Good Supplements, Healthier Chickens, Prettier Eggs
Consider this: The shell of each egg that your hens lay is made up of nearly 95% calcium carbonate by dry weight.
This means that your chickens need to consume up to 20 times the amount of calcium contained in their own bones.
Your responsibility as a chicken owner is to make sure your hens get that.
But calcium isn’t the only important supplement out there. Products containing healthy stuff like marigold extract, apple cider vinegar, and diatomaceous earth can help keep your flock healthy, too.
So here’s the scoop on keeping your coop fed, happy, and productive through proper diet.
DON’T Feed Eggshells
Some chicken owners swear by reusing eggshells and feeding them back to their flock.
This may seem like a convenient way to recycle kitchen waste, but think twice:
Consuming eggshells exposes your hens to salmonella poisoning. Salmonella can be found on the inside and outside of otherwise normal-looking eggs, and can be fatal.
Plus, feeding eggshells has a dangerous “domino effect”.
If a chicken is eating salmonella-infected eggshells, they pass it on to the eggs that you eat. Plus, eggshell-fed chickens might start eating their own eggs as food.
DO Feed Them Oyster Shells or Limestone
Oyster Shells, or limestone, is a much safer supplement for helping your hens pop out sturdier, healthier eggs.
Though this may seem like an unnecessary investment up front, rest assured that feeding your laying chickens oyster shells or limestone (instead of their own eggshells) is much safer than recycling eggshells.
A 50-pound bag of oyster shell or limestone will last the average flock (6-8 birds) up to several months.
Plus, feeding oyster shells is easy. Simply put the oyster shell or limestone in a separate container and allow your chickens open access. Your girls will take what they need.
DO Supplement Marigold Extract
Actual marigold petals will do just fine, too. Marigolds contain xanthophyll, which adds a vibrant yellow hue to egg yolks.
Plus, if you’re the type that appreciates symbiosis in your backyard, planted marigolds naturally repel pest insects, and tend to attract pollinators like butterflies.
When it comes to feeding them to your birds. simply dry the petals, crush them up, and add them to their feed.
If marigolds won’t grow in your zone, or you aren’t much of a gardener, Marigold Extract often comes in powder or tincture form, and is just as easy to add to your chicken’s diet.
DO Give Your Chickens Apple Cider Vinegar
Ahh, ACV. The ubiquitous all-natural elixir for human (and poultry) digestive problems.
Odds are good that you have a bottle for yourself already in the cupboard.
What’s it good for? In short: settling upset tummies.
Chickens have fine-tuned digestive tracts, which include an area called the “crop”. This is where a chicken’s food is actively broken down, and It’s also the area of the digestive tract that benefits from ACV.
ACV helps to reduce the pH level in the crop, which in turn combats any ingested microbes, worms, or bad bacteria.
Dilute one teaspoon of ACV in a liter of water and give it to your chickens for 3 to 5 days each month.
DO Spread Diatomaceous Earth in Your Coop
In short, diatomaceous earth is sand.
But not any old sand. Specifically, it’s really old sand. So old, in fact, that it’s comprised mostly of fossilized algae.
In commercial form, diatomaceous earth makes a great natural alternative to chemical pesticides.
Chickens love rolling around in dry dust to maintain their feathers, so add some diatomaceous earth to their favorite bathing spots. The dust coat acts as something like armor against fleas and lice.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is also a great dietary supplement, too. It’s known for scraping out worms as it makes its way through your chicken’s intestinal track.
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