Raising Your Poultry Naturally: Hints and Tips
The health of your flock is essential to its wellness and production. As with most illnesses or problems, prevention is the best way to keep your chickens healthy from day one. Raising your chickens naturally can seem daunting if you are unfamiliar with natural treatments or supplements. When in doubt or something seems seriously wrong, always seek out the help of an avian vet or your local university extension office. Healthier chickens mean a healthier you. Here are some natural treatments you can use for your flock at every stage of life.
Broody Hen and Chick Care
Something as simple as adding herbs like lavender, rosemary, thyme, chamomile, and sage to the nesting boxes can help ward off insects or rodents and create an environment for your hens that is calming and clean, especially if they’re broody. For baby chicks that may be struggling, give them raw egg yolk with some honey or molasses in their water. This high-energy supplement can provide them with the boost they need to thrive. Momma hen will show her babies how to eat and drink, but if you notice any pasty bottoms on the chicks, you can add a splash of apple cider vinegar to their water to help dry it up.
Keeping pests out of the coop is essential for your flock. The best way to keep them at bay is to be diligent about prevention. Dried or fresh mint, lemon balm, marigold flowers, and basil in the nesting boxes and on the coop floor help keep mice away but also be sure to keep your excess feed in metal bins with tight-fitting lids for even more protection. Add rosemary to that herb concoction to prevent mites from infesting as well. Planting these same herbs along with sage and lavender around the perimeter of your coop can create a barrier that pests don’t want to cross, but it will smell heavenly to you! Adding garlic to your waterer can also improve flock health and ward off pests. Make sure your hens have access to a dust bath year-round so they can clean themselves and add wood ash from your fireplace or fire pit for best results. Add diatomaceous earth to the dust bath for more protection. For a final touch, you can spray Bug Be Gone Spray on your birds to help protect them from pests they may encounter when they’re free-ranging.
Let your chickens feast on raw pumpkin seeds and garlic to prevent parasites in your flock. You can also use this all-natural wormer as an alternative. Scaly leg mites are one of the easier pests to eliminate. You can use petroleum jelly to coat the legs to smother the mites or use a natural spray that is not chemical-based.
A regular cleaning routine should not only remove soiled bedding and waste; it should also disinfect and rid the coop of foul odors. When cleaning your coop, remove all bedding and debris and sprinkle Sweet PDZ or First Saturday Lime anywhere that waste accumulates. These products will absorb moisture to prevent ammonia smells from building up between cleanings. Cleaning day is also an excellent time to spray Healthy Hen Parasite Fly and Odor Control spray on the coop walls inside and out. It has a delightful smell that keeps pesky flies from finding their way into your coop. You can do a vinegar wash of your roosting bars and any soiled areas of the coop by mixing equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and then using a hard bristled brush to chip off any debris. You can even put orange rinds into the mixture for an extra boost of cleaning power and a sunny scent.
Illness or Injury
You can often treat minor ailments at home if one of your chickens is unwell. For general health, oregano is best to boost circulation and appetite. You can offer dried or fresh oregano in their feed or add it as a supplement into the water. Using a drawing salve is the most natural healing option for small open wounds like pecking injuries, bumblefoot aftercare, splinters, or irritated skin. Apply a thin layer to the wound and cover it with vet wrap to keep the area from getting soiled. Check daily and reapply salve until healed.
Prevention and timeliness are essential factors when keeping your flock naturally. With a natural start, you can keep many common pests and problems in your flock away without much extra work. Start small by growing some of the herbs you may want to offer your chicks, and keep a regular cleaning schedule so you don’t miss any clues that your flock or coop is at risk of pests or illness.
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