Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Herbs and Their Uses for Your Chickens' Health

By Vicki –

(Photo courtesy of S. Strantz)

Fresh or dried herbs in your nesting boxes not only work as insecticides, but also have anti-bacterial properties, work as rodent control and stress relievers. They will help a laying hen feel safe and relaxed while she is sitting, calm a broody hen, and repel rodents, flies and other parasites. Plus they look so pretty! Sprinkled over feed, certain herbs can act as natural wormers, anti-parasitics, and laying stimulants.  

(Photo courtesy of S. Strantz)

I also want to add that all citrus peels… lemons, oranges… etc… act as an insecticide.

Here is a basic listing of herbs and their uses for chickens:

Used for mucus membrane health and has antibacterial properties
Repels insects and used as a sedative/relaxant
Helps keep fungus at bay, antioxidant properties, bone health, high in Vitamin A for eye health and Vitamin K for blood clotting
Respiratory health, antioxidant properties, sedative/relaxant
Enhances reproductive health (egg laying)
Enhances reproductive health (egg laying) / helps control parasites
Smells wonderful, lowers stress, circulatory health, , insect repellant
Lemon Balm
Smells nice in the coop, lowers stress, antibacterial, repels rodents
Enhances reproductive health (egg laying)
Enhances reproductive health (egg laying)
Used in nest/coop -(all kinds) - insecticide and rodent repellent
Enhances reproductive health (egg laying), antiseptic, antibiotic, insecticide, de-wormer
Contains antibiotic properties which may help prevent avian flu, blackhead, coccidia, e-coli, infectious bronchitis and salmonella
Promotes circulatory system development, enhances reproductive health (egg laying), rich in vitamins
helps control parasites, insect repellant,
Pineapple Sage
Promotes nervous system health, smells wonderful
Rose Petals
Highly aromatic, high in Vitamin C
Pain relief, respiratory health, insect repellant
Antioxidant, helps control parasites,
Antiseptic, insecticide, stimulates nervous system, circulatory and brain functions
Antioxidant properties
Promotes respiratory health,  antioxidant, has antibacterial propertieshelps control parasites

- Vicki

For more on herbs, check out these two articles at  
Fresh Eggs Daily:

Benefits of Herbs
Nesting Box Herbs - Chicken Aromatherapy



  1. Excellent information. I was just going to look for information on adding herbs to the nesting boxes in the new coop.

    For the ones that you feed them, have you added it to the fermented feed and how would that affect it? I was thinking about buying dried bulk herbs from WinCo Foods and adding it. From my understanding, it should be ok, but I wanted to check and make sure first. You've been my go-to source on several occasions!

    Thank you for everything.

    1. Scott - of course fresh is best, but dried will work too. We recommend sprinkling the herbs on the fermented feed right before serving. We can't vouch for their effectiveness if they are allowed to ferment with the feed.
      Have a great day -

    2. I have raised chickens in the past. Never used any of this and had healthy, happy chickens. Free range is best. They them scratch around for bugs and such. A healthy diet of scratch and some raw veggies doesn't hurt either. Green leafy veggies are best. But chickens like to hunt around for bugs and seeds from other plants. I never had a sick hen. One exception was when a dog had attacked one mother hen. I paid over $30.00 to have her wounds cleaned and stitched and some medication for shock, pain, and antibiotic. She lived. Didn't lay for about a year. Shock will do that to the hens.

    3. Is there a danger that they will eat too much of the herbs. I raise most if these listed . How do we know how much of each to add to the nesting boxes. Have lOTS of lemon balm I'd like to put in each box.

    4. Nancy - unless chickens are starving, they won't eat too much of anything that is not good for them. I wouldn't worry about it unless they stopped laying in those nest boxes... yet I doubt that would be a problem. What lucky chickens to have so many lovely fresh herbs in their boxes!

  2. I have only had chickens for a few months. This information is wonderful! Thank you very much!

  3. Thanks so much for that fantastic list! I always wanted to use more herbs in my chicken house but tend to forget about it usually. But this year I finally have some dry space where I can dry big bunches of herbs (lemon balm, mint, oregano, lavender, rosmary, comfrey, etc.), so I will do this and then sprinkle it in their nestboxes, on food and the litter. Which ones would be best in the food?
    Thanks again!!

    1. As for herbs in the food, Garlic, Cayenne & Oregano are great! Check out this article: The Benefits of Garlic, Cayenne and Apple Cider Vinegar for Your Flock. Also, take a peek at our Article Index under "Nutrition" for even more information!

    2. I have heaps of comfrey, lovage and peppermint in the garden. Any idea about the properties regarding to chickens?

    3. Comfrey can be made into a salve that it wonderful on cuts and may even be useful on bald areas on chickens as it stimulates cell regrowth.

      Loveage: "Lovage is a plant. The root and underground stem (rhizome) are used to make medicine." From WebMD.

      It looks like , when taken internally, it would be beneficial for egg production as it helps regulate ovaries, and could be useful for gout. (Give it to any chickens with bumblefoot as it may help reduce the swelling around the affected area.) It is also beneficial for birds with any kind of respiratory illness or issue as it loosens phlegm.

      Peppermint has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is also soothing for birds with respiratory issues.

  4. Do you feed the garlic bulb or the whole plant?

  5. How would you use these herbs to treat an eye infection in 2 week old chicks?

    1. Weak teas made from Eyebright, Calendula, Chamomile and Fennel seeds (and any combination of those, are all very helpful for eye infections. Try it for a few days and look for improvement. If you do NOT see improvement by the 3rd day, you should be able to find an ophthalmological eye ointment at a feed store or even at a drug store.
      Hope they improve quickly for you!

    2. Leigh - would you give the chickens the tea to drink or make a poultice with it?

    3. For an eye infection, the cooled, filtered liquid would be used as an eye wash or poultice. :-)

  6. Are there any herbs that should NOT be given to chickens?

    1. I can't think of any herbs that are safe for humans that are not safe for chickens off the top of my head.

  7. I have only had my chickens for a couple of weeks but have been growing a few of the herbs listed for a few months. Didn't realise the herbs I am growing can be so beneficial to my babies. Thank you for this article has it's provided a lot of useful information x

  8. I have a chick who can't breathe properly and she opens her mouth again and again after 1-2 seconds to breathe. She isn't drinking or eating properly. Please help

    1. If there are other symptoms like mucous coming from the nose and/or eyes, the chick needs to be treated for a respiratory illness... but if there are no other symptoms, it is very likely heart failure.
      Chicks can be born with defective hearts (and other internal defects) and they show up after a few weeks or months. It just happens sometimes, and sadly there is little that can be done.
      I'm very sorry your chick is doing poorly!

    2. Yes, she has mucus coming out of her nose

    3. OK - It's probably MG or MS. Between 75% and 90% of all domestic flocks in the US are carriers of these diseases and stress can cause birds to become symptomatic.

      Since she is apparently in an advanced stage of distress, I'm going to suggest something I normally wouldn't. All-natural remedies are wonderful, but they are best used in the early stages of illness and not as effective when a bird is at the point of gasping for air.

      You need to get a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Tylan injectable seems to be the most highly recommended for respiratory illness. Dosage is usually 1cc for an adult large fowl bird, .5 cc for adolescents and just .1 cc for chicks. If yours is a very small chick, it may be next to impossible to find enough meat to inject into... so use a dropper and get a drop into her beak once a day for 3-5 days or until symptoms clear up. It isn't as effective orally, but it will help quickly.

      Once she starts eating and drinking again, try the herbal respiratory tea found in this article:

      Best wishes!

    4. Respiratory tea link

      Oh - and if you can't find the Tylan (normally sold at most farm stores) try a water soluble broad spectrum antibiotic like Cxytetracycline (sp?).

    5. My other chicks got the same thing too now but they were okay just 3-4 hours ago :( They are adolescents and not very small so where do I inject them? Should i inject them by myself or Can I go to a vet? because I might do something wrong. can they die because of this disease? Can I get this antibiotic from normal medical stores?Sorry for being so annoying.

      Thanks so much for helping me!!
      God bless you!

    6. You can do the vaccines yourself - into the breast or thigh meat. You'll basically just stick the needle in just under the skin and a tiny bit into the meat. Pull back on the syringe plunger just a tiny bit to make sure you're not in a vein and then gently inject about .5 cc.

      If you're really not comfortable injecting them, then give it orally with a dropper. It won't work as quickly, but it will work. And as I said before, you can also get a packet of water soluble tetracycline or another broad spectrum antibiotic made for livestock and put it in the water.

      You do need to go to a farm store for the antibiotics. Also, pick up some VetRx (which is all natural) and rub a little under their wings and around their nostrils... it's kind of like Vick's Vapo-Rub for chickens. :-)

    7. Thanks so much :-)

  9. Please reply as soon as you can

  10. Hi, grow lots of herbs mentioned, can I put fresh into nesting boxes or should they be dried. New to chicken keeping. thank you in advance.

  11. I have an Ameracana hen 2 yrs old sneezing a lot for at least two months. Is there any reccomendations? No one else is showing any issues. Thanks in advance!

    1. It depends - if the bird is sneezing but has no mucous coming from the eyes or nose, chances are she got something lodged in her sinuses. It is not uncommon for this to happen. It can take some time for the body to rid itself of the object.
      On the other hand, if she has mucous coming from the nostrils or bubbly-looking eyes, it could be a disease like mycoplasma gallisepticum or mycoplasma synoviae - and if she hasn't stopped being symptomatic on her own after this amount of time, she may require a broad-spectrum antibiotic like Oxytetracycline for 5 days followed by probiotics the week after.
      Generally I don't like to suggest the use of antibiotics at all, however MG, MS and many other diseases in poultry can be highly contagious, resistant to natural herbal remedies and affect other birds in your flock as well as any new birds you might want to bring in.

  12. Wow!
    This is so helpful!
    I am going to use rosemary in one my hen's food and nestbox cos she is showing signs of pain while laying eggs.
    My other hen is laying shell-less eggs , so I'm trying some garlic and other herbs for her.
    Thanks again for this helpful list!
    ~ Helen Cryestira Viorel

  13. is there a certain way i could ad this to my chicks water to help keep them healthy? do i just sprinkle it in there water or brew it like tea and wait for it to cool then give it to them? i have Thyme and dill also some oregano to help them.

    1. The best herbs for maintaining health are Oregano and Garlic with a side of Cayenne Pepper. It is best to offer your chickens water without herbs (some may not like the flavor and may avoid drinking as much as they should) but putting the herbs on their food is good... or you can make teas with the herbs and offer it separately for those who want it.

  14. I was wondering if it was safe to give a young chicks(She's about 10 days old) herbs such as thyme, dill, and oregano. I have a chick that is having breathing problems. She wants to lay down a lot instead of playing with her siblings(like her sister) and seems to have labored breathing. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. It is safe to give chicks herbs, but because yours is so young, a tiny amount of antibiotics may be in order.
      ** I must ask **
      Are you in the USA? Did you hatch this chick yourself or did you buy it somewhere?
      There is currently an outbreak of Avian Influenza and it would be very wise to take this chick in to have its beak swabbed for AI. This disease can wipe out a flock very quickly.

      I'm sorry to sound alarmist, and chances are it is something else, but when giving information on a public site like this, I would be remiss to fail to bring this up.

      AI has been identified in TN and possibly in AL and GA.
      Just be aware... and best of luck with your chick. A bit of a product called Vet Rx on the beak can also be soothing.

    2. Thank you very much, I do live in the untied states, and I bought the chick at en event, but the chicks shows no signs of Avian Influenza, and if she did have it, I'm almost certain she would have pasted by now, and all her young flock mates would have had shown signs by know. I am so happy to know I can give my chick herbs, thank you.


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