There’s some good reasons why herbs are a good for your hens.
There are great reasons for using herbs to aid chicken health, such as preventing illness in your flock, repel insects and calm your hens if they are stressed or upset. You can also use herbs to promote better laying and to get your hens to lay in their nests, if they don’t already do that.
So, lets get into the best herbs for chickens to eat and how to use them inside your NZ built chicken coops.
Oregano for chickens; a natural antibiotic
Oregano is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat and there’s a couple reasons why. Oregano is well-known for its antibacterial properties, and it’s becoming the darling of the egg industry because studies are showing that it’s more potent than antibiotics for keeping chickens healthy.
Oregano has been used in large farms with hundreds or thousands of chickens, where disease often occurs because of living conditions and overpopulation.
Some farms in New York State found that when they fed oregano and used oregano essential oils that their death rates and illness rates declined quite extensively.
The way I like to offer oregano is in bunches, and the nice thing about this is that the chickens can peck at it, and it keeps them busy and not forming negative behaviours and also keeps them healthy. You can also incorporate it into their feed.
Another great thing to do with oregano is to use it in their nesting boxes, and you can do this by just putting fresh leaves into the boxes themselves.
The hens will love the scent and it will help deter pathogens. Another nice thing is it will help keep the eggs clean because your hens will have a clean place to nest, and the scent will give them a boost and stimulate egg laying.
Remember, happy hens lay better and if they have healthy food in their systems, like oregano, their eggs will be healthier, so offering them a nesting box with oregano leaves will help them lay better eggs. Oregano is really one of the best herbs for chickens to eat.
GET A FREE COPY OF OUR CATALOGUE
Lavender for calming chickens
While lavender has some antibacterial properties, and it is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat, it’s better known and better used as a calming agent.
Lavender is well known to be a way to calm people and animals, and that means chickens too. I like to use lavender in nesting boxes to help create a peaceful environment for chickens to lay in.
While it doesn’t outright promote laying, meaning you can’t feed a hen lavender and out pops an egg, you can create an environment that promotes calmness that will help your hen feel secure enough to lay.
Laying eggs is one of the most vulnerable times for a hen because she needs to stay still, and since hens are a prey animal, in the wild, not moving could mean death. So, a hen that’s stressed or worried is not likely to lay, or at the minimum, she won’t lay a good, healthy egg.
So offering an environment that lets her feel safe is a great way to encourage her to lay, and if she feels secure, she’ll lay better eggs, assuming you’re also feeding her an adequate diet.
You can incorporate it into their feed as well, either fresh or dry, and like I said, it is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat because it does have antibacterial properties, so your hens will derive some benefit from it that way too.
You can also add lavender to cleaners to give them a calming scent your hens will appreciate.
Now when it comes to using herbs in your chicken’s nesting boxes, be sure to change them frequently so they don’t mold or breed other pathogens, especially if you use fresh herbs. Switching them out every other day or so will work well.
The other thing about lavender is it repels insects, and I’ve found it useful against flies, so including it in your nesting box will help repel flies, which of course, spread disease.
Sage for chickens
Like oregano, sage is another herb that has strong antibacterial properties, and is really good for chickens to eat.
Sage, like oregano, is proven to lower the pathogen load in your chickens, and studies have shown that it can decrease the salmonella in your hens system when they eat it.
You can offer it in bunches or incorporate it into your hens feed before mealtime. You can also put it into their water.
I probably would not use it in my chicken coop in place of oregano, but you can use it as a compliment to oregano, and you’ll be offering your chickens a really good powerhouse of natural antibiotics by combining fresh oregano with fresh sage.
When it comes to these two herbs in particular, I prefer offering them fresh over dried and that’s because fresh herbs are always better for their health, they are most potent that way. While they will still get some benefit from dried herbs, the best herbs for chickens to eat are fresh herbs.
Mint to stimulate egg laying in chickens
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.
But what I really like using mint for is as a repellent. On our farm, because we have so many animals, we have a lot of flies, and I can tell you that mint is great for repelling flies. Just hang up bunches around your hen house and the mint smell will deter flies from going near it. This is especially useful in summer when flies are the worst.
Also, rodents hate mint, so adding the mint to your coop will also help keep mice & rats away as well.
Marigold to repel bugs in your chicken coop
So next on our list of the best herbs for chickens to eat are marigolds, and there’s a good reason for that.
Marigolds have long been known to repel insects in gardens, and they’re considered to be one of the best companion plants out there.
So, using them in your chicken coop, in nesting boxes, for example, will help repel bugs and keep them out of your nesting boxes.
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 in their feed.
Another option is to offer the marigolds to your chickens in bunches, you can just hang them in the coop and let them peck at the marigolds at will.