Anti-Parasitic Herbs for Your Chicken Flock
How to Get Rid of Chicken Mites and Other Parasites
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Parasites in your chicken flock are the most annoying of all the chicken issues. Sometimes, they can even be the most deadly. That’s why it’s important to add anti-parasitic herbs to your flock’s daily or weekly feed routine. When an issue arises, there are great anti-parasitic options that work quickly as well! From chicken lice treatment and how to treat mites on chickens, to something more complex like internal parasites . . . there’s an herb for it all.
Herbs for chickens isn’t a new concept at all. It’s so easy to learn about, especially in the modern world. Your flock will thank you! Here are some herbs you can add to your flock for their anti-parasite properties.
Herbs for External Parasites
One of the most common questions I get is how to get rid of chicken mites. I follow it up with a simple chicken lice and chicken mite treatment. The following herbs will help get rid of those creepy crawlies.
- Garlic — in a study done in 2000, a group of hens was treated with garlic juice or extract. The outcome was significant in the reduction of mites on the hens. You can use garlic in your feed on a regular basis to help deter external parasites. Or, when parasites arise, you can make a spray with the garlic or garlic juice and apply topically twice a day for at least two weeks.
- Eucalyptus — specifically in its essential oil form, but can also be hung in the coop, used in a coop cleaning spray, and placed in nesting boxes as a preventative. In a study done in 2017, it was found that lice can be killed by using eucalyptus essential oil.
- Cinnamon — again, specifically in its essential oil form, but can also be used in the coop, nesting boxes, and cleaning spray as a preventative. The same study done on eucalyptus also included cinnamon in its research. Both eucalyptus and cinnamon are powerful when it comes to eradicating lice.
In regard to essential oils and chickens, please be sure to dilute the oil with a carrier oil (like fractionated coconut oil) with a three-to-one ratio (three drops of coconut oil to one drop essential oil).
All of these herbs can be added to your chicken feed or waterer as a daily preventative. They can also be used topically, which is most effective, by making a spray out of them. Spray down the roosts of your coop daily or weekly as a preventative. You can even spray the skin under the wings of your chickens once a week as a maintenance spray.
Herbs for Internal Parasites
Anti-parasitic herbs for chickens with internal parasites are a completely different subject. Internal parasites can be some of the harshest parasites when it comes to your flock. Here are some powerhouse herbs you need to get into your flock as much as possible as a preventative, but also as a cure when given in medicinal dosages or in a tincture.
- Stinging Nettle — wild birds will eat on stinging nettle as a way to help prevent internal parasites. Chickens will absolutely do the same thing. There are also studies done proving the efficacy of stinging nettle on eradicating and preventing internal parasites in chickens, among many other things! If there is one thing you add to your flock’s diet, it should be dried stinging nettle.
- Thyme — this herb has been studied more than most herbs in the chicken world. In one study, thyme was proven to significantly reduce E. coli in the digestive track of flocks, and even increased egg production in the flock that was being studied.
- Black Walnut Hull — when given with your monthly maintenance anti-parasitic herbs, black walnut hulls are incredibly powerful. These don’t need to be given every day but can be given a few days out of a month as maintenance herbs. Or, if an infestation arises, you can offer black walnut hulls in feed and waterers.
All of these herbs are great when used as maintenance herbs, which is really what works best when it comes to internal parasites. It’s best to catch the bugs before the bugs catch you! When an issue arises, however, make sure you treat your entire flock consistently and rapidly with these herbs in either a tincture (which needs to be made before a problem arises) or in their waterer.
There are so many anti-parasitic herbs in the wonderful world of chicken keeping, but these few mentioned should help you get started! Remember, one ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure you have these herbs on hand before a need arises, and you’ll be set!
Originally published in the Backyard Poultry Special Subscriber 2020 issue — Comb to Tail Health — and regularly vetted for accuracy.