Natural apple cider vinegar with mother has been used as a tonic for hens by poultry keepers for many years.
Apple Cider Vinegar for chickens
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) that has been made from pure cider apple juice and slow fermented is a natural tonic for poultry that has been used for many years. Chicken owners report that birds that are regularly given cider vinegar are calmer, healthier and produce more eggs. We have also been told that birds re-feather more quickly when they are given cider vinegar and is particularly useful during any stressful time in the bird's life such as following a fox attack or when you are moving hen houses.
We now know that cider apples have more powerful antioxidants than dessert or culinary apples. If the cider vinegar you buy doesn't state that it's made from whole cider apples - it won't be!
Cider Vinegar for laying hens
Cider vinegar contains a cocktail of minerals and vitamins helpful to a bird's diet and the natural acidity of the ACV lowers the pH level in the stomach, aiding digestion and making it a less friendly environment for infections. It will reduce the amount of worms in the bird but it is still necessary to worm your flock regularly.
A hen's food is broken down in the crop before going into the main stomach. The cider vinegar will lower the pH level in the bird's crop and this will also helps to control the ingestion of harmful microbes and bacteria.
Cider Vinegar helps to remove mucous from the bird's body, this is particularly useful birds that are particularly prone to respiratory problems and can be of benefit in helping birds to clear their airways.
Poultry diseases and cider vinegar
Somerset Cider Vinegar customers have found that cider vinegar is particularly useful in treating and guarding against attacks of Mycoplasma.
Mycoplasma can attack organic and free range birds and is not necessarily curable with antibiotics, even if there is a suitable drug on the organic list.
There are many types of Mycoplasma (the most common is Mycoplasma Gallisepticum) but they all manifest themselves as respiratory diseases. Mycoplasma seriously weakens a bird's immune system and they are then susceptible to any disease that is going.
The natural acidity of Somerset Cider Vinegar lowers the pH level in the chicken's stomach, aiding digestion and making it a less friendly environment for infections.
Swollen sinuses or small bubbles in the corners of eyes are the first indication of Mycoplasma. Once infected, birds become carriers and remain infectious for life.
"Mycoplasma can wipe out a whole flock of organic meat birds and I find top quality, unpasteurised cider vinegar of great benefit to the birds' immune system. I know enough about the human immune system to know that it benefits from cider vinegar and so it stands to reason that it can benefit poultry," said one customer.
He doses the birds' water with 600ml of cider vinegar in 30 litres of water in the fourth and eighth week of their lives.
Adding ACV to drinking water will help to keep feeders clear and reduce parasites that cause diseases like coccidiosis.
Coccidiosis is an internal parasite which attacks the lining of the bird's intestine. It is a disease that strikes terror into chicken farmers because it can wipe out flocks very quickly. Young birds are more at risk and like all disease prevention is better than cure. Cider Vinegar in the chicken's drinking water will help to protect against coccidiosis but you will still need to be vigilant.