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.
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!