Have you had problems with your chickens being annoyed with flies, mites or other problematic insects? You may not have noticed your chickens scratching in the spring when the insects become more active, but odds are that they've been doing it. You can grow herbs that will help to keep the insects off of your chickens and away from their coop.
Lavender, marigolds, mint and nasturtium are easy to grow and all have insecticide value for your chickens.
This relaxing and calming herb will calm your flock, just like it would for you. The highly fragrant flowers will help to repel insects.
Lavender also has the ability to increase blood circulation for your hens.
Add marigold flowers to the nesting boxes to help keep them insect-free. Marigolds are strong insect-repellents. Your hens may eat the marigolds, and that's OK. In fact, hens that eat marigolds will lay eggs that have bright, vibrant orange egg yolks. It will also improve the color of their beaks and legs.
Mint is ridiculously easy to grow and is an excellent choice for first time herb growers. The highly aromatic leaves of mint are strong insect repellents. They will help to ward off any parasites and can even keep rodents away from your coop.
Mint can help prevent disease once ingested. Improve the look of your flock's feathers with mint as it helps encourage feather growth.
Nasturtium is an insect repellant that is attractive also. The pretty flowers of the plant can add to landscape used around the coop. Nasturtium is also an egg-laying stimulant. Provide it to your hens to help prevent them from becoming egg-bound.
Toss dried or fresh herbs into the coop and your flock will eat them quickly. Grow herbs on the outside perimeter of the coop and your chickens will consume the parts that they can reach. The plant's roots will be safe from scratching hens. Tie up bundles of dried herbs in the coop and run to keep insects out of the coop.
Other Herbs to Try
Lemongrass can be grown to repel flying insects, like mosquitoes. Lemongrass can be used to create landscaping around the coop that is attractive and functional.
Basil can also help to repel insects and can help keep your flock healthy. Basil will clear the sinus cavities and has some anti-bacterial properties.
Rosemary, another highly fragrant and calming herb, can repel insects. It can also improve respiratory health.
Garlic is especially good to feed to keep ticks, fleas, mites and other annoying insects at bay. Add smashed garlic to the waterers to provide insecticide value to the drinking water.
Put dried lavender, mint and rosemary into your chicken's dust baths. This will help to keep insects off of your chickens and will make them smell nice!
Many herbs are really easy to grow and aren't picky about where you plant them. You can plant many herbs from seeds for pennies. Some herbs are perennials and come back year after year. Others are self-seeding and only need to be planted once.
Are you raising herbs for your chickens yet?
Shelby DeVore is a livestock expert with experience teaching high school agriculture and multiple poultry science teams. Shelby has over 20 years of experience raising poultry for show, meat and eggs. She lives on a farm in west Tennessee with her husband and two children along with too many chickens to count. You can catch up with her on her homesteading blog, Farminence. You can read all of Shelby's Mother Earth News blogs here.
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