Best food for healthy gut

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by annep, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. annep

    annep Songster

    Mar 4, 2011
    I know with cows, if you grain them too much, E.coli will grow in their gut. A healthy cow gut does not contain e.coli...With chickens, is the same true for salmonella? What food would promote a healthy gut? Thanks
  2. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    The pH the good bacteria in yogurt prefers and creates is not good for some of those disease producing bacteria. So, you could offer a little plain yogurt with an active culture sometimes, if you want to. You could also put a small amount of unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in their water. That type of ACV still has the active culture in it. I think people usually use 1 or 2 tablespoons in a gallon of water. Don't use a metal water font if you do this.

    I free range during the growing season and all the fresh foods they eat while foraging are really good for them. Just like fresh greens and vegetables are good for people. There are a lot of phytonutrients in plants that help us to be healthier and fight disease. I think their feathers look better and they're healthier. The exercise is good for them, too. All of that is good for their immune system in general. If free ranging all the time is a problem, you can often let them out for just a little while before they go to roost on some days or offer fresh foods in the run.
  3. Me & Jack

    Me & Jack Songster

    May 31, 2009
    Not sure it makes sense, but I've had great results by sprinkling brewer's yeast on my chickens feed.
  4. Erica

    Erica Songster

    Dec 5, 2010
    Hi annep, these are just my own personal views, but I hope they help.

    I really swear by kefir, which is full of probiotics. Yoghurt bacteria can help maintain digestive health but apparently they don't actually colonise the gut. Kefir seems to do everything: supplies B12 (which helps build the gut wall); adds probiotics that apparently can colonise the gut; and adds other vitamins and minerals too. I find it a very useful coccidiosis prevention (I no longer use medication). Yeast is great too (but doesn't necessarily contain B12 or selenium).

    Sprouted grains are terrific at supplying vitamins in highly digestible form and helping with digestive health (rich in enzymes). Soaking a quarter bucket of wheat with the bucket topped up with water for 24 hours, then hanging grains in a bag provides a great feed you can feed out as the sprouts start to grow. You can do the same thing with corn, but as with wheat, always rinse the sprouts once a day so they don't moulder. These aren't a complete feed of course, but they really do help keep a bird in good health if the diet is balanced overall.

    Black sunflowers seeds (shell on) are a great tonic and they provide lots of fibre, though should be fed in moderation (very oil).

    If you add a lot of grains (whether sprouted or not) then you need to make sure there's still a balance of protein. Mealworms, earthworms, meat, etc are all great to top up the diet.

    I would also say, despite much advice on this forum, try not to use commercial wormers unless you see a need. Symptoms of worms need to be treated; if the symptoms aren't there then chances are the birds are managing fine. Overusing wormers can harm soil organisms as well as increase the likelihood of worm resistance. I also (just quietly) wonder at the effect of commercial wormers on gut health. I have no evidence for this but it seems to me that a company making a worming medication would be quite happy if its product causes gut erosion that then makes future infestations more likely. You can probably sense that I don't often worm my birds (nor do I often need to). I do however clean out pens twice yearly to help reduce potential for infestation. [​IMG]

    Lastly on digestive health, highly milled meal-type feeds (such as are packed into pellets) can occasionally lead to gizzard erosion, partly due to toxic amines (byproducts of heat treatment). Runting-stunting syndrome is the industry term for it. Feeding fresh greens (not shop greens but backyard ones like spinach, grass, dandelion) and sprouted grains, as well as fresh high protein scraps from the dinner table (toxic foods like avocado aside) can really provide digestive support when pellets are the main diet.

    I've made plenty of mistakes in my feeding regimen and don't stand up as any sort of expert, but those are my little 'findings'.

    best regards

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