Treating & Maintaining Healthy Chickens with Herbs

Here are several different herbal remedies we use to keep our chicks and chickens healthy! Learn about preventatives for common diseases, and how...
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  1. Arya28
    Hi, everyone!

    I've had some people ask me about this recently, and so I thought it wouldn't be a bad thing to share on here :)

    **Please note that I am not a vet, and these are just my opinions and experiences with my chickens and what I've learned**

    We we are (mostly) trying everything we can to keep our chickens organic (as much as reasonably possible) so it has definitely been interesting experimenting to see what works and doesn't work with our chickens- though we only use stuff we know isn't toxic to them.

    When we first got our chicks, we didn't know a lot about chicken keeping lol. So we were buying them organic feed, staying away from the medicated feed or vaccinations (which I know everyone has their own opinions about those two things, this is just what we think is best for our flock). So when we had an out brake of coccidiosis, we were reading everywhere trying to find out if there are any natural solutions to it. We actually read in several different places that a lot of the time corrid doesn't actually work, and that is the main reason we chose to go the natural route.

    One of the first things we used for the coccidiosis is oil of oregano. We had Now brand oil of oregano which is 25% pure oregano oil diluted in olive oil. What it is is the pure essential oil taken from the oregano leaves, which have lots of medicinal and anti parasitic properties. So the oil is essentially a really strong blend of all of those great properties that are in the oregano leaves. This particular one is diluted in olive oil because essential oils are very strong (1 drop of peppermint oil= 70 cups of peppermint tea!) and this one is meant to be ingested. For our baby chicks we use small mason jars on the waterer base, so for one serving of water we generally mix one drop of oil in another cup of water, then fill their waterer halfway with that and halfway with plain water to dilute it so they get about half a drop. We started out giving them about 3 drops in one serving of water to kill the coccidiosis, and they are fine, but if you notice the are panting a bit it may taste a bit too strong for them. That's why we dilute it now, so you just have to kind of estimate based off of how large your waterer is and how big your chickens are. The oregano is also great for their diet overall, not just preventing and treating coccidiosis. It builds up their immune system, and acts as a natural anti biotic for any infection or immune upset they might have. Once we started with the oregano, a few of our chicks had already been really sick, and the coccidiosis works fast, so we did lose a few which was really sad. But once we discovered it we gave all of our new chicks oregano oil to start with a few weeks before exposing them to dirt to build up their immunity, and I strongly believe that worked!

    Another great herb that we use for our chickens is Aloe. We first started using aloe to treat the coccidiosis in our chicks, and we now use it Avery once in a while as a sort of vitamin supplement/coccidiosis preventative in chicks. You can mash up the leaves and give them to your chickens, or you could just scrape the gel from the inside of the leaves and use that. It won't hurt them. However, we didn't have an aloe plant at first when we decided to use it so we bought pure organic aloe juice from the pharmacy section in Walmart and used that. We would give them about 1-2 tablespoons in a jar of water, sometimes more or less. It's really good for them, and it's what Africans use to kill coccidiosis in their chickens! It also has tons of vitamins and nutrients, which will help them grow faster. However, the only thing to pay attention to when using aloe with your chickens is electrolytes. When we started with it, we thought it had electrolytes in it. But it doesn't, and it actually can create an electrolyte imbalance. So whenever we give our chicks or chickens aloe, we just make sure to give them a dose of electrolytes before or after and they have always been completely fine with that.

    Some other things we have used, and do use frequently for them include fresh raw garlic, Braags apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, probiotics, clove, and black walnut hulls. When our chicks were little we gave them ground up cloves and black walnut in their food to help with the coccidiosis as well. You can buy black walnut capsules at the store, we opened them and used a small amount of the powder in their food. That, along with the garlic, cinnamon, and acv are really great at treating other types of intestinal parasites as well. Plus, our chickens absolutely love garlic, which also had anti-biotic properties.

    We also have several herbs in our garden that we use regularly for our chickens. They love mint, and it can help to naturally lower their body temperature if they have a fever. Lavender is nice and calming and smells amazing! Rosemary is good for pain relief in chickens, and dill can work as a calming agent/natural sedative for chickens if you need that for some reason (i.e., if you have chickens who are fighting, or over excited or scared for some reason. Or if you just need them to calm down). They love thyme. Ginger, turmeric, garlic, cinnamon and hot peppers are anti-inflammatory. And they don't have heat receptors in their mouth so they love the hot peppers!

    These are the main things we've done, if you have any more questions feel free to ask! We are always reading and figuring out new herbal remedies for our chickens so that we have them on hand or in our garden.

    Again, these are just my opinions and experiences that I thought some of you might find useful. And I'm not judging you if you use medicated feed or vaccinate your chicks, we just didn't choose to for our flock. I know this is a controversial subject, so I am just trying to give everyone some helpful information :)

    And if anyone else has herbal remedies that weren't mentioned here I would love to hear them!!
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  1. BugStalker
    Excellent. I also use most of these, though there are cautions.

    Oil of oregano can vary in strength, depending on the brand, and for some brands, depending on the batch. Too much or too long usage results in crop tissue and liver damage. The digestive lining usually gets irritated before it goes that far, so I watch for that.

    Aloe can cause allergic reactions, such as anaphalaxis. I rub some on my finger and touch it to a bird's foot, then watch for trouble, if the bird is well enough to wait.

    Garlic overdose can cause anemia.

    Etc. Basically too much of any good thing makes it bad.
      Karen Hiler, black_dove2 and Arya28 like this.
    1. Arya28
      Yes we use them in moderation. Our chickens don't get each of these things every day, and in moderation when they do. Still, these herbs, when used correctly are a lot less harmful and a lot more beneficial than many chemical filled antiobiotics and drugs. Because of that, we figure using the herbs better. You're correct that too much of any good thing can be bad. I'm sure everyone has their own methods, these are just mine. :)
      black_dove2 and BugStalker like this.
    2. BugStalker
      I once raised 5 chicks in a garden with herbs on non-medicated feed. Everyone, including me, thought I'd have to treat for cocci, but they never had a problem with it.
      black_dove2 and Arya28 like this.
  2. black_dove2
    Thank you! Very informative.

    I have lots of Aloe growing. Is it okay to just plit a leaf and let my hens puck at it? My dogs knock many leaves off and im running out of what to do with it all.

    Some of the other herbs you mentioned, Rosemary for one is it safe to have the plant growing in their run? I've started my herb garden indoors and will be moving outside soon. I was planning on garden in the run. Have you run into any herb which may be harmful in large doses?
      Arya28 likes this.
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    2. Arya28
      As elaineinspain said, they mostly stay away from what they shouldn't have. The only exception to that with ours is they try to eat our tomato and potato leaves and they shouldn't have them. But you should be fine as far as herbs go!
      black_dove2 likes this.
    3. black_dove2
      How about catnip? Just wondering. It always looks so soft and green in the local grocery store
    4. elaineinspain
      Catnip is actually really healthy for chickens. It is good for their reproductive functions. And it's easy to grow. Try growing it with a little fence around it so the chickens can reach it through the fence links to peck at it, to prevent them from scratching up the whole plant.
      black_dove2 likes this.
  3. elaineinspain
    what do you use to emulsify the essential oils with the water? I always add essential oil to my hens fermented feed and mix thoroughly because of the problem of the oil not dispersing in the water
      Arya28 likes this.
    1. Arya28
      Hi elaineinspain! Generally I just stick something like a coffee stirrer into the center of the oil drop and mix it around really well. Then you will see that there are a bunch of tiny little oil drops throughout the water and I usually just give it to them like that. It won't mix super thoroughly but I figure it's enough for them all to get some of it. But I'm sure adding it to the feed would work as well! :)
      elaineinspain likes this.

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