Seems like a lot of people are hoping to become more “natural” in their daily life. I know I’ve said that I want to and I try to think about it everyday.
How can I reduce toxins and chemicals? How can I eat more organically? Where can I buy products that are more natural?
So, if we’re thinking about this for ourselves, why not for our animals, as well? Especially for those animals that provide us food?
I have been lucky. with my chickens so far. I’ve been able to take care of them with 100% natural chicken care. I know there are situations where this might not be possible, but I do think that natural, preventative measures can go a long way.
Natural Chicken Care
As with any attempt to self-diagnosis and/or provide remedies for illnesses, it is important that you are careful and proceed with caution. In general, using essential oils with your chickens should be done carefully. Essential oils are very strong and if used, should not be administered internally to your chickens and if administered externally, the oil should be cut with a carrier of some sort. Further, if you are really, truly concerned about your chicken’s health, contact a veterinary professional.
That said, in the post I want to discuss the use of:
- dried herbs
- elderberry syrup
- apple cider vinegar
Using dried herbs in your chicken coop(s) can be very beneficial for your flock. Not only can they provide respiratory relief for your birds but they may also repel many insects. This can be done by spreading dried (or fresh) herbs throughout the coop and mixing them in with the bedding in the nesting box. Some of the best herbs to use include: catnip, oregano, rosemary, lavender, thyme, yarrow, and sweet annie.
This post from Lisa of Fresh Eggs Daily gives some beautiful pictures and great ideas on how to use herbs in your nesting boxes.
This post from Andrea of Frugally Sustainable is a great one on herbs for chicken health. It also includes a recipe for a dried herb supplement that you can mix in with your chicken feed!
Honey and Elderberry Syrup
I wrote a post recently on using alternative to cough medicine – http://amzn.to/1gIjuUQ” >raw honey as an here – http://amzn.to/1cNMWYd .) Both of these natural remedies can be great for humans and can also be great for chickens!
A garlic infusion in olive oil can be used to treat mites and will reduce the chance of bacterial infection. (You can buy some here.) The same infusion can be administered internally to help fight parasite and worm infestations in chickens. It can also be used as a preventative. However, if you have a chicken with a late stage parasite infestation, you’ll want to contact a veterinary professional.
Additionally, garlic can be used in natural chicken care as:
- a natural antibiotic
- a natural immune system booster
- a simple immune system maintenance supplement.
For the most benefits, provide chopped or crushed raw garlic to your chickens. If you start when they are chicks, you will have success it getting them to eat it. When working with older chickens who have never had garlic, give them little bits and work up to more. You can put it in their feed or simply add it to their drinking water. (I add it to their drinking water along with a healthy dose of apple cider vinegar.)
Apple Cider Vinegar
Yet another amazing supplement to the human diet, apple cider vinegar can also be beneficial to your chickens and can be used as part of a natural chicken care regiment. ( This – http://amzn.to/16AsPbC is the kind that I buy.)
I add apple cider vinegar (or acv) to my poultry waterers to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. It is also thought to aid in digestion by breaking down proteins. It may also helps balance internal bacteria which leads to birds who are healthier and more able to naturally fight disease.
In general, you want to add about 1 tbsp of acv to a gallon of water. Though, honestly, I just pour some in when I’m changing water and I’ve never had a problem with my girls not drinking.
All of the measures listed above for natural chicken care will go a long way in keeping your flock happy and healthy. However, there are times when natural chicken care is not the best road to take. In that case, you might have to pull out the “bigger” guns.
I was recently introduced to Vet Rx by Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily. It does claim to be 100% natural, but it is certainly a stronger remedy than many of the ones listed above. It works well and Lisa swears by it. Certainly a good thing to have on hand.
I also keep the antibiotic terramycin on hand in case of obviously severe respiratory problems. (You can get a form of it here on Amazon. Though I get it in a very small pack from my local feed store.)
What did I miss? Do you have any natural chicken care advice? How do take care of your chickens?
Shared on Frugally Sustainable – http://frugallysustainable.com/2014/03/frugal-days-sustainable-ways-112/ and the Homestead Barn Hop
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