I know that right now in the chicken community there is a hubbub about using herbs with chickens. Some people are claiming some things, while others are saying no, that’s not true.
I want to put it out here right now, I am not an herbalist. Euell Gibbons was my hero when I was a kid (even though I thought he sold out when he started hyping for Grape Nuts) but that doesn’t make me an herbalist (or even a wild-edible-plantist.)
I don’t have a dog in the herbal chicken fight. For the most part, I don’t use herbs on my chickens (other than what they free range in the yard.) I do, however, *personally* use some herbs (all legal) and so I know that a quality product is not only safe, but can have beneficial results.
There are times when herbs should not be used. As an ex-clinical microbiologist, you’d never find me trying to treat an infection with herbs. I have too much respect for those rapidly multiplying bacteria to even attempt that – give me all the antibiotics I need – NOW.
What we need to remember, though, is to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Herbs do have their place around chickens (and animals.) Who among us has not tried eucalyptus to repel mosquitoes? Or hasn’t rubbed Jewel Weed on a skin irritation (okay, I know, on that one my Gibbons is showing.)
My point is that there are some very good and valid uses of herbs with regard to backyard poultry.
I have used some of Luv Nest’s chicken herbal blends and have liked what I’ve seen so far. My chicks loved the Chick Mix. Their Luv Nest’s Critter Ritter Blend is a bag of dried herbs containing organic Peppermint leaf, Thyme, Nettle, Rosemary, Calendula, Lemon Balm and Chamomile flowers. Usage is about ½ cup into an 8 foot area and refresh every few days.
Those are all good herbs and some of them I would use on my own body when trying to repel insects. It’s a combination that makes sense to me.
The Original Herbal Blend contains organic Nettle, Lemon Balm, Calendula, Chamomile Flowers, Comfrey, Meadowsweet, and Lavender Flowers. The usage is the same as the Critter Ritter.
Used in moderation, again it makes sense that dried herbs can have a benefit to your flock.
Luv Nest’s last product Layer Blend contains organic Red Clover, Raspberry Leaf Calendula, Chamomile Flowers, Lemon Balms, Nettle and Lavender Flowers.
I know that when I was pregnant these are some of the herbal teas my midwife suggested that I use. (Trust me, I do realize that a pregnant woman is not the same as a laying hen – well not exactly 🙂 )
Again, I think it’s important to recognize that herbs *can* be beneficial not only for chickens, but with other animals as well (and let us not forget people, I know some who swear by St. John’s Wort.) It’s all in how you use them. I like the idea and will continue to investigate options.
If you are interested in using herbs with your chickens, as with all things, do your homework first, check your sources, and ask questions.
A product should never be used just because it’s “herbal,” but then again, neither should it be completely discounted for that very same reason.
Use your heads – common sense always has a way of prevailing.
For more information on herbal use with chickens visit moonlightmileherbs.com Susan Burek is an herbalist, proprietor & caretaker of MMHF and she is also a fellow writer at Backyard Poultry Magazine.
For information on Luv Nest visit luv-nest.com
This post is my own opinion, although I was given samples from Luv Nest to try, I have not received any sort of compensation from that company.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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