Fresh and dried herbs have amazing health and well-being benefits...and also provide a bit of aromatherapy for your chickens.
Freshly laid eggs in a nesting box full of herbs
My coop never smelled so good until I started adding an herbal blend that includes mint, basil, lemon balm, lavender and rose petals in the nesting boxes. The first time I put the herbs into the nesting baskets, one of my hens actually fell asleep after laying her egg. Now that's one relaxed hen !
Buff Grace sitting in the nesting box
Fresh or dried herbs in your nesting boxes not only work as insecticides, but also have anti-bacterial properties, and can act as natural wormers, anti-parasitics, insecticides, rodent control, stress relievers and laying stimulants. They will help a laying hen feel safe and relaxed while she is sitting, and calm a broody hen, as well as repel rodents, flies and other parasites. Plus they look so pretty !
Nesting boxes filled with fresh herbs
They will also benefit newly hatched chicks. Research has shown that wild birds will line their nests with fresh herbs and flowers, especially those that contain essential oils. The newly hatched baby birds benefit by rubbing against these herbs in the first few days of life. Same applies to baby chicks. The chicks will also eat some of the herbs, thereby garnering even more health benefits from them.
Baby chick in a nesting box filled with herbs
Here is a partial list of common herbs and flowers and their beneficial properties:
Basil - antibacterial, mucus membrane health
Catnip - sedative, insecticide
Cilantro - antioxidant, fungicide, builds strong bones, high in Vitamin A for vision and Vitamin K for blood clotting
Dill - antioxidant, relaxant, respiratory health
Fennel -laying stimulant
Garlic - laying stimulant
Lavender - stress reliever, increases blood circulation, highly aromatic, insecticide
Lemon Balm - stress reliever, antibacterial, highly aromatic, rodent repellent
Marigold - laying stimulant
Marjoram - lay stimulant
Mint (all kinds) - insecticide and rodent repellent
Nasturtium - laying stimulant, antiseptic, antibiotic, insecticide, wormer
Oregano - combats coccidia, salmonella, infectious bronchitis, avian flu, blackhead and e-coli
Parsley - high in vitamins, aids in blood vessel development, laying stimulant
Peppermint - anti-parasitic, insecticide
Pineapple Sage - aids nervous system, highly aromatic
Rose Petals - highly aromatic, high in Vitamin C
Rosemary - pain relief, respiratory health, insecticide
Sage - antioxidant, anti-parasitic
Spearmint - antiseptic, insecticide, stimulates nerve, brain and blood functions
Tarragon - antioxidant
Thyme - respiratory health, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-parasitic
Basket of freshly cut herbs
Toss a few handfuls of mixed cut herbs into your nesting boxes and refresh them as needed. Your chickens will benefit from them and you will enjoy how nice your coop smells.
Mint and herbs in the garden
I plant various different types of herbs each spring because of their many uses. In addition to using the herbs for teas and in the nesting boxes, I also enjoy cooking with fresh herbs.
Fresh basil growing in the garden
There's nothing like going out to the garden and picking a handful of fresh basil for pesto, oregano for homemade pizza or mint to garnish a slice of cheesecake.
Freshly cut herbs from the garden
Herbs are easy to grow, do well in most areas of the country and can even be grown on your kitchen windowsill in the winter.
Jars full of dried herbs
I also dry excess herbs at the end of the summer to use in the nesting boxes during the winter.
I hope this has given you some ideas for raising happy, healthy hens....Happy Growing !
Watering nasturtium flowers in the garden