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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chook Plants

I'm no urban farmgirl.

This morning when I was emptying the compost there was a mouse sitting right on top.  And I yelped and dropped the compost. Then I went to see if the chooks had left me any eggy pressies. There was one. I went to pick it up and again I yelped and jumped. But fortunately didn't drop the egg. Instead I did a little frantic-brushing-shaky dance. Mites crawling on the egg. Yuckidy, yuckidy, yuck.

Poor girls. Seems there's still a rather nasty mite infestation in their coop. So I've been doing a lot more googling and of course it's made me despondent and anxious. That's the type of person I am.

Thanks to Mrs Bok for her mite drop and diamataceous earth recommendations from here. I've ordered both. And I'll be donning my face mask and re-dusting them and their pen again later this arvo with pestene. But really I think I'll need to do something drastic soon.

So in the meantime I've been thinking about planting some stuff around the coop to help deter the creepy crawlies and to help with general chook health. And here's what I came up with.

Comfrey
I've been attempting to grow comfrey from seed. Which I've found to be rather tricky. It seems to take a long time to germinate and I only managed to successfully grow one wee plant which I have planted up the back under the fig tree. And it hasn't done too well at all. Apparently comfrey needs quite a bit of water - and it hasn't been getting much there. And it's had to tolerate Wokee the Puppy who has been tromping all over it because it's in the perfect place for her to sit and annoy supervise the chooks. But I think it'll survive. Now comfrey I've read can be invasive so I will be keeping an eye on it. But I'm looking forward to using it in the garden as a compost activator and making a comfrey tea to fertilise the plants. And also I've read it's good for chooks. It is high in protein and minerals and fed to them occasionally apparently has medicinal benefits. Chop up a few leaves and leave them to wilt a bit - otherwise they're too hairy and not so tasty for fussy chooks. And my chooks are definitely the fussy, gourmet types who would surely turn their little beaks up at it otherwise.
Wormwood
Wormwood
This herb is recommended all over the place. Apparently it will help with internal and external parasites. So I've planted a little bush behind the coop against the fence. But my little gourmet chooks have completely ignored it so far. Which I guess is a good thing given that the plant isn't yet established.
Peppermint
Peppermint
As for the wormwood it's apparently a medicinal aid. And I happen to have some growing in my herb garden already which I will be re-locating to the chook run.
Nasturtium
Nasturtium
Great in the veggie patch and good for chooks too. Who knew? Good for their health and repels insects. I'll be planting some in the old laundry troughs in front of my chook coop. I'm imagining a mass of lovely flowers trailing all over the place. In reality I'm predicting a teeny clump of flowers that'll never do much good when they're pecked by chooks and subjected to my sporadic watering in that planter box. But it's nice to dream.

Garlic Chives
I've been crushing a few bulbs of garlic in my girls' water every so often in the hope that it'll act as a wormer. Apparently garlic chives will do the trick too. So I'm going to attempt to grow some nearby and give them a feed every so often. Apparently pumpkin seeds will eliminate worms from a chook gut too. My chooks are crazy for them so even if that doesn't work I feel better about giving them a little treat.

Lavender
The aromatic oils have insecticidal properties. I'll be planting some lavender nearby too.

But Wait! There's More...
Now I did find a load of other recommended plants for chooks too. Some I've never even heard of: mugwort, southernwood, rue, nettle, dandelion, tansy, fennel, rosemary, chickweed...
I'm feeling dizzy at the possibilities. I may as well set up a herb garden around the entire coop.
Not a happy chook. Look feathers gone around her neck - and I don't think that's from moulting.

11 comments:

  1. Hope you can get your mite problem sorted soon.Poor chookies. A herb garden around the chook pen sounds great.

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  2. That chooky might not be happy but she looks very cute with her unique feather cut around the neck! I love the sound of all those herbs around the pen. I have also heard that strewing them thru the pen occasionally also helps.

    I love wormwood, its greyness is so pretty and it is incredibly drought hardy. Good luck!

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  3. Oh dear poor chooks.... does not sound very nice at all...
    Please may I introduce you to this lovely lady and her equally awesome blog.

    http://www.the-compostbin.com/

    The compost lady leads an organic life and so do her many beautiful hens and I know if you contact her she would be able to assist you with your mite problems.
    Hope this helps you sort things out...
    Love Jane ♥

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  4. Unfortunately I suspect that the chooks may not enjoy eating anything that is good for them, e.g. Wormwood - which is exceptionally bitter (it's the herb used to flavour Absinthe). But you'll enjoy having all those exotic herbs anyway, even if it's just for the kudos involved!

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  5. So sorry to read that the chooks aren't happy! Hope you're successful with your plantings! BTW, have nominated your blog for the Sunshine Award - pop over and see the rules! lol xxx

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  6. Just introduce the predator for the mice by adopting a kitten/cat from the local animal shelter. My cat had shown his pride on the lawn quite often and keeping the birds/possum of our vegie patch.

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  7. Alongside our chook run we grow tansy, wormwood and comfrey and we find the chooks regularly peck off those leaves that poke through into their run - even wormwood. The herbs also help block their scratchings from flying all over the garden path!

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  9. Hallo! You poor thing! I shriek as well when I see creepies or mice. Especially big hairy spiders.

    I had a bunch of comfrey but my chooks ate it all :( Wormwood is good at the base of apple trees too (coddling moth deterrent) but it grows huge and woody!

    Good luck chick hope it is sorted out SOON!!

    ps sorry somthing WEIRD is going on with blogger?? I'm The bok flock!!

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  10. With the mite drops because it's Ivermectin (active ingredient), there's a recommendation that you NOT eat the eggs 5 days post treatment (withdrawal period). Probably not a problem now as the moult's happening and none of mine are laying either.

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  11. VG I use pestene to dust the chickens but I also dust the nesting boxes too after I have changed the hay. Also if you have grown garlic you can put all the dried leaf tops in the nesting boxes as this will help to deter lice and mites.

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