As a homesteader, you likely aim to provide your chickens with the best living conditions possible.
However, providing nutritious feed and clean water may not be enough to ensure a healthy flock. You also need to consider adding probiotics to your poultry’s diet.
That’s right—probiotics aren’t just good for us humans. They’re great for the entire farm!
In this blog post, we’ll explore probiotics for chickens, why they’re beneficial, how to administer them, and some of the best probiotic supplements to try.
Let’s get right to it.
Probiotics for Chickens: What are They?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed in adequate amounts, offer health benefits to the host.
These good bacteria help keep your chickens’ digestive systems functioning smoothly and even boost their immune system.
In contrast, bad bacteria can lead to digestive tract infections, reduced feed efficiency, and diseases.
Can Chickens Take Probiotics?
Chickens have a delicate digestive system, and any imbalance can cause sickness, leading to a decrease in egg production or even death.
As a result, farmers and chicken keepers constantly seek ways of improving their birds’ health, and one of the solutions is by using probiotics.
However, you may ask yourself, can chickens take probiotics? The answer is a resounding yes!
When given to chickens, probiotics help them digest their feed more efficiently, thus getting more nutrients from the same amount of food.
Probiotics also boost chickens’ immunity, reducing the risk of diseases like salmonella and E. coli infections.
Plus, probiotics can help prevent digestive disorders common in chickens, such as crop impaction, diarrhea, and sour crop.
How to Give Probiotics to Chickens?
There are different ways to administer probiotics to your flock, and some methods may work better than others.
One popular method is to add probiotic supplements to your poultry’s drinking water, which most birds readily drink.
Another option is to mix probiotics into their feed, although this may require more effort, time, and resources.
Whichever method you choose, it’s important to follow the recommended dosage and frequency, as excess probiotics can be harmful.
What Are the Benefits of Probiotics for Chickens?
Here are some of the most prominent benefits of giving probiotics to your chickens.
Aid in Digestion
Probiotics are great for improving digestion, and this is especially important when it comes to chickens.
Chickens have a unique digestive system that requires a lot of work to function properly.
Giving your chickens probiotics can help to improve the absorption of nutrients, and this can lead to better overall health.
Probiotics can also help to prevent diarrhea, which is a common problem for chickens that can lead to dehydration and other health issues.
Prevent Illnesses by Supporting the Immune System
In addition to improving digestion, probiotics can also be a great way to support the immune system of your chickens.
The immune system is responsible for protecting the body against illness and disease, and probiotics can play a critical role in helping to strengthen this system.
By providing a natural source of beneficial bacteria, probiotics can help to fight off harmful pathogens and reduce the incidence of illness in your flock.
Improve Feed Conversion
Another one of the benefits of probiotics for chickens is improved feed conversion.
This means that your chickens will be able to convert their food into energy more efficiently, which can lead to more productive laying and healthier chickens overall.
This can be especially important if you are raising chickens for meat or eggs, as improved feed conversion can lead to higher yields and more profits.
Reduce Fly Problems
Probiotics can also help to reduce fly problems in your chicken coop.
Flies are attracted to the ammonia in chicken waste, but by adding probiotics to their diet, you can help to reduce the ammonia levels in their feces.
This can help to deter flies and other pests from infesting your coop and can lead to a more pleasant environment for both you and your chickens.
Reduces Ammonia Build up
For those backyard chicken keepers who house their birds indoors, managing ammonia levels can be a real challenge.
The good news is that probiotics can help reduce the ammonia buildup that often leads to respiratory problems in poultry.
By breaking down the manure in the litter, probiotic bacteria produce acids that cut down ammonia and other negative odors.
Not only does this lead to better air quality, but it also promotes optimal digestive health in the birds.
Improves Egg Production
Getting fresh, delicious eggs each day is one of the primary reasons why many backyard chicken keepers raise their birds.
However, factors such as stress from predators, disease outbreaks, or diet can greatly impact egg productivity.
By adding probiotics to their feed or water, you can boost the immune system of the birds and help them cope with these stress factors.
Probiotics can also improve the gut and digestive health of chickens, leading to better absorption of nutrients, which in turn, results in higher egg production.
Can Help With Composting
Composting chicken manure is an excellent way to create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. However, the process can often take a long time and may pose health risks due to the presence of harmful pathogens.
Probiotics can help accelerate the composting process, while also reducing the presence of harmful bacteria by increasing beneficial microbes in the chicken manure.
This not only increases the quality of the compost, but also promotes a healthier environment for both the chickens and humans alike.
What is a Good Probiotic for Chickens?
As a chicken owner, you know how important it is to keep your flock healthy and happy.
One way to achieve this is through the use of probiotics. These beneficial bacteria can help support a healthy digestive system in your chickens, leading to improved overall health.
But with so many options available, how do you know which probiotic is the best choice for your feathered friends?
First, know that you need to find the right bacteria.
Bacillus subtilis is a strain of bacteria that populates rapidly and is often recommended for use in chicken probiotics.
This type of bacteria can help support a healthy gut microbiome by outcompeting harmful bacteria that can lead to illness.
Look for probiotic supplements that contain Bacillus subtilis as a key ingredient. You can also find this bacteria in some feed products, such as fermented feed.
In addition to probiotics, prebiotics can also be beneficial for your chicken’s digestive health.
Prebiotics are compounds that stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Some common prebiotic options for chickens include garlic, ginger, and oregano.
Look for feed supplements that contain prebiotics to help support a healthy gut microbiome.
With that said, here are some options to try:
Dairy products, such as yogurt or kefir, can also be a good source of beneficial bacteria for your chickens.
However, keep in mind that some chickens may have difficulty digesting dairy products.
If you choose to supplement with dairy-based probiotics, monitor your chickens for any signs of digestive upset, such as diarrhea.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables can also be a great source of beneficial bacteria for your chickens.
Some fruits and vegetables, such as apples and carrots, contain natural prebiotic compounds that can help support a healthy gut microbiome.
You can also ferment fruits and vegetables to create a probiotic-rich treat for your flock.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic and has anti-inflammatory properties and a great probiotic for chickens.
It can help prevent and treat bacterial infections and promote gut health by boosting the good bacteria in the gut.
To feed garlic to your chickens, simply crush a few cloves and mix them into their feed or water.
It’s important to note that too much garlic can be harmful to your chickens, so be sure to use it in moderation.
Wheat bran is another excellent probiotic for chickens. It’s a source of soluble fiber that promotes good bacteria growth in the gut.
Wheat bran also contains B vitamins and minerals that chickens need for optimal health.
To feed wheat bran to your chickens, mix a small amount into their feed or scatter it on the ground for them to peck at.
Be sure to start with a small amount and gradually increase it over time to prevent digestive upset.
Barley is a nutritious grain that’s high in fiber and protein. Like wheat bran, it’s a source of soluble fiber that promotes gut health and good bacteria growth.
Barley is also an excellent source of energy for chickens, making it a great feed supplement during the winter months when chickens need extra calories to stay warm.
To feed barley to your chickens, mix it into their regular feed or scatter it on the ground for them to peck at.
Lentils are legumes that are high in protein and fiber. They’re also rich in vitamins and minerals that can support your chicken’s overall health.
Lentils make a great probiotic for chickens because they promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
To feed lentils to your chickens, cook them first and mix them into their regular feed.
Be sure to start with a small amount and gradually increase it over time to prevent digestive upset.
Honey is not only a tasty treat for your chickens, but it’s also packed with probiotics.
Raw honey contains lactic acid bacteria which can help boost the immune system and prevent the growth of harmful pathogens.
Simply mix a teaspoon of honey into their daily feed, or spread it on a slice of bread. Your chickens will love the sweet treat, and you’ll love the health benefits it provides.
Flaxseed is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and lignans, which are powerful antioxidants.
It’s also a great source of fiber, which makes it perfect for your chicken’s digestive system.
When fed in moderation, flaxseed can help keep your chickens healthy and happy.
Simply sprinkle a handful of flaxseed onto their feed, or mix it in with their daily ration.
Fermented feed is another great way to boost your chicken’s health.
Fermenting their feed helps to break down complex carbohydrates, making it easier for your chickens to digest and absorb nutrients.
It’s also a great source of probiotics, as the fermentation process creates an environment that encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria.
To make fermented feed, simply mix your chicken’s regular feed with water and a starter culture, and let it sit for a few days.
You can check out our comprehensive guide on fermenting chicken feed in this article.
Dandelion greens are a nutritious and tasty treat for your chickens. They’re packed with vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and potassium.
But they’re also a great source of prebiotics, which are the food for the probiotics in your chicken’s gut.
Including dandelion greens in your chicken’s diet can help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and keep their digestive system in balance.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar a Probiotic for Chickens?
While apple cider vinegar does contain some beneficial bacteria, it’s not technically a probiotic. However, it can be a useful addition to your chicken’s diet.
The acetic acid in vinegar can help to kill harmful pathogens in your chicken’s gut, while also promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Simply mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into their water once or twice a week.
While the above options are great choices for natural sources of pre- and probiotics for your chickens, sometimes, you need to get the most bang for your buck and maximize your efficiency.
That’s where storebought supplements come in. These deliver a super powerful punch of good bacteria to your chickens in one simple dose.
When it comes to choosing a probiotic supplement, there are many products to choose from, each with different types and amounts of probiotic strains.
Here are some popular probiotic supplements for chickens that we like:
- Equa Holistics HealthyGut Probiotics for Chickens & Poultry
- Dr. Connie’s Probiotic + Electrolyte for Farm Animals
- FRESH EGGS DAILY Poultry Probiotics Feed Supplement
- Purina Probiotic Digestive Supplement for Poultry
Be sure to do your own research and consult with a veterinarian to determine which supplement is best for your flock’s needs.
What is the Difference Between a Probiotic and a Prebiotic?
While the two terms may sound similar, they’re quite different.
Probiotics are live microorganisms found in certain foods or supplements that promote good bacteria in gut health.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are non-digestible substances that stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial microorganisms in the gut.
So, which one should you give your chickens? The answer is both.
Giving chickens prebiotics and probiotics has been shown to have beneficial effects on gut health and immunity.
When Should You Give Your Chickens Probiotics?
The good news is that probiotics don’t hurt, but it can be particularly helpful during specific times.
For example, during hatching, transportation, new environments, and feed and water changes, probiotics can help.
They can also be helpful when there’s a change in temperature or after giving antibiotics.
Essentially, whenever the chicken’s environment changes, probiotics can help to support their gut health.
Probiotics for Chickens: Before You Go…
Probiotics have been shown to be a cost-effective way to boost your chickens’ health and well-being.
By adding probiotics to their diet, you can help improve their gut flora, immune system, and production rates.
Remember to follow the recommended dosage and frequency, and to choose supplements that fit your flock’s needs.
Ultimately, incorporating probiotics into your chicken’s diet can help promote a healthy and thriving flock.
Give them a try today; you’ll likely be amazed at the benefits!
Want to learn more about keeping your chickens happy and healthy?
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