Can Chickens Eat Basil Leaves?

Can Chickens Eat Basil Leaves?



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Let me tell you about the time my chickens went bonkers for basil in my herb garden.

One sunny morning, I walked outside to check on my chickens like usual.

When I got to my herb garden, I couldn’t believe my eyes – my precious basil plants were totally destroyed!

Leaves were scattered everywhere, branches were snapped clean off, and the soil was dug up real good.

At first I thought some critter got into them overnight and went to town.

But then I noticed Bessie the chicken happily pecking away at the remaining basil leaves.

And soon as I saw that, the lightbulb went off – it was my chickens who done did this!

They loved that basil so dang much they ate every leaf in sight!

I had no idea chickens even liked basil until that day.

But now I make sure to grab some fresh leaves to share whenever I’m cooking with it.

The chickens go hog wild over their special basil treats.

After that crazy basil buffet situation, I got real curious if chickens can really eat basil after all.

And after doing some research, the answer is a big yee-haw yes!

Benefits of Feeding Chickens Basil

Can Chickens Eat Basil Leaves?

Turns out basil has all sortsa good things that are good for chickens too:

For starters, basil is chock full of healthy vitamins chickens need – like A, K, and C.

Them vitamins help keep chickens in tip-top shape and healthy as can be.

Basil also has anti-inflammatory properties which helps chickens feel comfortable and limber.

No sore stiff joints for my gals!

And with all them antibacterial benefits, basil helps fight off sickness and cooties floating around the coop.

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Just a little basil in their diet helps balance everything out nutrition-wise.

And as a bonus, it makes their eggs taste and smell extra flavorful!

I swear Bessie’s eggs got a new zesty, Italian flair since she started eating basil.

How Much Basil Can Chickens Eat?

Can Chickens Eat Basil Leaves?

Now when it comes to feeding chickens basil, moderation is the name of the game.

Too much of a good thing can lead to tummy troubles for chickens.

Here’s some tips on basil amounts:

Start with small amounts at first to see how they react.

Watch close for any funky changes after eating it.

Mix basil in with their other greens rather than pile it on solo.

About 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves per chicken daily is a good amount.

If your chickens seem to get loose stools or upset stomachs, take a break from the basil for a few days.

Let their digestive system get back to normal.

Then slowly reintroduce basil again in smaller doses.

Keep an eye out for any tummy issues flaring up again.

Ways to Feed Basil to Chickens

Can Chickens Eat Basil Leaves?

Chickens will happily gobble up fresh basil leaves any which way.

But here’s a few fun ways to serve up their basil:

Chop, mince, or tear the leaves into bits and mix in with their feed or scratch grains.

Add some basil in with their salad greens or chicken chop mixes.

Whip up some tasty basil pesto and stir a spoonful into plain yogurt or cottage cheese for a nutritious boost.

You can also blend basil leaves and stems into chicken smoothies along with fruits and veggies.

I always keep dried basil in the coop to sprinkle on their food anytime.

Get creative with it!

Chickens will be over the moon about any form of basil they can sink their beaks into.

Growing Basil for Chickens

Since chickens go so wild for basil, consider growing some just for them!

Plant it right in their run or garden area so they can nibble fresh leaves.

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Basil thrives in a sunny spot with rich well-draining soil.

Make sure the soil stays moist but not soggy.

The ideal pH range is between 6.0-7.5.

Mix in some compost or manure to really feed the basil.

You can sow basil seeds directly in the ground or start them indoors first.

Space the seeds or seedlings 8-12 inches apart.

Once sprouted, thin out weaker seedlings to leave the strongest ones.

Trim basil often to promote bushy growth.

But let some plants fully flower and go to seed for your chickens to enjoy.

Chickens also love pecking apart the dried seed heads.

The vining basil varieties make a great edible cover for their run.

Grow plenty so you have basil for you and leftovers for your flock!

Dried vs. Fresh Basil for Chickens

Chickens enjoy basil in all its forms – fresh, dried, or frozen.

Fresh basil has the most nutrition and best flavor.

Hang basil bundles upside down to air dry thoroughly.

Crumble the dried leaves by hand or pulse in a coffee grinder.

Store dried basil in an airtight container away from light.

It’ll retain flavor for several months.

You can also freeze chopped basil in ice cube trays for longer storage.

Thaw the cubes and mix into feed or smoothies as needed.

Dried or frozen basil is more concentrated, so feed smaller amounts.

Sprinkle just a teaspoon over feed.

For homemade treats, use about 1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup frozen per recipe batch.

Companion Plants for Chicken Gardens

Along with basil, here are some other great companion plants for chicken gardens:

Marigolds deter pests like mosquitoes, ticks, and nematodes.

Zinnias attract pollinators and provide bright color.

Lavender soothes chickens and repels flies.

Nasturtiums contain vitamins and minerals.

Calendula has antioxidant and anti-fungal benefits.

Parsley aids digestion.

Garlic and chives deter insects.

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Mint soothes airways and repels rodents.

Plant these around the coop or in your chicken garden.

They’ll benefit the chickens and help control pests and diseases.

Feeding Chickens Fresh Herbs from the Garden

Your chickens will relish fresh herbs right from the garden.

Herbs are nutritious and provide variety in their diet.

Safe herbs to feed include basil, parsley, cilantro, dill, fennel, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, and mint.

Introduce new herbs slowly to observe reactions.

Chop, mince, or tear herbs into chicken-bite sizes.

Mix them into feed or serve them up free choice.

Hang herb bundles around their run for enrichment.

They’ll peck and nibble throughout the day.

You can also stuff herbs into a straw-filled piñata for fun foraging.

Rotate different herb plants to keep things interesting.

With so many delicious herbs to choose from, your chickens will eat up the garden variety.

Fun Facts About Chickens and Basil

Here’s a few fun basil tidbits for chicken keepers:

Adding basil to nesting boxes helps repel mites and lice.

Ancient Greeks believed basil stimulated chickens to lay more eggs.

There are over 160 varieties of basil including lemon, lime, cinnamon, and purple.

Chickens can eat all types of basil including sweet, Thai, holy, and Greek.

Chickens who eat basil produce darker orange egg yolks.

Basil is in the mint family but has a different flavor.

The word “basil” comes from the old Greek word for “king.”

Italians thought basil represented love, and gave it as a love token.

Ancient Egyptians planted basil near the pyramids as a symbol of royalty.

Your chickens will feel like royalty with their own fresh basil treats!

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