Apple cider vinegar holds tremendous benefits for your digestive health as well as the well-being of your chickens. That’s right – it’s a secret weapon cherished by poultry experts worldwide.
Now, before you rush to add it to your flock’s diet, we’d like to put forward a word of caution for new chicken keepers: moderation is key! Too little apple cider vinegar may not benefit your chickens at all and too much can risk their life.
On that note, here we’ll be diving deep into the proper dosage details of apple cider vinegar for chickens. We’ll also explore its health benefits and risks. Let’s get started!
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Before we dive into the benefits and rest, let’s first understand the composition of apple cider vinegar.
Fundamentally, ACV or apple cider vinegar is ‘fermented’ apple juice. First, the apples are crushed to obtain the liquid (or the apple juice). And then, a specific type of bacteria and yeast is added to this liquid, which kickstarts the fermentation process.
During fermentation, the added bacteria and yeast convert sugars in the apple juice into acetic acid. And thus, turns it into a type of vinegar. The original transparent, smooth liquid (i.e., apple juice) now has a sour taste and syrup-like consistency.
With that said, there are four types of apple cider vinegar. These are:
- Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar: It is the most nutritious and potent type of apple cider vinegar. And that’s because it retains the ‘mother’, which is a cloudy substance comprising bacteria, beneficial enzymes, and strands of protein. It develops naturally in the ACV during the fermentation process.
- Filtered apple cider vinegar: It is not as nutritious as the unfiltered variant. But it’s easier to consume since the ‘mother’ and sediments are all filtered out.
- Organic apple cider vinegar: This type of ACV is acquired from most pure and organic apples. Hence, it’s free of any synthetic pesticides and chemicals.
- Flavored apple cider vinegar: Some brands infuse additional flavors into apple cider vinegar to enhance the taste. These flavors range from honey to fruit extracts.
Nutritional Value of Apple Cider Vinegar
Here’s the standard nutritional value of regular apple cider vinegar per 100 grams:
|Total Carbohydrates||0.9 mg|
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Safe for Chickens?
Yes! Apple cider vinegar is safe for chickens but in minimal quantities. We’ll give you a detailed dosage guideline in a bit.
But what you need to note here is that apple cider vinegar does not offer any amounts of protein or fats. This means it cannot independently contribute to the growth of your chicken. You will need other foodstuffs to promote the healthy growth of your chickens.
Plus, ACV doesn’t offer significant amounts of carbohydrates. This means it cannot serve as a source of energy.
However, the tonic appears to be rich in minerals, particularly potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. Hence, it may help with electrolyte balance, bone formation, and the immune system. Let’s explore each of these in deeper detail in the next section.
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Chickens
The benefits of apple cider vinegar for chickens are as follows:
1. Strengthens Immunity
Apple cider vinegar comprises high amounts of acetic acid, meaning it is acidic in nature. So, when it enters the gut of a chicken, it lowers the pH level or increases the acidity of the internal environment.
As a result, the body’s resistance to infections increases and makes the gut much less inhabitable for bad bacteria and microbes. Plus, low pH levels also kill poultry worms because the worms need an alkaline environment to survive.
Moreover, the potassium content in apple cider vinegar enhances cellular wall strength. And in this way, it improvises resistance and prevents harmful bacteria from infecting the body on a cellular level.
2. Prevents Coccidiosis
As mentioned earlier, apple cider vinegar helps inhibit the growth of ‘oocysts’ in the chicken’s intestinal lining. These are the eggs that can cause coccidiosis in chickens.
Coccidiosis is basically a protozoal disease, which can be fatal for chickens if it is not treated properly or if it occurs repeatedly. It all begins when a healthy chicken comes into contact with:
- Infected chickens
- Infected surfaces in the chicken coop
- Chicken droppings with oocysts in them
Once they ingest this bacteria, the oocysts make it to the gut, hatch, and multiply there leading to coccidiosis. The most prominent symptoms of coccidiosis include reduced feed consumption, reduced egg production, severe diarrhea, rapid weight loss, and lethargy.
Although we have antibiotics that can treat coccidiosis, apple cider vinegar offers a more natural and holistic approach to treatment. As per a Polish study by skilled veterinarians, ACV reduces the number of coccidial oocysts in feces, induces an anticoccidial effect, and also lowers coccidial resistance to drug treatment.
3. Aids Digestion of Nutrients
ACV wipes out bacteria from the intestinal lining and makes room for more digestion.
Well, when the bacteria is no longer occupying the villus of the intestine, a greater surface area of the intestine is available to come into contact with food. When there’s greater contact, there’s greater absorption.
The food gets more time with the intestinal lining, allowing enzymes to do their work and digestive chemical reactions to take place. Thus, your chicken’s intestines are able to work properly and extract complete nutrition from the food passing through.
This leads to proper growth. You may see your chickens healthier and heavier. Plus, this also affects their consumption habits positively. Your chickens will only eat as much as they need.
4. Improves Egg Laying
Calcium is one of the major minerals required by egg-laying hens to lay good quality and quantity of eggs. Although apple cider vinegar does not provide a significant amount of the mineral, it does help with greater absorption (as explained above).
Consequently, it improves egg production. Now, note that studies do not suggest that intake of ACV will speed up the egg production of a hen or definitely increase the number of eggs. Instead, ACV slightly improves the egg-laying hen’s performance.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Chickens?
There are many ways to give apple cider vinegar to your chickens. The most common one is to add 1 ml of ACV to your chicken’s drinking water. Say if you have a flock of ten chickens, go ahead and add 10 ml into the waterer. Make sure the quantity of water increases proportionately.
For greater accuracy, note that a ratio of 2% works best. This means if you have one litre of water, you need to add 20 ml of apple cider vinegar. Note that 20 ml is roughly one tablespoon.
Apart from that, here are a few other ways to administer apple cider vinegar to your chickens:
- Add a few drops to their feed or treats.
- If you feel your flocks’ got lice and mites, add a few drops to water, fill it up in a spray bottle, and spray it onto your chickens. This is best to do on hot and sunny days. We do not recommend it for winter.
- Add a few drops to their bathing water and let your chickens bathe in it. The external impact of ACV is not as effective as the internal impact. But it helps!
How Often Should You Give Vinegar to Chickens?
Poultry experts recommend giving apple cider vinegar to chickens every day for about a week each month. This translates to 7 consecutive days and a gap of 23-24 days. It improves chicken health quickly.
However, if you’ve got a healthy bunch and you wish to give apple cider vinegar to your flock as a precautionary measure, you should add ACV to the chickens’ water a few times every week. For example, if you add 20 ml to a liter of water on Monday, you’ll do so again on Wednesday, and then on Saturday.
But if you’ve got sensitive or already sick chickens, it’s best to consult a vet. They’ll recommend a risk-free dosage guideline or alternative medications.
Risks of Apple Cider Vinegar for Chickens
Here are the risks posed by ACV to chickens:
If you add two tablespoons to one liter of water or feed your chickens with ACV-sprinkled feed throughout the month, it will harm your chickens’ health instead of benefiting them. The excessive consumption of ACV will lower the pH abnormally, create an acidic internal environment, and lead to digestive disturbances like gastritis, sour crop, etc.
Plus, low pH can also irritate the skin and develop picking behavior. This, in turn, could lead to dermatitis and other skin infections.
2. Feather Damage
Undiluted apple cider vinegar can cause a bleaching effect on the feathers. It can further lead to discoloration, damage to plumage, and degradation in the quality of feathers.
On the surface, it may not appear to be a big deal — especially for new chicken keepers. But feathers contribute significantly to a chicken’s health. Any damage to feathers could mean:
- Psychological stress: Damaged fur or irritating skin can lead to self-mutilative behaviors like feather pecking. It develops feelings of frustration and discomfort. Thus, it negatively impacts the overall well-being of the chicken.
- Social stress: Owing to feather damage, a chicken may feel and appear weak. It may face aggression from other chickens and have decreased opportunities for mating and reproduction.
- Lower insulation: Damaged or absent feathers mean that a chicken will not be able to retain body heat as well as it usually does. This makes the chicken susceptible to temperature extremes and consequent conditions like stress, discomfort, and even hypothermia.
3. Reduction in Water Intake
Adding excessive amounts of apple cider vinegar to water can alter its taste and make it undesirable for the chickens. Owing to the change of taste, they may not drink enough water and dehydrate themselves – which, in turn, could lead to several health issues like poor digestion and reduced egg production.
How to Choose the Best Apple Cider Vinegar for Chickens?
Now, if you’re buying apple cider vinegar for chickens, there are a few factors you must consider. These include:
1. ACV Type
We’ve mentioned all four types of apple cider vinegar above. Now, the best type of ACV among these four is unfiltered and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. That’s because it comprises the ‘mother’.
Watch this video at 2:52 to see how you can identify if apple cider vinegar has a ‘mother’ element in it or not:
Other than that, avoid opting for flavored ACV variants. That’s because the concentration of flavors used in these might be dangerous and may trigger a harmful chemical reaction within your chicken’s gut.
2. ACV Brand
Most people who are considering apple cider vinegar for chickens for the very first time often wonder; do I have to buy a separate one, or can I use the one I already have?
Well, you can use the one that you already have in your fridge as long as it’s suited to chicken health. This means it should not have excessive, high-concentration flavorings. Or any other additives that may harm your chicken.
Figuring this out might take a lot of examining and consideration. So, the quick and simple route is to simply buy a new bottle – one that comes from a chicken-specific brand.
Now, there are a lot of brands out there selling apple cider vinegar for chickens. We recommend browsing their website and socials to check their reputation in the market before you trust their product. It’s also a good idea to check customer reviews and ACV’s nutritional value given on the label.
Apple cider vinegar for chickens usually costs $3 – $6 per liter. And one liter could conveniently last a month if you have a small flock. Even so, you should consider a higher price tag usually means better quality.
But do not trust the price tag alone. Always cross-check with customer reviews and market reputation.
By now, you know almost everything that there is to know about apple cider vinegar for chickens. But before signing off, here’s one last tip: never give diluted ACV to your chickens in a metal container.
The acidic nature of ACV can corrode the container and lead to rust. If your chickens drink from this container, they may develop newer health problems. You certainly do not want that happening! So, always opt for plastic waterers.
With that said, good luck! We hope you start off your journey with ACV and chickens confidently.