As I like to say, it has got to be tea time somewhere. I started giving my girls a bowl of herbal tea a few years ago, and they absolutely love it. They will hop and run after the bowl, eager to be first in line when I set it down. The girls get herbal tea a few times a week, and it has been a very helpful tool for me in increasing their nutrients and boosting their health. I will switch up the ingredients that I put in their bowl of tea depending on the season, any health concerns, or what I have readily available at the time.
Some of my go to chicken tea ingredients:
Oregano - strengthens the immune system and may assist in guarding against common poultry illnesses
Thyme - may aid in respiratory health and is known to be anti-bacterial
Calendula - good for inflammation, yeast issues, and may enhance and deepen the color of yolks
Mint - helps repel pests and has a calming effect on the chickens system
Lemon Balm - pest repellent, anti-bacterial properties, calming and soothing
Dandelion - digestive stimulant, blood detoxifier, parasite control, natural diuretic
Plantain - very high amounts of vitamin A, C, and the mineral Calcium
Clover - natural detoxifier, high in vitamin A, B, and the mineral potassium
Sage - inhibits fungus and yeast in the system, combats salmonella
Parsley - high in vitamins A, B, C, E and K, stimulates egg laying
Rosemary - enhances respiratory health, helps to relieve pain
Dill - powerful antioxidant, assists with respiratory health
Basil - supports digestion, supports immune health, rich in vitamin K and iron
Chickweed - highly nutritious food, rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, manganese, silicon, and copper.
Just as these herbs are healing and nourishing for our bodies, they too, are wonderful for our feathery friends. The great part about herbal tea for chickens is that is adds a powerful punch to your chickens health, but will cost you close to nothing. If you are growing prolific herbs such as oregano, lemon balm, and mint, you can have more than enough to harvest for your hens. Many of these herbs are hardy, perennial, easy to grow, and cost close to nothing to keep in your garden. You can easily set up some containers or raised beds around your coop, out of the reach of your hens, and grow herbs just for your chicks consumption. Not only that, but many herbs that are great for your chickens, grow for free all over the lawn (Just make sure the weeds you pluck have not been sprayed with pesticides).The herbs can help with the prevention of many common chicken illnesses and diseases, as well as assisting them in their egg laying ventures. If you are interested in the basics of herb gardening, we have a blog post called Beginners Guide to Herb Gardening.
Making the tea for chickens is quite simple. Place your fresh or dried herbs into a jar or bowl of hot water, and allow to steep for about approximately 20 mins. You can strain your herbs out at this point or just leave them in. I usually just leave everything in the bowl, and my girls enjoy eating the herbs as they sip their tea. In the winter, I serve them warm tea, and on the hottest days of summer, I add ice cubes, and we share a glass of ice tea together. It is truly that simple, and they love it. Herbal tea water is safe to give to baby chicks, but I would strain out the herbs first, and give it to them in moderation. Oregano, sage, parsley, and thyme, are particularly good for baby chicks and will get them accustomed to the flavor of herbal greens without actually giving them whole herbs yet. I would strain out the herbs for the babies, because you don't want them to choke.
Always remember, it's teatime somewhere! Happy sipping.