Chicken Red and Essential Oils

Melaleuca Tea tree

Today is September 30th and the weather is crisp, sunny and fall is in the air. Our oldest chicken, “Red”, a Rhode Island red, doesn’t seem to see eye to eye on our decision to have a new flock of hens and one main rooster named “Brewster”.

We had our original flock 5 years ago with just four hens and Red is the last hen standing. Being raped by Brewster the rooster is not in her game plan. So we let her stay in the barn with the cats and horses to let her come and go as she pleases. Last night she got her back claw caught in a seam on a wooden table and really tore her claw. She was bleeding and limping. 

Even though I have been using and teaching about aromatic work with animals for 20 years , I am always a little gun shy using them on birds. Their respiratory systems are very sensitive. Dried or fresh herbs are great for the hens but I hardly use essential oils with them. Today was the day I felt it was a must. One of my students has sent me case studies through the years with her chickens and believe it or not she gave me the courage to use them. 

My goal with applying the essential oil to the hens claw is to choose an oil that has antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory actions. Also something I can use on a therapeutic strength. My choice was Melaleuca Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

I was afraid of it getting infected so I also added in the mix white clay that can keep flies away and keep it dry. With someone holding the hen I applied the Melaleuca to the open wound on the claw and waiting a minute to dry. I put a dime size of the white clay on top of the wound and let these two things work their magic. 

This afternoon Red was feeling a lot better and barley limping. The wound was dry so we will keep applying for three days until the wound it healed up nicely. Of course we will watch for any respiratory stress but so far so good. 

Here’s some suggestions for herbs for your chickens for this time of year.


  • Rosemary, Aids with immune function. Feather growth
  • Basil, Aids with immune and respiratory function.
  • Lavender, Calming, increases cell function, antibacterial, antimicrobial.
  • Korean mint, Focus, mild stimulant, aids with immune function, circulation.
  • Calendula, Helps the egg yolks become a deeper orange.

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