Grow herbs in your sustainable garden for your backyard chickens to save money. This is a great natural way to keep your chickens healthy in a permaculture, and holistic fashion.
My last blog post was about the layers of plants in a sustainable chicken garden. Now we are going to spend some time on the shortest layer, specifically herbs.
There are so many benefits to growing herbs in a chicken garden. Here’s a quick list to give you an idea of all the great things that can happen when you plant them:
- You can harvest some of the herbs and use them in your kitchen
- Microbes in the soil love the herb’s roots
- Nearby plants like the beneficial insects that come to the herbs
- Nearby plants like the protection from bad bugs that herbs give
- Chickens like the herbs and eat them when they need them, keeping them healthy.
Everything around the herbs benefits when you grow them!
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Which Herbs to Plant & Use
Any and all herbs would be great to add to your garden—the more species the better and more sustainable your garden and chickens will be. Here’s a list of herbs and their qualities to get to started. *This list is from my book, The Holistic Homestead: How to Start an Interconnected Homestead*
- Alfalfa is full of lots of protein, amino acids, and minerals. This is a great food to grow for chickens. (Alfalfa is a common GMO crop. Make sure you get non-GMO alfalfa and/or seeds.)
- Basil is antibacterial, and can be used for mucous membrane health.
- Cilantro is good for bone health, has antioxidant properties, helps keep fungus away and is high in Vitamins A and K (which are good for eye health and blood clotting).
- Comfrey is very high in protein, calcium, potassium and amino acids. Comfrey is a herb I have been wanting to grow for years and haven’t gotten to yet. There are so many good things to be said about it. It is a controversial herb though. Some say it is bad to feed to chickens, yet others say it’s the best thing in the world. Look it up for yourself. I’ve decided if it’s one plant in a holistic garden with other food sources, it’s fine for them to eat.
- Dandelions are full of amazing minerals but it is considered a weed in many places. You can give your chickens the whole plant—a great source of green food.
- Dill helps with respiratory health, is a sedative/relaxant, and contains antioxidant properties.
- Fennel Seed is an egg laying stimulant.
- Garlic is antibacterial, antiviral, and an egg laying stimulant.
- Lavender lowers stress and is an insect repellent.
- Lemon Balm lowers stress, repels rodents and is antibacterial.
- Marigold is an egg laying stimulant.
- Marjoram is another egg laying stimulant.
- Nasturtium is yet another egg laying stimulant. Also, it is an antibiotic, antiseptic, insecticide, and de-wormer.
- Nettles are full of calcium, protein, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. A great green food to grow in your garden.
- Oregano has antibiotics that may prevent infections, e-coli, salmonella, avian flu and black head.
- Parsley is rich in vitamins and is an egg laying stimulant.
- Peppermint is an insect repellent and parasite control.
- Rose Petals are high in vitamin C.
- Rosemary is an insect repellant, and is good for pain relief and respiratory health.
- Sage helps control parasites and is an antioxidant.
- Thyme is great for respiratory health and parasite control. Also, it is an antioxidant and antibacterial.
- Wormwood is a dewormer, plus it helps in lice control and general health.
*This list was taken from my book, The Holistic Homestead: How to Start an Interconnected Homestead*
How to Use These Herbs
You have a few options when it comes to using the herbs you grow. Here are three methods you can try.
1. Dry Them & Use Later
You can pick the herbs, dry them and then feed them to your chickens or place in their coop, nesting boxes or run at any time. (Maybe if herbs are seasonal you could do this when the herbs aren’t in season.)
2. Use Fresh
Same as with the dried, you can grow your herbs away from your chickens and harvest and carry them to your flock when desired. Add them to their nesting boxes, dust baths, coop floor, chicken feed, or hang some in the coop.
3. Grow Them for the Chickens to Harvest—The Most Holistic Way
The best way to feed chickens herbs is to plant them right outside their coop. The chickens harvest and eat them whenever they desire.
This is the most sustainable and holistic way to feed your chickens herbs. It requires the least amount of work on your part and the chickens can get them whenever they want. Not to mention the benefits to the soil and neighboring plants you’re growing.
Protecting Plants From Your Chickens
Chickens will be very destructive to your plants if you do not properly protect them. Putting up some fencing around them (all sides and over top of them) and securing it firmly until they are established is important to keep the plants alive. After they have been growing a while (sometimes a few years, depending on the type of plant) you can remove the fencing. Just keep an eye on them. If it seems like the chickens are stressing the plants too much, protect again with the fencing.
Garlic & Apple Cider Vinegar
Adding crushed apple cider vinegar and garlic to your chickens water is also great for their health. Check this post out to learn more.
Want to Save Money on Your Feed Bill?
Check out this post, 10 ways to save money on your feed bill to learn more.