Chicken keeping is common in almost every region throughout the world. But herbs for your chickens may not be quite as common yet. Herbs are one of the easiest things you can give to your chickens to create a healthy and balanced diet and environment. Though it might seem intimidating at first, herbs for chickens don’t have to be complicated or intimidating.
Just an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so let’s go over some of the most common herbs we use in our heritage chicken keeping practices. It’s time to learn heritage chicken keeping skills in our modern world!
The Chicken Herb List
There are at least forty or more herbs you can keep in your chicken remedies cabinet, but we’ll only go over a few of the most common ones. If you’d like a more comprehensive list of herbs for your chickens, along with learning how to use them, and how to prepare herbal remedies, check out my book The Homesteader’s Natural Chicken Keeping Handbook.
Now, onto the chicken herb list!
Naturally, it’s best to grow your own herbs for your chickens, but if you can’t or don’t want to, I’ve linked all of these herbs in each individual section.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
This herb is one of my favorite herbs for my chickens. Most commonly known for its immune stimulating properties, astragalus is one of the most beneficial herbs you can offer to your chickens on a regular basis as a preventative herb. In fact, a study done in 2013 proved that astragalus helped prevent avian influenza and shortened the duration of the flu as well.
While the study primarily focused on the injection of astragalus, as an herbalist, I know that astragalus as a dietary supplement stimulates the immune system greatly, thus very likely preventing the inhabitation of the influenza virus.
Besides avian influenza, astragalus helps boost the overall immune system of the chicken, generating good health and wellness. It is also anti-inflammatory, helps chickens adapt to stress, and is antibacterial and antiviral.
Give to your chickens a couple of times each week to boost their immune systems, either dried or in a decoction. I prefer to offer it in a decoction, and my chickens prefer it that way as well.
You can purchase the astragalus that I use by clicking here.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Many chicken keepers thing that any marigold is a calendula plant, but that’s just not true. Make sure that you’re adding Calendula officinalis to your feed when using calendula. This herb is a natural anti-inflammatory and helps the digestive tract. But more importantly, it is packed full of Omega-3s, vitamins E, K, and B-complex vitamins. This means that your egg yolks will come out being a deep rich orange color, full of necessary nutrients and Omega-3s for your own body!
You can offer this free choice or in feed daily to your chickens.
You can purchase the Calendula that I recommend by clicking here.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea or Echinacea angustifolia)
One of the most common herbs to the new herbalist, echinacea is another immune-boosting herb for your chickens, both the root, leaves, and flower heads. I tend to just toss them the leaves and flower heads and allow them free choice echinacea.
This herb is also great for the respiratory system, and can help treat fungal overgrowth. It is also a natural antibiotic and is naturally antibacterial.
Offer to your chickens freely as you wish in season, or dry and offer throughout the year.
You can find the echinacea I recommend by clicking here.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Oregano is growing in popularity, not just with the backyard chicken keeper, but with commercial chicken keepers as well. In fact, large commercial meat and egg producers have switched to offering oregano and thyme in their chicken feed on a regular basis instead of chemicals and antibiotics.
Oregano is a natural antibiotic, it is antibacterial, detoxifies the body, aids in respiratory health, and helps the reproductive system.
Mix in with your chicken feed daily, fresh or dried.
Find the oregano I recommend by clicking here.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) cooked or dried
Chickens won’t typically touch this herb in its natural environment, though some flocks will. Stinging nettle does exactly as it says it does—stings. The little hairs on the outside of the leaves leave a numbing sensation for many humans and animals.
However, stinging nettle is an incredible source of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals for your chickens. Try giving it to your chickens fresh first to see if they will eat it. If not, you may have to cook it down, like spinach, or dry it out first.
Stinging nettle is a natural detoxifier, antiparasitic, and aids in respiratory health. It is also a natural antibacterial. Throughout history, many chicken keepers would offer stinging nettles to their chickens, and would swear that it would keep them laying straight through the entire year. Nettle is also naturally high in iron and calcium.
When studied in nature, wild birds will eat on stinging nettle as a way to help prevent internal parasites. Chickens will absolutely do the same thing. Nettles are a great way to prevent internal parasites, and possibly treat an infestation when given in medicinal doses.
Give freely throughout year—fresh, dried, or cooked—or a couple of offerings each week.
Find the stinging nettle that I recommend by clicking here.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme is my favorite herb of all time. We use it with every single animal on our homestead. But especially our chickens.
Thyme is a natural antiparasitic, antibacterial, aids the respiratory system, relieves infection, and is packed full of omega-3s that support brain and heart health.
Thyme is also rich in vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as fiber, iron, riboflavin, manganese, and calcium.
Offer daily in their feed, dried or fresh, or freely on pasture or around the chicken run.
Find the thyme that I recommend by clicking here.
Learning More About Herbs
Herbalism on the homestead and with your chickens is never ending. I always recommend furthering your education, creating new and amazing herbal preparations, and just having fun with it! Your chickens will certainly enjoy it as well.
When in doubt, start small and add on from there. Your flock doesn’t need “all the herbs”. Certain herbs are good for certain things, and not all herbs are created equal. This is why I challenge backyard chicken keepers and homesteaders to dive into common and uncommon herbs alike, because each herb has a unique ability to prevent and heal.
To learn more about how to use herbs, create herbal preparations, and keep your flock healthy, consider purchasing my book! You can learn all about these heritage chicken keeping skills, along with raising chickens naturally, involving your family, and even farmhouse recipes!