Chickens love eating all kinds of different plants and produce, and this definitely includes herbs. Herbs are, in fact, some of their favorites.
This can naturally lead to trouble if your chicken gets after the herbs you have spent a lot of time and effort growing for yourself, but the good news is most herbs are extremely healthy for your chickens.
So how about rosemary? Can chickens eat rosemary?
Yes, chickens can safely eat rosemary. Rosemary is a great option for them because it is packed with nutrition, and it has many benefits including neurological benefits, liver protection, and antimicrobial properties.
When it comes to supplementing your chickens’ diets, it is difficult to do better than rosemary.
It is one of the most popular and beloved kitchen herbs used around the world, and throughout history it has been appraised for its known medicinal properties.
Turns out it has similar medicinal properties for chickens as well as humans.
Find out what you need to know about serving rosemary to your chickens below…
Nutritional Profile of Rosemary
Rosemary is not much of a fortifying food for chickens considering it is so low in calories, but it does have high levels of important vitamins and minerals that chickens need, particularly B complex vitamins and vitamin A, along with manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper.
|Total lipid (fat)||5.86 g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||20.7 g|
|Fiber, total dietary||14.1 g|
|Calcium, Ca||317 mg|
|Iron, Fe||6.65 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||91 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||66 mg|
|Potassium, K||668 mg|
|Sodium, Na||26 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.93 mg|
|Copper, Cu||0.301 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||0.96 mg|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||21.8 mg|
|Pantothenic acid||0.804 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.336 mg|
|Folate, total||109 µg|
|Vitamin A, RAE||146 µg|
|Vitamin A, IU||2920 IU|
These are all nutrients that chickens need, and supplementing their diet with rosemary is a great way to make sure they get them.
Benefits of Rosemary for Chickens
The vitamins and minerals present in rosemary are used by chickens for all kinds of things, from basic cellular function and metabolism to the maintenance of skin and feathers, skeletal growth and healing, producing eggs, and much more.
But beyond the basic nutritional advantages, rosemary has an awful lot to offer thanks to the marvelous antioxidants and various other compounds that contains.
Together, these compounds can provide protection to a chicken’s nervous system, including the brain, improve liver health and function, and even function as a natural antibacterial and antimicrobial agents.
This isn’t conjecture: these benefits are proven by laboratory research!
Probably most notable are the neurological benefits. Carnosic acid reduces oxidative stress and overstimulation which can lead to damage in the nervous system, protecting nerve cells throughout the body and also the brain.
Rosemary can help to protect the liver of chickens from damage due to various infections and particularly the presence of toxic mold, especially important for birds that are dealing with chronic illnesses or healing from other injuries.
Lastly, rosemary has potent antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and has proven particularly effective at preventing staphylococcus aureus infections.
All in all, rosemary offers many health and wellness benefits to your flock!
Can Chickens Eat Fresh Rosemary?
Yes, they can. Chickens love fresh rosemary, and serving it to them fresh ensures they will attain maximum, benefit from it.
The nutrients and antioxidant compounds in rosemary degrade when it is dried or cooked. Fresh is always best!
Can Chickens Eat Rosemary Stems?
Yes, though most chickens won’t bother with eating the tough, fibrous stems unless they come from a particularly thin and tender variety of rosemary.
There are many types, though, so some might be more appealing to your birds than others.
Can Chickens Eat Cooked Rosemary?
Yes, they can, but as noted the nutritional value of rosemary goes down when it is cooked or dried, so you definitely don’t want to go out of your way to cook rosemary for them.
Never Feed Rosemary to Chickens that Has Been Cooked with Harmful Ingredients
Rosemary is an extremely popular kitchen herb around the world, and it is used in countless dishes in all kinds of cuisines.
But on the subject of cooking you always want to avoid giving your chickens any rosemary that was prepared with or added to things they should not eat, and likewise don’t give them any food made with rosemary if it isn’t good for them.
This could be stuff like barbecue sauce, butter, salt, sugar, oils, processed human food, etc.
While rosemary makes out own food taste amazing these aren’t things that chickens should ever eat.
Trying to share your favorite dish with your flock could make them terribly ill, and maybe even kill them…
Conditions like obesity, heart problems, salt poisoning, fatty liver syndrome, and more are all potential outcomes, and all of them are a terrible fate for your chicken.
Your flock will love rosemary just as it is, fresh. It does not need anything else added to it, I promise.
Beware of Pesticides on Grocery-bought Rosemary
There is one more thing you need to be aware of when buying rosemary for your chickens from a grocery store, nursery, or greenhouse.
Many commercial herbs are heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides to keep pests from destroying the crop.
Not only are these compounds toxic for your chickens and immediately harmful in sufficient quantities, they can also build up slowly in their bodies over time, leading to a number of chronic health problems.
When buying rosemary or any other herbs for your flock, make sure it is certified organic to be sure they get the cleanest and freshest herbs possible.
Organic or not, wash the heck out of fresh rosemary to get as much of the pesticide residue off as possible. Invariably some will remain, though.
The very best option you have is to simply grow your own; there are many cultivars of rosemary that do very well in the garden.
How Often Can Chickens Have Rosemary?
Chickens can have rosemary regularly, but it must never be a mainstay of their diet. Rosemary is highly nutritious, but not a staple. It’s a supplement and should be given to them as such.
One or two servings of rosemary a week, perhaps mixed in with their other food, is more than enough for them- and you- to reap the benefits.
Preparing Rosemary for Your Flock
You have several options for giving rosemary to your flock, and both are super simple since chickens love the stuff.
First, just strip a sprig, and sprinkle it over or mix it in their food. You can use a dash of olive oil to help it stick if you wish.
Alternatively, let them have a live plant when free-ranging if it is growing on your property. Don’t be surprised if your flock strips it bare in no time.
You can also harvest a branch and hang it in the run or around the coop to let chickens pick at it and have a little fun.
Any way you do it, rosemary will be a big hit for your birds.
Can Baby Chicks Have Rosemary, Too?
Yes, chicks can have rosemary and it is good for them, but you must serve it to them cautiously.
First off, wait until chicks are about 6 weeks old before you allow them to try it.
Second, make it a point to chop up the rosemary leaves into small bits; the spiny leaves might be a choking hazard for chicks.
Last, but not least, don’t ever give them too much. Chicks are notoriously sensitive eaters, and they should be subsisting mostly on their starter feed for the initial stages of their life.
Rosemary can be added very sparingly as a treat or supplement, but it should never be given in large quantities or too often. Stick to small doses and they will love it just like their grown-up relatives.
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.