Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Anyone who has ever tried to chase down a small child or squirrely chicken with the intention of administering some sort of herbal medicine knows that you’ve got to be creative ... and fast ... There are many articles out there filled with great advice on how to treat your flock naturally. Unfortunately, making up any herbal concoction in your kitchen is just the beginning of your troubles.
The best way to get herbs into your chickens is to grow them on your property and either allow them access as they free-range or frequently cut and drop the plants into their run. It is a rare chicken that will not jump on a pile of fresh greens. If you don’t grow them you can easily buy them dried from a local supplier or someplace like Mountain Rose Herbs. The herbs that can be of most benefit are:
comfrey (Symphytum spp.)
garlic (Allium sativum)
chickweed (Stellaria media)
burdock (Arctium lappa)
nettle (Urtica dioica)
dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
One of the most common ailments for which homesteaders want to treat their hens is a worm infestation. If your hen is tame and can stand to be given droppersful of tea, you may give a combination of wormwood and honey or molasses. Generally this is done a couple times a day for several days. Here at our farm, our chickens aren’t nearly that cooperative. They’re also a little spoiled and expect to receive special things from time to time or they go in search of my prized tomatoes. I devised a base recipe for medicine and supplement delivery that we hand out like treats. Your chickens may be hesitant at first but, believe me, once they get a taste they will attack it every time you bring one to them.
Chicken Treat Bars
(Making All-Natural, Homemade Chicken Deworming Patties video)
1/2 cup mixed grains
1/2 cup black strap molasses
herbal treatment of choice (usually a couple teaspoons of each selection)
bacon grease to combine
Stir the ingredients together and place the bowl in the freezer. When solid, quickly dunk the bowl in some warm water to release and turn the bar out onto the counter. It’s now ready to serve. Each treat bar would be enough for 2-3 chickens. You can make this recipe with just about any kind of chicken food, even starter mix.
These bars can be used to give daily supplements such as kelp meal or baked and crushed egg shell. If you have an enclosed chicken run, they can be used to prevent boredom in your flock. The addition of treats such as mealworms or dried fruit can be fun for them. Since they have to work to get the food out, the bars provide pecking and scratching exercise. Make a large batch and freeze them in individual bars. They last in the freezer and make it easy to pass them out whenever you need to. If you are giving these bars to treat for worms, which you may do from time to time if you have a non-foraging flock, I recommend the following all-natural additives: