Monday, January 30, 2012

Nesting Box Herbs - Chicken Aromatherapy



Presumably you have been following my blog and have already decided to grow the chickens their own herb garden 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 and coop. 





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 at different times of the year includes mint, basil, lemon balm, thyme, oregano, bee balm, lavender, marigold and rose petals. 


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,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. Certain types of herbs safely and naturally avoid that.

Note: you may have heard that fresh herbs will mold and harbor bacteria in the nesting boxes. This is not true, and in fact many herbs are natural fungicides and anti-bacterials!  It is extremely humid here in Virginia and I have never had any problem with using fresh herbs.  Fresh herbs contain essential oils and are much more palatable to chickens, so fresh should be used whenever possible.


The herbs and rose petals look so pretty !

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:

Health Benefits of Common Herbs





Toss a few handfuls of mixed cut herbs into your nesting boxes and refresh them as needed. Your chickens will benefit from them and you will enjoy how nice your coop smells.



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.


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 do dry excess herbs at the end of the summer to use in the nesting boxes during the winter - as well as to cook with and I add dried crushed herbs to my chickens' layer feed year round, but I use fresh herbs whenever I can.



I hope this has given you some more ideas for raising happy, healthy hens....


Purchase  a set of three muslin herbal sachets HERE.

To learn more about using herbs in chicken keeping order a copy of my book!

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Available online or from your local bookstore. 
Hardcover, 160 pages, full color photographs throughout.


BECAUSE LIFE IS JUST BETTER WITH CHICKENS!


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54 comments:

  1. This year I'm doing to plant a herb garden I had no idea the properties herbs had on chickens. Thanks For sharing.

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    1. Oh good ! On people too. I am still pulling cilantro and parsley from our garden and tossing it in the run for the girls. They really love eating the herbs too.

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  2. Nice idea! It's really no bother to just throw an handful in there on my way in from the garden.

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  3. Great idea. I've never grown herbs but will add to my garden this year. Thank you.

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  4. I have tried growing herbs from seeds and it's pretty easy but you end up with millions of leftover seeds. I generally buy the small seedlings at the garden shop in the spring, but either way works and is economical and so beneficial
    .

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  5. I ordered my seeds last week...can't wait....! I also have a neat spot picked out...I have to keep Charlie away from the garden!!! Thanks!!!

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  6. I love your informative articles. I have a small garden plot that I plan to plant in flowers on one end and herbs on the other. Now I know which ones to plant. Thank you so much for sharing ways to keep "our girls" happy.

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  7. I know this has nothing to do with herbs but my hubby has been chipping up fresh ceder chips and adding to the hen boxes and spreading them around in the coop and it smells so good in there

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  8. Donna, cedar can actually be toxic to chickens if they eat them. The oils can also irritate their lungs and can cause respiratory problems. It's always recommended not using cedar shavings in coops. Chips, if large enough probably won't pose a threat of them eating them, but I would still worry about the aromatic properties of the cedar.

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  9. I know nothing about herbs, so I found this interesting.
    Is it true that some herbs do better in pots or they can become invasive?

    The only 'herbs' I have ever used for cooking, without disaster, are salt and pepper, haha.
    I have made pumpkin pie, but I use store bought pumpkin pie spice for that.

    I definitely need to look back over your older posts about herbs and such.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

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  10. Anything in the mint family will spread and take over. Those can be planted in pots or you can cut the bottom out of a plastic flower pot, sink it into the ground and plan the mint inside it to try and control it. I just let the mint grow wild in the flower garden in front of our house. Its a pretty green leaf, rodent insect barrier, and that way when I need some to make some tea or for a garnish, I just step outside and pick some.

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    1. Oh. Mice don't like it? I should plant it all around the retirement property then. :-)

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    2. Yes mice don't like mint. We have it planted across the front of our house. Can't hurt...

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  11. What a great post!!! Saving this info for later, awesome!

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  12. My chickens LOVE their herby nests! Also, not an herb, but my hens LOVE spent marigold flowers too!

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    1. You can also give them violets, roses, and nasturtium. Mine love them all.

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  13. I already have some parsley and mint in the garden, but will be adding and trying many more this year. Thanks

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  14. I thought the only bird with a sense of smell was the vulture.

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    1. I thought vultures don't have a sense of smell. Makes it easier for them to eat what they eat!

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  15. Okay maybe the 'aroma' part is for us humans ;0) But the 'therapy' part is for the chickens. The herbs have lots of health and healing properties.

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  16. This is such a cool idea! I am so doing this for our hens this summer! :)

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  17. Oh, brilliant! I have plenty of herbs, particularly lemon balm. I have been pulling lemon balm out by the handfuls. Now they will go into the coop.

    I see I need to work on the coop's artwork soon too. Hah. You have upped the game!

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    1. Oh funny Robin ! Yes lemon balm is in the mint family which I didn't realize, but it sure spreads like mint !

      I am here to inspire ;0) Glad to have succeeded !

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  18. I read about the herbs this morning and had some lavender in my freezer that I had bought to make something(forgot now what it was)so I took it out to the coop and put it in the nesting boxes.Just went out to get the eggs and my coop smells so good!!Thanks for this geat info.

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    1. Maybe the lavender was for making "Herbs de Provence" - a wonderful concoction to rub on a rib roast... :-)

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  19. This is so awesome!!!! We had no idea that herbs had this much of an impact on chickens. Awesome Information!!!

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  20. How wonderful! I had no idea all these herbs could be put to yet another excellent use. Thanks for sharing. I grow many different types of herbs and will be trying this myself.

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  21. Is pennyroyal okay for chickens? It's in the mint family and I have a TON of it! Thanks!

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    1. Okay, I'm reading that pennyroyal oil is toxic to chickens...they probably won't eat it, but to be safe I would stay away from it.

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  22. May I just say that as a new chick owner I LOVE your blog!!!I am really enjoying reading all the ways I can spoil my new little girls.

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    1. Well thank you ! Be sure you follow us on facebook also...tons of neat ideas there too ! Glad to have you as a new chicken keeper ! I think the girls appreciate all the spoiling and reward us for it with yummy eggs !

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  23. can I use rosemary, mint and rose petals?

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    1. Sure that would be great. All herbs have some kind of beneficial properties AND those three all smell so nice !

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  24. Thank you!! I am a new to your blog! so much great info for the "girls"!

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  25. I'm new to your blog too, and love it! My chooks love herbs, but I'd never thought of putting them in the nesting boxes. We have loads of lavender growing at the moment - that's my task for the day, then! Thank you for such great information.

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  26. We needed to reinforce our coop, so I lined the entire perimeter of the coop with cinderblocks. I filled the cinderblocks with potting soil and planted them with a variety of herbs. I found my girls to be particularly fond of garlic chives LOL! But now they are protected from predators, I have a natural bug repellent around the perimeter of the coop, AND I just go out and snip them for a sachet or for some cooking. I have a huge passion fruit planted at the back that provides a natural shade over the coop as well, living in Florida sure makes for creativity in keeping the girls cool.

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    1. What a great idea ! I would love to see a photo if you could post in on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FreshEggsDaily or email it to me at: fresheggsdaily@gmail.com

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  27. Hi Lisa! I am thrilled to read about the benefits of herbs for my chickens...I grow so many of them and had not known it beneficial to put the herbs in the nesting boxes! I have 2 questions: my ladies don't like citrus products, so will the lemon balm in the boxes bother them? Also, I thought that parsley and cilantro were toxic to the ladies? Thanks! Nancy :)

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    1. Parsley and cilantro are most definitely not toxic, in fact they are favorites around here.Mine eat all that I put in the boxes
      Chickens don't need Vitamin C which is why most don't seem interested in citrus, but lemon balm shouldn't bother them but skip it if you're concerned.Lisa

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  28. hi my chickens eat all of my mint and my lavander when i plant them in their run, is their any thing i can put in there to stop the flys that the chickens will not eat and not harm them

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    1. I use food grade diatomaceous earth, in the coop. And in the garden for the slugs.

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  29. Just wondering. I bought a package of mint at the store. Is it ok to use until I can grow my own mint next year. thank you for your time.

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    1. Sure you can! And you can even grow a piece on your windowsill from what you bought. Just put it in a glass of water until it sprouts roots then plant it in a pot.

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  30. OK, I'll be honest. At first sight, I thought this post was going to be a little silly, "I pamper my chickens too much"....but, WOW. You have 100% convinced me, and now I feel bad for not having done it sooner!

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    1. Thanks Erin! Don't feel bad. I have to admit that my line between 'caring for' and 'pampering' sometimes gets blurred. But look at it this way, if you can do something that is easy, costs almost nothing and might head off serious issues in the future, why not right? And I do love a nice-smelling coop. Let me know what you think once you try it. I just get such a kick out of seeing the eggs laid in a nest of herbs and flowers!

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  31. Oh fabulous. It does look beautiful. I always give them cuttings from the garden for them to nibble on, but I didn't think about the nesting boxes. Thank you!

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  32. I love your blog, I'm a new chicken momma, so it's been very helpful to me. Thanks.

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  33. Proper selection of Herbs is very important for perfect flavoring. Also good selection of herbs prevent various types of dangerous pest infestation. Such as Rosemary Leaves helps controlling flea. By the way thanks @Admin for sharing this rich article.

    pest control | how to get rid of rodents in the home

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    1. Very true. Mint helps repel rodents, rosemary or basil repels flies...plus it all smells SO good to us!

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  36. Just wondering. I bought a package of mint at the store. Is it ok to use until I can grow my own mint next year. thank you for your time.
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  37. I love your blog, I'm a new chicken momma, so it's been very helpful to me. Thanks.




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