I've noticed the last year or so a big improvement in my hens health by supplementing with various fermented foods and probiotics. I hope this hasn't been covered to death but I've found easy and cheap ways to produce a good amount and make it sustainable, while keeping everyone happy.
Probably the easiest to start with. all you need is:
- 2 large cabbage (green or red)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tbs of cardamom
- 1/4 cup of salt (or less)
- Shred the cabbage, place in large bowl and "massage" while adding salt as you progress. I usually add the cabbage gradually and add salt until the cabbage has "sweated" enough to cover with liquid. - Do not add water! add the crushed Garlic and cardamon
- Place in a large container such as a large mason jar add a smaller container or glass on top of the cabbage to ensure it's as submerged as possible.
- Cover the container with a cheese cloth or other mode of aeration.
- I let it ferment for about 10 days, depending on temperature.
I've done a few batches with barley and it turned out really well. Also faster than cabbage. Here's a good article to get started: https://timbercreekfarmer.com/natural-probiotics-chickens/
My hens favorite for some reason.
- 4 large English cucumbers or any kind really.
- 2 tbs salt
- Distilled water
- 1 clove or garlic
- Mustard seeds (optional)
- Cut cumbers in spears, short enough to fit in a large jar
- add garlic and muster seeds to water and boil for about 10-15 mins. this will be our brine
- In a seperate pot, place mason jar and tops in boiling water for about 20 mins. I also use brewing cleanser instead of boiling pot
- place cucumbers in jar, add cooled brine. Cover jar with cheese cloth
- Let ferment for a about 10 days
Off the shelf probiotics
They work great. especially for chicks 1-8 weeks. I usually keep to waterer, one regular water and one with probiotics and electrolytes. HEN BOOST is affordable and good quality.
Low Fat Goat milk Greek Yogurt
Another favorite. Goat milk is sort of a "universal donor" milk, often used to feed pretty much any mammals in distress. Seems to work great for chickens too. Just a little messy for darker hens .
I usually rotate a few of these, 4-5 times a week and noticed great results poo wise. Much less big splatters. They also seem more energetic and I would say egg production went up, but hard to gauge.
I've also notice it stopped egg picking, which is usually a sign of lack of protein and a really bad habit. The Yogurt really helps maintain good level of protein, just be careful about too much fat content but it has not been an issue for us.