If you’re growing a garden, consider adding herbs for chickens. Their benefits are two-fold, because they’re good for your birds and you! Herbs are notoriously easy to grow and maintain. They’re not picky and can be grown in almost any soil and will adapt to almost any situation (except being waterlogged). You can even add them near your coop and run for easy access for your chickens.
1. Mint for Use in Chicken Runs and Nesting Boxes
Mint is probably the herb that most folks can call to mind easily. It comes in a variety of flavors and fragrances and has unlimited uses. Think candy canes at Christmas courtesy of peppermint or mint juleps during the Kentucky Derby courtesy of spearmint.
It's a perennial that’s easy to grow and given to spreading, so if you don’t want it everywhere, be sure to grow it in a container to keep the plant from spreading roots.
Peppermint is a great herb for chickens in the coop since it can be used as a natural insect and rodent repellant. Hang peppermint to dry in the coop and grow it near the doors and other areas where rodents may enter. You can also add it fresh or dried to the nest boxes. If it’s added fresh, be sure to remove it promptly so it does not rot.
2. Lavender Herbs for Chickens
Bug repellant may not be the first property you associate with lavender, but this lovely scent does repel insects! This is one of the many reasons it’s popular as a sachet for drawers and closets and it can be used the same way in the chicken coop. Grow it decoratively near the coop doors and most folks will just think it’s pretty, but you’ll know better. Lavender can also be added dried or fresh to nest boxes.
3. Oregano Herbs for Chicken Health
While famous for being used in pizzas and spaghetti sauces, oregano has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. It should not be used as a replacement for proper veterinary medicine and poultry hygiene, but having it available in your herbs for chicken's arsenal can be helpful to support a healthy immune system. You may find oregano is the herb your chickens will peck and eat in small quantities daily if they are allowed access to it near their coop and run. Chickens know what’s good for them! FYI – If growing herbs isn’t high on your list, oregano does come in supplements specifically for chickens.
4. Basil Herbs for Chicken Health
Growing basil is a win-win for your chickens and you. Think pesto! High in vitamins and antioxidants, basil can benefit the circulatory and respiratory systems. Basil also contains xanthophyll, a plant pigment that helps keep your chicken’s egg yolks bright orange.
Basil can become leggy and go to seed during the hot summer months. Be sure to keep it pruned back for a full, healthy plant.
5. Rosemary Herbs for Insect Repellant
This piney-scented herb is a native of the Mediterranean. In the southern United States, it can be grown outdoors year-round and in northern areas, it needs to be grown as an annual or moved indoors before the first frost.
Similar to Lavender, rosemary can be used as an insect repellant in the chicken coop. Make an easy coop insect spray with water and rosemary essential oil. Spray it throughout the coop regularly. Insects will hate it, you’ll love the smell. Just be sure not to make the bedding soaking wet, a light mist will do.
6. Sage Herbs for Chickens
In the garden, sage can be a reminder of Thanksgiving, but it’s more than just a holiday herb. It is high in vitamins and antioxidants which help support a healthy immune system and fight off diseases. Sage grows best in a sunny spot and its spring flowers are perfect for early pollinators. Sage can become woody and leggy over time, so be prepared to replace or propagate new plants as needed.
The bottom line is that growing herbs for chickens isn’t a cure-all for pests and illness, but it’s fun and it can certainly take your chicken-keeping to the next level. Do you have an herb garden in your yard? Share in the comments below.