Bee Healthy Backyard Chicken Treat!

Bee Healthy Backyard Chicken Treat!

I’m so excited about this week’s treat for backyard chickens because it contains one of my favorite superfoods: BEE POLLEN!

 

Yep, you can feed bee pollen to chickens, and as I discuss below, it’s very healthy for your hens.

 

One of my favorite ways to share this treat with my hens is by offering it in the spring, when my flock starts to consistently lay again.

 

The ground is muddy (yuck), which means the amount of parasites and bad bacteria that flourish in wet environments SKYROCKETS.

 

As your chickens hunt and peck (and poop), they’re going to naturally pick up parasites. (They need to invent chicken shoes.)

 

It’s gross, and even grosser when you look at it under a microscope.

 

Who wants a mouthful of eggs teeming with salmonella and who knows what? Not me!

 

That’s why I included bee pollen in this week’s treat for backyard chickens. You’ll be surprised how healthy it is!

Bee Pollen for Backyard Chickens

We’re just starting to recognize the health benefits of bee pollen for humans, but believe it or not, it’s been pretty well studied for chickens.

 

In case you didn’t know, bee pollen is one of those “superfoods” that contains not just a ton of vitamins and minerals, but also more protein than meat!

 

Multiple studies have been done to examine the health impacts of feeding bee pollen to chickens.

And the results are pretty interesting (if you want to fast version: it’s really healthy.)

 

As a feed additive, bee pollen shows signs of being a powerful way to prevent parasites and bad bacteria while increasing the overall health of the chicken.

 

In one study, chickens fed 35 grams of bee pollen per 1 kilo of feed showed more beneficial bacteria in their guts – which means a healthier bird overall.

 

This same study also showed that bee pollen reduced the amount of bad bacteria – meaning that bee pollen showed antibacterial properties.

 

In particular, bee pollen was shown to reduce the amount of K. oxytoca, a bacterium that can cause sepsis and colitis in people.

Multiple studies have shown that chickens with higher amounts of beneficial bacteria not only GREW better (because they weren’t battling bad bacteria like campylobacter as much) but LAID healthier eggs (because the eggs were less likely to be transmitters of bad bacteria like salmonella).

 

In another study, bee pollen was shown to increase the length of villi in the digestive tracts of chickens.

 

In case you didn’t know, the villi in digestive tracts allow people and animals to absorb nutrients as we digest.

 

So, longer villi have more surface area, which can mean it’s easier for your chicken to absorb nutrients – which means she’ll be healthier.

 

It’s a small difference, but a crucial one.

 

It helps that chickens LOVE to peck at the tiny bits of bee pollen!

 

Peppermint, Rose, and Parsley, Oh My!

I’ve also included peppermint in this treat for a similar reason: Peppermint has strong antibacterial qualities while also helping to settle tummies.

 

Rose, as well, is known for it’s soothing and skin-healing properties (that’s why you see it in so many lotions for people).

 

My chickens particularly love rose because it’s red — for some reason, red is a popular color with hens!

 

Parsley is one of my favorite “hidden gems” — it’s a humble herb we’ve relegated to garnish status, but it’s full of vitamins!

 

So, as your hens enjoy eating the bee pollen, they’ll also get lots of extra nutrients from the parsley.

 

Don’t Forget The Mealworms!

And, of course, mealworms! You might find that your hens go for the mealworms first, but rest assured, they’ll finish off the rest of the ingredients as well!

 

If you’re ready to make this treat, then grab the recipe below!

Bee Healthy Backyard Chicken Treat

Ingredients (per chicken):

½ tsp Bee pollen (buy in the store here)

1 tablespoon Peppermint (buy in the store here)

1 tablespoon Parsley (buy in the store here)

¼ cup Mealworms (buy in the store here)

1 tablespoon Rose buds (buy in the store here)

¼ cup Non-GMO Wheat Berries (buy in the store here)

 

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a bowl and offer immediately. Serve as part of a complete diet alongside grit.

 

Try This Adorable DIY Herb Pot for Healthier Backyard Chickens!

Try This Adorable DIY Herb Pot for Healthier Backyard Chickens!

So chickens LOVE herbs. Seriously. They LOVE them!

 

And not only do chickens  love them, but they’re also really good for them too! They’re also perfect to feed for great eggs. So that’s a huge win-win!

 

I try and incorporate herbs into my chickens’ diet in as many ways as I can. I use herbs in my chickens’ nesting boxes (check out my nesting box herbs in the store here) and they’re a great accompaniment to a great organic layer feed.


So why are herbs so important for your chickens health? Well, herbs can provide nutrition and health benefits that chickens that supplement what they get from their normal feed.

 

While you can provide their regular grain in a chicken feeder, life is more fun with a DIY herb pot.


One of my favorite herbs to use for chickens is oregano.

Oregano has amazing properties (some studies on chickens have shown that after feeding oregano, chickens were healthier, laid better, and weighed more – an important factor in determining health.)


I use dried and fresh oregano and provide them for the chickens in their nesting boxes because it also helps promote cleanliness. 

 

Chickens love to pick at the herbs, and providing them can also give them environmental enrichment – an important step in reducing boredom and negative behaviors!

 

frugal feeds chicken water feeder hacks


I also love using peppermint in my chicken coop because it smells AMAZING, and it stimulates laying.

I also use peppermint in my recipe for natural fly repellent and it does a great job of keeping flies away from me and from my chickens!

 

Peppermint can keep insects such as mites and flies away, and is great for soothing tiny tummies. (You can buy dried peppermint in the store here.)

Peppermint also might help reduce any respiratory issues because of the strong scent.

 

Sage is another healthy herb for hens!

 

Sage is wonderful for hens, and studies show it might help reduce internal parasites. 

Like oregano, chickens love to peck at sage, and find the scent soothing – and it’ll make your coop smell amazing too!


Because herbs are so amazing for chickens and ducks, I decided to create a DIY herb pot for your chickens that you can put in their run!

It’s a great way to add some environmental activities for your chickens, and it looks super cute! Watch the video below to learn how I created this herb pot.



So this project is SO EASY! I love that it’s an fun project, but it also can really help your chickens get the nutrition they need! Plus having environmental activities for your chickens to do can help to prevent negative behaviors.

 


So here’s how I made this DIY Herb Pot for my chickens


All you need is:

  • 3 herb plants (I used peppermint, sage, and oregano because of their nutritional benefits for chickens)
  • One small pot
  • Extra potting soil


And that’s it! All you need to do is place your herbs inside of your pot or teacup and then fill in the empty spaces with the extra potting soil!

 

I used a super cute coffee cup pot for this project – it’s a great, useful accent piece, and – confession time – I love that it has the handle! It makes it so easy to move it around the coop and away from nibbling goats.

 

One thing to be sure of – no matter the pot you choose, be sure it has a hole in the bottom for drainage!

 

Also make sure you give each plant it’s fair share of space – and be sure to keep it watered regularly, and add compost tea as needed.

 

Backyard chicken herb pot

You can also use rabbit manure or worm compost to keep the herbs healthy.

 

This is an amazing easy project to help your chickens (and ducks! The ducks LOVE this herb pot!) be healthy and to provide them with some environmental interest.


Do you have any easy projects you’ve done to help your chickens? I’d love to hear about them! Let me know in the comments below what you have done for your chickens to help them be healthier!

 

6 All-Natural Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

6 All-Natural Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

Nothing is worse than being bothered by flying pests. It can make life miserable for you….and your chickens! That’s why this article is about my top 6 ways to keep flies, gnats, and mosquitoes off your chickens so you AND they can enjoy time outside!

 

It’s just starting to be summer on the farm, which means it’s time for the flying insects to make their grand entrance into the world.

 

I’ve shown you how to keep flies out of your coop, but as your flock plays in their run or tractor, or free ranges, you might notice them shaking their heads quite a bit and looking somewhat miserable, particularly on humid days.

 

You might even hear some annoyed clucks and squawks.

 

It’s possible your flock is being annoyed by gnats, flies, mosquitoes, no see ums, and the like – and it can have an impact on their health.

Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

Why flying insects can cause health problems in your backyard chickens

Think about it – if you’re trying to forever keep insects from bugging you, you’re not eating, drinking, and enjoying life.

 

The extra energy spent constantly moving to keep bugs off also can cause your chickens to lose weight and experience heat stress since they’re physically uncomfortable.

 

Flies and mosquitoes also harbor diseases and bacteria, which can effect the health of your flock. And yes, they WILL bite your chickens.

 

So, in this article, I’ll show you 6 different ways you can keep flying insects off your hens!

 

Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

Citronella plants

Citronella is safe for chickens, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how great it is at keeping bugs away – particularly mosquitoes.

 

Each year about this time, I put a few potted citronella plants in the coop. They look great, keep the air smelling fresh, and help keep mosquitoes from bothering the hens.

 

You can also use fresh citronella in nesting boxes (see below for more herbal nesting box options), which might prevent them from getting heat stress and laying abnormal eggs.

 

Just be sure to clean your nesting boxes 3-4 times a week if you’re using fresh herbs.

 

Lemongrass in nesting boxes

Lemongrass and citronella are related, and both contain the chemical constituent that does such a great job keeping us bug free during the summer.

 

I have not found the citronella plant as a dried herb, so I use lemongrass in my flock’s nesting boxes to give them extra protection while they lay eggs.

 

I’ve noticed that when the hens sit still to lay their eggs, they’re way more prone to being irritated by gnats, mosquitoes, and flies – which can make it pretty difficult to get those butt nuggets out easily.

 

Imagine trying to give birth while having a mosquito buzzing around your head. No fun.

 

We carry dried lemongrass in the store here and it’s also a main ingredient in PestsBGone, which I developed specifically to keep pests away in coops.

 

Both of these are the same herbs I use in my own backyard chicken flock’s nesting boxes so they’re happy and lay great eggs.


Worried about pests in your coop??

MitesBGone Nesting Herbs can keep mites, lice & other creepy crawlies away.

YES! I want to keep mites & other parasites out of my nesting boxes!!


Dried Lemon Balm in nesting boxes & feed and fresh potted plants

Lemon balm also contains citronella, and can be mixed in feed and nesting boxes.

 

We grow it every year in our garden, and for us, it’s a perennial. So, we have a constant supply of fresh lemon balm to hang in the coop or mix into the nesting boxes.

 

You can also tear fresh lemon balm to release the essential oils and rub them on your flock’s combs, wattles, legs, and other areas that seem bothered by insects.

 

You can buy started lemon balm at your local big box store and replant into pots. If you want to use dried lemon balm (it smells GREAT and the essential oils are concentrated), you can find it in my store right here.

 

You can also mix dried lemon balm into your flock’s feed – they love the fresh taste and picking at the herbs.

 

dried lemon balm Ways To Keep Flies, Gnats, And Mosquitoes Off Your Chickens

 

Citronella essential oil mixed with carrier oil

Not everyone wants to use essential oils on their chickens – and that’s fine.

 

If you DO use oils on your flock, citronella essential oil is GREAT to quickly apply to your flock if they’re REALLY bothered by gnats, flies, mosquitoes, etc and are completely miserable.

 

This time of year, I usually have a few hens who seem especially bothered, and they seem much relieved after applying citronella oil.

 

You can mix 1 drop of citronella essential oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil such as coconut oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, etc and apply the mixture to combs, wattles, etc to keep the bugs at bay.

 

If essential oils aren’t your thing, you can combine citronella, dried lemongrass, or dried lemon balm with olive oil, allow to steep for 2-4 weeks so the olive oil absorbs the essential oils from the plants, and then apply as needed.

 

I avoid essential oils altogether with chicks, and opt for simply keeping fresh or dried herbs around them to prevent pests.

 

Peppermint coop spray & fly spray for chickens

I cover how to make peppermint coop spray here and natural fly repellent here, and they’re both a great option to keep flies, etc away. Please note that these sprays aren’t meant to be sprayed ON your chickens – just around the coop.

 

I have a recipe below that you can use ON your chickens.

 

Flying insects hate peppermint, although I would also add something like citronella or lemon balm to get a double (or triple) punch. I’m not convinced peppermint is as effective as plants containing citronella when it comes to flying insects (for mites, etc, peppermint is GREAT).

 

If you plan to spray your flock to keep bugs away, consider steeping peppermint with lemongrass in hot water. Allow to cool, then gently mist by spraying the mixture up towards the sky, allowing the mist to fall down.

 

Don’t drench your chickens – you’re not looking to give them a bath. Just mist them a bit, making sure to avoid eyes, ears, nostrils, etc.

 

If they’re particularly bothered in those areas, you can squirt your fingers and gently apply by rubbing your fingers AROUND those areas – not in or on them.


With eyes, if I need to apply around the eyes, I only apply UNDER the eyes to avoid any drips that might harm their eyeballs.

 

I do the same with other species, especially those that physically sweat such as horses – you don’t want anything entering their eyes and potentially causing problems.

 

This is assuming the day is warm enough for it – if the temperature is cool in your area, try a different way I’ve mentioned in this article to keep flies, gnats, and mosquitoes away.

 

We’ve found this to work to provide some relief during particularly muggy & buggy days.

 

As above, I avoid spraying chicks at all and opt to keep fresh or dried herbs around them to keep them bug free.

Marigolds

Marigolds (not calendula, which are great flowers to feed your backyard chicken flock for golden yolks, but regular marigolds you find at your local farm store in early spring) are the go-to for gardeners to keep pests out of the garden, and it’ll work for your coop also.

 

We love putting marigolds in window boxes, hanging them around the coop, placing the petals in nesting boxes, etc to provide relief and help keep our hens comfortable.

 

They’re safe for backyard chickens, and it’s best to put any fresh flowers or herbs we discussed in this article at the same level as your flock.

 

But if you find your hens stripping off the petals, put the marigolds out of reach so they can still do their job or give your flock something tastier to rip apart.

 

The pretty color of marigolds brightens the interior of the coop and nesting boxes. Just be sure to clean your nesting boxes regularly, and keep watch for any potential external parasites such as chicken mites.

 

I hope these ideas give you some ways to keep flies, gnats, and mosquitoes off your chickens so they – and you – can enjoy the warm weather!

Bug Bite Relief Stick You Can Make Practically For Free

Bug Bite Relief Stick You Can Make Practically For Free

Nothing is worse than bug bites, except watching your kids be really, really unhappy! In this article, I’m going to show you how to make an all-natural, bug bite relief stick.

 

When things get a bit creepy crawly on your skin, you CAN grab a bottle of over-the-counter stuff….but you’re taking your chances. We’re trying to lead all-natural lives right?

 

There are all-natural options, and you can use essential oils to bring some bug bite relief to yourself and your little ones with a bug bite relief stick.

 

Got itchy kids? Make my favorite homemade bug bite relief Stick in your own kitchen with essential oils! Easy to follow recipe!

 

What essential oils will we use?

 

In our house, we rely on lavender essential oil for lots of things – including bug bite relief. It’s soothing, promotes healthy skin, and smells good.

 

(The scent especially can provide relief to small children who might be unhappy because of their itchy bug bite.)

 

In this stick, we also will use melaleuca, which promotes healthy skin and has cleansing properties should any dirt or other nasties get into the bite (especially if your child has been scratching at it.)

 

Ingredients To Make Your Own All-Natural Homemade Bug Bite Relief Stick

 

1/2 oz pure beeswax pastilles, about 1 tablespoon (I use this brand)

4 oz carrier oil, about 3 tablespoons (such as olive, coconut, or almond oil)

20 drops lavender essential oil

10 drops melaleuca essential oil

Empty lip balm containers (I like these or these)

 

Directions To Make Your Own All-Natural Homemade Bug Bite Relief Stick

 

To make your bug bite relief stick, you want to melt the carrier oil and the beeswax together, then add the essential oils before everything cools and hardens.

 

The carrier oil works to make the mixture easily spreadable, while the beeswax gives it some structure. The essential oils do the job of helping your little ones with their bug bite.

 

To make the bug bite relief stick, combine the carrier oil and beeswax in a heatproof container, such as a mason jar.

 

Fill a small pot ½ way with water and place your mason jar with the carrier oil and beeswax in it, creating a double boiler. Heat the water slowly, until the beeswax is completely melted.

 

Stir gently to combine, and remove from the heat. Immediately add the essential oils, and stir gently to combine.

 

While the bug bite relief stick mixture is still completely melted, pour into the lip balm containers, and allow to cool until the mixture is completely solid.

 

Once cool, store and apply as needed. If the bug bite relief stick is too soft, you can melt it again and add more beeswax, or simply adjust this bug bite relief stick recipe when you make it again.

 

If desired, you can also add a few drops of peppermint to the mixture; it’s cooling and some kids love it on their bug bites.

 

Roses and calendula, as well, promote healthy skin. One option is to infuse the carrier oil with rose or calendula petals for 2 weeks before making your homemade bug bite relief stick.

Bugs Bugging Your Pets? Here’s 3 All Natural Essential Oils You Can Use To Keep Bugs At Bay!

Bugs Bugging Your Pets? Here’s 3 All Natural Essential Oils You Can Use To Keep Bugs At Bay!

Today, I’m going to show you how you can use essential oils to prevent and deter insects that can bother your pets.

 

With some notable exceptions (which we’ll talk about below), essential oils are safe to use on and around your pets when diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil (on large animals, I’ve been able to put them directly on depending on the situation.)

 

Naturally, when using oils, you want to remember safety first – when in doubt, dilute. Oils are powerful stuff!

 

In this article, we’re going to talk about keeping pet-annoying insects at bay, including:

 

  • Fleas
  • Mites
  • Ticks

 

We’ll cover using oils with dogs, chickens, and large animals.

 

A word about cats: Certain oils, when used in large quantities, can harm our feline friends, so we won’t be including cats in our discussion today. Citrus oils, in particular, are known to cause problems with feline livers, preventing them from functioning correctly.

 

We’ve diffused citrus oils (bergamot, orange) around our two cats a couple times a week, and always give the kitties a chance to leave the room. Our cats have been fine, but I would hesitate to diffuse oils consistently in a closed room with our cats, and I would not personally use citrus oils directly on them either.

 

I recommend you speak to a knowledgeable vet before using any essential oils on your cats.

 

Now, on to the bugs we’ll eliminate today!

 

Get Rid Of Bugs That Bother Your Pets

 

When it comes to fighting bugs and getting rid of bug itchies, lavender essential oil is your best bet. It counters all the insects we’ll discuss, and it’s soothing enough to use. Lavender also promotes healthy skin, so you can use it topically on your pets (diluted with coconut oil).

 

To prevent insects like fleas in your home, you can diffuse lavender as well – and as a bonus, it’ll make your house smell nice (and help you destress….or help your kids stop climbing the walls).

 

Fleas

When someone asks me about preventing insects on their pets with oils, they’re usually thinking of fleas.

 

One summer, we had a TERRIBLE flea infestation in our home. I cannot say how it started….but it started.

 

Lavender was my go to – and after I constantly started diffusing it, lo and behold our infestation stopped. Immediately. What a relief!

 

Preventative Spray

If you want to an all-natural preventative spray you can use regularly on your pets (particularly dogs), then go grab your favorite spray bottle, and fill it with water.

 

Add 2-3 drops of your favorite lavender essential oil (keeping purity in mind  – DON’T buy these on Amazon. Go with an established brand so you know you’re putting only lavender oil on your pet).

 

Shake before using and carefully spray your pet. Avoid eyes, nose, and ears.

 

You can also use this spray on pet beds and blankets. Allow bedding to air dry so your pet doesn’t get the oils in their eyes or noses.

 

Homemade Flea Collar

Commercial flea collars are full of chemicals….so you might not be so crazy about using them on your pets. You CAN make your own all-natural flea collars with oils, though!

 

To make an all-natural flea collar, grab a clean bandana and add 5 drops of oil evenly spread throughout the cloth. Tie the bandana around your dog to prevent fleas. Re-apply the lavender oil every couple of days as needed.

 

Flea Dip

If things have gotten bad enough, you’ll probably want to give your pet a good old fashioned flea dip.  To make a homemade flea dip, you’ll need:

  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon castile soap
  • 2 drops lavender oil

 

Fill your tub with water (I go for “just barely warm” water so I don’t accidentally scald my pets). Add in 2 drops of oil, making sure to keep your pet’s face out of the water. If you don’t think this is possible, then leave the oil out, and use the all-natural preventative bandana after your pet is dry.

 

Rub in the castile soap, making sure to thoroughly coat your pet. Let sit for a couple minutes, if your pet will allow it. You will probably start to see fleas emerging. It’s a slightly-disgusting-but-satisfying feeling.

 

Hose off the castile soap/lavender water mixture. Dry your pet, and use the all-natural flea collar bandana above to prevent fleas from returning.

 

You can also use cedarwood essential oil in addition to or instead of lavender.

 

Mites

Mites are no good for any animal. We once were given a rabbit with such a bad mite infestation in his ears, he could not walk properly (the infection was giving him vertigo). Since then, I try to stay up-to-date on preventing mites. On our farm, we’ve used oils to prevent fleas on dogs, rabbits, and chickens.

 

Dogs

For dogs, lavender oil is a good option (see fleas above).

 

Backyard chickens

To prevent mites in your chicken coop, a peppermint oil coop spray is ideal. To make the peppermint oil coop spray, grab your favorite spray bottle and fill it with 8 oz WHITE vinegar.

 

Add 5-10 drops of peppermint essential oil, and spray liberally around the coop (making sure to get all nooks and crannies). Make sure your flock is out of the area (the oils are safe, but better safe than sorry). You can read more about using peppermint oil in your coop here.

 

For mites ON your chickens, diatomaceous earth is my go-to. You can read about it here. If you want to use oils instead of DE, 1 drop of peppermint diluted in 4 tablespoons coconut oil is my go-to to promote healthy skin. Apply to the area of concern 2-3 times a day, or as needed.

 

Rabbits

For our rabbits that have mite infestations in their ears, we carefully clean the ears so they’re free of build up. We then follow up with 1 drop of lavender diluted in 4 tablespoons of coconut oil (melt the oil then add the drop of lavender).

 

Rub it on the flesh inside the ear, but only the upper portion – NOT inside the ear. Keep the ears clean regularly, and reapply the coconut/lavender oil.

 

Ticks

Once your pets have ticks, you just have to pull them out. To clean the wound, you can use 1 drop oregano oil mixed with 1 tablespoon coconut oil and apply after washing the wound well.

 

To make an all-natural repellent spray, mix 3 drops of lavender in 8 oz of water. Spray liberally before your pet goes outside, making sure to avoid the face, eyes, ears, and nose. You can also use cedarwood.

 

The CDC has even said that these oils are safe essential oils to repel certain insects, ticks included.