Category Archives: Chickens

Herbs for Chickens

If you were to walk around our chicken and goat pins, you would find all kinds of herbs growing.  They not only help with a bit of fly control in the summer months, but we collect and dry them for not only teas and tisanes for us, but the animals as well.

Nettle, top of my list for a couple of reasons.  Our chicks love dried nettle!  It is a wonderful source for nutrients, containing essential minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium.  Be sure to grow this in the “outback” safe away from brushing up against.  Ours is right up against the coop, behind a little picket fence.  It never gets very big or out of control because I am always harvesting it.

Red Clover is an excellent laying stimulant.  While it’s great dried tossed in with the chicks daily ration of food, they love it fresh.  I pick a couple of handfuls every night and toss around their bedding in the evening.  It is also a good respiratory system helper and a nutrition powerhouse. Even the two week old babies are really enjoying this treat.

Peppermint smells great and helps repel pests and insects.  Just like for us humans, it helps our chicks have a healthy digestive tract.  However, we grow this in pots near the coop rather than let it get out of hand.  This stuff is easy to grow, but sometimes not hard to control once it is established.

Calendula flowers are an anti-fungal and an anti-bacterial.  So why wouldn’t you give your feathered friends a taste of these?  Calendula can deepen the color of yolks.  My girls like this best dried.

Comfrey leaf, one of the best healing herbs I know.  It’s protein rich, and also helps with digestive issues.

Lavender Flower are aromatic and help reduce stress, improve blood circulation and it is an effective insecticide, including lice!  And what’s prettier than a bunch of lavender plants growing around the yard and coop area?

Chamomile is gentle and calming.  It’s another herb that is excellent for digestive systems, but it’s also good for growth.  This is great for chicks!

Raspberry leaf can stimulate reproductive systems while providing a good source of nutrition.  We have a raspberry patch not far away from the coop, and they love a fresh handful tossed in their mix.

Fennel is a super pest repellent.  It’s helpful to the digestive and reproductive systems.  It can increase appetite and egg laying.  I plant fennel in my garden and let it go to seed.  The bees love the blooms an then once totally dry I  chop the seed heads off and toss the whole thing in the coop.  They love picking off the seeds.  I also save some for later in the year.

Rosemary is so easy to grow, it smells terrific and helps with respiratory health as well as being an                                                                        effective insecticide.  This can be picked year round because it’s an evergreen here.

Lemonbalm!  This could get out of control if I didn’t feed it to the chickens and goats!  Lemonbalm can help repel rodents, it’s an inti-inflammatory, and an anti-microbial herb.  My chickens like it best dried, but they will eat it fresh when it’s flowering.

Thyme is an antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-parasitic.  It’s another herb that helps with the digestive and respiratory systems.

All of these herbs are wonderful dried and mixed together to feed chickens every few days.  I toss a handful in their feed and even a couple of tablespoons in each nesting box. If you don’t have the time or space to grow these herbs but still want to give them a try you can still buy organic herb mixes for laying chickens.



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Filed under Chickens, Herbs, Life on the Farm

Eggs, Chicks, Chickens, Eggs

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I have mentioned before that our little farm all started with the three chicks my husband brought home.  There were two Rhode Island hens and an Araucana.  The first egg we ever got was from the Araucana.  I thought someone put a fake egg in the nesting box because the egg was a  shade of blue.  I had never seen such a color in an egg before and now they are my most prized.  Feathered friends have been a part of our daily routine for 25 years now and having fresh eggs is one of those things we couldn’t do without. Chickens are a growing frenzy in neighborhoods today.  Many urban cities are allowing up to 10 chickens (hens) right in small city lots. They are so easy to care for and they give back ten-fold.  Besides the beautiful, rich eggs they produce, they are little composters, bug getters, manure producers and if that wasn’t enough,  the enjoyment you get from watching your flock forage in your back yard is somewhat peaceful.  Chicks can be purchased at many feed stores or pre-ordered through catalogs and come through the mail.  If you have access to fresh eggs from a farm with a Rooster about, you can even venture and incubate your own in only 21 days.  An advantage of ordering your chicks is that you can get chicks that have been sexed so you will have all pullets (females).  I  order my chicks from and when I not incubating my own.  They have a great selection of rare and exotic chickens.   Over the years I have dabbled in many different varieties including, silkies, polish, hamburgs, cochins, wyandottes and so many other varieties, but my favorite chickens are the great egg layers like the Cucoo Maran a chocolate-colored egg layer, Araucana which lays shades of green to blue, Silver Laced Wyandottes that lays good during the cold winter months and is beautiful in the orchard roaming about, and the old-time stand by, New Hampshire Reds and Barred Rocks.  Of course we always have a few odd balls joining the flock of girls to try new varieties.  But anymore my main reason for raising chickens is for egg production so I stick to the heavy breads and good layers.

Starting your chicks is simple and you will be trouble-free if you are prepared ahead of time.  Keep a close eye on your babes the first few hours especially.  Your new little fuzz balls will need to be indoors for 5-8 weeks.   I keep them in a wash basin for the first few weeks then as they get bigger, I move the growing fowl into a pine box we built just for chicks.   A cardboard box will work just fine.  They need enough room to move around comfortably with a waterer and food tray.   These little babies like it hot! A warm brooding lamp with a red heat bulb is best.  Watch your chicks behavior.  If they are all cuddled up under the light they are cold!  If they are avoiding the light like the plague they are to hot and you should move the lamp up a little. Each week I raise the height of the lamp to lower the temperature about 5 degrees.  Fresh, clean water is so important.  Check it often!  I feed organic chick starter.  It has all the ingredients to give them a healthy happy start.  I like to feed this mash for the first 16 weeks and then I will move them straight into layer pellets or crumbles. Oh, those little cute fuzzy chicks poop and poop a lot!  They need their bedding cleaned often.  I put down a layer of newspaper (this helps for a fast clean up) followed with pine shaving to absorb the smell, keep them dry and give them traction.  Don’t use cedar shavings as they can contain toxins.  I will change the bedding daily just by rolling up the newspaper with all the bedding and toss in the compost pile.  Never let your babies stay in wet bedding!  Once they have a full plumage of feathers they can be put out into the coop.  If the weather is still cold I will put out the heat lamp for a few more weeks to get them acclimated to the new temperatures. Depending on the breed of chicken you will be getting your first eggs when your beauties are around nine months old.  That’s a day you will remember!


by | May 26, 2011 · 4:47 pm

Putting My Backyard to Work

When we moved into our home 23 years ago this coming July I never imagined I would be integrating so many things on our little 1/4 acre.  I soon filled our plot with a garden, fruit trees, shade trees, grass and flower beds.  I quickly ran out of room!  We had an adjoining lot that was a 1/4 acre also and it had been vacant since we moved in.  After filling up our little plot I soon decided to plant a small garden, 4 ft wide by 50 ft on the edge of that  lot.  And yes, of course it did indeed go up for sale. Isn’t that the way!  We never planned on buying that lot and soon found out we were destined to own it.  And that’s where it all began.  My husband brought home 3 baby chicks from the local feed store and that opened the doors.  Soon to follow were more chicks, ducks, goats, rabbits,bees, 2 cats, a dog and now even a small cow.  An orchard of 35 fruits trees were to start us off on that 1/4 acre lot now 48 fruit trees dwell within. 16 grape vines, a greenhouse, berry patches, cold frames, compost bins, chicken coop, barn, garden and a small retail cottage organic garden business all within that small 1/4 acre lot.  My husband probably wonders “what if” he didn’t bring home those 3 innocent chicks that April day.  I’m sure he never planned on such a life.  Just three chicks for the kids and a few eggs. 

We have been organic for 15 years now and found this is the only way to grow in harmony with our land.  Our garden, orchard and animals are defiantly work, but I can’t think of anything more rewarding in my life.  Today the “Urban Farm” is being more than just a way to supply your family with fresh produce, but it’s a becoming a movement I think we should all try!

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Filed under Chickens, Gardening, Goats