Family Farm

Family Farm

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nesting Box Herbs - Chicken Aromatherapy

Nesting Box Herbs - Chicken Aromatherapy

Presumably you have been following my blog and have already decided to grow the chickens their own herb garden this spring in order to brew herbal teas for them.  Well, here's another way to put the herbs to good use - in your nesting boxes. They have amazing health and well-being benefits...and also provide a bit of aromatherapy for your chickens. 

 My coop never smelled so good until I started adding an herbal blend that includes mint, basil, lemon balm, lavender and rose petals.  The first time I put the herbs into the nesting boxes, one of my hens actually fell asleep after laying her egg. Now that's one relaxed hen !

Fresh or dried herbs in your nesting boxes not only work as insecticides, but also have anti-bacterial properties, and can act as natural wormers, anti-parasitics, stress relievers and laying stimulants.  They will benefit your laying hens, broody hens and newborn chicks.  They will help a laying hen feel safe and relaxed while she is sitting, and calm a broody hen, as well as repel rodents, flies and other parasites. The chickens (and chicks) will also eat some of the herbs, thereby garnering even more health benefits from them.  Plus they look so pretty !

Research has shown that wild birds will line their nests with fresh herbs and flowers, especially those that contain essential oils. The newly hatched baby birds benefit by rubbing against these herbs in the first few days of life.  Same applies to baby chicks.

Here is a partial list of common herbs and flowers and their beneficial properties:

Basil - antibacterial, mucus membrane health
Catnip - sedative, insecticide
Cilantro - antioxidant, fungicide, builds strong bones, high in Vitamin A for vision and Vitamin K for blood clotting
Dill - antioxidant, relaxant, respiratory health
Fennel -laying stimulant
Garlic - laying stimulant
Lavender - stress reliever, increases blood circulation, highly aromatic, insecticide
Lemon Balm - stress reliever, antibacterial, highly aromatic
Marigold - laying stimulant
Marjoram - lay stimulant
Nasturtium - laying stimulant, antiseptic, antibiotic, insecticide, wormer
Oregano - combats coccidia, salmonella, infectious bronchitis, avian flue, blackhead and e-coli
Parsley - high in vitamins, aids in blood vessel development, laying stimulant
Peppermint - anti-parasitic, insecticide
Pineapple Sage - aids nervous system, highly aromatic
Rose Petals - highly aromatic, high in Vitamin C
Rosemary - pain relief, respiratory health, insecticide
Sage - antioxidant, anti-parasitic
Spearmint - antiseptic, insecticide, stimulates nerve, brain and blood functions
Tarragon - antioxidant
Thyme - respiratory health, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-parasitic

Toss a few handfuls of mixed cut herbs into your nesting boxes and refresh them as needed.  Your chickens will benefit from them and you will enjoy how nice your coop smells.  

I plant various different types of herbs each spring because of their many uses. In addition to using the herbs for teas and in the nesting boxes, I also enjoy cooking with fresh herbs. There's nothing like going out back and picking a handful of fresh basil for pesto, oregano for homemade pizza or mint to garnish a slice of cheesecake.  Herbs are easy to grow, do well in most areas of the country and can even be grown on your kitchen windowsill in the winter.

I also dry excess herbs at the end of the summer to use in the nesting boxes during the winter.

I hope this has given you some more ideas for raising happy, healthy hens....Happy Growing !

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