Herbs for Hen Health: Catnip

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 08 July 2014

Catnip is a herb derived from the mint family made obvious by their similar coarse and fragrant leaves, and known famously for being a major feline attractant-hence the name. It is a very resilient plant and will continue to grow back year after year, thriving more so in Spring and Autumn in an area of your garden where it can get direct sunlight and partial shade. However, the combination of wet and humid conditions do not work well for catnip, so they may not grow to their full potential in tropical climates.

Catnip plant leaves covered in dew

Good for your Hens

Not just for cats, Catnip is known for being a natural insecticide, so planting it around your chicken coop and laying it in the chickens nesting boxes will help repel lice, mites and any other insects that irritate your chickens. (See below for a powerful herb hit for your girls nesting boxes!)

Good for your Garden

Catnip is quite a ferocious grower, so it doesn’t need a buddy to promote healthy growth in the garden. However it’s growing habits can become untidy so it does need to be harvested regularly to help keep the rest of your herbs happy.

Good for You

This herb is popular for being a natural sedative/relaxant thanks to it’s relaxing and soothing properties. Brewing it as a mild tea can help improve digestion, aid morning sickness, and calm nerves. Add lemon and honey for a warming drink before bed that will be sure to give you a good nights rest.

Chicken Aromatherapy

It’s quick and easy to create a conducive laying environment for your chickens in their nesting boxes, all you need are some fresh herbs from the garden and some clucky chicks to spoil (Did we mention it smells divine too?!)

1. Choose your favourite chicken safe herbs-our pick; catnip for reproductive health, mint as an incestide, basil for its antibacterial properties, oregano for an immunity booster and thyme as an anti-parasitic.

2. Once picked, trim and mix together. (If you have some lavender or rose petals handy add this to the mix for a super sweet smelling coop)

3. Add the aromatic mixture to your girls nesting boxes and watch them swoon!

4. Change and refresh the herbs when needed to keep your hens happy and healthy.

 When working with herbs, there are a few simple rules to follow to keep your hens at the height of their health…

  • Some herbs will spoil very quickly, especially in Summer, so be sure to refresh them every three days to really harness their goodness.

  • Remember! Treats in moderation-don’t overdo it. If you are unsure how much to give to your girls, it is best to check with your local vet.

  • Like with all herbal treatments each works differently based on the individual, and the same goes for chickens too. So keep this in mind and be sure to check for any reactions or particular dislikes.

Sources and further reading