I have been an animal lover my whole life. I grew up on a farm and we had many, many outdoor cats. As a kid, I tended to all of these kitties, naming each one and building them homes out of anything I could find.
This deep love for animals has stuck with me throughout my life. A lot of times, I am led by this love to help and protect.
We've had chickens for the past 5 years. This past summer we adopted 7 more chickens. In May, five leghorn hens that were rescued from a factory farm collapse due to covid (there many, many others rescued and many others that were not). In July we adopted 2 roosters that were rescued from a cockfighting bust.
Chickens, for me are a form of meditation. I LOVE watching them fall into instinctual patterns, scratching and pecking at all the things.
When we first brought home the leghorns, they had never been outside. They lived crammed in small cages where they were given artificial light and fed on a conveyor belt.
It was exciting to watch them first be outside, soaking up the sunshine and begin pecking at the grass.. which they had never seen before.
I have relied on plants and their medicine for a very long time. Herbs are the first thing I will turn to when I have an ailment.
Below are some things we do help keep our hens healthy. To be honest, these things are interchangeable between humans and animals.
I grow organic garlic. Garlic becomes ready in July. Once I harvest and cure the garlic, I add chopped garlic to Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Bragg's). I let the garlic steep in vinegar in the fridge for over a month.
Once ready, I strain the vinegar. At this point you can chop the garlic cloves and give the bits to your chickens. Garlic boosts their immune systems, increases respiratory health and it helps with mites and ticks. Garlic is also a natural dewormer.
In the summer, using a plastic waterer, I add the garlic-vinegar to their waters. You must use a plastic waterer for this as ACV will corrode metal waterers. I add one tablespoon per gallon of water.
When winter comes, we switch to metal waterers and they are placed on heaters. With this, we do not add the garlic ACV because of corrosion. At this point, giving your birds, dried or fresh chopped garlic is super beneficial in keeping them healthy through the winter months.
The other preventive measure we do is add herbs to their bedding. I combine equal parts of DRIED Organic Sage, Spearmint, Rosemary, Shepherd's Purse, Basil and Juniper berries (I half the amount of Juniper).
This blend of herbs is helpful to keep mites at bay. Sage will help combat salmonella in chickens. Mint helps repel mice and bugs and also has a calming effect for birds. Basil supports immune system health and improves digestion. Shepherds purse may help prevent prolapse.
Add up to 1/2 cup of herbs per nesting box 2-3 times per week.
I believe in preventive care when it comes to taking care of our bodies. This is no different when caring for our animals. There are many options when caring for chickens. Please share your tips in the comments below!