19 Healthy Herbs for Chickens To Eat

We all love our chickens, but it’s challenging to make sure they can get the diet they deserve to produce vibrant, orange egg yolks while achieving optimal health.

That’s why we’ve created a guide of the best herbs for chickens for anyone’s chicken care routine!

A herb garden with terracotta pots of basil, parsley, lavender, and more

1. Basil for Stronger Respiratory System

Add crushed Basil to your chicken feed to boost their immune system due to its potent antibacterial properties. Basil helps with the respiratory system, fighting against chicken diseases.

There are various trace minerals, such as Vitamin K and iron, supporting mucous membrane health. Rich in carotenoids and magnesium also helps with blood circulation (1). Also, it’s an anti-inflammatory that promotes a healthy gastrointestinal tract, thus improving digestion.

If you want bright, orange egg yolks, Basil’s high xanthophyll levels will help provide fresh eggs daily.

Lastly, putting freshly cut Basil in nesting boxes improves your chicken’s hygiene. Hang Basil around coop window boxes to repel insects as well.

2. Calendula Fights Inflammation in Chickens

Calendula, also known as “Pot Marigold,” has been around for ages as a skin health remedy that softens skin, reduces inflammation, treats abrasions and other fungal problems (2).

You can add Calendula to chicken feed, where the bright, yellow petals are delicious for the birds, packed with vitamins that enhance their egg yolks’ color.

If your chickens are having issues with yeast overgrowth or inflammation in the mouth, Calendula is useful to ease symptoms.

Calendula is excellent to spread around a chicken coop, with its fresh fragrance, creating a healthy environment for your chickens.

3. Chamomile is Calming for Chickens

Chamomile is a herb known worldwide for its medicinal uses, with effective anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties (3).

What’s excellent about Chamomile is its calming effect, which may have your chickens in a more relaxed mood and a stress reliever during egg-laying.

The flowers and fresh leaves also contain calcium, providing vitamins to keep your chickens healthy.

If you want to get the best out of Chamomile, spread it around your chicken’s environment, especially in the chicken coop, because it is a natural antibiotic while having the ability to fight fleas, lice, and mites.

4. Cilantro as Natural Bone Support Supplement for Chickens

We’ve all heard of Cilantro, as it’s a popular herb in the culinary world, but did you know it’s packed with:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

Yes, that’s a lot for a herb, which is why so many people grow Cilantro for their personal use.  

It’s excellent as a natural bone support supplement for chickens, rich in antioxidants.

Overall, you can support the chicken’s immune system and digestive tract by adding Cilantro to its food.

5. Dill for Chicken Digestion Problems

Dill is a herb from the celery family, with the scientific name “Graveolens,” which means “strong smelling” (4). Both fresh or dried leaves provide advantages to chickens, especially its ability to help repel pesky insects.

More importantly, it has various health benefits, including support for respiratory health and anti-bacterial properties. It’s also useful for aiding in digestion and contains a vast amount of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which your hens will love to produce healthy eggs.

For best results, put dry Dill into your daily feed, or present it fresh.

6. Fennel for Chicken Fertility and Laying Stimulant

Fennel’s an exciting herb from the carrot family that comes in two types: bulb and foliage (5). Both have benefits to chickens, especially hens.

It’s known as a laying stimulant that can enhance the reproductive health of your hens. You can add foliage to the nesting box or shaved fennel bulb to their feed for fresh eggs daily.

However, be careful with Fennel in your herb garden, as it’s not so friendly with others. It’s also better to harvest them quickly because the bulb can burst, lose its flavor, and spoil.

7. Garlic Protects Chickens Against Viruses

Bulbs and cloves of garlic on handwoven mat

Garlic’s one of the most widely known culinary herbs, packed with flavor and health benefits for your chickens too.

Garlic is the most used herb in households today, known as a remedy for intestinal disorders, wounds, respiratory infections, skin diseases, and other ailments (6).

For chickens, it can boost the immune system and protect against viruses while also killing harmful bacteria. Naturally, its antibacterial support is beneficial if your chickens become ill and need something more natural to fight illnesses.

8. Lavender for Stress Relief for Chickens

Lavender has taken the world by storm with its aromatic scent, but it’s also beneficial to chickens (7).

For one, Lavender is a great stress reliever for hens who may be struggling. Add some lavender in nesting boxes around the coop for best results. It’s excellent as an insect repellent too.

Also, it increases blood circulation, great for sitting hens who are not very active.

Add dried Lavender crushed and mixed in your daily chicken feed. For a little fun, you can add Lavender to their dust bath as a spa treatment.  

9. Lemon Balm to Repel Rodents in Chicken Coops

Lemon Balm is one of many medicinal herbs used for thousands of years to treat various illnesses, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, and more (8). Known for its stress-relieving properties, Lemon Balm is great for chickens, especially hens.

It’s also another calming herb, packed with anti-bacterial properties that repel insects. Adding Lemon Balm to nesting boxes around the hens can provide a stress-free environment as they lay fresh eggs daily. It’s fantastic to repel rodents and other annoyances as well due to its scent.

Lemon Balm is also an anti-inflammatory and helps relieve any discomfort in their stomach.

10. Marigolds is Full of Nutrients for Chickens

Marigold is a versatile herb, with its seeds known for treating intestinal worms (9). Also, its leaves and roots for making laxative teas, relieving stomach pains, and reducing fever.

Marigold has the pigment xanthophyll that can provide bright orange egg yolks. It has lots of nutrients such as flavonoids and lutein. It aids in blood vessel development, skin tissue repair, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which helps ward off diseases.

Dry and crush them into hens daily chicken feed instead of fresh petals for best results.

As a bonus, it’s an effective insect repellent too.

11. Marjoram for Healthy Eggs

Marjoram, or Sweet Marjoram as it’s called, is a herb from the mint family (10). Ayurvedic medicine would use herbs like Marjoram because it’s useful to relieve various human ailments.

For chickens, it’s a laying stimulant for hens, improves blood circulation, and anti-inflammatory. It supports respiratory health too as a decongestant. If you feel your chickens are having breathing issues, put Marjoram in their water, and apply stems to their nest boxes.

If you find your hens can’t lay eggs or has weak eggshells, the nutrients in Marjoram may help.

Lastly, it’s antibacterial properties fight against chicken diseases and other illnesses.  

12. Mint is Good for Indigestion

Mint is one of the most widely medicinal herbs, not just in food but in beverages, gum, toothpaste, and more. It’s most commonly known use is relief from indigestion and other stomach problems (11). They’re also great for anyone’s herb garden or indoors, as it’s easy to grow Mint.

Chickens who experience discomfort may find relief with Mint leaves, as it’s a digestive aid for them too. It’s a powerful antioxidant that can result in thicker, larger eggs and increased egg production.

Rodents and insects don’t like the scent of Mint, which is why spreading them around nest boxes may repel pesky critters.

13. Oregano in Chicken Water

If there’s one herb you must use to feed chickens, it’s Oregano.

Oregano is a herb known for its potent antiviral and antibacterial properties, which help to eliminate infections (12). It improves respiratory health, strengthens the immune system, and its anti-parasitic properties aid in digestion. This makes Oregano a natural antibiotic to fight sickness and diseases that may plague your chickens.

Putting Oregano in your chicken’s water is an easy way to get it in their diet. You can also toss fresh Oregano leaves into the nest boxes and coop. Fresh Oregano can also be a treat to reward happy chickens.

14. Parsley as Laying Stimulant and Nutritional Supplements

Parsley is a common herb for chickens to eat because it’s a laying stimulant for hens and high in nutrients.

Parsley contains magnesium and Vitamin K, which aids in blood vessel development (13). It’s rich in beta-carotene and other antioxidants that help reduce diseases, boost the immune system, keep bones healthy, and help the nervous system.

Add freshly chopped Parsley to your hen’s daily feed, lay it around the coop floor, or put it in a pot to ensure your chickens get their everyday dose of Parsley.

15. Plantain Leaf Helps Chickens Internally and Externally

Of the many herbs for chickens to eat, Plantain Leaves are extremely potent both internally and externally.

Plantain Leaves help with bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses, as well as diarrhea (14). It can also help with blisters, insect stings, and swellings.

It’s high in vitamins and iron, as fresh leaves can be a healthy treat in any herb garden your chicken explores, and it’s easy to grow. It’s a great source of fiber to aid in digestion as well.

Lastly, it helps to heal wounds your chickens may get and stop any bleeding.

16. Rosemary as a Pain Reliever

Flat lay of a stalk of rosemary on a wooden surface

Rosemary is a strong-scented herb known for its flavor and its aroma. For centuries, people have used Rosemary for peculiar reasons, such as boosting brain function and preventing baldness (15). However, this herb is filled with antioxidants that your chickens may find beneficial.

For instance, Rosemary assists with pain relief, both ingested and applied externally.  

If you want your chicken coop smelling fresh, Rosemary is a deodorizer. Add twigs around nesting boxes or sprinkle some clippings for best results. The scent can also deter insects like flies, mosquitos, ants, and other annoyances.

17. Sage May Fight Against Salmonella

Among many of the herbs for chickens to eat, chicken keepers regard Sage as a fighting agent against salmonella (16). Other herbs have this claim too, but Sage is the standard in the chicken keeper community.

Sage also helps promote general health with its vitamins, antioxidants, anti-parasitic, and potent enough to fight other chicken diseases.

However, it’s a bit difficult to take care of as it grows best when well-drained in partial or full sun.

Your chicken flock can eat it dried or fresh in their daily feed.

18. Thyme to Boost Immune System in Chickens

Thyme is a low-maintenance herb that contains terpenoids, a group of phytochemicals that may protect cells from diseases (17).

Chickens can experience an immunity boost by adding Thyme to their everyday chicken feed. Whether it’s in their water, served fresh or dried, chickens love its flavor so much—they may even like it in their dust baths!

Also, Thyme is amongst many herbs for chickens to eat that help their respiratory system and boost mucus membrane health.

Due to its aromatic scent, it’s decent for repelling insects and other pests in nesting boxes, which is always great for chicken keeping.

19. Yarrow Helps Clears Sinuses in Chickens

Yarrow is a medicinal herb useful for various illnesses but mostly known for fighting the common cold and other flus (18). Ancient medicine would create a tonic out of Yarrow to reduce fevers as well.

Its other properties include guarding against bacteria and supporting digestive health. Yarrow’s drying ability is excellent for respiratory health, which is why it should hang around chicken coops to help clear nasal secretions.

Yarrow looks familiar to other plants like Queen Anne’s Lace, so make sure you have the real deal. Hemlock is also similar to Yarrow, which is toxic to chickens. Be careful!

FAQs

Yes, chickens can eat basil. It offers many benefits, such as supporting a strong immune system, circulatory system, respiratory system, and digestion . You can add crushed dried leaves to their water or in their chicken feed.

Yes, chickens can eat cilantro. It offers many benefits including strong bone health support, anti-fungal properties, and various antioxidants. You can sprinkle fresh cilantro in their chicken feed twice a week.

Yes, chickens can eat garlic. It offers many benefits including the ability to fight off infections, supports the immune system, and wards off pesky insects. You can add mashed cloves to their water every few days, sprinkle powder in their feed, or have the garlic in a separate bowl for them to munch on.

Yes, chickens can eat parsley. It offers many benefits including vitamins that support blood vessel development, and is an excellent laying stimulant. You can serve it fresh for the chickens to pick, or dried into their chicken feed.

  1. Basil. Retrieved from: https://nesfp.nutrition.tufts.edu/world-peas-food-hub/world-peas-csa/produce-recipes/basil
  2. Choose Calendula for Skin Health. Retrieved from: https://info.achs.edu/blog/calendula-for-skin-health
  3. German Chamomile. Retrieved from: http://heritagegarden.uic.edu/german-chamomile-matricaria-recutita
  4. Adaptations. Retrieved from: http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/s2012/grumke_matt/adaptation.htm
  5. Fennel | Herb Gardening. Retrieved from: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/herbs/fennel.cfm
  6. Health Benefits of Garlic. Retrieved from: https://www.pbrc.edu/training-and-education/pdf/pns/PNS_Garlic.pdf
  7. In Brief: Aromatherapy’s benefits limited to mood improvement. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/In_Brief_Aromatherapys_benefits_limited_to_mood_improvement
  8. Lemon Balm: Calming Herb You Need In Your Life. Retrieved from: https://sites.evergreen.edu/plantchemeco/lemon-balm-calming-herb-you-need-in-your-life/
  9. Marigold. Retrieved from: http://heritagegarden.uic.edu/marigold-tagetes
  10. Sweet marjoram. Retrieved from: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/herbs/marjoram.cfm
  11. Can Mint Really Soothe Digestive Disturbances?. Retrieved from: https://www.healthandwellnessalerts.berkeley.edu/topics/digestive-health/can-mint-really-soothe-digestive-disturbances/
  12. Oregano: a Wonder Herb. Retrieved from: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.637.9988&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  13. Parsley. Retrieved from: https://nesfp.nutrition.tufts.edu/world-peas-food-hub/world-peas-csa/produce-recipes/parsley
  14. Medicinal Plants of the Northeast. Retrieved from: http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/medicinal_plants/pages/common_plantain.html
  15. Rosemary: An Herb with History. Retrieved from: https://health.bastyr.edu/news/health-tips/2011/09/rosemary-herb-history
  16. Antimicrobial herb and spice compounds in food. Retrieved from: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1017.5461&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  17. Cancer and Food: Five Herbs That Could Reduce Risk. Retrieved from: https://cancer.osu.edu/blog/five-herbs-that-could-reduce-risk
  18. Alaska’s Wilderness Medicines – Yarrow. Retrieved from: http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/curriculum/books/Viereck/viereckyarrow.html
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