Apple Cider Vinegar : A Natural Way to Improve Your Chickens’ Health

applecidervinegarYou probably already have some apple cider vinegar in your cupboard for things like salad dressings, homemade pickles and marinades and may have heard of its reported health benefits for those who include it in their diet, but did you know similar benefits can be given to your chickens as well?

Apple cider vinegar is full of vitamins, minerals and trace elements, and is also an anticeptic and mild antibiotic and can be a great tonic for chickens. You can find raw apple cider vinegar in health food stores, supermarkets and poultry supply stores. Some of the benefits of making use of apple cider vinegar around your flock and coop are :

  •     An improvement in the digestive health of your chickens by maintaining proper pH balance in the digestive tract
  •     Increase in egg production
  •     It kills the bacteria that can cause respiratory illnesses
  •     Keeps your chickens’ waterer and feeder disinfected and free of harmful bacteria and mildew
  •     Eliminates mold, mildew, dust, and odors from your chicken coop when used as a cleaning agent
  •     Repels flies and ants
  •     Can also be used as an abrasive cleaner for difficult-to-clean surfaces.

Giving your chickens apple cider vinegar directly

Adding apple cider vinegar directly to your chickens’ drinking water once or twice a week (or some will do one full week every month) can help to maintain digestive health by lowering the pH in their stomach. Because of that it also in theory makes your chicken a less agreeable host to internal parasites such as worms* and can act as an antiseptic, killing any harmful mucus or bacteria in the throat that can cause respiratory ailments. Perhaps as a result of these improvements to a chickens ability to fight off parasites and bacteria some people have observed that their chickens egg production has increased after using apple cider vinegar.

* Do not use ACV at the same time as treating for internal parasites such as worms or coccidiosis

To add apple cider vinegar to your chickens’ water, preferably use the raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized vinegar, as this has more of the ‘good stuff’ left in. A general guideline would be to use four teaspoons of apple cider vinegar for each gallon of water, or one quart apple cider vinegar per fifty gallons but the ideal thing is to aim for a PH of 4/4.5 so if you can test your water to find out exactly how much avc your water would need that would be even better. Only use a non-metalic waterer when adding apple cider vinegar as metalic ones can be affected by the acid in the vinegar and rust and possibly also leech out metalic particles into the water.

Using apple cider vinegar to clean your chicken coop, feeders, and waterers

You can also use apple cider vinegar in and around the coop (and your house!) as a natural chemical-free cleaner. Chicken coop walls, floors, roof, windows, feeder, and waterer all need cleaning regularly and just a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar added to a spray bottle filled with water can be just the job. For cleaning purposes, any type of apple cider vinegar will work.

To clean with apple cider vinegar, just use it as you would any other type of cleaner, spray any dirty surface with your solution, leave for a minute or two and then wipe clean with a cloth. As apple cider vinegar is an anticeptic frequent cleaning will disinfect any surface and help prevent mold, mildew, dust, and unpleasant odors from building up. It’s hard to prove one way or the other but I am also pretty certain that there have been less flies around since I started using apple cider vinegar around the coop.

Using apple cider vinegar as an abrasive cleaner

For a more abrasive cleaner mix apple cider vinegar with coarse sea salt to help safely rub off any build-up on more difficult to clean surfaces such as brooders, window panes, and cages.

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