[reposted from my blog at Capper Farmer: http://www.cappersfarmer.com/poultry/12-herbs-that-your-poultry-love-that-love-them-right-back.aspx ]
Borage is an herb which contains phyto-nutrients such as flavonoids, resveratrol, carotenoids and glucosinolates, minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron and is high in vitamin C and A. It also contains a special Omega-6 fatty acid called GLA which plays a vital role in joint health, immunity and healthy skin. Sow borage seeds all throughout the pasture area of where your birds free range. This free access will help strengthen their immune systems, prevent infection and disease, help with joint health during growth and provides essential vitamins and minerals for egg and meat production.
Chia is an annual herb that is a member of the mint family. Its seeds are highly nutritious and contain omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin C and all sorts of other nutrients. Sow the seeds in the middle of August in your pasture and allow your birds to self harvest. The omega 3 fatty acids will not only benefit your birds, especially going into fall and winter, but it will also increase the Omega 3s in their eggs which helps you as well. Because chia is in the mint family, the plant also repels insects like fleas and flies while attracting beneficial insects like bees.
Dandelion leaves are an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamin A, B, C, E and K, nutrients that act as antioxidants in the body. In addition, dandelions also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Laboratory studies have shown that dandelion flower extract has antioxidant properties, and may even help inhibit tumor growth. Dandelion leaf, root and flower prevent and treat upper respiratory tract infections, including bronchitis and pneumonia. Dandelion flowers are an excellent source of lecithin, a nutrient that helps with nervous system function. Dandelions are perennials and come back every year in most areas of the country. Help with their propagation by gathering mature seed from their fluffy heads and planting it in soil in the pasture.
Lavender is a great perennial to plant around the coop and poultry run. It is a natural insecticide and prevents nasty insect infestations. Dried lavender can also be placed in the nest box and coop to keep everything smelling fresh and to prevent fleas, lice and mites from eating up your hens. Lavender also has a calming effect. Decreasing your birds’ stress by keeping them calm helps them to remain healthy.
Comfrey is an excellent perennial herb to add to your pasture mix. Rich in protein, potassium, and calcium; it supplements your birds’ diet. Comfrey treats arthritis, cuts and wounds, sprains and broken bones, inflammation of the digestive tract and persistent coughs. Consuming high doses of pyrrolzidine alkaloids, a chemical present in comfrey, can be toxic. If you have heritage breed birds, you will find this to not be a problem. They have retained their skills of what to eat and how much to eat of a particular herb. If you graze multiple species of animals (goats, horses, cattle or sheep) you may want to avoid this herb as some other species of animals are less selective as to what they eat.
Frankly, I cannot promote oregano enough for all of your livestock. I add oregano essential oil to my birds’ waterer starting in the fall and continuing through winter. I plant oregano everywhere in the pasture. Oregano contains chemicals that reduce cough and spasms. Oregano also aids in digestion by increasing bile flow and fighting against bacteria, viruses, fungi, intestinal worms, and other parasites. Oregano is an absolute must for your flock.
Parsley boasts many nutritional and health benefits. Parsley has a whole bunch of “anti’s” that go along with it; anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidants. Parsley is rich in many vital vitamins including Vitamin C, B 12, K and A, parsley is a super immune system booster, keeps bones healthy, and helps heal the nervous system. It’s also an anti-inflammatory so assists in easing joint pain and muscle soreness, promotes circulatory system development, and is a strong laying stimulant. Sow parsley seeds throughout the pasture where your poultry free range.
Plantain is a perennial which grows naturally in my pasture. You can propagate plantain by removing the seed heads and drying, then rub the seed heads, releasing the seeds into bare pasture. Plantain has many, many benefits and your birds will love eating it. Plantain treats dry coughs and colds, blood poisoning, treats wounds, insect bites, is a dewormer and an anti-fungal, antheminitic, anti-bacterial and is a safe antiseptic. Your birds will munch on the leaves, flowers, roots and seeds readily.
Purslane is a succulent annual herb with a long history of use as a herbal treatment and a vegetable. Its particular value is that it is probably the richest source of vegetable omega-3 fatty acids. Purslane is one of the best possible sources of omega-3 oils you can readily supply to your poultry. It is also high in carotenes and vitamin C. Your birds will love purslane and snatch it up quickly. Propagate purslane by broadcasting seeds over freshly tilled soil, water and watch it grow!
The health benefits of Sage are similar to oregano and is an herb I regularly plant throughout my pasture and along the perimeter of the coop and run. Sage has properties that are an anti-fungal, anti-microbial, antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, antibacterial, a digestive, disinfectant, and expectorant. Plant it everywhere, giving your birds access to when they free range for self treatment.
Watercress is high in antioxidants, vitamin C and A, boost the immune system, fights infection, is an anti-viral and supports bone, skin and digestive health, containing many great digestive enzymes. Watercress is number one on the most nutrient dense food list by the CDC. Watercress contains potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K. Plant it everywhere you can. It likes wet roots, so feel free to plant watercress in low-lying, wet areas of your pasture.
Last, but not least, is wormwood. Wormwood is another essential herb to have around your flock. Plant it next to the coop and run and sporadically throughout the pasture. Harmful organisms are a problem everywhere in the world; they infest food or water which can lead to their infestation of both humans and livestock. Wormwood expels intestinal worms and parasites. Wormwood also contains compounds known to stimulate digestion by supporting liver function.