I have a love-hate relationship with mint. Sometimes, I also have a love-hate relationship with my chickens… like when they decide to re-landscape my flowers! But, chickens and mint (while both annoying at times!) make a pretty fantastic combination!
When we moved in to our new home late last summer, the mint had taken over an entire flower bed and was working on another! I had no idea how I was going to use it all and keep it under control! It didn’t take me long to realize what a wonderful benefit it was to have mint in the chicken yard! (Yes, our chickens have their own yard, although they still like to poop in ours!)
Now, I put all that mint to good use! Mint has some amazing health benefits for both people and animals. It’s hardy, requires few inputs and is easy to grow. In my opinion, mint is probably one of my favorite herbs for the homestead because it’s so low maintenance and multifunctional!
These are my favorite ways to use mint to benefit my chickens:
Mint provides shelter & hiding places for chickens
My chickens love to hang out in the mint! Since our chickens free range all day, we try to provide a lot of bushes, plants and trees that give them protection from ariel predators like hawks and owls. Mint is a perfect chicken yard companion for this reason! It can grow to be anywhere from a foot to two plus feet tall depending on the variety. My chickens will hunker down in it throughout the day. Sometimes, I just see the tops of their heads poking out and other times, I can’t see them at all! They also like to lay their eggs in the mint from time to time!
Mint can provide shade for the chickens run
I think one of the reasons that my chickens love to be in the mint patch so much is because it’s a nice cool place to be during the warm weather. Because certain mint varieties can grow so tall, mint can be a great source of shade. Another bonus is that it grows quickly! While trees and bushes can take years to grow large enough to provide adequate shade, mint can be grown in just a couple months! We have peppermint growing around one of our coops and it easily grows to be three feet tall during the summer months, providing a lot of extra shade for the coop!
Mint helps repels insects and rodents
Mint has a wonderful and strong smell that a lot of insect and rodents don’t like! Which is fantastic reason to plant mint around the chicken coop! In addition to mint growing near our coops, we trim the mint throughout the summer and toss it into the coop and run to help repel insects. We dry our excess mint leaves to use in the coop throughout the year. You can also hang bundles of mint inside the coop or run to deter pests. Mint can be used to freshen up a nesting box and the scent helps stimulate laying. You can also make a lovely mint insect repelling spray to keep flies off you and your pets. Check out my recipe for Herbal Mint Insect Repellent!
Mint helps cool during hot summer days
If you’ve ever had a glass of mint water or tea on a hot summer day, you have experienced the cooling and refreshing powers of mint! I place mint and ice cubes in a tray of water during the summer heat to help keep my flock cool on hot days. In addition to mint’s cooling properties, it also provides digestive and respiratory support as well as antioxidants. Win-win-win!
Fun fact: mint doesn’t actually change body temp but it does trick your brain into thinking you’re cooler! Here’s why!
Mint is chicken-proof
Mint is probably the most indestructible plant I’ve ever grown! I’ve literally dug it out by the roots, only to have it return a couple weeks later, as healthy as can be! Pre-plan before you plant mint because it will spread quickly and be very hard to remove once it’s established! You will also need to continue to coral it throughout the year if you don’t want it to overtake an area. New shoots are generally much easier to pull than older, established roots. That being said, mint’s hardiness is one of the reasons that I love it for chickens. My chickens have pretty much destroyed every flower, plant or seedling I’ve ever put within their reach – except the mint! Even with them trotting through it, scratching, and pecking at it on a daily basis, it stays healthy and happy!