An Herbal Salve for Wounds on Chickens

©2010 Shanna Ohmes

Have you ever heard the term “hen-pecked”?  If you’ve ever been around a flock of chickens, you know what it means.  Chickens (and baby chicks too), are relentless in pecking at bugs, grubs and other insects.  But they also go after anything with blood, including another of their own kind!  Even if it is just a tiny spot of blood, one chick will peck at it, then another and another, and before you know it, that tiny wound can be a huge problem.

At the first sign of a wound on a chicken, it should be taken care of immediately by removing the chick from the flock.  The sight and smell of fresh blood, even from a small wound, will cause the other chicks to start pecking. 

Soon, the whole flock will be pecking on at the wound, making it bigger and the situation worse.   I have seen cases where the wound had enlarged down to the bone when it wasn’t treated early.   If the chick or hen is not removed from the flock and cared for until the feathers return, the flock will continue to peck.

After you’ve removed the chick, you need to clean the wound by rinsing it with fresh water.  Put the chick or hen in her own cage with fresh water and regular food.  Adding fresh dandelions, Lamb’s Quarters and crushed raw garlic to her feed will boost her immune system and fight infection.

Next, make up an herbal salve to apply to the wound.  You can make your own salve using olive oil and beeswax as a base.  Measurements aren’t really necessary, just mix up small batches that you can cover the wound with.  Add a pinch of yarrow powder or a few drops of yarrow essential oil to the oil mixture.  Then stir in a drop or 2 of lavender essential oil, until the salve is smooth.  You can apply this salve a few times a day until the feathers return. 

Remember, an open wound on a chicken is an invitation to not only cannibalism, but also infection.  It is better to prevent it, than to treat a more serious condition afterwards.

Here is a source for those herbs to use to make the herbal salve.

Herbs to Keep Backyard Chickens Healthy

©2010 Shanna Ohmes

Nutrition plays a large role in the health of young chicks and laying hens.  By setting up ways for your chickens to access a natural diet, whether it is a free-range of your backyard, or a portable coop, they will be healthier. 

You can also grow your own herbs or buy dried herbs to make teas to supplement their diet.  Chickens already love to forage, all you have to do is make sure they have access to the things they need!  Many of these are “weeds” you probably already discard from your garden.  They are actually very nutritious and even medicinal plants not only for your chickens, but for us too!

Herbs for nutrition:

Raw Garlic—Have this available year long for your chickens.  You can also mash it in their drinking water for not only the nutritional benefits, but also the anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties to prevent and curtail infections.  Have raw garlic available for newly hatched chicks, so they will learn to eat it at an early age.

Nettle—Urtica dioica—Nettle is rich in calcium, protein, manganese, phosphorus and potassium.  A wonderful all around herb.

Alfalfa—Medicago sativa—Rich in protein, amino acids, minerals and chlorophyll.  Make a tea from dried alfalfa to keep hens healthy for breeding and producing eggs.

Lamb’s Quarters—Chenopodium album—Rich in protein, calcium, vitamins A and C, B-complex and iron.  An all around herb for the digestive system.

Dandelion—Taraxacum officinale—Rich in protein, vitamins A,C,K,D, B-complex, iron, manganese, phosphorus and trace minerals.  Dandelion is a complete food for building the immune system.  Give dandelions freely to your young chicks and hens.  You can even make a tea and offer that free choice as well.

Organic apple cider vinegar—Mix with their water for a superb digestive tonic.

Herbs for the nest: 

Birds in the wild use medicinal herbs to line their nests.  The aromatic volatile oils have anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties.  You can imitate this natural process by applying a few handfuls of the fresh herbs to the nest before a hen goes broody.  Adding the herbs periodically during the spring and summer can help keep parasites at bay.

Peppermint, spearmint, catnip, oregano, wild bergamot, lavender, rosemary, sage, basil, thyme and fennel are aromatic herbs that freshen the nesting box.

Want your hen to be relaxed and calm?  Lavender and peppermint will relieve her stress while brooding.