The Benefits of Using Garlic for your Backyard Flock
Chicken keepers have been giving raw garlic to their hens for decades, possibly longer, to help them treat infection and respiratory problems but also to improve their appetite and the size and quality of the eggs they lay. After a few weeks of use, the sulphur from chicken's droppings is also reduced which can make your chicken coop and run smell better.
When freshly crushed, garlic releases allicin and allicetoins that have antibacterial properties.
Not only is garlic a super food for us, it is commonly used for treating ailments in many animals.
I often add garlic powder to my chickens' daily feed. Every couple of weeks I mince up a whole bulb, mixed with some chopped fresh mint, and feed it to the chickens free-choice and they seem to love it. Garlic, especially in conjunction with mint and wormwood (artemesia) is a wonderful year-round natural wormer.
Lots of people comment that adding garlic to your chickens feed makes the eggs taste almost "garlicky" but i have not noticed in the slightest.
I grow garlic every year just for my hens. It is easy to grow and requires little attention. Plant June/July with a generous amount of dolomite mixed into the soil and plant your bulbs just below the surface and your garlic will be ready to harvest in January/February. Plant the nice purple type and you will be rewarded with large and juicy bulbs come harvest time.
Do not use they white garlic sold in hanks - this is a Chinese garlic that is blanched in a form of arsnic to kill all bacteria (along with killing most nutrients im pressuming). I have also found that it is rare to get this garlic to sprout due to what it has been treated with.
For those that dont have the space to grow your own, granulated garlic or powdered garlic from your supermarket store will suffice. Just add this to your chickens feed.
I also feed my chickens garlic to boost their immune system. I offer them minced garlic or I put a few cloves of garlic into their waterer to keep them healthier and free from disease. They will eat the green sprouts from the garlic as well.
A WORD OF WARNING: Do not put garlic in a water container made from galvanized steel. Garlic will eat at the galvanized steel leaching out toxic levels of zinc.
Anything added to your birds diet should be carefully researched first, as should any external preparation. Anything you choose to use should be introduced gradually and tested in a small quantity at first.
Here is a list of what garlic might be useful for:
- Garlic can be used on a birds skin as an antiseptic for minor wounds and abrasions.
- Added to the diet, it may help to make the environment in the gut less attractive to internal parasites (worms) although this should not be used for confirmed cases of worms or as an alternative to a proven wormer such as Nilverm etc. I could find little research in this area although many poultry keepers believe it helps and some old books suggest a strong solution of crushed garlic, but then again old books suggest many remedies that we now know don't work and there are many 'Old Wives Tales' when it comes to poultry keeping!
- It can be rubbed into the legs to help prevent parasites such as scaly leg mite and there have been studies that have shown it reduces the incidence of mites.
- A few cloves crushed into water can make a tonic that can help boost the immune system.
- Garlic improves the appetite and helps hens produce larger and better quality eggs.
- The respiratory system can benefit from breathing steam which has (fresh) garlic infused into it. This can be done by placing the bird into a show cage / puppy crate -anywhere that can be covered in plastic easily (still allowing enough air to breathe) and placing a steaming bowl under the plastic -but- outside of the cage (so your bird doesn't get burnt). This can help their breathing as an expectorant and gets the active anti-inflammatory ingredients directly into the lungs.
- The sulphur content of chicken manure is reduced when feeding garlic which can make your chicken house smell a little better!