Presumably you have been following my blog and have already decided to grow the chickens their own herb garden this spring in order to brew herbal tea for them. Well, here's another way to put the herbs and flowers to good use - in your nesting boxes.
Culinary herbs and edible flowers have amazing health and well-being benefits...and also provide a bit of aromatherapy for your chickens.
My coop never smelled so good until I started adding an herbal blend that includes mint, basil, lemon balm, thyme, oregano, bee balm, lavender, marigold and rose petals.
The first time I put the herbs into the nesting boxes, one of my hens actually fell asleep after laying her egg. Now that's one relaxed hen !
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. Broodies have a tendency to get mites and other bugs since they don't get out to dust bathe often, if at all, and the warm, dark space underneath them is a breeding ground for parasites. The herbs safely and naturally avoid that.
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 and ducklings. The herbs will benefit your newly hatched chicks by imparting lots of protection from parasites, as well as when they eat them garner the chicks even more health benefits.
Here is a partial list of common herbs and flowers and their beneficial properties:
Basil - antibacterial, mucus membrane health
Catnip - sedative, insecticide
Bee Balm (bergamot/monarda)- antiseptic, antibacterial, respiratory health, calming
Cilantro - antioxidant, fungicide, builds strong bones, high in Vitamin A for vision and Vitamin K for blood clotting
Dandelion greens - immune system stimulant
Dill - antioxidant, relaxant, respiratory health
Echinacea - immune system strengthener, disinfectant, wound healing properties
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 - produces vibrant orange yolks, insect repellent
Marjoram - laying stimulant
Mint (all kinds) - insecticide and rodent repellent
Nasturtium - laying stimulant, antiseptic, antibiotic, insecticide, wormer
Oregano - combats coccidia, salmonella, infectious bronchitis, avian flue, 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, general health promoter
Spearmint - antiseptic, insecticide, stimulates nerve, brain and blood functions
Tarragon - antioxidant
Thyme - respiratory health, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-parasitic
Yarrow - antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, wound healer, clears sinuses and respiratory systems, stress reliever
WARNING: Pennyroyal, although part of the mint family, should never be used. The oil is toxic to chickens and it causes uterine muscles to contract in humans, so best to stay away from using Pennyroyal in and around the nesting boxes.
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. I order my herbs from Tasteful Garden. They are an organic company and I always receive beautiful plants.
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. 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.
I also dry excess herbs at the end of the summer to use in the nesting boxes during the winter - as well as to cook with.
This is the article written by Susan Burek, noted herbalist and owner of Moonlight Mile Farm, that first started me on the path to holistic chicken keeping. It really is a thought-provoking and informative, well researched article.
If you don't grow herbs of your own, you can buy a set of three herbal sachets HERE.
Other Buying Sources:
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