musings of a scottish smallholder

The Spice Of Life November 19, 2011

Filed under: articles archive,Poultry,smallholder — fifesmallholder @ 11:28 pm
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moulting hen

Benefits of Cider Vinegar, Garlic, and Poultry Spice to a Smallholder

Some of my hens are moulting, and today I gave them some things that I feel will help them to replace their feathers, and maximise their health, going in to winter.  I don’t mind a drop in egg production over the winter because I think it gives them a bit of a rest, and helps them to stay strong over the long dark, cold, damp days till spring.

The hens seem to stay in their sheds more over winter, and particularly during a cold spell when the ground is frozen or covered in snow.  They therefore have less access to minerals and food that they would normally consume whilst out free ranging in the field or woodland.

Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is an age old product beloved by many traditional chicken keepers to promote all round health and vitality in poultry (and many other animals).

What does it do?

  • Aids digestion, helping to break down minerals and fats and assists the bird to assimulate proteins and convert food better.
  •  Lowers the Ph of the digestive tract, rendering it to be 90% less welcoming to Pathogens.
  •  Provides a natural source of Potassium and other important trace minerals. Helps to improve fertility and general well being.
  •  Depresses the growth of Algae in the drinker (use only in a plastic drinker).
  •  Helps clean the plumage of grease and old bloom, when used in baths. Hence is excellent for show birds.
  •  Clears respiratory tracts
  • Can also be used to treat minor wounds and skin irritations (at a dose of no more than 1 part to 10)
  • cleans feeding and drinking equipment and is often sprayed into and around housing as a very effective fly and insect deterrent.
  • will help chickens with stress which is one of the main contributors to their immune system lowering and letting in disease

How much do I use?

 Add to the drinking water at the rate of 5ml per litre of clean drinking water.
As a guide I would suggest 10ml of Apple Cider Vinegar per litre of fresh water – be careful not to add to much as it may stop the hens drinking which would be a problem.


Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is not an alternative to regular worming. It has been shown to improve resistance to internal parasites but is no substitute. Many keepers use ACV to improve resistance to coccidosis in particular.


Times of stress for a chicken may include:
  • Moving house
  • Introducing new birds or mixing up the pecking order
  • If snow falls on the ground (a stressful change in environment for chickens)
  • After a fright – e.g. fox or dog attack
  • After injury

What is the difference between cider vinegar I get in the supermarket and others?

The difference is that the ACV sold in the supermarket is filtered and pasturised to preserve the product and kill off bacteria. This also kills off the beneficial ‘good’ bacteria. The equine / animal feed ACV is unpasturised and unfiltered.

What about cider vinegar and worms?

Personally, I believe they help make the gut an unpleasant environment for worms but cannot replace a chemical wormer if you have a confirmed case of worms.  If in any doubt, if you don’t want to use a licensed wormer (Flubenvet) then do get a worm count done. As well as the health implications for your birds when not worming correctly, finding a worm inside an egg is unpleasant for you and your customers.  Check out this link for more info on worms and their treatment.
Poultry Spice
Give your birds a boost in Spring or after the moult with this natural nutritional supplement plus extra minerals in a spice base. One teaspoonful to be given in the usual wet or dry mash for every 10 fowls. In cold weather a little more of the powder may be given. Specially recommended for improving all round condition and performance. Invaluable for rearing Poultry, Ducks, Geese, Turkeys and Game birds.


Garlic is supposed to keep the mites and lice away