Most chickens love all sorts of leafy, green and flowering herbs. In fact, they love them so much many owners have reported that they periodically get into ones that they shouldn’t!
How about oregano? Is oregano safe for chickens to eat?
Yes, oregano is completely safe for chickens and has nothing harmful in any part of the plant. Oregano contains abundant iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium and vitamin A along with potent antimicrobial properties making it a great supplement to a chicken’s diet.
Chances are you love oregano as a mandatory component in many Italian dishes, but your chickens will love it because it will help them to be healthy, strong and disease-free.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about giving oregano to your flock.
Nutritional Profile of Oregano
Oregano is often thought of as a flavorful herb for seasoning various dishes, and nothing more, but unknown to some is that it actually has quite a bit of nutrition in the form of vitamins and minerals, but only when it is fresh.
Oregano contains a ton of iron and nearly as much calcium along with plenty of magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium and vitamin A. It has only a little bit of vitamin C and a tiny bit of sodium.
|Total lipid (fat)
|Carbohydrate, by difference
|– Fiber, total dietary
|– Sugars, total including NLEA
|Vitamin A, RAE
|Vitamin A, IU
|Lutein + zeaxanthin
Perhaps most importantly, oregano contains polyphenols and other compounds which have been suggested to possess potent bacteria and virus-killing properties, and many swear by its efficacy as a disease-fighting agent.
Health Benefits of Oregano for Chickens
Oregano, particularly fresh oregano, is extremely beneficial for chickens.
The iron present in oregano is excellent when it comes to the production of red blood cells and the oxygenation of the bloodstream, making it a potent supplement for cardiovascular health.
Calcium, as most readers know, is vital not just for bone health but also for the production of healthy egg shells for laying hens.
Vitamin B6 is just one of many that play an important role in correct metabolic function and cellular health while potassium is necessary for energy production and balancing electrolytes.
Lastly, vitamin A is a necessary component for the maintenance of nervous system tissues and particularly the health of the eyes and optic nerves.
As mentioned above in the previous section, several studies have shown considerable promise with the feeding of oregano to chickens as a disease-fighting agent.
The compounds present in oregano seem to help neutralize or destroy bacteria and viruses in the body, helping your flock to stay healthy overall.
Can Chickens Eat Oregano Raw?
Yes, chickens may eat raw, fresh oregano and this is the best way to serve it to them. Fresh oregano maintains its nutritional profile, with many vitamins and minerals being lost over time as it dries out or when it is cooked.
Your chickens will love to eat fresh oregano wherever it is growing or if you pick it and serve it to them.
Can Chickens Eat Oregano Dried?
Yes, chickens may safely eat dried oregano with no problems, although in its common form it is so small and flaky it is easy to overlook or lose.
Consider adding dried oregano to their feed or to some other food to make sure they eat it.
Can Chickens Eat Oregano Essential Oil?
Tentatively, yes. There is nothing overtly harmful about oregano essential oil, but I would advise great caution in administering it to chickens or adding it to their food.
It is possible to overdose on anything, and this is definitely true for chickens. The concern is that the effect and intensity of the oregano oil could lead to substantial digestive upset in chickens.
At any rate, there is nothing chickens will get from oregano oil that they won’t get from fresh oregano, so that is what I would recommend serving them.
Can Chickens Eat Oregano Cooked?
Yes, chickens may eat oregano that has been cooked, although as mentioned above it will degrade the nutritional profile.
Vitamins and minerals alike will be lost during the cooking process, and though oregano has abundant vitamins and minerals, it does not have a great variety of them.
Never Feed Oregano to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since we’re talking about cooking with oregano I must take the time to point out that you should never serve oregano to your chickens when it has been prepared with or as an ingredient in foods that they cannot eat.
Popular dishes like pizza and pasta along with other ingredients like salt, sugar, oil, butter and so forth are all bad for chickens and you should never serve these items to them.
At best, your chickens will gain weight and probably get a ripping bad stomach ache. At worst, they could suffer from salt poisoning, fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome, high blood pressure, seizures and worse.
Keep human foods for humans, and only give your chickens wholesome fresh or dried oregano.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Oregano
One thing to keep in mind if you are buying fresh oregano from the grocery store is that it has likely been treated expensively with pesticides.
Though most types of produce are supposed to be washed, at least a nominally, before being brought to market it never fails that some chemical residues remain.
These residues, particularly ones from pesticides, are notorious for building up in the tissues of people and animals and eventually causing long-term harm.
You must make it your priority to thoroughly wash or soak fresh oregano purchased from the grocery store prior to serving it to your chickens.
If you are in doubt, make sure you buy a clean organic variety or, my recommendation, just grow your own. It is easy to grow even in a small container.
How Often Can Chickens Have Oregano?
Oregano is definitely good for chickens and they enjoy eating the fresh stuff, but they shouldn’t have it all the time.
It is far from nutritionally complete, and your chickens it should be subsisting primarily on a diet of well-rounded chicken feed it can give them everything they need to live their best life.
You can give your chickens oregano once or twice a week as a treat or a supplement to their usual diet.
Around 90% of a chicken’s calories should come from their chicken feet, with other items making up the remainder, including oregano.
Preparing Oregano for Your Flock
There’s not much to do when it comes to giving oregano to your chickens. If you have oregano growing wild on your property, the chickens will probably start eating it whenever they get close to it.
Otherwise, you can pick it and serve it to them and they will happily tear it apart.
If you’re dealing with dried oregano or are chopping up fresh oregano you can mix it into other foods, their feed or something else, to supplement it.
Can Baby Chicks Have Oregano, Too?
Yes, you can give baby chicks oregano safely, with the one caveat that you should wait until they are a little bit older prior to serving.
Once a chick is around 6 weeks old, they’ll be developed enough to safely and easily eat oregano although, as with any new food, you want to keep an eye on them to make sure it doesn’t upset their stomach and give them diarrhea or cause other problems.
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.