15 Herbs to Feed Your Backyard Chickens

Since we first started keeping backyard chickens here on the homestead, we've wanted to find a way to cut feed costs while improving the health and happiness of our hens. One way we found we could do that was by growing our own herbs for them right here in our own vegetable/herb gardens.  The hens love receiving fresh organic treats from our gardens and we've noticed a considerable difference in the health of our flock since we started doing this.  Over time, we've been able to test different herbs to see which ones our chickens favor the most and which ones work the best. We've compiled that list for you here, and we hope you can learn something and maybe start growing some of these herbs for your own flock! 

SeedsNow.com has been kind enough to feature our hens and story as inspiration for creating the NEW "All-in-One" Chicken Garden Variety Pack", which you can purchase for just $14.99.  This package includes 15 of our personal favorite herbs that we grow right here on our homestead for our own chickens. 

Here are the top 15 Herbs to Feed Your Backyard Chickens

Alfalfa- Greens are good for them and part of a healthy diet. Don't forget that feeding your chickens will up their protein intake! Also, feeding them alfalfa is linked to increased pigmentation,  which means layers will produce eggs with more orangey yolks.

Borage- The leaves may be harvested at anytime and can be used dried or fresh. The plant is best consumed fresh, right after harvest if you're looking for it's characteristic flavor, similar to that of a cucumber. Placing borage around your coop or hen house will deter pests.  Very high in calcium, borage is like a powerhouse for supporting their cardiovascular system. 

BasilAntibacterial, mucus membrane health. Can be used to brew an "herbal tea" for new chicks for a healthy start.  Is wonderful when dried and added to nesting boxes.  When growing basil, as soon as you see flowers start to appear, make sure you pinch or snip them off.  This will help the plant stay focused on producing leaves and will encourage the plant to "branch out" as well.   Once your basil plant is about 6 inches tall, start pinching off the tops to encourage branching.

Cilantro- If you want to support your chickens bones, feeding them cilantro is a wonderful and natural way to do that. High in vitamin K and A.  Acts as a fungicide and contains many beneficial antioxidants. Harvest the cilantro leaves around the base of the plant.  Just make sure the plant is fairly established before you start harvesting so it will be able to handle the stress and recover as it continues to grow.  Once the flowers have gone to seed, start to re-sow more seeds. That way you won't run out and have a continual harvest of fresh cilantro on your hands.   You can harvest the leaves or the entire plant at once.

Dill Very beneficial to your chickens respiratory health, fresh dill can be fed to your chickens.  Try drying and then hanging it near or inside of the nest boxes.    It aids in the laying process because it is a natural sedative. When you're ready to harvest, look for the dark green leaves, otherwise known as "dill weed".  You can harvest the leaves at any time. The young leaves tend to have better flavor. 

Fennel- Recognized as a laying stimulant. Add some freshly cut fennel foliage to your nesting boxes or shaved Fennel bulb to your chickens feed to ensure fresh eggs, year round. Harvest the bulbs when they are approximately the same size as a tennis ball. Once the plant bolts, the flavor will be ruined so try to harvest it before them.  Cut the bulb and stalks off right at the soil line. 

Lemon Balm- Ward off stress with this this antibacterial and aromatic herb. It makes for a wonderful rodent repellent. It calms their nerves, and smells wonderful in the coop.  Hang this fresh herb to dry and then add to nesting boxes to sooth and relax your chickens. Harvest leaves from your lemon balm plant at any time.  Dry indoors upside down, chop and store for later use.

Lemon Grass- Fly repellent. Similar to "citronella" in scent. The long, grassy leaves should be collected by snipping them off with scissors anywhere from mid summer on.

Marigolds- Aids as a stimulant for laying more eggs, and is wonderful for blood circulation.  Dry these flowers and add them to the nest boxes.  Also, chickens who eat marigolds will lay eggs with more colorful and bright yolks. Marigolds make long lasting cut flowers, which are excellent for brightening up any coop. 

MintRepel insects and rodents with this powerful, aromatic herb.  It has been known to aid in regulating body temp., produce stronger egg shells, and helps with the chickens digestive system. Pick the leaves as you need them or harvest a large amount from each mint plant up to three times in one growing season.  Cut the stems 1-2 inches from the ground.   You can take cuttings from the plants you already have and root them in a little bit of water and then plant them indoors for fresh leaves throughout the winter. If you want to dry the leaves, it's best to harvest them before the plant goes to seed.

Oregano- Combats many diseases like coccidia, salmonella, and e-coli. It can ward off the dreaded avian flue.  Oregano naturally strengthens the immune system. Harvest oregano anytime after they have reached 4-6 inches tall. Harvest oregano leaves in the morning hours as soon as the dew has dried for best flavor.  Once harvested, use fresh or store leaves whole, placed in freezer bags and frozen. They can also be dried in a dark, well-ventilated area and stored in airtight containers until ready to use.

Parsley- High in many necessary vitamins and minerals that are required for optimal chicken health.  Helps blood vessel development and has been known to be a great stimulant for laying. Harvest your parsley once the leaves begin to curl.  Pick the leaves earlier in the day when the oils are the strongest.  You can store the sprigs of parsley in a jar with a little bit of water in the bottom, inside the refrigerator for later use.

Sage- Feed your chickens sage to increase overall health.  This herb can also combat disease and is an anti-parasitic. Smells wonderful in the coop. Store in an airtight container, in a cool and dry place.

Thyme- Increases respiratory health. Provides antioxidants & is an anti-parasitic. Also antibacterial.
Harvest thyme throughout the summer.  Try drying the sprigs in a warm, well-ventilated area and then store them in an airtight container.  Thyme also freezes very well.

Wheat- We've found that by feeding our chickens wheat, it enhances their yolk color by deepening the orange tones.

Purchase your own"All-in-One" Chicken Garden Variety Pack" HERE, which was created because of our need/desire to feed our flock a variety of healthy herbs & sprouts. We believe all backyard chickens can eat from the gardens just like we do! 

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