The Healthy Hen: 5 immune boosting herbal supplements for your chickens

Herbal remedies are nothing new to us, they have been used by our ancestors for generations to prevent, cure and assist in a range of aliments. This also applies to your feathered friends.

Let’s dive into some immune boosting ideas for healthy hens.

Chickens will naturally forage for wild dandelions and chickweed which have numerous benefits for their health. However, sometimes this isn’t enough and your chickens need some extra help to get the immune boost they need to prevent and fight off common aliments such as internal parasites, respiratory problems and even the flu.

Checkout the list below for the 5 most commonly used herbs to help prevent many common issues in your chickens.

Astragalus

Astragalus is most commonly known for its immune boosting properties. A study conducted in 2013 states that astragalus helps to prevent avian influenza as well shorten the duration of the flu as well. It is recognised amongst backyard chicken enthusiast as being the most beneficial herb that you can offer your chickens on a regular basis as a preventative. It has also been recognised as an anti-inflammatory that helps chickens adapt to stress, as well as being antibacterial and antiviral.

Feeding of Astragalus to your chickens:

Feed a couple times a week in either one or both of the following way:

  • Dried astragalus can be mixed with their regular feed – in a feeder or added to their scratch mix.
  • Made into a “tea” and added to their water.

Thyme

Thyme is a herb of many talents. From being an anti-parasitic to an antibacterial, it also aids in relieving infections and supports the respiratory system. Thyme is packed full of omega-3s, which support brain and heart health, as well as being rich in vitamins A, C and B6, fibre, iron, riboflavin, magnesium and calcium. All of these are extremely import in the development of the eggs. As a natural anti-parasitic, thyme will help to keep at bay any internal parasites and keep the digestive tract in check, while also supporting the immune system.

Feeding of Thyme to your chickens:

Feed daily in any of the following ways:

  • Offer it with their daily feed – fresh or dried.
  • Feed freely in the pasture/backyard.
  • Place around the chicken run/coop.

Oregano

Oregano is a natural antibiotic, which is starting to be utilised more in commercial operations,instead of chemicals and antibiotics. Along with thyme, it aids in boosting the chickens’ immune system. Oregano is not only immune boosting it also detoxifies the body, aids in respiratory health and helps the chicken’s reproductive system. By offering oregano to your chickens on a regular basis it will help to fight infections, get rid of toxins and support their respiratory system against aliments.

Feeding of Oregano to your chickens:

Feed daily in any of the following ways:

  • Offer it with their daily feed – fresh or dried.
  • Mixed, in oil form, with their fully formulated feed.
  • Feed freely in the pasture/backyard.
  • Place around the chicken run/coop.

Garlic

Garlic is one of the most commonly used herbs for immune health in both and humans and animals. Along with boosting the immune system, garlic, also regulates liver function, stimulates the digestive tract and helps fight and treat infections because it’s a natural antibacterial. It has been widely debated whether garlic added at high doses in chicken feed can cause issues because it is a natural blood thinner. However, adding a few garlic cloves to your chickens’ feed or water will not harm your chickens at all – it will simply provide them with all the benefits.

Feeding of Garlic to your chickens:

Feed no more then twice a week by either of the following methods

  • Dried garlic powder or granules added to the chickens’ fully formulated feed.
  • One or two cloves crushed up into 1L of water and mixed well. Do not allow to sit for long periods. Replace the garlic water with fresh water after a day.
    (NOTE: If your chickens are not taking to it, alter the dose of garlic given.)

Echinacea

Echinacea is also highly recognised, in most countries,as an immune booster for humans. It can be found in most immune boosting vitamin supplements at your local health store. This herb can also be used to boost the immunity of your chickens. It’s great for the respiratory system and can also help treat fungal overgrowth. The entirety of the plant can be used  (roots, leaves and flower heads) so grow your own in your organic garden, or look for it in dried form rather than as a tincture.

Feeding of Echinacea to your chickens:

Feed daily in any of the following ways:

  • Feed fresh – roots, leaves and flower buds around the chicken run/coop.
  • Feed freely in the pasture/backyard.

Dried – mix through daily fully formulated feed.

Here’s to the continued health of your chickens!

Do you know of any immune boosting tips for your chickens? Let us know in the comments below. 

Introductory/Pre-conditioning Feeding Guide for Ruminants

When feeding grain based products such as our FeedPro to all ruminants introductory feeding is necessary.

Introduction/Pre-conditioning is essential to avoid acidosis

Many factors can govern or limit performance of Aus Organic Feeds Rations, some examples are: weather, trough length per animal and availability of shade. Any limitations on feed intake will affect performance.

A slow introduction to ensure continued animal health is important. Increased feeding is discouraged as this can cause serious health issues or even death of the animal. Constant monitoring during the first 2 weeks will ensure any possible problems are noticed and identified.

IF THE ANIMALS HAVE NEVER BEEN GRAIN FED IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT A 6 WEEK INTRODUCTORY PERIOD IS USED.

Definitions

Self Feeders: a device for providing feed to livestock that is equipped with a feed hopper that automatically supplies a trough below.

Line Feeding: a simple feeding method where feed is spread evenly across a greater distance to stop shy feeding and bullying amongst animals. Most commonly described as feeding along the ground.

Fiber in the diet to be low to medium quality – forage – high quality not essential – to help settle the rumen to the new starch included into the diet.

The Three Principals of Feeding Ruminants

Principal 1: ‘Feed the Rumen First’

The rumen microorganisms are the key to breaking down the dry pasture to produce volatile fatty acids (VFAs). These VFAs are a source of energy and microbial protein that, in turn, are a source of protein for the animal.

Establishing an efficient working rumen is the key to increasing pasture intake and improving pasture utilisation. The more efficient the rumen is the better, which means an increased population of these rumen microorganisms. However, for these microorganisms to proliferate they need their own source of nutrients such as nitrogen, sulphur, sodium, potassium and trace minerals in order to function. Dry pasture is normally deficient in these important key nutrients and therefore must be provided to rumen microorganisms via a supplement.

Principal 2: Supply extra protein as ‘by-pass’ protein.

The animal requires a ready source of amino acids which can be provided from the microbial protein. However extra amino acids, greater than the amount the microbes can provide, are also needed for highly productive animals.

Even with the most efficiently working rumen the animal cannot provide sufficient protein to meet their needs for high physiological demands such as growth and lactation. Therefore extra protein (amino acids) must be provided in the diet as “by-pass” protein. Protein that is supplied in the diet and which is capable of escaping the fermentation process in the rumen is termed as “by-pass” protein.

Organic soybean meal provides a source of by-pass protein and fermentable protein for nitrogen.

Principal 3: Supply nutrients that are sources of glucose.

Glucose is the fundamental nutrient required by ruminants for maintenance, body growth, growth of the foetus and organs associated with pregnancy, body tissues and milk production.

Nutrients that can act as sources of glucose are important to the animal and therefore should be encouraged. These are volatile fatty acids (mainly propionic acid) and amino acids that are available from the protein from microbes, and the protein from by-pass protein.

Cattle fed on dry pasture alone are likely to be glucose deficient and this will impact significantly on their overall performance.