Can Chickens Eat Catnip

Can Chickens Eat Catnip? (It’s Not Just for Cats!)

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is good for both your chickens and your garden. It’s better-known for sending cats into a state of euphoria, but chickens can eat it too. This herb is a natural insecticide and contains compounds known to promote relaxation, boost mood, and reduce stress.

Health Benefits of Catnip for Chickens

Catnip is an interesting herb. The effect it has on cats is well documented, but it also has some health and wellness benefits for chickens – and us for that matter.

There are two ways to use catnip; the first is by eating (or drinking it in tea for us), the second is growing it and leaving it in the ground (more on that below).

Catnip contains nepetalactone, which acts as a herbal sedative. Adding some dried catnip to your chickens’ feed can help improve digestion and may even boost their mood.

There isn’t a lot of scientific evidence or studies into the effects of catnip on chickens. From speaking with other chicken owners, however, it’s a popular herb in the community.

Most owners say they notice an improvement in overall mood. Nothing like the effects it has on cats, of course, but I spoke with a few people who said they use it to promote a calming environment.

Best of all, everyone said their hens were more than happy to munch it up. Which, if my munching monsters are anything to go by, isn’t a surprise.

Using Catnip Around Your Coop and Nesting Boxes

Using Catnip Around Your Coop and Nesting Boxes

Catnip is a powerful natural insecticide. In fact, a study published by ScienceDaily states that nepetalactone, the compound that gives catnip its distinctive odor is around ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET.

For those who are not aware of DEET is, it’s a powerful insect repellent. There are some concerns over its safety, however, and I’m certainly one to use natural alternatives where possible.

Now, repelling mosquitoes isn’t a priority for most. In fact, mosquitoes aren’t usually a huge issue for chickens as I explain in more detail in that post.

Catnip is just as effective at repelling all kinds of bugs, lice, and parasites. Which is often a priority for backyard chicken owners, especially around their coop.

This is why planting catnip around your chicken’s coop might provide that extra layer of defense against unwanted parasites that you’re looking for.

You can also add some dried catnip into your hen’s nesting boxes, or even on their dust bath. This will add a nice aroma to their coop, run, and anywhere else you use it while warding off lice and mites.

RelatedNeed more ideas for materials you can add to dust baths?

More Herbs That Are Great for Chickens

Catnip is just one of many herbs that can provide some health and general wellness benefits for chickens.

Here are some more herbs to consider and how they can help your flock:


Oregano is rich in antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals, so it’s great for giving your hens’ immune systems a boost. It also has antibacterial agents to help keep pests away when used in their bedding.


Parsley is a nutrient-dense herb that is also believed to be a laying stimulant. If your hens aren’t laying at their best, this is a good natural remedy. It’s easy to grow too if you want to start a herb garden.


Fennel is also used as a natural laying stimulant. Like most herbs, it contains a good range of vitamins and minerals and is also believed to aid digestion.


I’m a fan of lavender. I use it around the home for it’s relaxing properties and a pleasant aroma. I also sprinkle some dried lavender around our coop for the same reason.


There are some interesting studies that show sage is one of the better medicinal herbs for chickens. It can help combat salmonella, promotes better general health, and is a good antioxidant.

foods you can and cannot feed backyard chickens

In Summary – Can Chickens Eat Catnip?

Chickens cat eat catnip, it’s perfectly safe. If you’re growing catnip in your garden, the only thing you need to be worried about it all being eaten.

The good thing is that not only do they love catnip – and most herbs – but there are some real health benefits to them doing so.

As I explained in this article, growing catnip is a win-win. It’s effective at repelling pests, and acts as a digestive aid and helps promote a relaxing environment.

Oh, and if you find yourself with some spare catnip on your hands – you can always give it to the neighborhood cats and make some new friends!


Image credits – Photos by Brett Jordan, Abby Boggier, and Artem Makarov on Unsplash

Catnip Repels Mosquitoes More Effectively Than DEET –

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