Chickens are known to peck, scratch and nibble throughout the day, so giving your flock access to a variety of tasty herbs is an easy way to keep them happy and healthy. 

Herbs have so many benefits for your poultry, they can even encourage better quality eggs.

Whether you grow them in your garden for your free-range flock or add a few sprigs to their coop, herbs play an increasingly important role in creating both a sustainable environment and a naturally robust immune system.

What herbs can chickens eat? 

Chickens have plenty of energy and require a lot of calories, so making sure your flock are eating varied and nutritious food is important to their wellbeing. Chooks can munch on a variety of herbs, many of which we've harnessed in our nutritional supplements to help cultivate a healthy digestive system full of good bacteria. 

If you have a green thumb and want to enhance your coop, chicken run or backyard with beautiful, aromatic herbs, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Dried herbs for chickens to eat - can chickens eat raw herbs?

What herbs are good for chickens to eat

Raw herbs are considered fresh greens for your chickens to nibble on at will, with most being hearty perennials that will continue to thrive. 

According to Holistic Vet Nick Thompson, MRCVS, "Every herb we know of contains between 400 – 800 active elements within it and most of those, when it comes to acting on us, have a balancing effect such that the more potent and active ingredients are tempered with a calming effect that will temper any side effects."

The herbs you choose to grow for your flock will depend on your chickens and their needs, and here are a few that we recommend.

Herbs to add to chicken feed


Lavender is a flowering plant that belongs to the mint family. It can help relieve stress, which is beneficial for sitting and laying hens. Lavender is also a natural insect repellent and will make your chicken run or coop smell lovely. 

Can chickens eat mint leaves?


Delicious and nutritious, mint leaves are packed with vitamins A, vitamin B complex, and vitamin C, as well as calcium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, and potassium.

Mint helps deter rodents and bugs, whilst also having a calming effect for laying hens.

Is oregano good for chickens?


Oregano has natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, containing calcium, dietary fibre, manganese, iron, vitamin K and vitamin E. It strengthens the flock's immune system and helps guard against common poultry illnesses such as salmonella, coccidiosis, avian flu and e-coli.

Herbs for chickens respiratory


This aromatic herb is commonly used in remedies to help with digestive issues and, because it contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and anti-carcinogenic properties, it can also help boost their immune system.


Sage is another wonderful herb to offer your chickens, with several health benefits. It’s said to help combat salmonella and acts as an antioxidant.


Thyme is a natural insect repellent, which will keep pests out of your coop and away from your flock. It’s also packed with vitamin C and is a good source of copper, fibre, iron, manganese and vitamin A. 

Poisonous herbs for chickens - what herbs can chickens not eat?

Whilst it’s lovely to incorporate fresh herbs into your poultry keeping, some herbs are toxic to chickens and should be avoided, like these. 

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties and antiviral, but it can also cause abdominal pain and diarrhoea, so be cautious of introducing it to your flock.


Whilst some chicken owners feed this to their flock, as it’s a low fibre, high protein feed, it’s usually added to feed and not grown for them to eat freely. In large amounts it can cause diarrhoea or liver failure, so be cautious of feeding them too much.


Although it’s a member of the mint family, pennyroyal is toxic to chickens and consuming it can result in liver failure and eventual death.


Wormwood affects the nervous system and, according to Dr Nick, “Clients often ask me about the use of Wormwood, Artemisia absinthium. It's an obvious choice if one is simplistically looking for a herb that may have anti-parasitic effects. The name is a bit of a giveaway for have-a-go herbalists.

“But you have to think of why it's got a historical reputation as an anti-parasitic. It's because it contains thujone, a poisonous neurotoxic compound found at high levels in some evergreen trees such as the cypress family.”

Good weeds for chickens to eat

Delicious, nutritious and, best of all, free - your flock will make light work of any pesky weeds that pop up in the backyard. Some of these tasty treats have a bad reputation amongst gardeners, but are a good way to add natural enrichment to your chickens' diet.

Here are a few you can offer them:

  • Bee Balm
  • Chickweed
  • Clover
  • Dandelion
  • Nettles

As a bonus, most garden weeds contain lots of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to help your free-ranging birds thrive.

We’d love to know what herbs you’ll be planting for your flock, so please tag us in your photos on Facebook and Instagram.

Interest to learn more? Check out our other poultry advice articles and recipes:

A Beginner's Guide to Keeping Chickens

The Pros and Cons of Keeping Chickens

How to Help Your Chicken Through a Moult

Recipe: Winter Warmer Poultry Porridge

February 09, 2023 — Verm-X