Herbs For Hens – A Useful Dietary Supplement

Stinging Nettle

Hens can be quite partial to young stinging nettles and are not bothered by the stings even in large patches

As well as forage herbs included in poultry pasture mixes for nutrition, it is worthwhile providing other herbs for hens. Free-range poultry with access to a range of herbs will tend to select herbs that satisfy deficiencies. It’s been known for many years that chickens will, like most animals, self medicate when ill.

Many herbs aren’t really suitable to include in the pasture as such but there is no reason why a herb border shouldn’t be included in the hens’ range. It would probably be best to establish the border in a fenced off area first.

Be prepared to fence off the border again for a time if the poultry pay it too much attention. However, this may indicate they feel the need to make up a deficiency or are suffering a low-level illness.

The culinary herbs; sage, thyme, marjoram and rosemary are known to be antioxidants and may also have antimicrobial properties. Sage and rosemary are easy to propagate and, given time, will produce fairly large bushes that will easily resist the hens’ nibbling.

Suitable Herbs for Hens

N.B. Plants that can be invasive are marked with (I)

  • Agrimony – Agrimonia eupatoria
  • Borage – Borago officinalis
  • Black Medick – Medicago lupilina
  • Chamomile – Matricaria chamomilla
  • Chickweed – Stellaria media (I)
  • Chicory – Cichorium intybus
  • Coltsfoot – Tussilago farfara
  • Comfrey – Symphytum officinale (I)
  • Common Knapweed – Centaurea nigra
  • Common Sorrel – Rumex acetosa
  • Common Vetch – Vicia sativa
  • Cowslip – Primula officinalis
  • Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale (I)
  • Fat Hen – Chenopodium album
  • Greater Knapweed – Centaurea scabiosa
  • Hoary Plantain – Plantago media
  • Lady’s Bedstraw – Galium verum
  • Mallow – Malva moschata
  • Marjoram – Origanum vulgare
  • Meadow Vetch – Lathyrus pratensis
  • Ox Eye Daisy – Leucanthemum vulgare
  • Parsley – Petroselinum crispum
  • Pot marigold – Calendula officinalis
  • Red Campion – Silene dioica
  • Ribwort Plantain – Plantago lanceolata
  • Sage – Salvia officinalis
  • Salad Burnet – Sanguisorba minor
  • Scurvy Grass – Cochlearia officinalis
  • Self Heal – Prunella vulgaris
  • Silverweed – Potentilla anserina
  • Stinging Nettle – Urtica dioica (I)
  • St. John’s Wort – Hypericum perforatum
  • Sweet Woodruff – Galium odoratum
  • Thyme – Thymus vulgaris
  • White Campion – Silene alba
  • Wild Carrot – Daucus carota
  • Yarrow – Achillea millefolium (I)

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