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DIY Nesting Box Aromatherapy Drying Rack

In a previous FB Live and Blog, I mentioned putting herbs in my nesting boxes for aromatherapy and got a ton of questions, so I figured I’d dive into the topic a little deeper.  And there really is some reasoning behind putting herbs in nesting boxes, other than being a crazy chicken lady. I promise!  Your hens will be happy and healthy. DIY Nesting Box Aromatherapy Drying Rack directions are at the bottom so be sure to scroll down.

Winter is here so before the hard freeze get out there and pick your herbs to dry and use all winter in your chicken coop.

Nest box aromatherapy is simple and makes a world of a difference. Hens who lay in a nest filled with herbs are generally relaxed, healthier and even happier than those who don’t. Not only will it keep the hens happy, but it will keep the entire coop smelling like an herb garden. Many herbs benefit chickens in different ways. Plus if you have a hen who has gone broody, herbs will keep her in better shape than she otherwise would be.
Hens benefit from nest box herbs by inhaling, rubbing against and eating them.




  1. Wild birds use herbs as they build their nests to shield the baby birds from bacteria.
  2. Many herbs act as safe, natural insect repellents and may help drive away flies, mites, or other pests in your coop
  3. Some chickens like to munch on certain herbs, and certain plants may even act as laying stimulants
  4. Herbs make your coop smell awesome and provide a little “chicken aromatherapy,” for you and them.


Here is a list of the most common herbs used in nest boxes:

Bee Balm – respiratory health
Catnip-Insect repellant and aromatic
Dill-Calming boosts respiratory health
Fennel-Laying stimulant
Lavender-Calming, increases blood circulation, stess reducing, aromatic
Lemon Balm-Calming, rodent repeller
Marigolds-Insect repellent, soothing (it does not repel earwigs though!)
Mint-Insect repellant, highly aromatic
Parsley-High in vitamins
Pineapple Sage-Aromatic
Rose Petals-Calming, aromatic
Thyme-Boosts respiratory health, calming
Yarrow- Stress reliever

To keep nesting box cleaner-all these have antibacterial & anti fungal properties which can keep molds.fungus/bad bacteria from growing under the hen as she lays on the eggs….Just check daily & remove if they start to go bad or mold  & add fresh for them.  Or better yet – add dried herbs.

Bee Balm

All of the herbs listed above can be used year round. This is by no-means an exhaustive list of all the possible herbs you can use, but hopefully it will give you some ideas to get started. Note: All the herbs listed will not harm your birds if eaten.


I’ve found that nesting boxes are a fantastic way to use up homegrown herbs slightly past their prime, or if you’re feeling overrun with a certain variety at the end of the year.

If I have access to fresh herbs, I’ll almost always opt for them, whether I’m in the kitchen or playing around in my chicken coop.  But this year I decided that it would be wiser to use just dried herbs in the coop.  It has been a very wet summer.  Mold and bacteria in the coop is nothing but trouble for your hens.  This is why I chose this summer to use dried herbs.  If you do choose fresh, remove them every  day or two.  I personally think dried is better, easier, and lasts longer in your nesting box.

The other thing is as they grow and you dry them, you can put aside a reserve for winter.

DIY Drying Rack Directions

Material list

  • three wooden picture frames
  • paint (if desired)
  • window screen
  • 8’ of small chain
  • 20 small eye hooks
  • drill
  • small drill bit
  • pliers
  • staple gun
  • scissors


  1. Collect three old picture frames (Thrift stores and dollar tree is your best bet)
  2. Paint the frames (if desired) and let dry (Totally not necessary but fun to make it yours)
  3. Cut screens to fit the backs of the picture frames (make sure to allow for 1/2” overlap).
  4. Staple screens to the back of the picture frames.
  5. Pre-drill holes and screw-in eye hooks on the top of the four corners of the frames.
  6. Pre-drill and screw-in eye hooks on the bottom of the two bottom frames.
  7. Cut the chain in 8” (13 pieces).
  8. Attach chains to eye hook by bending open chain link around the eye hook.
  9. Attach as single chain at the top to hang the unit.
  10. Hang in a dry location. Herbs take two days to two weeks to dry depending on environment and herb.

No time to make your own?  Get this one on Amazon and start drying in 2 days

You may find it hard to grow and use herbs in the winter or even just not make it through with your stash of dried herbs. If you are not interested in growing and drying herbs, then consider purchasing a nest box blend from chicken stores either online or locally.

Here is my favorite for winter when I don’t grow my own: