Chickens are among the easiest farm animals to raise, though sometimes it can be challenging to keep them healthy. You can use various supplements, from free choice to specially packaged ones, to help your chickens combat ailments and prevent any illness.
Using these supplements to prevent ailments such as respiratory issues, internal parasites, or even the forbidden Avian Flu is one of the best ways to keep your flock happy and healthy. The following will help prevent many common concerns in chickens.
Free Choice Supplements
Free choice supplements are more about how you deliver them to your chickens rather than how they work for them. You don’t add these supplements to the feed; instead, you provide them by themselves in a container. That way, if your chickens want to eat them, they have the “free choice” to engage.
This supplement is beneficial during and after the process of fall molting, but you can offer it all year long if your flock does not free-range. Grit is essential for digesting their food by grinding it down. Most free-range chickens collect grit naturally.
You can add Oyster shell/Calcium after the molting season. This supplement helps young and laying hens drive up their calcium intake for stronger eggshells and nutritional needs because of the stress of molting.
Natural herbs are packed with health benefits, with each type assisting differently. Herbs can help with laying stimulants, parasites, inflammation, among many others.
Protein Booster Supplements
The molting season introduces the massive task of making new feathers that are 85% protein. An average hen loses approximately 8,500 feathers that they have to replace. That’s many feathers!
You may notice your hens frantically searching for bugs around this time. Including protein boosters in their diet decreases the expending of energy scouring and sets it on regrowing feathers.
Mealworms carry 12 of the 16 elements of living tissue and aid in tissue growth-also known as feathers. A small quantity goes a long way, and you could have your chicken eating out of your palms, literally when you feed them these protein boosters.
Only one tablespoon two to three times per week is required to help your chickens through molting season.
Black Soldier Fly Larvae contain a large amount of phosphorus and are 37% protein. Adding these to your chicken’s diet helps with feather growth and increases shell hardness and energy level.
Grubs may get a bit more expensive but will provide your chicken with 50 times more calcium than mealworms, making them more beneficial in the long run.
Value Grubs are excellent as far as dead bugs go!
Natural Chicken Supplements
You can use vinegar during the rainy season or winter months when respiratory infection can go out of control in your flock. Add one tablespoon of vinegar for each gallon of water every two days as a preventative measure.
The type of vinegar is crucial. You’ll want to use one that has the mother in it, like Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. Vinegar also helps in the reduction of internal parasites and digestion.
Garlic aids with parasites and respiratory infections and is an immune booster for your chickens. Add garlic powder, garlic oil, or fresh cloves of garlic to your flock’s feed. You can also crush a clove up and put it in a gallon of water. You only need to administer garlic once a week to affect the flock’s health.
Sprouted Grains are a nutrient power set in a small package. Your chickens will gorge on these small goodies when they don’t get to forage outside. Rich in fiber, folate, and Vitamins B and C, it aids in building your chicken’s immune system.
Molasses in a feed has a high content of minerals and iron. It’s often used in combination with a probiotic powder to assist with adhering it to the feed. Use a quarter cup of molasses for every gallon and feed and combine well.
Specially Packaged Chicken Supplements
Some supplements are best bought as explicitly made for chickens. These specific seeds or blends were proven to help and not stop increased viability and health. Always serve according to the manufacturer’s directions.
These supplements aid in digestive health and are immune boosters for poultry. Probiotics come in powder form, which you can add to drinking water or blend with molasses to mix with the feed.
Chickens lost electrolytes when they’re under stress due to overcrowding, predators, heat, and so on. Replenishing electrolytes helps restore the chicken’s balance. Place the powder in drinking water, and make sure to check the directions for the right amount you can add.
Flaxseed is known to contain Omega-3s, which are beneficial for the heart. The addition of this passes to the egg, based on a study by the NCBI. Excessive feeding of this supplement may be harmful.
Kelp is stuffed with nutrients, including Vitamin K, which helps in bone health. It also has high levels of calcium and folate, which aids in feather growth and shine and eggshell development. Add kelp pieces directly to feed or into homemade treats.