What Herbs are Your Favorites for your Flock?

classicsredone

Songster
Jan 6, 2011
1,028
56
211
Crunchy California
This is a question for those of you that somehow incorporate herbs into your flock's diet, either while foraging or as part of their daily feed. What herbs do you use? What benefits have you seen, if any? If you could make a mix for your flock, and the cost was not an issue, what herbs would you include? Why? Would you change the mix for your layers vs. meat birds?
 

PouleChick

Crowing
Apr 6, 2016
2,158
6,261
407
SW France
Great post! I'm just getting over the 'working out how to keep them alive and safe' stage so want to start incorporating more natural things. I've just started mixing my own feed (mixture of whole grains and a specially forumlated pellet to mix in with the grains that has the extra minerals etc) - aiming ot add herbs too but just not sure how yet and haven't had time to research it!
Dill, thyme, basil, garlic, cilantro, flat leaf parsley. All provide immune support and my flock loves them.
How do you serve it to them? Fresh / dried / on the plant / picked?
 

igorsMistress

Crossing the road barefoot.
Premium Feather Member
Apr 9, 2013
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My Coop
Great post! I'm just getting over the 'working out how to keep them alive and safe' stage so want to start incorporating more natural things. I've just started mixing my own feed (mixture of whole grains and a specially forumlated pellet to mix in with the grains that has the extra minerals etc) - aiming ot add herbs too but just not sure how yet and haven't had time to research it!

How do you serve it to them? Fresh / dried / on the plant / picked?
I have a couple of those suet cake cages. I stuff them with herbs, mustard greens, napa cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, lettuce. Then I hang them on a fence at head height and leave them to it. I've chopped stuff up and tossed it on the compost pile. They love that after I've watered the pile because the bugs comecome out. If a plant is spent I pull it and put in the compost for them too.
 

HillBilly64

In the Brooder
May 25, 2018
28
25
36
Gold Coast, Australia
I attempted to transplant a large pineapple sage bush into their run over the weekend. Apparently this is a favorite of theirs as they stripped the bush in a few hours flat! Mine don't seem to fond of any of the other herbs i try and give them - though maybe they need to be 'growing'. No idea on the benefits sorry- although my 2 molting chooks who haven't laid in a week both laid yesterday.
 

classicsredone

Songster
Jan 6, 2011
1,028
56
211
Crunchy California
I have been using what I have on hand. Unfortunately, my garden was wiped out due to hot summers, wet winters, and me being unable to spend more than a few minutes in the sun without burning to a crisp. (I'm on four different antibiotics due to a MAC infection, which actually can show up in bird keepers, but I had no birds at the time so who knows where it came from. I have no choice about the long-term antibiotics, and sunblock is iffy in how well it helps.) The only herb plant that survived, aside from some lemon balm that will NOT die, is a big thyme plant. I got some other herbs, but unfortunately, a family member just trying to be helpful put them on a glass patio table, and they burned to a crisp. That being said, I am going to start some seeds. The bees in the area LOVE borage, and borage reseeds itself under good conditions, so that corner of our yard is taken care of. I have a home for mason & leafcutter bees that I got this year, and I promised my husband that I'd get the yard in shape and take a class on honey beekeeping before I go out and buy the Flow Hive and bees that I want. So, it really is time to plant some herbs.

The mix has varied as far as the dried herbs. I had a ton of dried marjoram, garlic powder, hibiscus, rose hips, dandelion root, elderberries, ginger, hot peppers, and even a vegetable soup mix made from dehydrated vegetables and herbs for flavoring. They LOVE the veggie soup mix that is in their feed, especially the fermented feed. I also feed a lot of seeds and am doing research to mix a gluten-free, GMO-free, organic feed. I've got Celiac disease, so even if the kids or husband feed the birds, I'm exposed to the powder that is all over after mixing food or around the coop. I want to be able to hold the birds and mix their feed without worry. But, I digress. I want to come up with a mix that I can add to their dry food and that works well when fermented. I'd also like to get some plantings going so that I can toss fresh herbs into their enclosure. Ideally, the herbs will also be good for pollinators. I have a little wildflower garden on the darker side of the house where it does not drain incredibly well, but also does not need much watering. That is huge in during dry California summers. I'm sure the birds will eventually mow that over once we let them out (we need to inspect the fence and clip flight feathers first because they can reach the top of their 6' enclosure at 7 weeks with absolutely no problem.

My husband jokes that I am trying to season the birds from the inside out. I'm just trying to make healthy, organic birds that make healthy, organic eggs and meat. I'm really looking at what the herbs can do for the chickens. I'm trying to shorten my list by putting the herbs into categories of sorts. Works as a general antibiotic? It goes in this pile. Good for lung and eye health? Put that in its own category. Stimulates appetite? Put that here, if you will. Hopefully by writing down exactly what I want, and then matching it to herbs that are available to me in bulk. I'd much rather make enough to go into 50 or 100 lbs of food, rather than individual batches or a canning jar at a time. I do find that the birds are more excited by the foods I add if the herbs are mixed in. Chickens do not have the strongest sense of taste or smell, so maybe the very flavorful herbs are strong enough to be exciting to them? The herb mix is pretty green, but I also like to sprinkle hot/chili pepper powder on top of the food. The powder is red, which encourages the chicks to peck away at it. It keeps the fermented feed from being the same color as their pellets. It also works well as a wormer and can warm their little tummies in cooler weather. They don't feel the heat when they eat peppers, so I'm not shy about the amount.
 
Mar 30, 2018
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I have an herb garden in pots on my porch. I have been throwing some oregano, basil, thyme, and mint into the run about twice a week.
I just opened up their nesting boxes last week, and I plan to add some herbs to those as well.
Mine seem to like the mint and thyme the best.
 

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