One of our number one goals on this farm is to have not only happy animals, but healthy ones. Animals who are healthy produce healthy offspring, healthy eggs, milk, and meat. There are a bunch of things you can do to make that a reality and I’m going to share what we do to keep our poultry healthy.
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FOOD & WATER
Everyone knows to begin a healthy regimen you have to put healthy food and clean water into our bodies. The same goes for our poultry. I’m a little compulsive about this on the farm. I change the waters twice a day. I wouldn’t want to drink warm water and I doubt our chickens/ducks/geese/goats/puppies do either.
Is it tedious emptying out all those waters and filling them back up? Of course it is, but gosh does it feel good when they instantly go to it to drink a cold sip. I not only dump out the old water and refill cold waters out of the drinkers, but I do so for the pools as well. Fyi, ducks/geese/etc. are messy messy animals and it’s imperative they have fresh water to not only drink but swim in.
Once a week we do a deep clean on all the waterers. A deep clean is pulling out soap, water, a brush, and vinegar to scrub them down. I haven’t felt the need to do it more frequently due to rinsing them twice a day.
“It’s great for chicken immune systems, guards against bad bacteria and maintains digestive health in the intestines by lowering the pH levels and is an overall health booster.”
She continues on…
“It increases calcium (as well as other minerals) absorption so your chickens will get more ‘bang for the buck’ from the layer feed and eggshells or oyster shell you provide them.
ACV also acts as an antiseptic by killing the germs that cause respiratory problems – which chickens are extremely susceptible to – in the throat and promotes healthy mucous flow.”
You can also add a little garlic to the water as it has many health benefits as well. Keep reading for the list of herbs we use as well.
We buy all our livestock feed from Reedy Organics. It’s organic, I know what’s in it, it’s local, and they mill it in house. These chickens and ducks LOVE it. You can add amendments to the feed as well. Sometimes I’ll add some oregano, dill, or even mint. Almost all herbs have some sort of health benefit and the poultry gobble it up.
Speaking of herbs, we started our garden this year on the farm and the herbs are exploding. I picked out specific herbs to grow just to give the livestock after lots of research.
There is so much you can do with mint if you have poultry. Bonus: it grows like crazy. I hang bundles of this magical herb around the mobile chicken coops because it can act as a natural insect & rodent deterrent due to bugs disliking the strong smell. Mint can also lower internal body temperatures so it’s a great one to add to a bowl, water, and ice in the summertime.
Oh how I love oregano. It’s known for its antibacterial/anti-parasitic properties. Not only that, but oregano helps promote a healthy respiratory system. I’ll add leaves to chicken feed, waterers, and even hang it for chickens to pick on.
My love affair with lavender grows when I get to sprinkle it on nesting boxes. The smell is just amazing and, just like humans, promotes peace and calming for chickens and ducks. It is another herb that repels bugs.
This was my first year growing calendula, but after reading so many blog posts stating how great it is…I gave it a shot. The flowers can be added to their feed or given freely and will give the eggs a lovely orange color to the yolks. Calendula is known for its healing nature.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to move your chickens/ducks/geese daily, it is the best possible thing for them. Giving them fresh grass to not only graze on, but eliminate on (poop) daily gives them the healthiest possible life and also gives the area time to rest and restore.
Stating the obvious, but poultry poop…a lot, and moving them helps to not only fertilize the grass/yard/pasture, but they get a fresh patch of land to scratch and forage for goodies, which in turn decreases your feed cost.
If having a stationary coop doesn’t allow you to move them frequently, letting them free range during the day or part of the day can also be beneficial. Yes, you may have to worry about predators, but we have ours set up with a Premier 1 fence and move that daily with them. This helps me keep them where I want, as well as protecting them from an animal looking for a free meal.
Notice that big red bowl? Keep reading to find out what that is.
If none of the above options are available to you, making sure the coop is kept as clean as possible is your next step. We have something called yard chickens (lol). These are the girls who have been deemed “special” (aka: were picked on by the other chickens) so are now safely in their own coop. These particular chickens have free range of the farm, but tend to stay in the front and side yard gobbling up all the local critters around our home.
I use a kind of deep litter method for their coop. When I’ve noticed the coop gettin a little to poopie (is that a word?), I sprinkle fresh pine bedding down in the coop until it needs a complete clean out. Remember those herbs I talked about above? I use quite a bit in this particular coop since it’s stationary.
The last little trifecta of keeping your poultry healthy is dust baths. Dust baths are what chickens do to keep themselves clean. Ducks/geese are impeccable at washing the grim away in their pools/ponds, but chickens don’t like water very much so giving them a place to clean themselves is one of the most important things.
Chickens are prone to getting mites and lice and allowing them a place to “clean” themselves help chickens to naturally combat these insects. So, what exactly do you add to a dust bath?
So easy! A container of your choice (just make sure it’s big enough for a couple of chickens to get in there and move around), dirt or a bag of soil (cheap stuff-chickens don’t care), and we add either wood ash (from your charcoal grill) or DE (Diatomaceous Earth-can be purchased at Tractor Supply). DE is a powdery substance made from fossilized remains of phytoplankton. It kills pets and parasites living on your chickens and doesn’t hurt or harm the poultry themselves.
Keep in mind…you can add herbs here as well. They will nibble on them as they bathe.
That’s it. So far so good on our farm. Do you have any tips/tricks to share? Leave a blog post comment so we can try it!