Giving herbs to your chickens isn’t a new concept, and neither is giving oatmeal. But what about offering herbal oatmeal to your chickens? No that, my friends, is something worth writing about! Combining both of these wonderful treats into an herbal oatmeal is a sure way to get those beneficial and medicinal herbs into your favorite chooks. Whether it’s maintenance herbs as a preventative, or treating an entire flock for internal issues, you’ll want to keep this versatile recipe on hand.
A Word on Oatmeal
Oatmeal should never be given to chickens on a regular (daily) basis. If you are mixing up your own chicken feed, you can certainly add dried oats to it, but as a meal replacement, oatmeal shouldn’t be your top choice. Oatmeal can cause diarrhea in chickens, and if given too long, can start to create vitamin and mineral deficiencies. We only offer this oatmeal to our chickens once a week or once every other week as a herbal maintenance and a treat. Otherwise, our chickens are happily eating scraps, grass, bugs, rodents, and their homemade layer feed (which you can find in my new book coming in Spring 2019!)
What to Put in Your Herbal Oatmeal
Start by choosing items that you might need to get rid of already, like blackened or imperfect fruit and vegetables. This will allow you to get rid of some waste while still offering your chickens a healthy treat. After that, consider adding some of the following:
- Blackstrap Molasses: Molasses has been used in livestock feed for centuries. It is a great source of calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, iron, phosphorus, chromium, cobalt, and sodium. It’s also full of vitamins like vitamin B-3, vitamin B-6, thiamine, and riboflavin.
- Chia Seeds: These little seeds are full of vitamins A, B, E and D, and minerals, including sulphur, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, niacin and thiamine. They are a great source of antioxdants! They are also more easily digestible once they become wet, so make sure you mix them thoroughly in the oatmeal. They are a fabulous source of protein, fiber, and calcium.
- Whole Flax Seeds: These little seeds are part of the “super foods” family for us humans, but they are also super food for chickens, too! And incredible source of Omega 3 fatty acids, these will not only benefit your chickens and enhance their egg yolk, but it will benefit your health through the eggs that you eat as well. Flax seeds are high in fiber and antioxidants, help the digestive tract, and will promote the overall good health of your chickens.
- Herbs: That’s right, now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty of things. Adding herbs to this mix will help maintain good health with your chickens, and you can pick and choose herbs for whatever you’re trying to accomplish with your flock. Let’s go over some of my favorite herbs to add in the next section.
Some of My Favorite Herbs
There are hundreds of herbs that you can choose from, and I would encourage you to grab a copy of my books to read more in depth about herbs and have more herbal options, but here are some of my favorite herbs to use with my chickens.
- Thyme: a natural antiparasitic
- Oregano: a natural antibiotic
- Astragalus: naturally boosts the immune system, adaptogen, antiviral, antibacterial
- Calendula: full of Omega-3s, vitamins E, K, and B-complex vitamins
- Chamomile: aids in digestion, helps heal mucous membranes, is anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and can act as a mild sedative
- Comfrey: high in vitamins A, C, and B-12, and is also high in protein. Comfrey leaves contain calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and some iron. Is a natural anti-inflammatory and boosts the immune system.
- Echinacea: boosts the immune system, is a natural antibacterial and antiviral
- Nasturtium: may be helpful during the dewormer or preventative worming of your chickens
How to Make Herbal Oatmeal
It’s really quite simple. Once you’ve decided what you’d like to put into your oatmeal, now it’s time to mix it all up. Here’s what I normally do, though I just eyeball it. Depending on your flock size, make sure you aren’t giving them so much that they won’t eat it all within 30 minutes. Adjust oatmeal amount as needed. The molasses, seed, and herb amounts can stay the same!
Herbal Oatmeal for Chickens
4 cups steel cut oatmeal
5 cups water
1 large handful each flax seeds, chia seeds, and herbs of choice
4-5 tbps blackstrap molasses
- Bring water to a boil on stovetop, add oatmeal.
- Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat until water is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and place oatmeal into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
- Allow to cool to room temperature before offering to your chickens.
- Give once a week or every few weeks for herbal maintenance!