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I am a 50+ yr old stay at home wife of a scientist/Military man.  I raise chickens for eggs, rescue dogs & cats & spoil them all.  I am a silver/metal smith & stained glass artist.  I, at one time was an secondary art teacher & Social Studies teacher.  I am sorta a eclectic earth mother who recycles everything I can get my hands on.  Enjoy working with power tools & even built my own 10ft by 6ft chicken coop.  am pretty much interested in learning everything I can thur books, magazines & friends. I enjoy veggie gardening & doing gardens just for the chickens. I also sew & love making pioneer style comfortable clothes for myself & adding vintage lace when I can find it. I am pretty easygoing, but need my coffee first before I am ready to face the world & day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Using fresh & dried herbs for your chickens & why they are important

          
My Pipper girl all bundled up during the very  old spell we had last month (Feb 2014)

Hello everyone, well the computer is still here at the moment & I wanted to do a blog on things you can grow for your chickens health.  I have been doing gardens for the 'kids' since I got them years back & love the fact they are getting healthy veggies/fruits & herbs that I grow for them.

I just got the new issue of 'Chicken' magazine & a wonderful article done by Lisa Steele was in it about using fresh herbs for your chickens. years back I did research & found that fresh or dried herbs can been very good health wise for your flock.

I bet some of you never knew a chicken has a very good sense of smell so having these wonderful smelling herbs in their coop/nesting boxes & run will help them not only in the smell but in the eating of some of them.

I am paraphrasing much of Ms. Steels article, but if you are really interested the magazine is by Hobby Farms called Chickens & is issue May/June 2014....definitely worth buying it if you can as it does a better detailed explanation of the herbs.

The main use in this article seems to be based on broody hens who are in-activity while they sit on eggs.  Since they tend to eat less & have little exercise adding fresh (or dried) herbs can benefit them in health.

By growing herbs & adding them to the coop either in bundles tied to the ceiling or thrown on the floor where they can eat what they like also can create a coop that is fresher in smell as well as deter bugs, which as a chicken raiser is important to me...the less bugs that bother my chickens the better.

You do not have to use every herb I list if you don't grow them or want to get them.  Plus many herbs have more than one use, which can be nice if you are wanting to help the chicken itself as well as get rid of smells & bugs in the coop/run.

For repelling bugs, you can make bundles of herbs & tie them to the ceiling, tuck in the nesting boxes, sprinkle in the corners & floor:

Bay leaves
Lavender
Catnip
Lemon Balm
Lemon Grass (chop up into small pieces so they don't get gizzard bound)
Marigold heads\
Mints
Rosemary
Sages

You can also use the dried herbs that are listed above but they may not have the same power as the fresh.

Herbs with good antioxidants:

Bay leaves
Cilantro
Dill
grated fresh Ginger
Marigolds
Sages
Tarragon
Thyme's

These can be put in bowls around the coop/ run or thrown out with their treats or scratch.  Don't mix it with the feed as it may cause the feed to mold over time.

Good Protein herbs: Give fresh if possible, but even dry will give them some benefits

Basil
Chervil
Coriander (the whole upper plant)
Dill (the whole upper plant)
Fennel
Marjoram
Oregano
Parsley
Sages
Spearmint
Tarragon
Thyme's

Herbs to maintain overall good health:

Bay leave-immune system
Garlic-immune system
Oregano- believed to combat E. coli, salmonella, coccidia  plus other transferable diseases
Parsley- has lots of good Vits in it

Herbs for respiratory ailments:

Bee Balm
Cinnamon (use powder inside nesting boxes mixed in with bedding)
Dill
Echinacea
Marjoram
Rosemary
Thyme's
Yarrow

If you have a sick chicken you can create small bundles tied up & placed inside the coop or loosely used in the nesting boxes or sick boxes for them to inhale &/or eat.  You can also steep the herbs as a tea, drain & add to a humidifier inside the coop to add a healthy moisture to the coop for the sick chickens.  I also do a mints & eucalyptus tea that once strained is added to the dehumidifier for my chickens with bad sinus ailments, sneezing & coughing.  I have the humidifier on a timer so it shuts off before all the water/steam is gone.

Herbs for a Broody hen:

To keep them calm & relaxed-(also good for sick or injured chickens as well)

Bee Balm
Catnip
Dill (all upper plant)
Lavender
Lemon Balm
Yarrow

To keep nesting box cleaner-all these have antibacterial & anti fungal properties which can keep molds.fungus/bad bacteria from growing under the hen as she lays on the eggs....Just check daily & remove if they start to go bad or mold  & add fresh for them.

Basil
Bee Balm
Cilantro
Nasturtium
\Oregano
Spearmint
Thyme's
Yarrow

Herbs to use for hens who aren't laying due to stress/illness/injury or change





Fennel
Garlic
Marjoram
Nasturtium
Parsley

As you see many have more than one use, so those would be wonderful to grow so that you can supply the chickens these all during the growing season fresh then use dried during the colder non-growing months.
Using the herbs with proteins in the laying boxes gives the hen something to eat when she is not wanting to leave the box & if you have ever had a broody hen, you know how much weight they tend to lose so giving them these different fresh herbs helps keep them healthy & content while sitting there all those weeks.

Some of you know I do a separate garden just for my chickens & do a large herb bed, so this year I will be adding many more herbs so that I can add more to their diet & to make the coop/nesting boxes nicer for them.

While at the farm I did grow Parsley, Dill, Cilantro, Rosemary, Basil, Oregano which they didn't seem to mess with even when they were in the herb areas but my Roo CeeCee did love digging up the Parsley & laying under it & Pipper loved to lay under the Rosemary.  So for the ones I have now, I know they don't really care for these herbs but they do love Marigold blooms.  So I will experiment this year & see what things I do grow that they might eat if I throw them out as scratch/treats for them.  Some of the herbs listed aren't all used as eating herbs like the lavender, but it is used like aromatherapy & a pest repellent, so it should be interesting to see what helps with them.

This is one of the reasons I so enjoy raising chickens, as there is so many simple things you can do for them that benefit them.   Plus I love playing in the gardens so it also benefits me.

Have a great chicken day!

M' & crew