While many flock owners think of using herbs during winter to keep their chickens’ immune systems healthy, feeding herbs to your flock during the summer months is equally as important. Summer can take a toll on our chickens’ bodies as they go about laying eggs and foraging. Adding herbs can boost your chickens’ intake of essential vitamins and minerals and help them survive the summer heat.
So, let’s dive into some heat-beating herbs!
Peppermint is one of my flock’s all-time favorite summer-time herbs—and for good reason. Peppermint helps relieve respiratory problems (common for chickens in humid climates), strengthens eggshell quality, repels insects, and increases feed intake. Some experts even suggest that peppermint naturally helps lower body temperatures in chickens (and humans) while decreasing the chance of heat exhaustion.
Serve your flock peppermint free choice in a salad, hang in a herb bundle in the coop or run, or steep in a tea.
During the summer, a chicken’s feed intake declines. Feeding a treat full of essential vitamins and minerals, like parsley, can help provide nutrients your flock may be missing.
This watery herb is high in vitamins A, B and C; calcium; and iron. It is also a natural laying stimulant and one of the most nutritious herbs to feed chickens.
Chickens love fresh parsley and will eat it out of your hand or in a salad with other greens. However, if you have a picky eater, you can steep parsley in water to make tea.
While lavender may not possess all the nutrients to help survive the summer heat like the other herbs in this article, it helps to relieve your flock from summertime pests. Lavender is one of the best ways to repel flies, lice, mites and other pests away from our flocks and coops. Hanging lavender in small bundles around the hen house and run provides a delicious snack for your hens to peck at while working to repel bugs at the same time.
With heat, humidity and egg production at their highest, summer can be stressful for backyard flocks. Hanging lavender around the coop can also reduce stress and tension and create a relaxed atmosphere.
Fennel is one of my all-time favorite herbs to feed my girls. This fantastic herb has many benefits; therefore, my flock eats it fresh or dried year-round. The entire plant, including the bulb, is edible, but the seeds offer the most health benefits. During the hot summer months, feeding laying hens fennel seeds can help reduce the effects of heat stress on egg quality.
An ancient medicinal plant, fennel seeds also help to prevent parasites and reduce the chance of coccidia, cancer, crop impactions and sour crop in backyard flocks.
Fennel can be fed free choice like a treat, or you can steep fennel seeds in water to make tea.
I know dandelions aren’t technically a herb, but these bright yellow flowering plants have a necessary benefit your hens need to survive the summer heat. Dandelions contain natural electrolytes that help your flock combat high heat and humidity and keep your chickens in tip-top condition during the summer.
During the growing season, I feed my flock dandelions free choice as a salad. Not only does feeding dandelions to my flock benefit my chickens, but it also helps clean out some of the dandelions that pop up in my garden.
Studies have proven how much oregano benefits the health of chickens and other poultry species. Oregano is an immune-enhancing herb and keeps a chicken’s immune system strong during the summer heat and humidity. Since summer can be stressful for backyard flocks, providing your chickens with added immune boosters could be the difference between life and death.
Oregano can be fed free choice or steeped in water to make tea (my flock’s preferred method).
All the herbs in this article (except lavender) can be steeped into teas. When steeping tea, boil 1 1/2 cups of water. Add 1 teaspoon of dried herbs or a handful of fresh herbs to the boiling water. Remove from heat and cover.
Steep for 10 minutes. Cool completely before mixing 1 cup of tea into 1 gallon of water.
The herbs listed above are a few beneficial plants that can help your chickens beat the heat this summer. For a complete list of chicken-safe herbs, please visit https://www.poultrydvm.com/herbs.php.