If you want to experiment with giving your chickens spices, cinnamon is one of the best. Chickens will happily eat cinnamon, and they can benefit from its antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-infectious properties.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon for Chickens
First of all, in my opinion, cinnamon is most of the most delicious and pleasantly aromatic spices on the planet. I love it.
Chickens have a lot fewer taste buds than us, so I’m sure they don’t get to experience the sweet, warm, spicy notes as we do. Which is a shame, but at least they enjoy all the same health benefits from its properties.
And what powerful medicinal properties cinnamon possess!
Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants, meaning it’s great for general all-around health and boosting the immune system.
I know a lot of backyard chicken owners supplement their chickens’ diet with cinnamon during the winter as a natural way to help guard them against diseases.
It’s particularly effective at treating and helping with respiratory issues. This is something chickens are susceptible to, so it’s always a good idea to be proactive on this front.
One of the components in cinnamon called cinnamaldehyde is known to help fight off all kinds of infections. It can inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, one of which is salmonella (source).
A Winter Warming Spice for Your Flock
The smell of cinnamon is synonymous with winter festivities, and it’s not just a coincidence. The warming medicinal properties of cinnamon have been known for thousands of years.
There are two main health benefits of cinnamon that make this spice a great choice for use with chickens during the winter months:
Respiratory infections - There are a number of respiratory infections that can cause havoc within a flock.
Just like us, chickens are more susceptible to respiratory issues during the winter months when it’s colder and damp.
Cinnamon is one of the best spices for fighting off bacterial infections and treating breathing issues, in particular.
Blood-thinning - Cinnamon contains coumarin, which is a powerful blood-thinning agent.
This can help the blood flow in a chicken's comb and wattle, potentially helping to protect them against frostbite.
How To Feed Cinnamon To Chickens
The easiest way to give cinnamon to chickens is by sprinkling some in with their feed or on a vegetable or fruit they’re munching.
If you’ve ever handled it in raw bark form, you’ll know it’s pretty hard to work with.
If you have the bark, you’ll need to shave or ground it down into a powder. I don’t advise trying to give it to your chickens in larger pieces.
Other Spices and Herbs That Are Great for Chickens
Cinnamon isn’t the only spice that’s great for chickens. In fact, most spices and herbs possess their own unique health benefits, of which chickens can benefit from just the same as we can.
Here are some of the more popular spices and herbs I see and hear members of the backyard chicken community giving to their chickens:
Often referred to as one of the healthiest spices on the planet, if you want to get started supplementing your chicken’s diet with herbs, ginger is as good as it gets.
Studies have shown adding a little ginger to their feed helps with egg-laying performance and the antioxidant properties in yolks.
It’s also great for promoting better respiratory health. Which is important as respiratory issues is something backyard chickens are susceptible to.
We don’t often think about the health benefits of black pepper when sprinkling it on our food, right? Yet, pepper is packed with vitamins and minerals and does have some great health benefits.
Importantly, black pepper helps aid digestion, and relieve the symptoms of colds, coughs, and other respiratory issues. A few things that can come in handy for chickens.
I’m a fan of parsley. Don’t just for its culinary uses and flavor, but because it’s often referred to as a “powerful disease-fighting plant”.
Being rich in antioxidants, it’s a great immune system boosting food. Parsley also has natural antibacterial properties so it acts as an added line of defense against parasites.
Love it or hate it (talking about the smell) garlic is a powerful herb (or spice, or vegetable - it’s technically a vegetable botanically).
It’s one of the most effective home remedies for killing lice and parasites on chickens. It’s also a natural dewormer, boosts the immune system, and helps with respiratory health.
That’s a lot of positive health benefits - and all you have to do is endure that lovely aroma!
Related - I explain in more detail how I use garlic juice to kill lice and mites here.
This is another favorite at our house. I grow lavender in my backyard, and use it around the home for it’s relaxing properties.
I also use it in the coop for the same reason, and I’m convinced it makes a noticeable difference.
Lavender is also known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties too. So it’s a good choice for all-around health.
As I’ve already mentioned, cinnamon is my favorite spice so I’m no stranger to it. If you’re just discovering more about this wonderfully aromatic spice - you now know it’s one of the most powerful medicinal species.
There are so many potential health benefits to sprinkling a little into your chicken feeder, it’s hard to ignore!