Our flock is new to us, but I'm not new to animal husbandry. Prior to life as a designer, I worked as a veterinary technician, gaining over 10 years of experience alongside some brilliant doctors and medical professionals. I worked in small animal medicine, and know a thing or two about preventative medicine—which includes parasite control. When you've seen the mess that both external and internal parasites can cause, you get a bit neurotic with your own crew. Including chickens.
There are some basic, common sense methods for limiting exposure to parasites. Keep the space clean, dry, and free of feces. Anyone that has chickens in their backyard knows the amount of feces that these creatures produce. And while our coop is moveable and we rotate the space weekly, there's still a lot of poos going 'round.
With dogs and horses you use scheduled preventative methods. Heartworm prevention for dogs is most common, as it also contains intestinal parasite preventatives. So essentially you're proactively deworming on a monthly basis. Horses get a dewormer in the Spring and Fall, or more/less often depending on their individual and herd needs. So, what about chickens? Where is the dewormer?
That's a question I set out to answer, but didn't get far. There's medicated feed, Diatomaceous Earth, and a few parasite treatment products. But actual preventative for internal parasites? Not so much. (If you know of some secrets I don't, leave them in the comments!).
What I did find was that a lot of studies are going into the use of Oregano for parasite prevention in flocks. Oregano, as in the tasty stuff out of your pantry. We like natural methods in our house so I'm pretty keen this idea. Our border collie, Teague, sees a holistic medicine veterinarian who has helped us control his terminal illness in ways I never imagined possible. Like, shocking, measurable improvements through the use of herbs and holistic remedies paired alongside conventional medicines. Herbs are the real deal, but I'll save that conversation for another day.
What I found in my research was that oregano isn't the only herb to support a flock's health, but that many herbs are beneficial to their overall health. This medley I've put together is a combination of herbs geared at boosting overall health, which in turn helps prevent infections and disease by strengthening the body's natural immunity. I feed one scoop daily, mixed in with their feed. Some birds ignore fresh herbs, but both fresh and dried are acceptable. My flock is pretty keen on the dried. If you want to learn more about herb support for your flock, I highly recommend the book Fresh Eggs Daily. It's a super cute, very handy little book that any flock mama should keep on hand.
In addition to the herb medley, my girls get about a tablespoon of Apple Cider vinegar in their water which helps support respiratory health amongst other things. The takeaway? There's a lot of simple methods for supporting the health of your flock.
If there's something you're finding successful for your flock, please share in the comments below.
HEALTH BOOSTING DIY HERB MEDLEY FOR CHICKENS
Rich in vitamins E and K. A natural antibiotic that supports immunity and respiratory health. Studied for use in parasite control and treatment.
Rich in vitamins A, B and C, as well as calcium and iron. Helps with the development of blood vessels. A good laying stimulant.
Rich in vitamins A and K, is a natural antioxidant and fungicide.
Anti-bacterial properties. Good for overall health boost.
A natural anti-parasitic and antioxidant. Good for overall health boost.
- Dandelion Greens
Highly nutritious with anti-parasitic properties. Collect the greens from your yard or other area that has not been treated with pesticides or other chemical creepies. Tear into small bites.
Combine an even amount of each herb in a single container. Combine and offer a couple of tablespoons daily with their regular feed.