ACV for Chickens - What does the evidence say?
Natural chicken keepers swear by Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) as part of a healthy diet: it's an immune-booster, dietary supplement and remedy for all manner of ills. Hundreds of people claim that it has improved the health and performance of their chickens. And hundreds of people can’t be wrong. Right?
A simple search on the internet reveals that the effects of Apple Cider Vinegar for chickens include:
- Kills parasites, by actually oozing out of the skin to deter lice and mites
- Kills intestinal worms
- Treats all manner of chicken diseases
- Improves digestive function and feed conversion
- Builds immunity
- Prevents the spread of disease
- Increases egg production and lifts fertility rates
- Hastens feathering after a moult
- Leads to quicker growth and better weight gain
- Balances the body’s pH so that it is more alkaline and less hospitable to disease
If it seems too good to be true...
You know what they say ... if something seems to good to be true, it usually is. At less than 1 cent per dose added to the drinking water, can ACV really replace modern medicine? Does it really have all of these health benefits?
It sounds a bit like an old wives’ tale. Or the wishful thinking of ACV producers. So should you believe the hype?
It's obvious that not all of the claims made about the effects of apple cider vinegar (ACV) can possibly be true. For example, your chickens would have to go on an ACV bender akin to ‘The Hangover’ for the stuff to actually begin to ooze out of their pores. Particularly given that chickens can’t sweat! And while ACV has high acidity and can change the pH of urine, and maybe chicken poo, there is little evidence it affects the pH of the body and the jury is out on whether pH in the diet actually matters anyway.
But even though a lot of the hype around ACV is just that, there are scientifically-proven benefits to feeding it to your chickens.
What does science say about Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)?
At Dine a Chook, we want to make poultry keeping easier. So we are not going to sell you something that doesn’t work. And we do sell Apple Cider Vinegar – in fact, it is our Poultry Healthcare best seller! But we’ve done our research and haven’t just relied on old wives’ tales.
Despite the questions raised by some of the “benefits” listed above, there’s an increasing number of scientific studies that do show tangible benefits to consuming Apple Cider Vinegar. Some small studies have been done on chickens, while others were in the lab, on humans or on other animals.
More research needs to be done on the benefits of ACV for chickens. However, if even half of the possible benefits that scientists have identified turn out to be real, that makes ACV a more than worthwhile addition to your chooks’ diet. And one of the most effective, and economical supplements around!
So according to scientific research, why is Apple Cider Vinegar with Garlic so great?
- There is increasing scientific evidence to suggest that consuming fermented foods improves digestive function. Foods, such as unpasteurised ACV, may provide beneficial microbes to colonise the gut and stimulate healthy enzyme production, improving immune response and promoting healthy gut flora.
- Acetic acid, the key component of ACV, has been found to increase egg production in hot weather, improve egg shell strength and reduce heat-stress in laying hens.
- ACV is effective against bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, meaning that ACV in chicken drinking water can protect against the spread of pathogens and may also help to prevent infection in the gut by improving immune responses.
- ACV in drinking water can prevent coccidiosis.
- ACV can be used as an effective antiseptic at a concentration of 3% acetic acid.
- ACV has anti-fungal properties effective against some of the Candida species. While it hasn’t been tested against the exact strain of Candida that causes sour crop, logic would suggest it may at least help prevent the disease even if it cannot cure it!
- Garlic has been linked to better feed conversion in chickens, and is said to benefit the immune system. Allicin, one of the key compounds in garlic, is antimicrobial and also kills some parasites and viruses. Garlic is also antifungal, again effective against Candida spp.
And, of course, ACV has high potassium levels and other nutrients that can provide health benefits as part of a balanced diet.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar worthwhile?
At Dine a Chook, we believe that ACV is definitely a best-seller for a reason.
More research is needed, but what there is suggests a whole host of benefits. We know how difficult it can be to keep your flock healthy. But we truly believe that ACV + Garlic is a worthwhile daily tonic – our customers have anecdotal evidence that supports the research cited above, and we have seen the difference it makes in our own flock.
But remember, not all Apple Cider Vinegars are created equal. If you want the best results from your 1 cent supplement, choose an organic, whole apple, unpasteurised ACV. Dine a Chook Apple Cider Vinegar + Garlic is a live, fermented food that contains all the healthy enzymes and beneficial bacteria of the “mother of vinegar.”
And while it may not cause chickens to magically develop sweat pores, or teeth, it does have the potential to improve digestive function and nutrition, and inhibit the growth of unhealthy bacteria, fungi and disease. Not bad for a home remedy after all!
Rachael at Dine a Chook Australia