I always make sure to include crops for the flock when planning my annual gardens. Ducks, chickens and geese all benefit from both fresh and dried herbs, flowers and vegetables. Many are medicinal and offer immune support in addition to being tasty treats. Here’s a few I grow and how I use them in the coop:
Lemon Balm (shown)
I use this in my nesting buckets both fresh (summer) and dried (winter) because it’s a naturally calming plant. The strong lemon scent is a great pest and insect deterrent plus this hardy perennial grows back vigorously each year. Careful—it can spread quickly!
I offer basil leaves fresh in the summertime as a snack. These fragrant leaves are a natural antibacterial and help repel flies.
An absolute favorite of mine. I cut the tall stalks in bunches and hang in the coop in the summer. The scent repels flies as the herb dries. The dried plants are then shredded and packed for later use in nesting boxes in colder weather. Anise Hyssop smells like licorice and is said to calm birds while also helping relieve congestion if taken internally.
These sweet flowers keep unwanted pests away in the garden plus they attract pollinators. I like to pluck the flowers and feed them to my ducks and geese in the summer and fall as floating treats in their water buckets. They love their peppery flavor and some folks believe them to be a laying stimulant (I have not tried this).
Thyme is an amazing plant. It’s filled with healing properties; it’s antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant... basically anything “anti-“ that’s good. It’s great for placing around bumblefoot-affected birds in their bedding as it is said to aid in staph infections if used topically or ingested.
Cayenne pepper, ground into a powder, can be sprinkled on top of feed. It acts as a natural dewormer—and, if your flock isn’t laying because of a parasitic cause, cayenne pepper can help them restart.
The list goes on and on. What do you grow for your flock and why?
I’m getting guardian goose questions on repeat lately as people start to place their spring chick/duckling/gosling orders. So let’s talk about what a goose can and can’t do for the homestead.
For more information you can see my Instagram highlight of published articles I’ve written on geese called “Writing.” My website has a free goose guide download which I’ll also link to.
Angela is the farmer and content creator behind Axe & Root Homestead LLC. This historic six-acre farm is home to two Clydesdale horses, ten honeybee hives, three Hampshire sheep, a guardian dog, barn cats and a flock of 40 geese and ducks. The farm produces maple syrup, fruit from a small orchard and loads of garden produce for consumption, preservation and donation to the local food pantry.