Preview: Using herbs in the chicken coop can provide many benefits to your chickens. As a bonus, you can use many of these same herbs in your kitchen!
Why Would You Want To Use Herbs For Your Chickens?
First, let’s discuss why you would even want to use herbs for your chickens. Herbs can benefit your chickens in many ways. Just as various herbs can promote relaxation (lavender) for humans, they can do the same for chickens.
Other herbs like mint can help deter mice and insects from the coop.
And you can feed some herbs to your chickens to add a beautiful yellow color to their egg yolks or just provide some variation to their diet.
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What Herbs Should You Use In A Chicken Coop?
There are so many herbs that are beneficial to chickens that it was hard to narrow down the list, but these are some of my favorites. Keep in mind that every flock is different and some chickens will enjoy some herbs more than others.
- mint – Mint is my favorite herb to use in the coop. It is a very prolific grower and while it smells nice to us, most rodents and insects don’t like the scent at all. When planting mint for your chickens, plant it in a container. Mint is very invasive and will take over your garden otherwise.
- oregano – Oregano is said to have antibacterial properties. Some studies have shown that it can boost a chicken’s immune system.
- garlic – Many chicken keepers use garlic in their chicken coop. Up to 4 cloves can be added to a gallon of water for help in preventing viruses and bacteria in your flock. However, garlic is not a substitute for proper treatment if you have a sick chicken.
- lavender – Lavender is supposed to be a stress reliver for humans but studies have suggested it can also reduce stress in chickens. And a calm, happy hen will lay more eggs than a stressed chicken.
- calendula – Many chicken keepers add the flowers from calendula (a.k.a pot marigold) to their chicken’s feed. The yellow-orange flowers will impart a beautiful color to the egg yolks from your hens.
Ways to Use Herbs In The Chicken Coop
There are several ways to use herbs in your chicken coop. I listed a few above with the individual herbs, but the methods below can be used with almost any herb.
Hang them in the coop
One easy way is to gather a bunch of fresh herbs, tie them together, and hang them from the rafters of your coop. Depending on the herbs you choose, they can repel insects and help the coop smell nice.
Freshen nest boxes
Herbs can also be used in the nest boxes to provide a relaxing environment for your hens. While you can use fresh or dried, I prefer to use dried herbs in my nesting boxes because I don’t have to worry about fishing them out in a couple days.
Important note: If using fresh herbs in the coop where your chickens can eat them, be sure to remove them within 2 days so they don’t start to mold. Any kind of mold can be toxic to your chickens.
Feed them to your chickens
You can actually feed most herbs to your chickens. A few cloves of garlic added to their food can provide an antimicrobial benefit to your chickens.
I usually throw any extra herbs from my garden in the chicken run for my girls to munch on. Since my cilantro has started going to seed, I pull it and throw it in. (As a side note: I also feed my chickens plants that I pull from the garden. They love to pick through it and they often find a few bugs for treats.)
I have regularly have to pull up some of my oregano when it gets out of control. I just toss it into the run for my girls to pick over.
Make An Easy Fly Spray For The Coop
Herbs can also be made into a spray to help repel flies and other pests in the coop. I usually use mint (since I have an abundance) or a combo of mint and lavender. Boil 1 cup of packed fresh mint leaves (or 1 cup total of mint and lavender) in 1 cup of water. Allow to cool. Strain out the herbs.
Add 1 cup of witch hazel and the herb scented water in a spray bottle. Shake to mix. Spray liberally along the coop walls to help repel flies and rodents. It will need to be applied every few days for maximum protection.
A word about purchasing fresh herbs for your chickens
I personally wouldn’t buy these herbs fresh to use in my coop. I think they would cost more than it would be worth. However, purchasing dried herbs for the chicken coop can be a cost effective option if you choose not to grow your own.
And remember…If you want to grow herbs for your chickens, you don’t actually have to plant a separate herb garden just for them. You can add a few of these herbs to your existing garden or even your flower beds. (That’s where my oregano is grown! See picture above.) This way, both you and the chickens can reap the benefits of your garden.
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