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Hear herbs make it easy to raise healthy chickens? Confused about the best way to get started? Not even sure how to feed them? Let us show you 5 easy ways to use herbs so your flock is healthy!
In this article, we won’t get into which herbs to offer your flock (we cover that here). Instead, we’ll demonstrate 5 different ways to introduce herbs to your flock (using one of our products, Best Eggs Ever!), so your chickens can benefit from them.
Mix With Feed
The first way to introduce herbs to your flock is to mix them with layer feed. To do this, you have 2 options. You can simply sprinkle the herbs on top of the feed (this is called “top dressing”). Then, offer the feed/herb mix to your flock.
If you’re not sure how MUCH to add, it’s better to start with a tablespoon per chicken, and then increase the amount of herbs from there. Always make sure to refer to the manufacturer’s package, if you’ve bought herbs specifically for pet chickens.
If you have a lot of chickens, then this next tip might be easier. You can add up to 1 pound of herbs per 40-50 pound bag of layer feed. Just remember that herbs are a supplement, and not a complete feed. It’s always important that your flock eat mostly layer feed. Only 10% of their diet should be supplements and treats.
Soak In Water
Another very simple way to offer herbal benefits to your chickens is to soak the herbs in water. This works great for picky eaters who don’t yet understand that herbs are food. This is also easy to implement if you have a lot of chickens, and want to make sure all flock members get the herbs.
Simply soak ½ cup of herbs in 1 gallon of water. Let it soak overnight. It’s like making tea. (This is why it’s so important to have a reliable source for herbs, and skip the grocery store. You want to make sure there’s no pesticides or other nasties on your flock’s treat). The next day, remove the herbs. In addition to regular water, you can give your flock the herbal water.
You can still feed the leftover herbs to your flock. Just offer in a separate dish (don’t mix wet herbs with a 50 pound bag of feed – they’ll just mold).
Sprinkle In Nesting Boxes
Adding herbs to nesting boxes is easy. You might wonder WHY you should add them to nesting boxes, instead of just feed or water.
Herbs provide a lot of benefits – both inside your flock’s body and OUTSIDE of it. You can make their environment healthier places for your flock to hang out. Adding herbs to nesting boxes can help prevent biting insects such as mites, or deter flying insects like flies and mosquitoes.
While they’re resting and laying their eggs, your flock can breathe in the scent of the herbs. They’ll also likely taste test their treat, and you’ll hear lots of happy clucking.
Add to Coop Bedding
Adding herbs to your flock’s coop bedding is just as important as adding them to nesting boxes. You’ll deter pests, and add environmental interest to your flock’s home.
Chickens love to scratch through the bedding in their coop. They’re looking for goodies! Indulge their natural tendencies AND keep them healthy by incorporating herbs into their bedding.
Especially for chickens who don’t free range, herbs let them indulge in their natural need to forage.
Just sprinkle 1 – 1.5 cups of herbs in each corner of your coop. Place it on top of your flock’s bedding, and use a pitchfork to mix them in. If you use pine shavings in your coop, you can also use 1 cup of herbs per bag of shavings. For this article, we used Best Eggs Ever!, which you can buy here.
Add to Dust Bathing Areas
Most flocks have a preferred area in which to dust bathe. Yours might even have 2-3 spots. Dust bathing is a very important part of your flock’s day. It helps eliminate external pests. It’s also how your chickens groom themselves. Just sprinkle up to 1 cup of herbs on top of the dirt, diatomaceous earth, sand, etc. For this article, we used Best Eggs Ever!, which you can buy here.
Adding herbs to a dust bathing area has 2 benefits. First, it can help deter external parasites like mites – from your chickens’ bodies AND their dust bathing area. As they roll around and toss dust on themselves, your chickens will also toss the herbs on their bodies. As they preen, they’ll distribute both the dust and herbs over them.
Second, your hens will likely try to eat the herbs. So, they’ll get internal benefits from them. Dust bathing is social time for your chickens.
If you watch your chickens, you’ll notice they always dust bathe as a group, often with the rooster keeping watch over his hens. As they’re spending time together, your hens will notice the herbs. Since eating is such a big part of any chicken’s life, they’ll want to see what these specks of green, red, and yellow are all about.
And there you have it! It’s pretty easy to introduce herbs to your flock. If they aren’t sure at first about their new treat, just be persistent. While most chickens love herbs, some aren’t sure at first. After all, their environment has changed! Giving them time to adapt is very important. Very quickly, you’ll notice lots of happy clucks.
Next thing you know, they’ll come running when they see the bag! If you’d like to use Best Eggs Ever! In your coop, you can buy this product here.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.