Planting Herbs for Chickens to Eat

Chickens are omnivores, which means that they need to eat both plants and animals, usually in the form of insects.  Eating both plants and insects is critical for healthy chickens.  But did you know that herbs are also beneficial for chickens? 

Over the years, herbs have become increasingly popular as home remedies for both humans and animals, including chickens.  Using herbs to raise healthy chickens isn’t just a fad either; there is a ton of research showing the health benefits of feeding herbs to your chickens.  You can use herbs to replace antibiotics, prevent disease, treat illnesses and keep pests off of your chickens.

If there’s a chicken problem, there’s probably a proven herb treatment for it!

Growing Herbs for Your Chickens

The best way to give your chickens herbs is to provide them with fresh options.  This means growing herbs at home for your chickens.  You can grow herbs for your chickens in an herb garden, along with culinary or medicinal herbs for yourself.  Most of the herbs that you would grow for your chickens are herbs that you’ll also enjoy.

You can also grow your chickens their own herb garden.  Chickens are pretty intelligent when it comes to what they eat.  If they have access to herbs, they’ll usually consume the ones that have the biggest health benefit to them at the time. However, chickens will also consume large amounts of herbs if allowed and may consume so much of a plant that it dies.

When you plant herbs specifically for your chickens, take this into consideration.  You want your chickens to be able to access the herbs, but not completely kill the plants.  A good way to do this is to plant herbs around the perimeter of the run.  Plant the herbs on the outside of the run, close enough to the fence that your chickens can reach part of the plant to eat it, but they can’t consume the entire plant and kill it.

If you don’t want to risk your chickens completely eating your herbs, you can plant an herb garden near your coop, out of reach of your chickens.  A few times a week, clip off some of the leaves and stems and toss them into the coop for your chickens.

Which Herbs to Plant

Almost all herbs are healthy for chickens.  If it’s a culinary herb or medicinal herb that you enjoy, your chickens will probably enjoy it also.  Here are some easy-to-grow herbs that your chickens will love:

  • Rosemary- Rosemary is an aromatic herb that is very hardy.  This perennial herb can help to calm stressed chickens and has some pest-repelling properties.
  • Oregano- Oregano is an herb that has some major health benefits for your chickens.  It is a natural antibiotic and can replace synthetic antibiotics and coccidiostat medicines.  Meat chickens that are fed oregano also produce meat that has a longer shelf life.
  • Thyme- Thyme is a perennial herb that has health benefits also.  Thyme has natural antibiotic properties and can be used to replace synthetic antibiotics. 
  • Lavender- Your chickens will enjoy lavender as much as you.  The calming scent of lavender can work wonders on stressed chickens.  Lavender placed in nesting boxes can reduce the instances of egg-bound hens.
  • Mint- Mint is an herb that grows rapidly and comes back year after year, making it a wonderful addition to a chicken herb garden.  Mint has powerful insect-repelling properties that will help to keep gnats, flies and mites away from your chickens.

There are many other herbs that can be planted for your chickens, so feel free to experiment to see what your chickens enjoy the most.  The next time that you pick up herbs to grow for yourself, buy some extra herbs for your chickens!

Published by Shelby DeVore

Shelby is an agricultural enthusiast that shares her love of all things farming with her husband and two children on their small farm in West Tennessee. She is a former agriculture education teacher and is also the author of the blog Farminence, where she enjoys sharing her love of gardening, raising livestock and more simple living. You can see more of Shelby's articles at: