Basil is one of the best herbs for chickens. They’ll happily eat it, and your hens will benefit from the antibacterial properties and wide range of vitamins, minerals, and immune system boosting antioxidants.
Health Benefits of Basil for Chickens
Basil is one of the most nutritionally-dense herbs in the world. You can’t go wrong feeding it to your chickens (and eating it yourself too).
Among the various benefits, the two main benefits it offers chickens are:
- Supporting a strong immune system, and
- Improving digestion
Two things that are very important to the general health and wellbeing of chickens!
Commercial feeds make up the bulk of a chicken’s diet and are packed with all the good stuff they need. But supplementing their diet with natural foods like herbs is an awesome way to ensure they’re maintaining optimal health and laying at their best.
Talking about laying their best eggs. An interesting thing about basil is that it causes egg yolks to be much brighter.
This is because it contains a compound called xanthophyll. Xanthophyll is often given to egg-laying chickens to help make their yolks brighter as consumers prefer “fancy” yellow egg yolks.
In addition, it’s also known to help with respiratory issues. This is something chickens are susceptible too, and it’s better to be proactive with rather than treating the symptoms later.
And best of all, basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow. It’s quick to germinate, flourishes in warm weather, and can just as easily be grown in a pot on a window sill or within your vegetables or other herbs in your yard.
How To Use Basil With Your Chickens
To feed basil to your chickens, simply chop up the leaves and add it to their feeders. If you’re raising chickens, you’ll know that anything they want to eat doesn’t last too long.
It’s also used for its antiparasitic properties. You can hang a fresh bunch in your coop or sprinkle some of the leaves in nesting boxes, bedding, and anywhere else you want to repel pests.
Other Herbs and Spices That Are Great for Chickens
Basil isn’t the only herb that’s awesome for chickens. In fact, most herbs and spices are great for chickens.
What I like about plants like herbs and spices is that each possesses its own unique benefits. It’s a fun topic to research and experiment with.
To help you get started, here are a few of the most popular herbs and spices I see used within the backyard chicken community:
Thyme is commonly given to chickens as it’s packed with good nutrition and known to help reduce colds, coughs, and other respiratory issues.
It also contains a compound called thymol, an ingredient used in pesticides. Making it a great choice for nesting boxes and bedding to keep parasites and other pests away.
Being rich in nutrients, thyme is a good immune-boosting food supplement. It’s also easy to grow - even I’m able to keep thyme plants alive!
I love mint, is there a more familiar and refreshing smell than fresh mint? There are loads of plants in the mint family to choose from too; such as peppermint, water mint, chocolate mint, etc.
It’s a powerful herb, rich in a wide range of minerals and vitamins. It’s known to aid digestion, strengthen the immune system, and importantly for chickens, can help alleviate respiratory issues.
An interesting thing to note - contrary to popular belief, mint doesn’t help lower our temperature or cool us.
Menthol just confuses our senses into thinking so. Still, a refreshing herb to add to cold water in the summer months, trick or not!
We all know most cats can’t resist the smell and taste of catnip. In fact, both of my cats go crazy for it, and I’ve had to limit how often they can get their paws on some!
It doesn’t affect chickens in the way (thankfully, imagine a flock of “high” chickens), but it does possess some powerful wellness benefits and it’s a good insecticide.
A good herb to use inside and outside the coop, as well as supplementing their food.
Moving on from herbs to spices, black pepper is a spice almost everyone has in their spice rack but few know just how beneficial this spice is.
Peppercorns are packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s effective at helping aid digestion, relieving the symptoms of respiratory issues, and being high in antioxidants it’s good immune-boosting food.
Ginger is an interesting spice. There have been some studies on the effects of feeding chickens ginger, and it’s shown some positive benefits.
Like a lot of herbs, it’s known to help relieve respiratory issues and it provides a good range of nutrients.
In addition to this, ginger is one of the best supplements for laying hens. It’s a laying stimulant, and it’s also been proven to increase the antioxidant properties in eggs laid by hens eating ginger.
I can’t get enough of the smell and taste of cinnamon. There’s no chance of me sharing my cinnamon buns with my hens!
Jokes aside, there’s no need to. You can add a teaspoon of cinnamon powder to your chickens’ feed and they’ll enjoy the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cinnamon is an expectorant that’s known to help fight respiratory infections and give chicks a good health boost.
Who would have thought it, basil is somewhat of a super-herb for chickens! And us!
Feeding herbs, spices, and other foods open up a whole new world of potential health and wellness benefits for chickens.
It’s certainly worth looking into if you want to give your hens a natural health boost.