There are lots of culinary herbs that have wonderful health benefits for your chickens, and can enhance both their diet and environment. You can fit a wonderful selection of these plants into a 4×4 raised bed quite easily. They’ll grow quite companionably side by side (in either full sun or part shade), creating not only a beautiful-looking garden, but also one with herbal ‘henefits’.

Some of the more common ways to include herbs in your chicken-keeping regimen include adding fresh or dried herbs to your nesting boxes, adding dried herbs to your daily chicken feed, and feeding fresh herbs free-choice. Most chickens love munching on fresh herbs! Here are eight to try. (Bonus: All of these plants will fit nicely in a 4 x 4-foot raised bed; scroll down for a sample planting plan.)

Oregano

Oregano is being studied as a natural antibiotic in commercial poultry farms. Planting some oregano in your garden and pinching back the leaves regularly to feed to your chickens can help them naturally combat e.coli, coccidiosis, salmonella, and avian flu by strengthening their immune systems. Dried oregano can also be added to their daily feed.
Best use: Provide fresh to be eaten as desired or add dried to their daily feed.

Sage

Sage is another herb with some amazing health benefits. Fed free-choice or dried in their feed, sage will help promote general health in your chickens and also act as an antioxidant. Sage is thought to help combat salmonella in chickens, so plant some sage in your chicken garden and offer the cuttings to them whenever the plants need to be cut back, to reduce the risk of salmonella in your flock.
Best use: Provide fresh to be eaten as desired or add dried to their daily feed.

Bee Balm

Bee balm, like its name implies, helps attract beneficial bees to your garden. Fresh or dried bee balm petals added to your chickens’ diet aid in respiratory and digestive tract health. Some petals scattered in your nesting boxes can be calming to laying hens and also act as an antiseptic and antibacterial agent, making for a healthier environment for your laying hens or hens hatching chicks.
Best uses: Provide fresh to be eaten as desired or add dried to their daily feed; place fresh or dried petals in nesting boxes.

Mint

Mint of all kinds is best planted in containers so it won’t wander and take over your whole garden. Fortunately for those without bright green thumbs, it’s easy to grow, a perennial in most areas of the country, and there are lots of uses for it. Try adding some fresh leaves to your chickens’ nesting boxes. Mint helps repel mice and bugs and also has a calming effect on laying hens. If your chickens eat it, that’s perfectly fine, and in fact mint naturally lowers body temperatures, which can be helpful in keeping your flock cool in the summer. You can float some fresh mint leaves in their water or freeze some mint leaves into ice cubes for them to peck at on hot summer days.
Best uses: Add fresh or dried to nesting boxes; feed frozen in ice cubes as a summer treat.

Marigolds

Although not technically an herb, marigolds planted around the perimeter of your garden will help repel insects and also can keep bugs out of your chicken coop. Much as with mint and lavender, adding some fresh marigolds to your chickens’ nesting boxes can help keep them insect-free. If your chickens eat the marigold petals, their egg yolks, beaks, and feet will become a gorgeous, vibrant orange color. Marigold is also an antioxidant and helps detoxify the body when ingested.
Best use: Add fresh or dried to nesting boxes.

Herb Garden for Chickens: hand feeding dried herbs to hen
This handful of dried oregano, sage, dill, marjoram, basil, and marigold petals is one serious health booster for hens.
Herb Garden for Chickens: mint, marigold, and strawberries with ice
Mix fresh mint, marigold petals, and small pieces of strawberries with ice cubes for a refreshing summer treat for your girls.
Herb Garden for Chickens: parsley, marigolds, and more
Fresh parsley (shown here with marigolds, lemon balm, sage, and marjoram) is full of vitamins, plus it encourages hens to lay.

Thyme

Like most aromatic herbs, thyme is an insect repellent and therefore a great addition to your chickens’ nesting boxes. Thyme also aids in respiratory health and has antibiotic and antibacterial properties, so adding thyme to your chickens’ diet is also extremely beneficial. You can use thyme to make a natural fly spray for your coop by steeping a handful in white vinegar for several weeks and then straining the liquid into a spray bottle and spraying liberally around your coop and area where you feed.
Best use: Provide fresh to be eaten as desired or add dried to their daily feed.

Parsley

So much more than just a plate garnish, parsley is extremely high in nutrients. Added to your chickens’ diet, it will give them a great vitamin boost and also aid in blood vessel development. As a bonus, parsley is a laying stimulant; it’s best offered fresh free-choice (your chickens will love it!).
Best use: Provide fresh to be eaten as desired or add dried to their daily feed.

Lavender

Although most of us regard lavender as having a very pleasant scent, bugs think differently. Adding some lavender leaves or flowers to your nesting boxes helps keep insects of all kinds away and will also help your coop stay smelling fresh. Lavender is a natural stress reliever which can be beneficial to laying and sitting hens. Lavender also increases blood circulation so it’s especially beneficial to chickens sitting on eggs who don’t get up and move around as much as they should. As the hens sit, they will pick at the lavender and eat some, thereby getting the full benefits.
Best use: Add fresh or dried to nesting boxes.

Of course all of these herbs are edible (and nutritious) for humans as well, so hopefully you can persuade your chickens to share some of the harvest with you!

Sample 4′ x 4′ Planting Plan

Back row, L to R one marigold plant, one bee balm plant, one marigold plant

3rd row, L to R two parsley plants, one lavender plant

2nd row, L to R one sage plant, two thyme plants

Front row, L to R one mint plant, one oregano plant, one mint plant

Lisa Steele, author of Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy Healthy Chickens…Naturally, is a natural chicken keeping advocate and aspiring herbalist who lives on a hobby farm in Virginia with her husband, two horses, two dogs, a barn cat, and a flock of assorted chickens and ducks. She is a frequent contributor to various publications, including Hobby Farms, Backyard Poultry, and Chickens magazines. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, crafting, and baking with eggs fresh from her coop.

Visit her at FreshEggsDaily.com.

Herb Garden for Chickens: planting plan
Planting plan for 4 x 4-foot herb garden for chickens.