In my neck of the woods Stinging Nettles are prolific. I weed whack them off my septic field and avoid them when walking on narrow paths. When I took a 14-day Permaculture Design course, the organizers seem to eschew the more expensive coffee for free nettles, which the participants used to make tea. Take my word for it, although it might be full of good stuff it doesn’t cut it as a replacement for caffeine. I have harvested them as an decent alternative to using spinach in spanakopita, which I would recommend.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), a perennial herb, is a commonly found weed in temperate and tropical regions of the Americas, Asia and Europe.
Brushing up against the prickly leaves can result in a painful, itchy rash that can last for a day or two. Once soaked in water or dried the plants lose their ability to sting.
The good thing about nettles is they have been shown to have a variety of health benefits as an antiparasitic; antibacterial; analgesic and anti-inflammatory. They contain trace minerals (iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and manganese); chlorophyll; 9 carotenoids; vitamins A, B, C and K.
Both the leaves and the roots can be harvested (wear gloves) and used either fresh or dried. They grow around my chicken pen and I cut the plants right down to avoid being stung, but give them to the chickens for their benefit as well. The leaves can be made into a poultice, capsule extracts, tincture, salve, dried or steeped to produce a nutrient rich tea.
You can easily make tea by steeping 20 grams/.7 ounce of dried nettle leaves for 30 minutes in boiled water and occasionally offer to your flock undiluted, or added to their water.
Specific applications studied in poultry include:
- Antiparasitic: Used for internal parasites (e.g worms) Dosage:infuse 2.5 grams of dried leaves in 1 litre/quart of boiled water
- Antibacterial: Nettles are used as natural antiseptics and antimicrobials (oral, poultice)
- Pain Management: Apply poultice topically for muscle inflammation
- Egg Quality: Carotenoids enhance yellow yolk colour
- Broiler Production: Meat birds fed dried leaves were shown to have increased feed intake, nutrition retention and body weight compared to those in the control group
- Immune System Booster: Dietary nettles were shown to improve immune status in laying hens
Credits: Global Journals; Poultry DVM; Research Gate: Science Direct Featured Photo: Bitchin’ Chickens Flock Eating Stinging Nettles