Rosemary is among the most prized herbs, greatly desired not just for its use as an aromatic seasoning but also as a lovely ornamental plant.
Native to the Mediterranean, this hardy shrub now grows in most parts of the world. Plants of this type are often loved by chickens as a snack when they are foraging, but you always have to be careful.
Can your chickens safely eat rosemary?
Yes, rosemary is completely safe and healthy for chickens. Rosemary is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, folic acid, calcium, and magnesium. It also contains important antioxidants to keep your chicken’s immune system strong.
Count yourself lucky if you have a rosemary bush in your backyard that your chickens enjoy munching on.
This is a low-maintenance herb that doesn’t require much care, and it can provide many health benefits to your chickens.
However, as with any other food, you need to know all the specifics before letting your flock tuck in. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know.
Health Benefits of Rosemary for Chickens
As we mentioned, rosemary is a good source of many vitamins and minerals that are essential to your chicken’s health.
Vitamin A is important for proper growth, immune system function, and fertility in chickens. Folic acid helps with cell growth and preventing birth defects.
Calcium is crucial for strong bones and eggshells, while magnesium aids in calcium absorption and enzyme function. Perhaps rosemary’s best attribute is its antioxidants, such as rosemarinic acid, which can help protect your chicken’s cells from damage.
These antioxidants help to boost the immune system, making rosemary an excellent herb to feed to chickens during the cold winter months.
Can Chickens Eat Rosemary Raw?
Yes, and this is the preferred way to let them eat it. They will derive maximum nutrition from it this way.
Keep in mind that some chickens might be put off by the intense fragrance of certain species.
Can Chickens Eat Dried Rosemary?
Yes, they can. Dried herbs are a little more concentrated in terms of flavor, so use them sparingly. You can sprinkle some over their other food or add it to their water.
Can Chickens Eat Rosemary Leaves?
Yes, they sure can. Rosemary leaves are completely safe for chickens. In fact, they are full of the nutrients that your chickens need.
Can Chickens Eat Rosemary Stems?
The stems are safe, but woody and tough, so your birds are unlikely to eat them. If they happen to swallow a few stems along with the leaves, you probably don’t have anything to worry about.
Can Chickens Eat Rosemary Cooked?
Yes, though there is no real benefit to cooking rosemary prior to serving it to your chickens. If you want to maybe make it more palatable to older birds, go ahead.
Just be sure to lightly cook it, as intense heat can cause the nutrients to break down.
Never Feed Rosemary to Chickens that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since we are talking about cooking, it is a good time to point out that you should never feed your chickens rosemary that has been prepared with or used as an ingredient in harmful foods that they just cannot have.
Things like salt, sugar, butter, bread and oils. These can be toxic to chickens and make them very ill.
At best, high calorie foods will make them get fat (yes, chickens can get fat) and at worst your birds could come down with serious diseases like fatty liver syndrome or sour crop, or other potentially fatal conditions like salt poisoning.
Most dishes you and I enjoy are just not something that chickens can have!
Beware of Pesticide and Herbicide on Wild Rosemary
One more thing to keep in mind when allowing your chickens to chow down on rosemary is the presence of pesticides and herbicides on wild growing plants.
If you don’t grow your own, be sure to carefully wash any wild-harvested rosemary before giving it to your chickens.
Also, take care when harvesting any that might be contaminated by other chemicals from factory or farm runoff- that is a great way to poison your flock!
If in doubt, just stick to the stuff you grow yourself.
How Often Can Chickens Have Rosemary?
Rosemary is a healthy and wholesome addition to a chicken’s diet, but it should never be a staple.
This means that you can give it to your chickens regularly, but it should never make up more than 10% of their total calories; the majority of their food intake should come from their chicken feed.
Preparing Rosemary for Your Flock
If you’re growing your own rosemary, simply snip off a few sprigs and let your chickens enjoy.
If you’re buying it fresh from the store or nursery, make sure to give it a good wash first to remove any chemicals or pesticides that may be on the leaves.
Dried rosemary can be added to any other foods they might be eating.
When feeding chickens rosemary, remember that a little goes a long way. The strong aroma can be overwhelming to some birds, so start with just a few leaves and see how your flock enjoys it before giving them too much.
Remember that chickens are unique creatures with their own individual preferences, so pay attention to see how they react to it. And as always, if you have any concerns about your chicken’s health after eating rosemary or any other food, consult a veterinarian.
Can Baby Chicks Have Rosemary, Too?
Yes, baby chicks can have rosemary. In fact, it’s a great way to help them stay healthy and fight off diseases.
Just be sure to let them grow up a bit before you give them only a small amount. Chicks should be at least 6 weeks old before you start giving them rosemary.
Something else to keep in mind is that chicks will likely struggle to eat fresh rosemary leaves, so you’ll need to grind them up or give them dried rosemary to help them out.
Also, chicks don’t have to have it; they will do just fine subsisting on a nutritionally complete starter feed.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.