Happy hens lay healthy eggs. We all love those fresh eggs and do our best to get the most out of our hens. But sometimes we forget all the hard work hens put into making just a single egg. We forget that they like privacy and peace when laying an egg. And most of all, we forget nest box aromatherapy.
Nest box aromatherapy is simple and makes a world of a difference. Hens who lay in a nest filled with herbs are generally relaxed, healthier and even happier than those who don't. Not only will it keep the hens happy, but it will keep the entire coop smelling like an herb garden. Many herbs benefit chickens in different ways. Plus if you have a hen who has gone broody, herbs will keep her in better shape than she otherwise would be.Now that I use herbs my hens tend to lay faster and they seem much healthier. Once, my hen was trying to lay an egg and she had been in the nest for over an hour. I sprinkled herbs around and on her and, almost immediately, she stood up and laid her egg! The only problem with herbs is that they can sometimes be too aromatic and cause your hens to actually sleep in the nests. This causes problems such as blocked/clogged nests, messy eggs and bedding material and, occasionally, broodiness. So, make sure to not overdo herbs. Hens benefit from nest box herbs by inhaling, rubbing against and eating them.
(Photo courtesy of the chicken-chick.com)
Broody hens not only benefit from inhaling herbs but also benefit from their insect repelling powers. Often times when hens go broody, they are annoyed and bothered by lice, mites, flies and other pests. Herbs such as mint, catnip and marigolds will all keep bugs like this away. Plus, herbs such as cilantro, garlic, lavender and marjoram all aid in blood circulation which is important since broody hens rarely get off their nest to stretch their legs and wings. When baby chicks are born they will additionally benefit from the herbs. Parsley is possibly the best herb for baby chicks. It is high in vitamins and calcium. It also helps with bone and feather growth and formation.
Here is a list of the most common herbs used in nest boxes:
Catnip-Insect repellant and aromatic
Dill-Calming boosts respiratory health
Lavender-Calming, increases blood circulation, stess reducing, aromatic
Lemon Balm-Calming, rodent repeller
Marigolds-Insect repellent, soothing (it does not repel earwigs though!)
Mint-Insect repellant, highly aromatic
Parsley-High in vitamins
Rose Petals-Calming, aromatic
Thyme-Boosts respiratory health, calming
Yarrow- Stress reliever
All of the herbs listed above can be used year round. They are best used fresh. Simply cut the amount you wish to use and sprinkle it in the nests. Note: All the herbs listed will not harm your birds if eaten. You may find it hard to grow and use herbs in the winter. If you are not interested in growing herbs in the winter, then consider purchasing a nest box blend from chicken stores either online or locally.
Nest box aromatherapy will relax, soothe and calm laying and broody hens. Thus resulting in eggs not just coming from a hen, but from a healthy and happy hen!