I think my chickens might be spoiled…
I don’t make sweaters for them or anything, but they do have a completely-remodeled chicken coop…
And GMO-free, organic feed…
And all the kitchen scraps they could ever want…
And herbs in their nesting boxes…
I realize I just sounded like a crazy-chicken-lady, but I do have reasons for doing all of those things.
Let’s talk about nesting box herbs in particular.
A while back, I mentioned putting herbs in my nesting boxes on my Instagram account and got a ton of questions, so I figured I’d dive into the topic a little deeper.
And there really is some reasoning behind putting herbs in nesting boxes, other than being a crazy chicken lady. Promise.
Four Reasons to put Herbs Your Nesting Boxes
- Wild birds use herbs as they build their nests to possibly shield the baby birds from bacteria.
- Many herbs act as safe, natural insect repellents and may help drive away flies, mites, or other pests in your coop
- Some chickens like to munch on certain herbs, and certain plants may even act as laying stimulants
- Herbs make your coop smell awesome and provide a little “chicken aromatherapy,” which is kinda fun…
What Herbs to Use?
Man oh man, the sky’s the limit! There are so many options, it all depends on what you have available to you in your local area. Here’s a partial list, taken from my Natural Homestead eBook:
- Lambs Quarters
- Lemon Balm
- Marshmallow Root
- Mint (all varieties)
This is by no-means an exhaustive list of all the possible herbs you can use, but hopefully it will give you some ideas to get started.
Fresh Herbs vs. Dried Herbs
If I have access to fresh herbs, I’ll almost always opt for them, whether I’m in the kitchen or playing around in my chicken coop.
I’ve found that nesting boxes are a fantastic way to use up homegrown herbs slightly past their prime, or if you’re feeling overrun with a certain variety at the end of the year. (After you’re done making your homemade herb salt, of course!)
Honestly though, if I don’t have fresh herbs growing in my garden, I wouldn’t spend the money to buy herbs at the store just for my flock. The ones at the store are too expensive. (Sorry chickens, I love ya, but…)
How I Use Herbs in my Nesting Boxes:
If I’m using fresh herbs, I simply pick a handful and put several sprigs in each box. Depending on what I have growing, sometimes I just use one variety, while other times I’ll mix-n-match. Usually by the time I’m ready to clean out the boxes, the herbs are ready to be replaced/refreshed.
And yes, I have noticed my hens seem to prefer laying in the boxes with the herbs.
If I’m using dried herbs, I first mix them up in a small container, then sprinkle a bit in each box on top of the bedding.
I don’t have an exact recipe for my dried herb mix because it changes every time I make it, depending on what I have available. Usually it’s equal parts of three to four different varities of dried herbs, all mixed together.
Are Nesting Box Herbs a Miracle Fix?
Nope. If you’re expecting them to make up for a poorly managed coop, cure all your insect problems, or bring world peace, you’ll be sorely disappointed. You still need to be wise in how you take care of your birds and their living space, and I still clean my coop regularly and have a full fly management protocol. I feed high-quality feed, and my hens are allowed to free-range as well. However, adding herbs to my coop management has been a natural (and kinda fun) way to boost my other efforts.
Other Natural Chicken Keeping Posts:
- 15 Ways to Save Money on Chicken Feed
- Should I Use a Heat Lamp for my Chickens?
- 8 Ways to Use Chickens in the Garden
- Homemade Fly Trap Tutorial
- How to Keep Wild Birds out of your Chicken Coop