We love our chickens. They give us hours of endless entertainment. And, they give us an abundance of fresh and nutrient-dense eggs, of course! But chickens are hungry little beasts who like to pick at everything they can get to.
When we first introduced chickens to our homestead, we mistakingly put our free-range hens near our vegetable garden. That summer, the clucky ladies had more courgette and tomato than we could collect for ourselves. We have since created a more significant divide between our usual chicken coop placements and our garden. We did not want to leave the hens in a barely open and flat field, so we introduced a variety of plants that grow abundantly. The plants we chose are all chicken friendly, and we are happy to share them with our girls. So here’s a list of some of the chicken-friendly plants we introduced.
Calendula is one of my personal favorite super plants, and it is a favorite of our chickens as well. The beautifully fragrant Calendula is easy to grow and adds a beautiful pop of color to your fields.
We use calendula in many ways, including in herbal tea blends and to make salves that we can use on ourselves and our animals. We dry a large amount of calendula to mix into the chicken feed during the winter. They are nutrient-dense and give egg yolks a beautiful orange color. Get your Calendula seeds from here.
We seem to keep adding more climbing roses to our property every year. We placed climbing roses near the chicken coop, which provides excellent shade for the chickens during the hot summer months. We pull off the petals as they dry and add them to the mix of wintertime chicken feed. The girls love the petals but, luckily, they do not pick away at them until dry.
Dill is rich in phosphorus and magnesium, which helps to maintain bone health in chickens. It is also rich in calcium, an essential mineral needed for hens to lay healthy eggs. Dill is also known to promote respiratory health in chickens. Dried dill makes an excellent addition to wintertime chicken feed.
We have several species of wormwood growing in our fields. The silvery foliage of the wormwood plants reflects the sun and helps to create cool, shaded areas for the chickens during the hot summer months. The chickens will pick at wormwood from time to time. Wormwood is great at helping to cleanse internal parasites that chickens may carry, such as worms. Cut-up Wormwood also makes a great addition to the hen’s nesting boxes as it helps to ward off mites and other insects.
Our main problem with Wormwood is that even though it is part of a big family with many varieties (most of which are medicinal) as we mentioned above, it also has a poisonous lookalike – for both animals and humans. If not treated immediately (luckily, with another plant that manages to flush out the toxins), it could lead to serious symptoms and even be fatal. Here’s what it is and how you can tell it apart from Wormwood.
We all love lavender for its lovely aroma and the calming effect it has on our minds and body. Chickens love lavender for the same reasons! Lavender helps to reduce anxiety in the easily frightened animals and increases blood circulation. Dried lavender flowers are great to place inside the chicken coop to aid in creating a calming environment for the hens and help to keep insects out.
Basil is a nutrient-dense plant that will help keep your chickens in good health. Basil aids the production of healthy mucus membranes and is also known to help maintain a healthy respiratory system. Like many other plants on this list, dried basil is a great plant to add to your chicken’s winter feed.
Much like wormwood, sage is great for the intestinal health of your chickens. Sage will help to ward off intestinal fungi and is said to do the same for salmonella. Many chicken owners are known to add sage to the chicken’s water to promote intestinal health. Dried sage also makes for a special treat for your chickens.
The strong fragrance of rosemary will help to ward off insects, making it another plant that’s great to mix up in the bedding and nests of your chicken coops. Rosemary also promotes a healthy respiratory system and is known to provide pain relief.
We love growing and using mint in various ways, and since chickens do not care much for mint, we always have a ton of it. Chickens may pick at the mint from time to time, but there are so many other plants around that they prefer. Like other plants on this list, mint is great to add inside and around the coop to keep insects away. Get your Mint seeds from here.
Chickens love nutrient-dense amaranth. This plant creates beautiful large veined foliage with bushy red-hued tails, making a great and colorful addition to any property. Although chickens can eat all parts of this plant, they particularly enjoy the leaves. Amaranth grains are fantastic chicken feed for not only winter but year-round. However, the grains should always be sufficiently dried or heat treated before giving to chickens as daily feed.
Parsley is a powerhouse of a plant to keep around your chickens. It is rich in vitamins and promotes a healthy circulatory system in your girls. Parsley is rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. These four vitamins help encourage blood vessel development which can help stimulate laying. Parsley may help you get from 7 eggs a week per chicken to somewhere between 10-12 eggs per week.
We have been fortunate enough to have a property that gives an abundance of wild garlic every year. Fortunately for other homesteaders, Wild Garlic is easy to grow in moist, shaded areas and absolutely safe for your chickens. Wild garlic helps ward off ailments and supports your chicken’s immune system.
Not everyone has a sufficient amount of space to have free-range chickens, and this is perfectly fine. However, your girls deserve to have a chicken run that gives them access to healthy and delicious plants! And while you are at it, why not add a few plants to create a beautiful space from your generous ladies?! These are just some plants that can help create a space where both humans and chickens can profit.
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