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My last Blog was on oregano oil for chickens, so keeping chicken health in mind were looking at garlic oil today. Also been around for many centuries and known for its healing properties by the ancient Egyptians for its medical properties. Garlic is now widely used in the world of chicken keeping. There is no better way of introducing your chickens to the taste of garlic from as young as day old chicks, as well as this being a great preventative measure in the fight against parasites, it builds them up to a liking for garlic as they mature. We do this as it is not prudent to just give your chickens garlic indiscriminately but best given as and when needed, this we do as there is evidence supporting the facts that over time garlic which aids the good bacteria in your hens gut can actually harm the good bacteria, and with prolonged use it can cause a disorder of the blood (anaemia.) whenever I mention using garlic on chickens I hear a lot of the same questions, will my eggs taste of garlic being the immediate reaction, the answer is no, definitively not. Glad we’ve put that to bed, however if you handle your chickens you may smell a faint smell of garlic on their breath, that means the garlic is working it magic as it makes its way around your hens body, the smell is the sulphur being released. Garlic is a member of the (alumni) onion family and repeated use is not recommended due to bad toxins which it releases. So how is the best way to give hens garlic, I find it best not to push it onto a hen unless it’s for purely emergency medicinal purposes. I know people that add it regularly to the water so the chickens have no choice if they want a drink. It can be crushed and mixed with oil and offered separately giving the hens freedom to take if they feel they need it. I always offer it raw in oil, freshly chopped as it has more potency, the natural oils in the garlic are pretty powerful and can bring on cases of diarrhoea in your poultry. If I offer garlic in water to my hens it only stays in one water receptacle placed by the side of water feeders and is there as an option for my hens to take if, how and when they decide and it only stays in for that day. I know I’ve mentioned this already but it’s worth mentioning twice, placed in shaded area. It’s good for up to and no longer than 3 days. However The beneficial properties of garlic freshly crushed can’t be ignored, and every so often I do leave some out for my girls, garlic is very effective at curing yeast and mould infections, as well as being a known fighter of bacterial and viral infections. So the reason I state 3 days is the first 24 36 hours the garlic benefits are at there optimum strength for fighting the above mentioned. It can be left away from your hens and at day 3 and turned into a liquid spray by which time the sulphides are released and this is when the strong smell of garlic happens. Using the garlic water in a spray bottle is an effective way of controlling mites that live on your chickens body. So offering garlic water is great but use left overs as a debugging spray on your chickens body.
Expecting the best from your chickens means giving them the best. Wether your looking ahead to the start of the breeding season or looking ahead to the start of the moulting season, there’s one thing that will see your chickens through the best of times and the worst of times. Wether your want to ensure your chickens lay you the very freshest of eggs or just wanting your birds in the very best of health, be they egg laying birds show birds or just your grandchildren’s favourite pets, there’s one product every breeder and chicken keeper has at their disposal and that is oregano oil. Oregano oil has been around for centuries, some two thousand five hundred years to be exact. Discovered by the Greeks who named it oregano, meaning,: joy of the mountains,: oregano has long been known and accepted for its beneficial healing properties and is listed in the top ten anti oxidant herbs. The main ingredient in oregano is carvacrol and Thymol, both of these ingredients are a natural aid to fighting bacteriaThe 4 main benefits of oregano oil are as an:
Anti fungal: oregano oil is so strong and effective as an anti fungal agent that it is capable of destroying even the resistant strains of fungal infection such as the mutated fungi. Furthermore oregano oil inhibits the growth of the majority of bacteria, something that prescribed antibiotics can not do.
Anti inflammatory: the main ingredients in oregano is carvacrol and Thymol. Both of these compounds aid in the inflammatory and anti spasmodic effects felt by your bird during flight. Reducing the pain felt by your pigeon during flight by stabilising muscle membranes as well as reducing (CFS) chronic fatigue syndrome. Almost as powerful as morphine oregano oil is a natural painkilling aid to inflammatory pain. Further more it’s natural and organic.
Anti bacterial: The main ingredients in oregano are carvacrol and Thymol, both these compounds are an aid to naturally fighting bacteria. By fighting the bad bacteria in your chickens gut they help to maintain a healthy gut by supporting a healthy microbial environment in the intestine of your Bird.
Anti parasitic & anti viral: The Thymol in oregano oil totally destroys worms in your birds gut, all worms, round worms. Thymol was a standard treatment for all humans in WW1 in America, ergo it’s effectiveness in fowl can be guaranteed.
Other Benefits include:
oregano oil is a great stimulus which is an excellent aid to your chickens digestive tract. Even in low doses given to your chickens it has the power to destroy pseudomonas, aspergillosis, staphylococcus, E,Coli, mould, campo, and many many more. Having antioxidant properties due to the presence of carvacrol And Thymol studies show that the wild oregano is twice as powerful as any synthetically produced versions on the market. Oregano oil is rich in minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc among others. Also contained in oregano oil are the vitamins A and C which are responsible for beta carotene as well as niacin. My next section is on coccci but I need not waste time explaining the why,s and how’s of this deadly organism, if you already keep chickens then you know how deadly this disease is. In a nutshell coccidiosis is part of the same set of organisms as Malaria. There are commercial remedies available on the market and administered by professionals at a cost, however, by the time you’ve spotted the clinical signs the main damage has already been done. So what is the best way of administrating oregano oil evenly to all of your birds, by adding it into their water drinkers thus guaranteeing everyone of your chickens receives the correct dosage of medication. I have two philosophy’s, prevention is better than cure, and I’m all about organically treating my birds. By giving oregano oil to all your birds age regardless you can seriously reduce the effects of disease in your chicken cree. There are antibiotics on the market but antibiotics are known to either come with side effects or lower your birds immune system. One major side effect of giving your chickens oregano oil is the positive effect it has on your birds plumage, it results in excellent plumage. But seriously oregano oil maintains health and recovery after trying times, such as motherhood, stress and during the moult. it’s best given regularly to keep your birds disease free but especially During the moulting season and or times of stress. Oregano oil promotes your chickens normal intestinal flora. Included in your order will be exact feeding ratios, it is important that you follow these, when oregano is added to water it makes the oil 10 x more powerful, oregano in some countries is also referred to as: hot oil, so please do not be tempted to add more oil than the recommended dose.
Being able to recognise signs of stress in your chickens is key to a happy cree. When most people hear the word stress they wouldn’t normally imagine hearing it in relation to their chickens. So being able to spot the signs of stress early and knowing how you can minimise your own impact on their stress is key to happy hens. Unfortunately the list of causes of stress is great, for example. There are environmental stresses, the triggers for this type can include draughty accommodations, insufficient space on roosting poles at night time or overcrowding outdoors. There are physical stressors where hens are picked up passed around and overly handled, incorrectly picking up and handling can lead your hen to stress easily. You may need to handle your hens like I do for inoculation purposes or for concern on their welfare, this should be done as swiftly and carefully as possible to minimise her stress levels. Incorrect feed ( nutritional) can lead to stress, hens being deprived of food and water for lengths at a time, feeding the wrong feed, where there is no nutritional value in what they eat. Then comes the psychological stress, where your hens are raised around noisy backgrounds, loud noises, dogs barking, neighbours cats trying to find a way in to eat them, heavy traffic near by. Even pathology can play it’s part in causing your hens stress, this can be in the form of your outdoor Cree being flooded and hens not being able to do what comes natural to them, scratching and foraging, compromised immune system can see you hens pick up diseases more easily, a heavy infestation of mites can wear your hen down, the list goes on and on. To much stress in your hens life over a prolonged period can wear her down to the point where they die, it’s our job as caretakers of these great birds to spot the signs and limit their exposure to stress. We do this daily by being vigilant, watching our hens, spotting the lonely ones that are showing the signs of stress. Some of the noticeable signs of stress you may see in your flock would be a lethargic hen, not moving around a lot and standing alone and not in a group of hens, she may display signs her feathers are coming out, a hen may act more aggressively towards her Cree mates, she wouldn’t be visiting the nesting box and would show little interest in eating so would look slimmer than her flock mates.
So just how far do you need to plan ahead. Well its spring and we’re still suffering the effects of winter, so planning ahead for when my hens are moulting in September may seem like madness, but, if you fail to plan, then plan to fail. I’m probably one of the most organised people I know, maybe old habits due to my past job requirements, but it’s a lesson that has served me well. One of the benefits being that I look ahead at each coming season to see what is required, getting my hens out of the moult starts 2 weeks before they even start to moult by adding my home made oregano oil into their diet, that starts in spring by growing the seeds, and harvesting the plant and turning it into something beneficial for my hens. Planning for my 2018 hatchings started back in December by turning over the cold sometimes frozen soil to unearth any worms or unhatched worm eggs hiding in the cold damp mud waiting for my spring chicks, their new hosts, to come along and incubate them. Turning over soil to expose the ground to frost, and add a covering of lime to kill off any nasties. I also stripped cleaned and coated all of my nurseries where mother and hens will be housed in lime. Making space in my outdoor freezer and stocking up on ice cube trays in spring as chickens, no matter the season love cold water. I add ice cubes to their daily water and in each ice cube I add some blueberries, it can mean the difference between a bored hen and an occupied hen, a bored hen is like a quiet child, their up to something. Namely bullying, feather pecking or egg eating, (chickens that is, not children) all the things that are to be discouraged. Hanging greens up in your compound, a large meaty dog bone even, anything that keeps your hens minds occupied. Chickens are by nature curious creatures, they have structured lives in hierarchy based on their pecking orders, they have individual personalities, they communicate verbally in their groups with some 24-30 different sounds. These creatures are not JUST chickens, they understand fear, yet will not cry out in pain for fear of alerting prey, they know when a flock member is in a difficult situation and they will watch over them acting as a decoy to lead prey away from a less active/vulnerable hen. A mother hen will talk to her chicks through an egg shell so when the chicks hatch out they instantly recognise her voice, inside the egg shell mum teaches her chicks the 3 danger call signs of predatory attacks coming from land, sea or air. I’ve bred, raised and studied chickens for many years now and every day I spend with my girls is amazing, if you spend time even just letting them out in the morning while having your morning coffee and in the evening putting them away over a cup of tea and watching them you begin to see things, once you understand the dynamics at work in your Cree, then you know how best to serve your hens. After all don’t your hens deserve the best, they deliver the best, be they egg layers, meat/table birds, but hopefully none of the aforementioned but just to be kept for the immense pleasure they give. Had a stressful day, tell it to a chicken, yes I’m sorry but I actually talk to my hens, oh god I can see in my mind people just clicking unfollow, well hopefully not, it’s therapeutic, and the best part, they don’t interrupt you and never judge you. I have 83 hens, 54 of those are now officially 6 years and 7 days old, as chicken keepers already you will know that egg production SHOULD of almost ceased in my older hens. I collect 30-36 eggs daily from my, more mature ladies, and it’s still minus -2 degrees here so more older hens may start to come onto the lay. My chicken losses in 12 months numbered 4, all older hens and all during this our harshest winter in a decade.
I thought I would share some of my experiences including the pro,s and the cons of dealing with breeders/sellers. I've been bitten twice as a novice keeper/breeder, but we live and we learn, and I've had many more successes. Well I guess I shall start at the beginning, the first breeder I dealt with claimed my new hens were (P.O.L) point of lay hens, are around 24-26 weeks old, by my now (experienced) reckoning they were more like 16-18 weeks old, big mistake as not only do I never deal with this breeder again, I make a point of telling others My story. The second occasion I was at an auction house and bid on 6 eggs, 3 fertile hatched and turned out to be the wrong breed, 18 weeks later, I gave them away, costly mistake. There, that's the negative out of the way, I don't dwell. Now for the positive of which there are many. I've just mentioned a few below.
1/ Finding a good breeder is important, talk to people & get referrals if possible, If this is not possible the internet/poultry club of Great Britain/ monthly magazines are other ways.
2/ a good breeder will happily show you around his set up.
3/ go with questions, a good breeder will answer these and many more.
4/ a good breeder will ask you many more questions than you've asked him/her.
5/ a good breeder will show you his entire set up without hesitation.
6/ and finally a good breeder will talk you through his day, including tips and tricks, housing and feeding and much more. Breeders love their birds and will want to know how you will house them, how you will feed and care for them,to a high standard, they will want to know their birds are going into caring hands. All of the above I offer but with one added extra, I give all of my details to the new owners asking them if there is any further advice they need, please do not hesitate to contact me, and if for any reason you decide that chicken keeping is not for you, or local bye laws dictate your actions then I will happily accept my birds back.