in the garden.
Many herbs are perennials so once you have the plants established it will continue to provide for years to come. Herbs that are definitely on the “good “list include oregano, thyme, parsley, basil, mint, dill, sage, marjoram, lavender, calendula, comfrey and garlic.
With my chickens I use herbs for three purposes: 1) to ensure the overall health and wellbeing, preventing illness, to repel insects and calm chooks if they are stressed or upset. Fresh or dried herbs in their nesting boxes not only work as insecticides, but also have antibacterial properties. 2) to ward of insects (especially mites) and rodents, 3) for the fragrance. I put herbs in their nesting boxes and scatter some on the floor to repel bugs and help the henhouse smell nicer. I tend to use herbs as chicken aromatherapy by hanging aromatic herbs in bunches around the henhouse, sprinkling into their dust bath or nest box. If you are hanging a bunch of fresh herbs in the house, it’s fine to leave them up indefinitely, but if you are sprinkling them in nest box it is best to remove after a week, so they don’t begin to go mouldy.
Some herbs and their Uses: Basil- Used for mucus membrane health and has antibacterial properties Catnip- Repels insects and used as a sedative/relaxant Dill- Respiratory health, antioxidant properties, sedative/relaxant Fennel- Enhances reproductive health (egg laying) Garlic- Enhances reproductive health (egg laying) / helps control parasites Lavender- Smells wonderful, lowers stress, circulatory health, insect repellent Lemon Balm- Smells nice in the coop, lowers stress, antibacterial, repels rodents Marigold- Enhances reproductive health (egg laying). Marigolds are also edible for both people and chickens, and they’re said to make your chicken’s egg yolks more orange, so if you want, you can offer the petals to your chickens. Mint- Used in nest/coop – (all kinds) – insecticide and rodent repellent. Mint is extraordinarily useful for many things when it comes to your chickens and I always grow lots of it around the garden. Mint is great to put in nesting boxes along with lavender to stimulate laying, and it will create a fresh, good smelling environment for your chickens. Nasturtium- Enhances reproductive health (egg laying), antiseptic, antibiotic, insecticide, de-wormer Parsley- Promotes circulatory system development, enhances reproductive health (egg laying), rich in vitamins Pineapple Sage- Promotes nervous system health, smells wonderful Rosemary- Pain relief, respiratory health, insect repellent Sage- Antioxidant, helps control parasites, Thyme- Promotes respiratory health, antioxidant, has antibacterial properties, helps control parasites
Use of herbs is dependent on treatment required- as strewing, on feed, in water or as a tonic. This is just a brief overview of herb uses, please ensure you have sufficient knowledge before using.
As much as I love using herbs with my chooks, they do not replace good chicken housekeeping, I consider them an additional, non-chemical way to assist in keeping the chook house mite, rodent and parasite free.
They also tie in beautifully with having a flourishing herb garden! So, get out your herb books, or borrow some from the library, and get planning your herb garden because when it comes to our chickens and their eggs, it’s important that we keep our feathery friends happy and healthy.