Foeniculum vulgare Mill.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is an ancient medicinal plant and seasonal herb that belongs to the Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) family. Fennel originated from the southern Mediterranean region as an aromatic herb and through naturalization and cultivation it grows wild throughout the Northern, Eastern, and Western hemispheres, specifically in Asia, North America, and Europe. It is cultivated in fields and also grows wild. Fennel contains numerous valuable active compounds, such as volatile compounds, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, fatty acids, and amino acids. Some of the major components include: transanethole, fenchone, methyl chavicol, eugnol, limonene, p-anisaldehyde, beta-phellandrene, pinene, 1,8-cineole, terpinene and P-cymene.
Fennel has been extensively used in traditional medicine for a wide range of ailments. It is cultivated in the Mediterranean region because of its flavor, and it is used in traditional medicine and as a spice.
Useful during Hot Weather
Fennel may be a useful feed supplement to provide laying hens during hot weather, to alleviate the adverse effects of heat stress pertaining to egg quality. A study conducted in 2015 on 120, 40-week-old White Leghorn laying hens showed that adding 10 to 20 g/kg of fennel to the birds' feed for 30 days was beneficial. In addition, the study showed that independent of heat stress, the hens' consumption of fennel significantly reduced the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in the egg yolk.
A study was conducted using 100, 1-day old broiler chicks to evaluate whether essential oil from fennel combined with the essential oil from Artemisia annua could be of benefit to chickens. Chickens treated with the mixed oil extracts showed 100% survival rates when infected with Eimeria tenella.
Chicken care bloggers report that many use fennel as a laying stimulant for their hens. They add fresh fennel to their nesting box or shaved fennel bulb to their chicken's feed.