If you own chickens, you probably already know that they like to nibble on all sorts of plants, including grasses, herbs, and everything in between.
And naturally follows that you might wonder what sorts of herbs people enjoy that chickens can also enjoy. One of the most popular around the world is mint. Can chickens eat mint?
Yes, chickens can eat mint. Most chickens seem to enjoy the taste, and mint has several health benefits for chickens, including a complement of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, mint shows promising antibacterial and antiparasitic properties that might further benefit your birds.
Mint is a tasty snack or nutritional supplement that your chickens will probably love, and if you grow some for your own purposes or have wild mint growing around your property, you are in luck because you’ll definitely be able to serve it to your flock.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about giving mint to chickens.
Nutritional Profile of Mint
Mint is mostly seen as an ingredient or flavoring for human cuisine, but at the micro level mint is quite healthy, with a good assortment of vitamins and minerals to go along with its strong, bracing taste.
Mint contains a good amount of vitamin a, b series vitamins, and vitamin c, along with a notable amount of manganese, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium.
But perhaps most notably, mint is also loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants, two things notable for the health benefits they provide.
Health Benefits of Mint for Chickens
Chickens will derive many health benefits from eating mint as part of a balanced diet, and the vitamins and minerals present in mint will improve everything from bone and feather health to circulation, metabolism, and more.
But probably the most interesting and compelling health benefit that mint brings to the table is its strong antibacterial and antiparasitic properties.
Studies have shown that mint, when eaten regularly, can help to repel microscopic pests, destroy bacteria and generally help germ-proof your chickens.
This is pretty remarkable for such a common herb! So long as you aren’t giving your chickens too much of it, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to withhold mint from their diet
Can Chickens Eat Mint Raw?
Yes, your chickens can eat raw mint with no problems, and it’s true there are preferred ways to eat it. Chickens can easily tear at and pluck off sprigs of mint to swallow whole.
Can Chickens Eat Spearmint?
Yes, chickens can eat spearmint and all related wild varieties.
Can Chickens Eat Peppermint?
They sure can. All known varieties that are true mint plants are completely safe for chickens to eat.
Can Chickens Eat Wild Mint?
Wild-grown or farm-raised, either is safe and tasty for your chickens.
Keep in mind that there are some plants popularly known as mint that are not true mint plants, and might not be safe or healthy for chickens. But so long as it is genuine, actual mint your birds should love it.
Can Chickens Have Mint Candies?
Absolutely not. Any kind of candy, whatever it is, will contain too much sugar and other added ingredients that are not healthy for chickens.
Hard candies are probably entirely too hard for them to eat and will pose a choking hazard if they attempt to swallow them whole.
On the other hand, soft chewy, or gummy mint candies might get stuck in their crop or cause other problems.
Chickens sure love mint, but as much as you might love mint candies you need to keep those all to yourself.
Can Chickens Eat Mint Cooked?
Chickens may eat cooked mint, but depending on the preparation the concentration of the compounds that give mint its strong flavor might prove to be a little too much for sensitive birds.
At any rate, the delicate structure of mint will lose a considerable amount of nutrition when it is cooked, so there is not much reason to do so before giving it to your chickens.
Never Feed Mint to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
On the subject of cooking mint, you must never give mint to chickens when it has been prepared with harmful ingredients or been used as an ingredient in something that they cannot have.
Just because you have mint in a jelly, jam or other dessert does not suddenly make it wholesome and healthful for your flock!
Most of these foods will have way too much sugar, oil, salt, butter, and other ingredients that will prove harmful to a chicken’s health.
If you are lucky, it will only result in weight gain or digestive upset. But if you aren’t lucky, your chickens could be facing more serious health problems if they eat such foods.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Mint
Whole, raw mint is completely safe for your chickens to eat, but you must use caution if you are purchasing mint from the grocery store for the purpose.
The vast majority of consumer products are heavily treated with pesticide and other chemicals to ensure that it makes it to market.
These chemical residues can prove to be very damaging to the health of a chicken, especially over time as many pesticides build up slowly in tissues when ingested.
It is vital that you thoroughly wash or soak any store-bought mint to remove these residues before giving it to your flock.
If you are in doubt and if at all possible, purchase organic varieties of mint or grow your own- it is easy to grow even in a bucket or other countertop container if you want to!
How Often Can Chickens Have Mint?
Mint is healthy and about as natural as it gets when it comes to a component of a chicken’s diet, but that doesn’t mean they should be eating it all the time.
Chickens should subsist primarily on chicken feed and it should make up anywhere from 80% to 90% of their diet with the remaining 20% to 10% composed of wholesome, healthy supplemental foods and treats.
Mint should be just one of many items in that remaining, smaller fraction. Given to chickens in this way, it will round out their nutritional intake and give them something interesting to eat periodically, preventing boredom.
Preparing Mint for Your Flock
Nothing gets easier than mint when it is dinner time for your beloved birds. All you need to do is grab a bunch and throw it out there for them to pack on or else hang it from a wire enclosure or from the ceiling of their run or coop. That’s pretty much all there is to it.
Your chickens will happily pluck at it and tear it to pieces in no time.
Can Baby Chicks Have Mint, Too?
Yes, baby chicks can have mint just like adults. You should, however, wait until the chicks are around 3 weeks old before giving them just a little bit of mint to try.
Mint will prove to be a little more difficult for chicks to digest compared to their early-life chicken feed, but they can still have some as a treat and derive nutrition from it.
Just keep the serving size teeny tiny as above to avoid indigestion or other problems. Also keep in mind that chicks are vulnerable to crop impaction, particularly when eating dense or leafy foods, so keep an eye out for that.
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.