Longer days mean that those of us lucky enough to be keeping hens in our gardens and on allotments will be seeing an increase in egg production. Unfortunately, the warmer weather will also see an increase in harmful insects, mites and lice but the herbs you are growing can be a natural helper.
Chickens enjoy green food, they love grass and many of the leaves and wild flowers growing in that grass. So, most will happily eat herbs and those herbs will in turn help to keep the chickens healthy. Herbs can be used in several ways:
– Scattered in the run and nesting box to repel insects, parasites and rodents
– Fed fresh by being hung up to also create healthy interest for the hens
– Dried, crushed and added to feed or water
Garlic is both antibacterial and antiviral. It not only helps to prevent infection but also stimulates egg production. Simply keep a crushed garlic clove in the water supply, changing the clove regularly.
What hen wouldn’t be happy in a nestbox scattered with scented lavender? Seriously, lavender will relax your hens by acting as an aromatic stress reliever. It works for people so why not for hens? Lavender is also a useful insecticide.
Mice and rats don’t like mint and so scatter some leaves in the run and nest box to help keep them out. Better still, grow a clump of mint in the run. Mint is also a great coolant in hot weather so adding some crushed leaves to their water will help chickens to keep their cool.
Packed with vitamins and minerals chickens will enjoy eating both the stems and leaves of parsley. If yours are the few that don’t then add dried, crushed leaves to their feed. Parsley aids blood vessel development and stimulates egg laying.
Oregano has natural antibiotic properties and is being researched as a possible and against serious ailments such as coccidiosis, avian flu and salmonella. Feed fresh or dry and let your hens benefit from all the vitamins, calcium and antioxidants.
Rich in vitamins and antioxidants feed fresh or dry and add to feed.
Pick them young and with care and feed fresh or dry. Nettles are rich in calcium, essential for strong egg shells and high in protein, potassium, and manganese.
A natural wormer with antiseptic properties. Will also stimulate egg production.
Known to repel rats and mice, lemon balm smells lovely in the nest box and will lower stress.
This list of herbs is not exhaustive, there are others that will help to keep your flock healthy but this should do for starters. A happy relaxed hen is what we all want to see and herbs are a natural aid in achieving this. Herbs are as good for live chickens as they are for the ones about to be popped in the oven. If not better.