4 Tips to Improve the Gut Health of Your Chickens

Keep your flock healthy by following these 4 tips to improve the gut health of your chickens.

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1. Feed

Firstly, choose a high-quality feed that supplies the correct nutrition for your flock.

Stay away from feeds that have added antibiotics. While antibiotics have their place in certain circumstances, it is not healthy (in my opinion) for chickens to daily consume antibiotics even when they do not need them. Antibiotics do kill the bad bacteria, but it also kills the good bacteria eventually weakening the immune system.

Chicken feed is made up of mainly corn and soy which the majority in the USA is genetically modified. If your budget allows choose non-gmo or organic feed to avoid genetically modified organisms and glyphosate.

improve the gut health of your chickens

2. Environment

Next, put your chickens out on pasture or at least free range them when you can. Give them access to clean ground to prevent a plethora of problems. If you do not have enough land or your circumstances do not allow for this, there are a few other ways to ensure that your chicken’s environment promotes health.

improve the gut health of your chickens by rotating them on pasture

Keep the chicken run dry. Put some type of covering such as wood chips down to absorb the moisture. A wet and muddy run is a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites. Eventually your chicken’s immune system will weaken, and illness will become prevalent.

Provide a dust bath. Give your chickens a place for a daily dust bath to keep the bugs away. It is their special way of staying clean. A dusty chicken is a clean chicken!

Clean the coop regularly. Chickens are called foul for a reason. The coop can get pretty nasty if you don’t do regular maintenance, especially under the roosting bars. Clean out the poo regularly to keep the coop clean and dry.

3. Probiotics

Not only do you high-quality feed that we talked about in the paragraphs above, but you must provide probiotics for your chicken’s gut health. You can buy a commercial probiotic, or you can provide homemade alternatives.

Homemade Probiotics

Plain whole fat yogurt: Make homemade yogurt and feed it to your chickens once or twice a week in small amounts. You can also give them raw milk, whey, or kefir. Remember this is a treat only, too much dairy can cause diarrhea.

Kombucha Scoby: Homemade kombucha will eventually provide more scobies than you need. Feed the extra scobies to the chickens as a treat.

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar: Pour 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar per gallon in the chicken’s water. Raw apple cider vinegar provides probiotics and electrolytes for the chickens.

Fermented vegetables: Fermented sauerkraut or fermented pickles are excellent choices to feed to your chickens. Again, this should be given in moderation ranging from 1-2 tablespoons 2-3 times per week.

Fermented feed: Fermented feed boosts the nutritional value of the chicken feed. It is easier to digest, and the nutrients are absorbed at a higher rate.

4. Be Proactive

There are several ways to be proactive in your chicken’s gut health to prevent illness before it even can get started.

Herbs

Use herbs to prevent illness in your flock.

An economical way to provide herbs is by growing an herb garden on your homestead. In the summer when your herbs are in season, snip off a portion to give to your chickens. Add them to the nesting boxes as well as in there run or mix the herbs in with their feed.

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Dry the herbs and save them back to mix in their feed during the wintertime when the herbs are not actively growing.

Oregano: antibacterial properties (reference)

Sage: Antibacterial properties and proven to lower salmonella in your hen’s system. (reference)

Thyme: Respiratory health (reference)

Mint: Mint supports the hen’s digestive health and also repels mice and insects from making their home in the coop.

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Prebiotics

We have discussed probiotics, but what about prebiotics?

Prebiotic Foods Safe for Chickens

Here is a list of prebiotic foods that are safe to feed your chickens.

Bananas: Give without the peel.

Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or ground cherries are all good choices.

Dandelion Greens– Chickens love the greens from the dandelion plant.

Garlic– Use crushed raw garlic mixed in with the chicken feed or in the waterer along with the apple cider vinegar mentioned above.

Lentils– Lentils must be cooked or sprouted before giving them to your chickens.

Yams– Peeled and cooked.

Other Post You May Enjoy:

Beginner’s Guide to Chickens

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Carob Chip Cookies

Honey Sweetened Canned Pinapple

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