Growing medicinal herbs in your garden beds or around your coop for your chickens is an excellent – but often overlooked – idea. Herbs are not only helpful for humans, but they can keep your chicken coop parasite-free while improving the health of your flock.
I always grow dozens of herbs in my garden, but last year was the first year that I grew extra herbs just for my chickens. I noticed an overall healthier flock that seemed to have less stress, and the coop smelled better. I think my ladies love the lavender I laid in their nesting boxes.
Turns out, chickens benefit from herbs as much as humans!
The Benefits of Medicinal Herbs for Chickens
I’m a huge fan of growing herbs, mostly because you can grow them in almost any climate, and they’re easy to raise. My herbs always seem to grow faster and with less fuss than my vegetable plants. Herbs don’t require extra fertilization and adapt to most soils.
Adding herbs to your chickens’ diet is a smart thing to do. Free-range chickens flock to herbs; they know that they’re healthy for them. Animals are incredibly intuitive about what they should and should not eat.
Here are a few benefits of medicinal herbs for chickens.
- Herbs provide your flock with extra vitamins and minerals that they might not receive through their feed. Trace minerals are found in herbs that aren’t included in commercial layer mixes.
- Chickens understand that these herbs can help self-medicate, so if given a chance to free-range, they’ll pick herbs that benefit their health.
- Herbs are aromatic, as much of us know. Pests detest aromatic plants and stay away from these scents. So, if you want a pest-free coop, toss in herbs to the nesting boxes or hang them from the ceiling.
- Giving your chickens herbs can help make them happier. Happier chickens lay more eggs, and that’s a huge win for you.
9 Medicinal Herbs for Chickens
Lavender is my favorite medicinal herb for chickens because of its calming and peaceful properties that even chickens enjoy. If you need to freshen up your coop, you can add bundles of dried lavender throughout.
While you and your chickens might enjoy the scent of lavender, bugs highly dislike it. So, if you have pest issues in your coop, lavender can help.
Another way to use lavender for your chickens is to encourage relaxation. Add twigs into the nesting boxes to keep your chickens calm while they lay eggs. I gave that a try and found that my girls seemed to lay more eggs. It’s not scientifically proven, but it’s worth a try.
You also can add dried lavender into your chickens’ dust bathing areas. Not only can that help get rid of mites that might be on your chickens, but it also aids their circulatory system.
Mint has many uses, and it’s one of the easiest herbs to grow. You should keep it in a container, though, because mint grows aggressively, taking over garden beds.
Besides, your chickens may simply enjoy the flavor of mint, and this herb can help lower body temperature in the summer. Try adding crushed mint leaves into their water containers. The scent also calms and de-stresses your flock.
Another way that you can use mint is to hang dried bundles of mint in your coop. Doing so discourages flies from visiting. You can add dried mint into the nesting boxes or dust bathing areas. Try planting pots of mint outside of your coop to deter rodents.
Basil is one of the most aromatic herbs that you can use for your chickens. Remember, pests don’t like aromatic herbs, so adding basil throughout your chicken coops keeps them away. You can add it to your coop floors or in each nesting box.
Basil can also help with your chickens’ mucous membrane health. Chickens have a vulnerable respiratory system, and it’s paramount that you keep it healthy at all times. Try adding some basil to your chickens’ feeder or waterer.
Many people don’t think of garlic as an herb, but since you buy garlic powder in the herb section at the store, we can run with it. Plus, garlic has plenty of benefits for chickens and humans alike.
Garlic is known for its anti-fungal properties that can get rid of bacteria and fungi that impact your chickens’ health. If you notice that your chickens seem to be sick, you can add minced garlic into their feed or water. Either way, it acts as a natural antibiotic.
Another reason to use garlic is that it acts as a laying stimulant for your chickens. Healthier chickens lay more eggs. Not only can you add garlic into your chickens’ feed, but you can try adding garlic cloves into the nesting boxes to encourage the hens to lay more.
Also, if you notice that your chickens seem to have respiratory issues, garlic can help kick any infections to the curb. Remember, garlic is naturally antibacterial.
Anyone familiar with essential oils knows that oregano is a powerhouse that can be used in many situations. Oregano has antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties that can help support your chickens’ immune and respiratory systems.
One of the best ways to use oregano as a medicinal herb for chickens is by adding fresh leaves to your chicken feed. Another option is to hang dried bunches of the herb in your chicken coop or run. Your chickens can eat the herbs as they run around.
Are you familiar with calendula? It’s sometimes referred to as pot marigold, and it’s one of the most common medicinal herbs used by humans. Calendula can be used by chickens as well, and it grows in most places, especially between vegetables. It’s one of the best companion plants to repel insects.
These flowers are edible for chickens and humans. For example, you can add calendula flowers into your salads. If your chickens eat calendula, you’ll notice a change in the color of their yolks, turning a bright orange color.
Adding calendula into your chicken’s diet is helpful. It helps keep feet and beaks healthy. It also has healing properties, such as being anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. You can use a homemade calendula salve to treat a prolapsed vent or helping an egg bound hen.
You might not be familiar with comfrey, but it’s a medicinal herb that was valued by the ancient Greeks. They used this herb to heal wounds, broken bones, respiratory issues, and gastrointestinal problems.
That’s quite a list of properties attached to comfrey, making it a potent herb for your chickens. You can add comfrey to your chickens’ feed to help encourage better digestion.
Another way to use comfrey is to create an herbal salve with a combination of dried comfrey leaves, olive oil, and beeswax. You can use this salve if your chicken has scrapes and scratches or feathers pulled.
One of the best reasons to use thyme is to help deter bugs that might bother your chicken flock. Bugs dislike the strong scent of thyme, and that’s why you should hang bundles of it in your chicken run or coop. You also can add thyme into nesting boxes to reduce pests.
If you want to add a better scent to your coop, consider using lemon thyme, which has a pleasant citrus scent. Both varieties act as an herbal antibiotic that can help clear up respiratory infections.
If you want to treat respiratory issues, try mixing thyme into your chickens’ feed. Its antibacterial properties can be used for dozens of illnesses.
You might not think of marjoram when you consider medicinal herbs for chickens, but it does have its benefits. The most well-known benefit is that it’s a laying stimulant, so you should put sprigs of marjoram into the nesting boxes or their daily feed.
As for respiratory problems, marjoram is known for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as acting as a decongestant. Add this herb to their water to help with breathing issues as well as to improve blood circulation.
Try Making an Herbal Coop Spray
If you want to tap into any of these medicinal herbs for your chickens, try making an herbal spray. Since most of these herbs are antimicrobial and antiseptic, you can use them to make cleaning solutions.
To make a basic herbal coop spray, you need to pick 2-3 different herbs from the list that you think will be a good mixture. Then, you need:
- Peels from 2-3 oranges or lemons
- 1 1/2 cups of vodka
- 1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
Put everything in a one-quart mason jar, and allow it to sit for 2-4 weeks. Then, strain it into a glass spray bottle. Use it on all of the surfaces of your coop!
The Bottom Line
You can find many ways to use medicinal herbs for chickens to create a happier, healthier flock. Whether you want to kick the pests that are bothering your girls or get rid of respiratory problems, herbs can do that for you and your chickens.