Today I'm covering Caring for your Chickens naturally using essential oils.
It's hard not to fall in love with backyard chickens. They've got quirky personalities and provide delicious eggs for your breakfast and baking needs. Caring for your backyard chickens naturally is easy and can help them thrive. Using natural practices to care for your birds involves creating a healthy and clean environment, precautionary measures to keep them in good health, and providing a natural well balanced diet.
I like using both Essential oils and herbs with my chickens. They cover so many aspects of caring for chickens it makes sense to incorporate them into daily use. They are not interchangeable in use but both herbs and essential oils have a place in caring for chickens.
Herbs vs Essential oils
Herb's can be used fresh or dry in your coop. They can help deter pests and provide tasty and healthy snacks for your chooks. Providing herbs as a snack can help supplement vitamins and minerals in their diet. Dried herbs are also great for adding to nesting boxes to keep things clean and fresh.
The down side of herbs is it can be a lot of work to maintain a regular year round supply and if you don't grown your own it gets expensive buying them.
Herbs also aren't as potent as Essential oils. So if you are trying deal with a mite infestation essential oils are more likely to help than fresh or dried herbs.
Another thing to consider is accessibility and easy of use. Yes you can grow a ton of Oregano for your chickens but, potency aside, isn't it easier to grab a bottle of oregano oil? What about things you can't grow, like Frankincense?
The point is there is a balance between the too and you're overworking yourself and missing out if you're only using Herbs with your chickens.
How to use Essential oils with chickens
Because essentials oils are so much more potent than their herb counterparts, a little goes a long way and they should be used for specific reasons.
Most importantly, you should use only high quality, Therapeutic-grade Essentials oils from a trusted source. Birds in general (especially parrots) are extremely sensitive and cannot handle common household cleaners, air fresheners and fragrances. In the past it was commonly thought that essential oils were toxic to birds, but it turned out they are sensitive to chemicals found in poor grade, adulterated, or synthetic essential oils that are often found in house hold cleaners and fragrances. Bird and poultry owners have discovered that by using high quality essential oils their birds can benefit and thrive from their use.
When using oils topically on your birds they should be highly diluted with a carrier oil. Coconut oil, Olive oil, and Vegetable oils are safe to use with birds. If your creating a spray to use a solution of Witch Hazel and/or Water can be used to help disperse the oil. You should aim for a 1% to 2% dilution ration for most cases when using essential oils with your chickens. A little goes a long way.
Take care to keep oils out of your chickens eyes and use caution when using oils around their beak and vent. These are sensitive areas and only appropriate oils should be used on them.
Which oils should you use?
There are quite a few oils you can use on and around your chickens. Below I'll go over the most common ones and explain a little on how they are used. Using essential oils with poultry is nothing new but as essential oil usage becomes more prevalent more oils and their uses are being discovered and shared. Always keep learning and sharing your experiences. If you're lucky enough to have a Vet that knows and uses essential oils pick their brains. More and more vets are realizing the benefits of essential oils and incorporating them into their practices. The trick is finding them.
Oregano oil is a powerful oil for strengthening the immune system. A lot of people add a drop to their chicken watering system when their birds are under the weather and need an immune system boost. Make sure to only add essential oil to a metal or glass water container. Plastic containers can degrade and leach potentially harmful chemicals into the water when you add essential oils to them.
Rosemary, Orange and Lavender can help your birds during molting.
Orange oil is said to work for an Anti-peck spray.
Lavender, Frankincense and blends like T-away, Gentle baby and Peace & Calming are great oils to diffuse during times of stress.
These are just some of the most common oil uses I've found. There are more out there. So far in my research I haven't found a high quality oil you can't use around your chickens. I'll be updating this post as I learn more.
Use caution and start out slowly when first introducing oils.
Now, go spoil your chooks!