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Herbs for Better Chicken Health

Fresh Eggs DailyOne of the main reasons I started raising chickens was to provide a healthy, economical food source for our family that I knew wasn't full of antibiotics or hormones, provides by animals that were loved and cared for in a humane way. So why would I raise a backyard flock and then pump them full of chemical-laden medications, wormers and antibiotics? Instead I have taken the natural route - with great success.

Until recently, I only had my own reading, 'research' and personal results to let me know that I was on to something. But in the last year or so, more and more is coming out in the news about the dangers of overusing antibiotics, in humans and animals, and studies are being done into natural alternatives for chickens.

The New York Times ran a story last year called In Hopes of Healthier Chickens, Farms Turn To Oregano about one chicken farmer using oregano oil and cinnamon as an antibiotic substitute to treat chickens. Sage is being studied to combat Salmonella, as evidenced by this article called Sage Could Protect Young Chickens against Salmonella

I read these studies with great interest because they prove the things that I believe to be true. Herbs tend to work in the bodies of chickens the same way they do in humans and nearly every herbs and edible flower has great health benefits. I dry homegrown herbs, then crush them and add them to our layer feed for added nutrition and immune system benefits. I add fresh herbs and flowers to my coop and nesting boxes to provide some added protection from parasites, insects, rodents and snakes.

Growing herbs is inexpensive, easy and not only useful for cooking for your family, but simple to incorporate into your chicken keeping.  Here are some of my favorites to use with our flock:

Lavender

Lavender - stress reliever, insecticide, increases blood circulation (photo: iStockphoto.com/VeraDo)

Mint - insecticide and rodent repellent

Nasturtium - insecticide, natural wormer, laying stimulant

Oregano - contains antibiotic properties thought to combat coccidia, E.coli,  avian flu and infectious bronchitis

Sage - antioxidant, thought to combat salmonella

Thyme - aids respiratory health, antibaterical and antioxidant

For a more comprehensive list of herbs, their benefits and how I use them in my chicken keeping, please visit The Ultimate Chicken Care Guide on my blog or purchase my new book, Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens...Naturally, newly released by St. Lynn's Press and available online or at your local bookstore.  

nebraskadave
10/18/2013 12:15:47 PM

Lisa, you are truly on to something. I have always believed that nature had a plan for every plant. I'm not sure about what that might be for some of the plants. We (mankind) in our infinite wisdom have moved plants from one area to another and caused great out of control harm. Herbs have long been used for healing and maintaining health. And really why wouldn't it work just as well for animals as people. Animals in the wild already know this and have a natural instinct to eat the right things to help keep them healthy, don't you think? Keep up the research and good herbal health for family and chickens. ***** Have a great herbal day.