The study of herbalism has not only improved my family's health, but given us a fresh look at our animal's health as well. Keeping healthy practice is really quite simple: fresh air and sunshine, clean bedding and bowls, and keeping their nutrients/diet intake as natural as possible- and herbs fall right in line with this practice. Here on our homestead we have some longstanding favorite herbal poultry practices:
Herbs for nutrition:
Raw Garlic—Have this available year long for your chickens. You can also mash it in their drinking water for not only the nutritional benefits, but also the anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties to prevent and curtail infections. Have raw garlic available for newly hatched chicks, so they will learn to eat it at an early age.
Nettle—Nettle is rich in calcium, protein, manganese, phosphorus and potassium. A wonderful all around herb.
Alfalfa—Medicago sativa—Rich in protein, amino acids, minerals and chlorophyll. Make a tea from dried alfalfa to keep hens healthy for breeding and producing eggs.
Lamb’s Quarters—Chenopodium album—Rich in protein, calcium, vitamins A and C, B-complex and iron. An all around herb for the digestive system.
Dandelion—Taraxacum officinale—Rich in protein, vitamins A,C,K,D, B-complex, iron, manganese, phosphorus and trace minerals. Dandelion is a complete food for building the immune system. Give dandelions freely to your young chicks and hens. You can even make a tea and offer that free choice as well.
Organic apple cider vinegar—Mix with their water for a superb digestive tonic.
Herbs for the nest:
Birds in the wild use medicinal herbs to line their nests. The aromatic volatile oils have anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties. You can imitate this natural process by applying a few handfuls of the fresh herbs to the nest before a hen goes broody. Adding the herbs periodically during the spring and summer can help keep parasites at bay.
Peppermint, spearmint, catnip, oregano, wild bergamot, lavender, rosemary, sage, basil, thyme and fennel are aromatic herbs that freshen the nesting box.
Want your hen to be relaxed and calm? Lavender and peppermint will relieve her stress while brooding.