Lavender is one of the most well-known and beloved of the common herbs, and it is certainly the most fragrant.
Whether you love it or can’t stand it, lavender has a distinguished history both in traditional medicine and various cuisines around the world. But can chickens eat lavender?
Yes, chickens may safely eat lavender, but they generally won’t touch it unless it is dried. Lavender is extremely fragrant when fresh and live, and this seems to deter chickens. However, it can provide some nutrition, and has positive health benefits for them including stabilizing blood pressure.
Most Americans don’t think of lavender as anything but a fresh scent for candles or potpourri, but it is edible, and that includes chickens and other animals.
Keep reading to learn what you need to know about giving lavender to your flock…
Health Benefits of Lavender for Chickens
Lavender has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes, and that extends to chickens.
The main health benefits of lavender for chickens are that it can help to stabilize blood pressure, and of course one of the most well-known effects of lavender is its ability to soothe and relax.
This also extends to chickens. Lavender can help to reduce stress in chickens, making them happier and healthier overall.
Lavender has also been traditionally used to treat respiratory problems, and this extends to birds as well. If your chickens are suffering from respiratory ailments lavender may help to ease their symptoms.
Lastly, lavender, especially fresh lavender, has been shown to have potent insect-repelling properties.
Mosquitoes and other insect pests love chicken coops, and they can transmit diseases to your flock. Lavender can help to repel mosquitoes, keeping your chickens safe.
Can Chickens Eat Lavender Raw?
Yes, chickens can eat fresh, raw lavender, but they generally won’t. As we mentioned, lavender is very fragrant when it is fresh and live.
This seems to deter chickens from eating it and they will usually only eat lavender that has been dried or processed in some way.
If you do have fresh lavender that you want your chickens to eat, or your chickens like it that way, there is no harm in letting them have at it.
Can Chickens Have Lavender Dried?
Dried lavender is much more palatable to chickens than fresh, and they will usually eat it if it is offered to them.
If you grow lavender yourself, or can find it at a farmer’s market, you can dry it and offer it to your chickens as a treat or mixed in with their feed.
Dried, food-grade lavender can also be found in many health food stores. This is a good option if you don’t have access to fresh lavender or the ability to dry it yourself.
Just be sure that any dried lavender you give to your chickens is food-grade and has not been treated with any pesticides or other chemicals.
Can Chickens Eat Lavender Stems?
Yes, chickens can eat lavender stems, but they are not as palatable as the leaves. Chickens will usually eat the leaves before the stems, but if you have stems that need to be used up they can certainly be given to your chickens.
Just be sure to remove any sharp bits before giving them to your flock.
Can Chickens Eat Lavender Flowers?
Yes, they can. Lavender flowers are just as safe for chickens to eat as any other part of the plant.
In fact, the flowers are the most fragrant and tasty part of the plant. If you have fresh or dried lavender flowers, your chickens will probably enjoy eating them.
Can Chickens Eat Lavender Cooked?
Yes, although there is no real reason to go through the trouble. Chickens can eat lavender cooked, but it is just as easy to give them dried herb or even freshly harvested plants.
Never Feed Lavender to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
That being said, lavender has been used for ages around the world in various cuisines for all sorts of dishes, even though it is used rarely if at all in most parts of America.
If you do any cooking with lavender, make sure you never feed any to your birds that has been prepared with harmful ingredients such as oils, salt, sugar, and butter.
These can make your chickens gain weight or even very sick, even if they are just small amounts.
Serious complications resulting from ingesting such ingredients include fatty liver syndrome, sodium poisoning, and renal failure, so avoid giving any lavender-based items to chickens that contain such ingredients.
Beware of Chemicals on Commercially-bought Lavender
Like we mentioned previously, you must be wary of chemicals on commercially-bought lavender.
Many farmers and other producers use all sorts of pesticides and herbicides on their crops, and these can be harmful to your chickens if they ingest them.
Other sources of dried lavender may be treated with oils or other stuff to help it stay looking fresh or fragrant for longer, as with potpourris.
Only give your chickens lavender that you have grown yourself, or that you are absolutely certain has not been treated with any chemicals.
How Often Can Chickens Have Lavender?
Lavender is wholesome and healthy, but that does not mean chickens should eat it whenever they want. Too much of anything is not good, and that goes for lavender as well.
A couple of sprigs here or there as a treat is fine, but do not let your chickens eat lavender all day long.
A good rule of thumb is to offer them no more than about 10% of their total calorie intake in the form of treats and supplemental foods, of which lavender can be a part.
This means that if your chickens are eating a diet of mostly commercial chicken feed, they can have a little lavender and other foods. Just use your best judgement and don’t go overboard.
Preparing Lavender for Your Flock
The best way to give your chickens lavender, assuming they don’t eat it fresh and whole, is to dry it and mixed in with other things.
You can dry lavender yourself by hanging it upside down in a cool, dark place until the leaves are brittle.
Once you have your dried lavender, you can store it in an airtight container and add it to things like chicken scratch, oatmeal, or other supplements.
You can also use it to make your own “chicken tea” by steeping a small amount in boiling water and letting it cool before giving it to your flock.
Can Baby Chicks Have Lavender, Too?
Yes, but you’ll want to wait until they are a little older before giving them some. Baby chicks have delicate digestive systems and can easily get sick if they eat too much of something new.
As a general rule, it is best to wait until chicks are at least 4-6 weeks old before introducing them to any new foods, including lavender.
This gives them time to adjust to their new diet and develop a stronger digestive system.
Also, chicks seem to show an even stronger aversion to lavender than adult chickens, so don’t be surprised if they turn their beaks up at it at first. Eventually, they might come around, but they might not, and that’s okay.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.