herbal medicine garden for chickens



6 Years
Jan 24, 2017
Central Idaho 3000 ft
Just read this article about animals being observed eating medicinal plants when under parasite loads. Absolutely fascinating! It makes the argument for as much diversity as possible to be made to animals so they can choose medicinal when needed.


“There’s a learning process that needs to take place in order for them to develop a preference for foods that contain those medicines,” Villalba says. Tellingly, the sheep chose the medicated food only when they required it. When Villalba dewormed the infected animals, even those that had previously medicated themselves successfully avoided the bitter-tasting fare. They sensed that they didn’t need to self-treat. Villalba has also found that lambs and ewes learn about medicinal foods faster when they’re together (rather than alone), as if primed for a transfer of medicinal knowledge. This could explain how, once acquired, medicinal understanding is maintained in groups of animals.


Credit Illustration by Kelsey Dake
The abiding question — the greatest puzzle of all, really — is how animals first learn which plants are medicinal. Villalba has observed that lambs infected with parasites are more likely to try new plants when grazing in an open pasture compared to uninfected lambs. They lose some of what scientists call food “neophobia,” the fear of new flavors, and their greater willingness to explore the surrounding foodscape may increase the odds of a medicinal discovery.
I love this. I've always grown herbs and now have decided to plant herb gardens thru run and around my duck and chicken coops. Done a lot of research and not to mention the great nutritional value of many herbs and greens but the medicinal properties and prevention of many different illnesses plus parasite and pest control has convinced me to go for it. Plus, chickens/ducks love em
I love watching the chickens eat the seed heads from the dandelions before the blow away. So fun to see them get a dandelion beard!

I have thyme, oregano, bee balm, lemon balm, mountain mint, basil during summer. Going to extend the herb garden this year and add some more.

I also have a large pot with citronella right outside their barn door entrance to help deter flies. Did that last year and again this year. It doesn't survive over winter in my area.
Yes the bee balm and lemon balm are awesome too! I'm in Ohio so lots of things don't make it thru the winter..Lol. The mint ya can't kill tho...Which is great for me but some people don't like it but my ducks n chickens do! :)
I have started a notebook of the beneficial herbs and plants along with their uses. I would like to be able to plant throughout and beside my flocks areas so they can free choice what they need. Plus, attract the good bugs and deter the pests...And would like to do a small indoor medicinal patch for winter for prevention and treatment of issues that could arise. There are so many things my birds have done for me. Made me laugh, given me motivation on rough days and occupied me on slow days...They need something in return. :)
Fantastic article. I was already convinced of animals self-medicating after researching goats, and "poisonous plants". Everyone says something different. And like the article, there's always dispute on the safety of them eating acorns, which are high in tannins (anti-parasitic). If they were raised in a knowledgable herd, they may know what they need and how much, while others eat it and become ill because they don't know to regulate it in their diet.
Love it!
Believe me your birds will appreciate your efforts in growing an herb garden. There are a lot more herbs I want to plant around here too We also have wild bee balm growing all over and St Johns wort too. Other herbs too

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