What we feed our chickens is an increasingly hot topic as we watch premixed pellet feed costs sky rocket and we sim through theory after theory as to the quality and content of commercial feed.
For the backyard chicken tender, there is probably nothing more pressing than what we feed our chickens, and with a priority on improving health and egg production, garlic is a top contender for natural (and inexpensive) supplements.
Is Garlic Healthy for Chickens
Because you’re likely to find a myriad of tips and life hacks when it comes to homesteading, let’s settle this common one really quick.
Garlic is a super food and is completely safe for your backyard flock.
Garlic is an excellent supplement for your backyard flock (and for you). It is a great way to boost much needed vitamins in your hens, to protect against bacterial development, and is rumoured to help improve the taste of eggs.
The Benefits of Feeding Garlic to your Chickens
“Garlic is the king of the medicinal plants… It has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiprotozoal properties. Moreover, it boosts the immune system, improves body weight gain, heightens the digestibility of ingredients, decreases bad cholesterol, and also augments the meat quality parameters.”Found on researchgate website
To summarize, garlic is a super food.
Garlic for Medicinal Purposes
Garlic is not only great on chickens, too dark? I kid!
Garlic is a powerhouse when it comes to aiding chickens from a medical perspective, whether you’re talking respiratory problems, infection, intestinal parasites, or you are considering it for general support to the immune system, you really can’t go wrong adding garlic to your chicken care routine.
Garlic can, and should, be use as a proactive routine to support overall health in your flock, or it can be added when addressing specific concerns and ailments for an individual bird.
How does Garlic Work
Garlic contains a compound called allicin which acts as an antibacterial and antifungal agent (this is the thing that plays an important part in health and antimicrobial benefits of regular garlic consumption).
To read more about the research on garlic consumption as a whole check out the work done by Oregon State University.
Specifically, routine consumption of garlic results in:
- Improve immune system responses.
- Bacterial protection (internally and externally, this includes reducing the risk of Salmonellosis, Colibacillosis and Cholera).
- Improved egg production.
- Apetite stimulant.
- Deterrent for red-mites (the compound allicin in garlic is rumoured to make the chickens’ blood, which the mites live on, taste odd and thus they do not stay long in a coop regularly treated with garlic).
Can Chicks Eat Garlic
Chicks benefit similarly to adult chickens to the introduction of garlic in their diet.
In addition to antibacterial and antimicrobial (internal) benefits, garlic is known to stimulate appetite which aids in growth which is beneficial for young chicks, poults and cockerels.
How to Give Garlic to Chickens
I don’t know about you, but, I do not have picky hens. My ladies will gladly eat what they are given be it scraps, pellets, mash, a toad, all their water etc. administering health supplements is never an issue.
There are some best practices when it comes to getting garlic into your flocks diet.
Garlic in the Water
The best and easiest way to get your girl garlic is by using crushed garlic (or finely chopped) in their water.
Crushing garlic helps to release the allicin, the anti-oxidant powerhouse that gives garlic its health kick!
Because I do my best to be efficient, meaning I usually choose the option with the fewest steps and the least amount of waste, I chop my garlic with the skin on and then add it to our watering jugs.
Because the potency of garlic decreases over time when chopped, it is best to change the water or top up the jug every 48 hours to keep ongoing health benefits.
Other Ways to Give Chickens Garlic
If you have a smaller flock or a group of hens without an obvious piggy (one who indulges in all you put out), you can also add garlic to the feed on a regular basis.
Similar to adding it to their water, you will want to use chopped garlic and mix it in with the routine feed.
I should say this, while you can always add garlic to the chicken feed, chopping it in the bowl doesn’t guarantee every hen will get some. Adding your garlic to the water is the best way to ensure full flock coverage.
There are other things to do if your chicken is not eating anymore, but that’s covered in another article 🙂
Does it have to be Fresh Garlic?
You can give your chickens garlic powder, you can scrape the pan of a good meal and give them cooked garlic, you can even use garlic infused oil if you so desire.
Cooking garlic kills the allicin which reduces it’s health benefits.
But, any other garlic other than cold and freshly chopped, will not be as potent and therefore not as effective.
How Much Garlic Should I Give my Chickens?
Unlike using garlic in cooking where the answer would be, measure with your heart my dear, you should use moderation when adding garlic to your chicken water and food.
Although there is no “lethal” amount of garlic per se, you wouldn’t want to skew the balance of feed and would not want to make garlic a staple for your flock.
It is generally recommended that you add one clove per litre or four cloves per gallon of water.
Benefits of Garlic on Eggs
Other than making your omelette taste amazing?
Regular consumption of garlic by a backyard flock (roughly 1% of their consistent diet) is said to improve:
- egg production
- egg weight
- reduced cholesterol
What is the Best Natural Antibacterial for my Chickens?
Garlic is a serious contender for the best natural antibacterial for chickens.
Garlic is inexpensive, easy to grow, keeps for a while, and is a powerhouse when it comes to medicinal properties and overall health benefits, with collateral benefits in egg production.
Other great additions to your flocks care (which we will certainly highlight in articles to come) are oregano, thyme, parsley, basil and even lavender.
Conclusion: Should I Add Garlic to my Chicken Care Routine
It seems like a no brainer but I will state it clearly …
Garlic is a great way to support the health of your chicken and healthy chickens lay amazing eggs.