1 December 2019

Chook Chat with Cheryl Nelson - The best medicine for Summer health

| Cheryl Nelson
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Summer is a tough time for our chookies and they need our careful attention. Photo: Shutterstock.

Summer is a tough time for our chookies and they need our careful attention. Photo: Shutterstock.

Keeping our chickens healthy is really important.

Our motto at Natural Chicken Health is that prevention is better than a cure.

Chickens need vitamins, minerals, good nutrition, and like us, they need low stressors and sufficient rest.

There are physical measures we can take to support the lives of our chooks and help prevent disease:

  • The number of chooks to suit space available to reduce stress
  • A fully enclosed sheltered coop to keep predators and wild birds out
  • Clean cool water, good quality food and green pick daily
  • Good hygiene including regular cleaning of roosts, nesting boxes and coop area.
  • Access to dust baths
  • Regular inspections

The immune system is a key defence against disease. There are reputable supplements that, when used on a regular basis, can help to promote a healthy immune system and overall health.

My Five Fantastic Supplements:

Apple Cider Vinegar – Contains vitamins, minerals and trace elements, regulates the body’s pH level and supports the immune system in times of stress. Improves digestion and helps with calcium absorption. Mild antiseptic promoting respiratory health. Reduces algae and bacteria in water.

Probiotics – Great for gut health. Promotes good bacteria in the intestines for a strong immune system. Important in young chicks. Prevents and treats coccidiosis. Probiotics in Super Mash is made from Milk Kefir

Diatomaceous Earth – Added to food, DE has trace minerals that improve egg production and builds strong bones. Applied externally it controls parasites. Dust your chooks and sprinkle it in dust baths. Avoid inhaling dust.

Seaweed – A nutritious superfood which has trace elements, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Aids in digestion and has ‘prebiotics’ enabling probiotics to work. Improves overall health, reduces coccidiosis and boosts resilience to parasites and disease. Increases egg production, strengthens shells and develops bright glossy plumage.

Garlic – A natural antibiotic especially useful in intestinal disturbances. Has the reputation of being a vermifuge, or worming medicine. Repels mites, lice, ticks and other parasites by exuding from the skin. Improves appetite, quality and size of egg.

Herbs are an easy to access resource that help keep our chooks healthy naturally alongside the good husbandry measures mentioned above.

Herbs are an easy to access resource that help keep our chooks healthy naturally. Photo: Geoffrey Grigg

Herbs are an easy to access resource that help keep our chooks healthy naturally. Photo: Geoffrey Grigg.

Grow herbs around the coop for chooks to pick at. Add to nesting material. Chop and add to food, hang or strew.

My Five Fabulous Chook Herbs:

Wormwood (Artemisia) – Wormwood is a companion plant for chickens; as they peck it, the plant helps them eliminate internal parasites. Strew Wormwood in their nesting boxes to repel mites.

Mint – Mint is an insect and rodent repellent making it a great choice to add to nesting boxes or dust bathing areas. Try hanging bunches of fresh mint around the run to discourage flies or planting mint around the outside of the run to discourage rodents. Of the many varieties, peppermint and spearmint are two popular choices, also lemon balm and catmint are good. Chocolate mint is fun for kids to try as well!

Oregano – Easy to grow, oregano is well known for its antiparasitic and antibacterial properties. Oregano supports a healthy immune and respiratory system. Chop and add to food or hang in bunches for chooks to pick at. Full of vitamins, calcium and antioxidants.

Lavender – An aromatic herb that makes a great repellent to bugs who don’t like the volatile oils. It’s a beautiful way to freshen your coop and nesting boxes so hang bunches in the coop or strew flowers and leaves into nesting material. Especially good under broody chooks to help keep bugs at bay and support their circulatory system.

Calendula – Easy to grow from seed and best known for its healing powers, calendula makes a great salve for the treatment of wounds. Its anti-inflammatory properties means this salve would be good for treating a prolapsed vent or helping an egg bound hen. Also favoured by gardeners to help repel insects, calendula in the coop and nesting boxes can also help repel insects. The flower petals are edible for humans (in salads) and chickens. High in oleanolic acid, an anti-inflammatory, Calendula has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. For your chooks, eating calendula petals will give a lovely orange colour to their yolks, and turn their beaks and feet a gorgeous, healthy colour.

Summer is a tough time for our chookies and they need our careful attention.

We can keep our flock in good shape to help prevent health problems. So try using herbs and supplements with your flock and watch them become fluffier, shinier and healthier right before your eyes!

Cheryl Nelson is the brains and heart behind Natural Chicken Health.

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Always looking for natural means of looking after my featheres babies

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