While raising chickens (or poultry in general) may be a fun activity, keeping your feathery friends healthy may sometimes become a challenge.
No matter how sanitary you keep your yard, there will still be various germs and diseases that may affect your chickens health.
Aside from getting a few products known for their ability to fight off parasites and germs, you should concurrently try to strengthen your chickens health. One of the ways is to strengthen the intestinal flora aka microbiome and introduce some good bacteria to your chickens. There are three terms you should be aware of which can play an important part in rebuilding your chickens intestinal flora and strengthening their immune system.
Prebiotics, being non-digestible food ingredients, beneficially affect the host. They do this by stimulating the growth and activity of a limited number of bacteria in the colon.
They are known for improving the GIT health of poultry. This is because the presence of prebiotics in the diet causes an increase in certain groups of GIT bacteria in the intestines of your chickens and ducks, which are considered to be beneficial to the host.
In addition, there are various prebiotics that have helped to reduce pathogen colonization in poultry. This has decreased the incidence of infection in birds significantly.
How to Give Prebiotics to Your Feathery Friends
Prebiotics come from high-fiber foods, so it is pretty easy to give them to your birds. The added bonus is that they make great treats that they'll love. Here’s a list of some of the prebiotics that you can feed your poultry with:
- Black soldier fly grubs (whole dried insect)
Probiotics form a barrier in the colon of your birds that prevents bad bacteria from attaching to the intestinal walls. They also encourage beneficial microflora in the intestines and prevent pathogen growth.
The best part is that they support the immune system in general and boost growth rates in poultry. This means that your feathery friends are less likely to fall sick.
Also, suppose you’re someone who craves an omelet for breakfast every day. In that case, you’d love to know that probiotics keep quality egg production high. Yup, they really do help in keeping your egg supply constant.
How to Give Probiotics to Your Chickens?
There are a couple of options. The simplest would be sprinkling some brewer’s yeast or garlic powder over their feed.
You can also make probiotic rich treats for your chickens, all by yourself! Here are some of our favorite recipes:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
All you need is apple scraps, peels, and sugar.
- Put the scraps in a bowl and add enough water to cover the solids.
- Stir a quarter cup of sugar into the bowl.
- Place something heavy (e.g., a plate) on it and cover it with a kitchen towel.
- Set it aside for 10 days at room temperature, after which you will use a filter to drain the liquid and remove the solids.
If you think that the vinegar smells of alcohol or wine, put it back and wait until it starts smelling like a good vinegar.
- Heat the milk to 180 °F
- Cool it to 112-115 °F
- Add your yogurt starter (the good bacteria)
- Mix the yogurt starter with the rest of the milk
- Pour the milk into jars and incubate it for 7 to 9 hours
- Leave the jars in the fridge to allow the yogurt to cool and set
That’s how simple and easy it is to make probiotic rich treats at home!
Postbiotics can be seen as deliberately inactivated microbial cells which have similar benefits as probiotics.
The benefits provided by postbiotics are uncountable, but we’ll present a summary of them here:
- Improves health and growth performance
- Promotes the immune status
- Optimize the intestinal microbiota
- Reduce pathogen pressure
- Support gut morphology
- Boost natural defences
Sources of Postbiotics for Your Birds
Any food fermented by live bacteria is considered to contain postbiotics. To name a few, here’s a short list:
- Certain Pickles
The key to healthy chickens and ducks is a nutrient-rich diet, a clean coop, clean water, and most importantly, pre, pro, and post biotics. They will play a significant role in keeping your feathery friends healthy and productive.
Not to forget, they are very easy to give to your chickens and ducks, whether it’s through commercial feed or homemade treats. And yes, your birds will make sure to thank you for them with loads of fresh eggs.