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The benefits of natural health products for chickens

PUBLISHED: 10:46 09 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:01 09 May 2018

Rescue hens expecially can benefit from the opportunity for some natural foraging

Rescue hens expecially can benefit from the opportunity for some natural foraging

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Kim Stoddart takes a look at the more naturally-minded products available to buy for poultry

Let's have a game of Strawberry Rugby! Let's have a game of Strawberry Rugby!

Ever since becoming a smallholder (now nearly a decade ago), I have been keen to create as natural a habitat and lifestyle as I can for my livestock. This is much easier to do for poultry, especially on a smaller scale where it’s feasible to plant beneficial herbs and foliage and to allow free range grazing and foraging overall. I even have soft fruit bushes growing nearby so my chickens and ducks can help themselves to a vitamin C-packed treat come the early summer. It’s enjoyable for them and hugely entertaining for us to watch as the chickens leap up in the air to try and reach the higher branches before running off with their prize, often chased by another keen to get their beaks on the sweet reward. It’s all good wholesome fun and no doubt adds to the quality of life and indeed health and happiness of the poultry.

The importance of intestinal and gut health is gaining a lot of media attention right now across the board, with some saying it’s the key to vitality in humans. It makes one think; why not in our livestock too? When you also consider that overuse of antibiotics and chemicals in farming has come under the spotlight in recent years in light of issues such as antibiotic resistance, a more natural approach is seriously worth considering, at the very least alongside your usual treatments.

Thankfully, nowadays there are a range of products available to buy which can further aid the wellbeing of your flock, helping to provide protection against common pest problems in an altogether gentler way.

Here are just some of the best options currently available:

Nasturtiums are a natural wormer for poultry Nasturtiums are a natural wormer for poultry

Verm-X

This company produces 100% natural supplements which help maintain intestinal hygiene. They have herbal formulations for a wide range of animals and their products for poultry can be sprinkled or applied on top of layers pellets or corn easily at feeding time.

Rather than an immediate purge, where problems are blasted out the system at once, their products work over a period of 21 days so it’s a lot kinder on a bird’s gut and digestive system all round. When fed over a period of time it works to create an environment in the gut that is able to eradicate and expel any intestinal challenges, offering natural and daily protection. This means that the product is also safe to use on animals that are pregnant, older stock, or animals in competition.

Looking good Looking good

The company says that their supplements provide continuous protection and that although you can’t prevent your hens from picking up intestinal challenges, this will help stop them from settling and causing damage.

Verm-X sells pellets and also a liquid solution which can be mixed into feed. Apparently the pellets are also popular for adding into grapes and feeding directly. Ingredients include seaweed meal, garlic, peppermint, common thyme, cleavers, nettles and cayenne and a 250g tube of the pellets will last five birds (with a 2.5g daily dosage) over six months.

For more information on your local stockist see verm-x.com

Thyme: a healthy ingredient Thyme: a healthy ingredient

Dobies Herby Hen Seed Collection

I use herbs at each and every opportunity in the kitchen because as well as being a delicious, flavoursome addition to food, they are incredibly good for you. Now, with Dobies specially selected range of seeds, you can grow herbs with hen health specifically in mind.

Whether it’s allowing your poultry to pick at the fresh plants, or scattering some foliage in their run, or nesting box (to help repel insects, parasites and rodents), having some herbs freely available provides a lot of benefits.

The company sells a range of herb collections; from fennel, marigold and marjoram for egg production to their Insecticide Collection of lavender, catnip and mint. Their general health collections include nasturtium, dill, rosemary, parsley and sage.

The company is also donating £1 from each collection sold to British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) and says that the herbs can be used in lots of ways.

For more information see www.dobies.co.uk

Other products also worth considering:

Diatomaceous earth

This harmless-appearing white powder (actually the fossilised remains of diatoms, a hard-shelled algae) is safe for animals, but deadly to the likes of mites, lice and fleas.

It’s also supposed to be good for overall health and a food grade batch of Diatomaceous earth can be added to feed as well.

The product is widely available if you google it on the internet. Cheaper bought in bulk, it will keep for years when stored in a dry, airtight container.

Cyder Vinegar

One of the best natural probiotics and daily tonics there is. Just add a splash to your poultry water and why not have a spoonful yourself while you’re at it?

It’s best to buy (widely available), organically produced vinegar which hasn’t been heat treated at all and which comes with what is called the mother.

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