|Fresh herbs and flowers dry along side mini-potatoes and garlic on vintage flower bulb drying trays.|
Like most chicken keepers, I love spending time in the garden. Each year I plant and grow plenty of herbs for the family and the chickens. In the summer, the girls enjoy nibbling on the fresh herbs. However, as the season begins to come to a close, we harvest what remains in the garden before the first frost. We then dry the herbs prior to future use. We use a few different techniques to dry the herbs and flowers based on their moisture content. Once dried, we use the herbs in cooking and also in the chicken coop! Adding a sprinkle of dried chicken-safe herbs to the coop helps keep insects, mice, and parasites away. Plus I think it soothes the girls during their egg laying. To learn how to add herbs to the chicken coop read on.
It is very important when adding herbs to the nesting boxes that they are dried. Fresh herbs and flowers have a very high moisture content. The drying process removes all moisture from the plants. It also helps to preserve their shelf life, increase their potency, and prevent the growth of mold. Just adding fresh herbs and flowers to the coop does not guarantee that mold will occur. However, I believe that taking this risk cannot be justified, especially when herbs are so incredibly easy to dry on your own and accessible in the market place. Let me explain.
Mold can be very dangerous for the health of the flock. Mold in the coop can contaminate newly laid eggs before the bloom applied to the egg dries. It can affect the health of hatching eggs. When ingested it can make your chickens ill and it can lead to respiratory illnesses. Chickens exposed to mold and mold spores can become ill with Aspergillosis, Candidiasis and ring worm. Mold spore are microscopic and are incredibly difficult to eradicate once introduced to the chicken coop.
Mold spore hiding on freshly picked herbs thrive in:
- damp or humid conditions
- moisture remaining in the leaves, stems and blossoms
- hens sitting in nesting boxes while laying eggs
- broody hens
- hatching eggs
- decreased air flow
- when fresh herbs are packaged or bundled together for extended periods of time
- fresh herbs are placed in a vase or wrapped tightly with rubber bands
- when underneath a sitting hen
- lack of sunlight
- such as nesting boxes
- shady locations
- Lemon Balm
- Bee Balm
- All Flowers
Drying herbs is not difficult yet it does take some time. It is also important prior to drying the herbs and flowers that they are free from visible mold such as blight, black spot and powdery mildew. Also, do not use herbs in the coop that you have applied chemicals to during the growing season. These could make your flock ill. Lastly, it is very important to never use herbs of any sort in brooders with baby chicks. They are too potent.How to Keep Mold At Bay:
- Do not add anything to the coop with a high moisture content such as fresh herbs.
- Feed fruits, vegetables and kitchen scraps to the flock outside in the run. Pick up their left-overs.
- Use dry bedding that is absorbent such as pine shavings verses straw or hay.
- Clean up water spills and wet bedding in the coop upon discovery.
- Clean up chicken poop.
- Encourage good air flow with proper coop ventilation
- Exposure to sunshine is important.
- Be sure that the coop does not leak in rain or snow.
- To clean your coop of potential mold spores, select a dry sunny day and wash down the entire coop with a mixture of 10% bleach and 90% water.
To learn how to dry your own herbs, please visit my harvesting and drying herbs post.
If you aren’t able to grow or dry your own herbs this is a wonderful dried herb blend that we have been using over the past 4 years with amazing results! I love using it in addition to what we grow on our own. We can consistently provide our flock with a large variety of dried herbs. It makes doing something good for our flock incredibly easy! We add a sprinkle to each nesting box every time we clean the coop. I swear they lay more eggs on those clean coop days.
Treats for Chickens is a sponsor but the opinions stated are our own and the flocks’.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest