Can Chickens Eat Catnip? Exploring Poultry Diets

can chickens eat catnip

Here at our farm, we are always looking for new ways to keep our chickens happy and healthy. Recently, we have been curious about the potential benefits of adding catnip to their diets. So, we did some research and found some interesting information that we want to share with you. In this article, we will explore whether or not chickens can eat catnip, the effects of catnip on chicken health, and whether or not catnip can be used as enrichment for our feathered friends.

As backyard chicken keepers, we know that a balanced diet is crucial to keeping our birds healthy and productive. This is why we are constantly looking for ways to improve their diets while also providing them with a variety of nutrients. In this quest for the perfect poultry diet, we have encountered many questions about what is safe for our chickens to eat. One of these questions is whether or not chickens can eat catnip, a member of the mint family.

If you are curious about whether or not catnip is safe for your feathered friends, then keep reading to learn more about the potential benefits of feeding catnip to chickens, as well as some of the dietary considerations you should keep in mind if you decide to add this herb to your flock’s menu.

Understanding Catnip and Its Effects on Chickens

As we continue to explore the potential of catnip for chickens, it’s important to understand how this herb works and what benefits it may provide to our feathered friends.

The Science of Catnip

Catnip contains a compound called nepetalactone, which is responsible for the herb’s effects on cats. When cats smell or consume catnip, this compound triggers a reaction in their brains that can lead to behaviors such as rolling, rubbing, and playfulness.

While chickens don’t experience the same reaction to nepetalactone as cats do, they can still benefit from the herb in different ways.

The Benefits of Feeding Catnip to Chickens

Research has shown that catnip may have several health benefits for chickens, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving digestion, and boosting the immune system.

Feeding catnip to chickens can also provide environmental enrichment, which is important for their mental health and well-being. By introducing new scents and flavors, we can stimulate their natural curiosity and encourage natural behaviors such as scratching and foraging.

Feeding Catnip to Chickens: Dos and Don’ts

While catnip can be a healthy and enriching addition to your chickens’ diet, it’s important to feed it in moderation and with caution. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

  • Do: Offer fresh or dried catnip leaves in small amounts, mixed with their regular feed or as a treat.
  • Don’t: Feed your chickens catnip essential oil or extracts, as these may be too concentrated and potentially harmful.
  • Do: Observe your chickens’ behavior after consuming catnip, and adjust the amount accordingly to avoid overstimulation or digestive issues.
  • Don’t: Rely solely on catnip as a source of enrichment or as a replacement for a balanced diet.

Overall, feeding catnip to chickens can be a fun and beneficial way to enhance their diet and environment. By understanding the science behind this herb and following some basic guidelines, we can ensure our feathered friends stay healthy, happy, and entertained.

Dietary Considerations for Chickens and Catnip

Now that we know about the benefits of feeding catnip to chickens, let’s consider the dietary aspects of incorporating this herb into their diet.

Firstly, it is important to note that catnip is not a complete food for chickens. While it can provide certain benefits, it should not be relied upon as the sole food source for your birds.

Additionally, it is recommended that catnip be given to chickens in moderation. Overfeeding can cause digestive issues and potentially harm their health. As with any new food, it is best to introduce it gradually and monitor your chickens closely for any adverse reactions.

When using catnip as a supplement to their regular diet, it is important to ensure that your chickens are still receiving a balanced and diverse nutrition. A diet high in protein is particularly important for laying hens to support egg production.

For backyard chickens, it is important to consider the source of your catnip. If you are considering growing catnip in your garden, ensure that it has not been treated with any harmful pesticides or chemicals that could harm your birds.

Overall, incorporating catnip into your chickens’ diet can provide numerous benefits, but it should always be done in moderation and as a supplement to their regular diet.

Catnip as Enrichment for Chickens

Chickens are intelligent animals that enjoy exploring and playing. Providing environmental enrichment is an essential part of promoting their physical and mental well-being. One way to do this is by offering catnip to chickens.

Studies have shown that catnip can have a calming effect on both cats and chickens. When chickens are exposed to catnip, they become more relaxed and less anxious. This can be especially beneficial for chickens that are prone to stress, such as those that are kept in confinement or those that are transported frequently.

Benefits of Catnip for Chickens
Reduces stress and anxiety
Improves overall well-being
Provides mental stimulation

When giving catnip to chickens, it is important to do so in moderation. While catnip is generally considered safe for chickens, too much can have adverse effects, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

One way to offer catnip to chickens is by creating a catnip garden in their living area. This allows the chickens to forage and self-regulate the amount they consume. Another option is to sprinkle small amounts of dried catnip in their feed or water.

Cautions and Considerations

Although catnip is generally safe for chickens, it is important to consider the source and quality of the catnip. Some catnip products may contain additives or contaminants that can be harmful to chickens. It is also important to note that not all chickens may enjoy catnip, and some may even have an aversion to it.

In conclusion, catnip can be a beneficial addition to a chicken’s diet and environmental enrichment. However, as with any new food or treat, it is important to introduce it slowly and in moderation. By doing so, we can help promote the health and well-being of our feathered friends.

Conclusion: The Role of Catnip in Poultry Diets

Overall, incorporating catnip into a chicken’s diet can be a beneficial addition to their nutrition and well-being. While it should not be the main source of food, it can provide many benefits for chickens when given in moderation.

As we have explored, catnip has calming properties that can reduce stress and anxiety among chickens. This can lead to happier and healthier birds that produce better quality eggs. Additionally, catnip contains antioxidants that can boost the immune system and promote overall health in chickens.

However, it is important to note that catnip should be given in small amounts and not as a replacement for their regular feed. Too much catnip can cause digestive issues and may even be harmful to chickens in excessive quantities.

In short, catnip can be a great supplement to a chicken’s diet, but should not be relied upon as the sole source of nutrition. If you’re considering adding catnip to your chicken’s diet, consult with a veterinarian or poultry expert to ensure that it is a safe and appropriate addition for your specific flock.

Remember, a healthy and varied diet is key to keeping chickens happy and thriving. By incorporating catnip into their diet, you can provide your feathered friends with an extra boost of nutrition and enrichment.


Q: Can chickens eat catnip?

A: Yes, chickens can eat catnip. While catnip is typically associated with cats, it is safe for chickens to consume as well.

Q: What are the benefits of feeding catnip to chickens?

A: Feeding catnip to chickens can provide several benefits. It acts as a natural insect repellent, helps reduce stress, and can act as a digestive aid.

Q: Is catnip healthy for chickens?

A: Yes, catnip can be healthy for chickens when fed in moderation. It can provide mental stimulation and enrichment, making it a great addition to their diet.

Q: Can I feed my backyard chickens catnip?

A: Absolutely! Catnip can be fed to backyard chickens as a treat or added to their diet in small amounts. It’s a safe and enjoyable herb for them to consume.

Q: How should I incorporate catnip into my chickens’ diet?

A: Catnip can be offered to chickens in various ways. You can sprinkle dried catnip leaves in their feed, hang fresh catnip sprigs in their coop for pecking, or mix it into homemade treats.

Q: Does catnip have any negative effects on chickens?

A: When fed in moderation, catnip does not have any negative effects on chickens. However, as with any food, it’s important to avoid overfeeding and provide a balanced diet.

Q: Can catnip be used as enrichment for chickens?

A: Yes, catnip can be used as enrichment for chickens. It stimulates their natural foraging instincts and provides mental stimulation, keeping them entertained and happy.

Q: Can catnip improve the health of chickens?

A: While catnip is not a miracle cure, it can contribute to overall chicken health. Its calming properties can help reduce stress, and its insect-repelling qualities can protect chickens from pests.

Q: Are there any alternative herbs or plants that chickens can consume?

A: Yes, besides catnip, chickens can also enjoy herbs like basil, mint, thyme, and oregano. These herbs can provide similar benefits and add variety to their diet.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top