Hello I have 4 hens who are 21 months old and I have been told by a family member that they need cider vinegar in there drinking water is this true? And also poultry tonic as never heard of either thanks
If you spend some time here on BYC, you'll find there are varying opinions about dietary needs of chickens. Some people prefer to follow scientific research, others trust their family or neighbor and all sorts of other sources of information. So what I'm about to say is simply my experience and if any of it "rings true" for you, perhaps there is something useful for you there.
What I've learned about nutrition over the years that I consider "staples" in my own diet and therefore apply some of it to our chickens:
The majority of my diet and our chicken's diet includes:
* a wide range of whole foods (real food, not overly processed)
this is for ideal nutrition and cost effectiveness
* some acidic and/or fermented foods
some acidification of the gut is helpful and the probiotics of fermented foods are really helpful in digestion and immunity
We typically put a small amount of a home-brewed lactic acid based liquid (made from molasses) in our chicken's waterer. Some folks use apple cider vinegar. Both have small nutritional offerings in terms of enzymes, minerals and in the case of the lactic acid brew, some probiotics. But the main reason is to slightly increase the acidification of the digestive tract, which helps keep the nasty bacteria at bay and helps with digestion. There is debate about this, as with many things. I do it because I feel better when I do and yes, there is some research to back this up, but I'm not your man to find that, but Google might.
We also feed a portion of their feed as fermented feed, mainly for probiotic benefits and the slight acidification of the chickens' digestive tract. I don't always do both the water and feed acidification and generally do it when I have time and/or feel like it.
Never heard of "poultry tonic", is that a brand name or something? And no, as "theoldchick" said, you don't *need* these things, vinegar or tonics. Many people never use such things and report having good and healthy chickens. I do it because, based upon my experience (as a layperson, but professionally in the health industry), I think it gives digestion and immunity a leg up. And it's cheap (especially if you make your own apple cider vinegar), so who couldn't use a leg up on digestion and immunity these days?
I like to take care of my health now that I'm relatively young, rather than having to rely (the horror!) on the American medical system when I get older and my body fails me because I never took care of it when I was younger.