When we built our chicken coop addition this spring, I was excited to also have them build me a raised garden bed underneath the windows. My plan for this was twofold: grow herbs and flowers that the birds could enjoy, and the herbs would also repel insects to keep them out of the coop. I’ve always put herbs inside the coop, on the windowsills and in the nesting boxes, so planting them right outside seemed even better. I also set it up so that the birds could easily peck at the herbs from outside the fence (which they can get through anyway!).
Other than the weeds taking over (which I’ll get under better control next year), it’s turned out well. The birds are enjoying the herbs, flies seem to be mostly staying out of the coop, and it’s far more convenient for me to cut herbs for the nesting boxes, since I now don’t have to go all the way to the other side of the house where my other herb garden is.
It’s had other benefits as well. When parsley for my homemade dog cookies has run short in my other garden, I’ve had this back-up source. I also give farm dog Luke fresh parsley on his breakfast quite often. Many of the herbs are perennials, so they will spread and grow on their own next year.
Here’s what I planted and how they can benefit not just the flock but dogs like Luke as well. I also use many of these herbs in my own cooking, so we get to enjoy them too of course!
- Mint – I have mint in my other herb garden, but I wanted more, so started this from seed in the house in the spring. It is an insect and rodent repellent. It is also an antioxidant, aids respiratory health and digestion, and can help increase egg production. For dogs, mint aids fresh breath and good digestion.
- Parsley – High in vitamins and stimulates laying. For dogs it promotes fresh breath and good digestion as well.
- Oregano – Repels flies and strengthens the flocks’ immune system. It can help prevent common diseases. Even the big poultry producers like Perdue are now adding this to the feed as a natural antibiotic, along with thyme and parsley.
- Lemon Thyme – Along with the above benefit, thyme stimulates egg production as well. It aides in respiratory health and helps prevent parasites. It also repels mosquitoes, mites, and flies. I had thyme in my other garden, so was able to just transplant some over along with the oregano.
- Basil – Repels insects and is anti-bacterial. I started adding basil, along with parsley and even oregano to the dogs’ diets when I put our golden retriever Sheba on a cancer diet. All of these leafy herbs are said to have immune-boosting properties.
- Dill – I’m not sure if the chickens eat the dill or not, but I put it there to repel flies. It is said to have health benefits for the flock as well. Dill is easy to plant from seed and will re-plant itself for the next year.
Flowers: The flowers I included provide benefits for the birds and enjoyment for the humans!
- Nasturtium – Repels insects, is a laying stimulant, de-wormer, and natural antibiotic.
- Calendula – Also repels insects, and if the petals are eaten by the birds, can make for some very pretty orange yolks!
- Sunflowers – I planted these to have some pretty tall flowers at the back of the garden. They have yet to bloom here but are getting quite tall! The chickens will also love the seeds left behind when the flowers go by. I can just put the whole flower head on the ground and they’ll peck away at it.
By the way, there are many more herbs and flowers that can benefit the flock. I may try some new ones in there next year. In the above photo, the tall herb with purple flowers is catnip. When researching this post, I learned that can be good for chickens as well, which isn’t really surprising since it is in the mint family. I’ll move some of that over either this fall or next spring. All will either come back up or re-seed themselves, except for the basil. The parsley will go to seed in its second year, and loses its flavor, so we’ll put in some fresh plants as well. I let a few go in my own herb garden and hope to harvest the seeds for just that use.
Do you use fresh herbs, either for your pets or yourself?
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