Can Essential Oils Help Your Chickens?

Recently, some poultry farmers have been integrating essential oils into their flocks’ diets. While there isn’t much research yet as to the effectiveness of essential oils, many farmers and backyard flock owners swear by them. Here, we examine some of the most commonly used essential oils for chickens.

What are essential oils?Bottles of rosemary essential oil on table

Essential oils are compounds distilled from the leaves, flowers, stems, and roots of various plants. They are then combined with a carrier oil or other liquid, though you can also find them in dried form. We humans often use essential oils for aromatherapy, but they can also be digested, and some people use them for medicinal purposes (though the efficacy of this is questionable).

Which essential oils can be used for chickens?

More and more essential oils are making their way into chicken feeds. Farmers believe that these oils can help support growth, as well as a chicken’s digestive, reproductive, and immune systems. Below are some of the most common essential oils you can use for your feed:


Oregano may be a spice, but it is also an essential oil. Oregano oil is extracted from two species, Origanum vulgare and Thymus capitatus, and contain antimicrobial and antiparasitic properties.


Essential oils derived from rosemary can protect your chickens’ livers from toxic molds. They also contain high levels of vitamins A,C, and B, as well as manganese, iron, copper, calcium, and magnesium.


This mint can also act as an antioxidant, boosting the immune system and protecting the intestines. Some research has also shown that thyme can help improve growth and digestive health.

Star Anise

Unlike the previous examples, star anise is a seed pod. Oils extracted from these seed pods can help improve laying and growth.

While more research has to be done to see how essential oils can help our chickens, many companies such as Nutrena are already adding them to their feed. For more information on how to care for your chickens, contact Chickens for Backyards today!