Some notes on apple cider vinegar (and when to use baking soda instead)...

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by GruveyChickens, Jul 2, 2016.

  1. GruveyChickens

    GruveyChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm new to chickens and have been reading like mad learning everything I can about these wondrous little critters. Lately I've been reading about apple cider vinegar and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and how they benefit our backyard chickens. Here's some information I've learned that I thought I would share for those looking for the same info.

    I'm sure many of you know all of this already, but for those just starting out, perhaps it will be useful. [​IMG] (And please feel free to add corrections and additional information as I'm always open to learning in order to create a happy, healthy life for my chickens. [​IMG])

    Apple Cider Vinegar

    HOW MUCH TO USE:

    Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is suggested for use at the rate of 1 Tbs. per gallon of water (double the amount of ACV if you have hard water). Ultimately, you want the pH of drinking water to be around 4 after adding ACV. Adding too much ACV can cause chickens to stop drinking, so be sure to keep your ratios in check.

    KINDS OF ACV:

    ACV can be purchased raw or pasteurized. Raw ACV contains a live culture known as a mother of vinegar, which consists primarily of acetic acid-producing bacteria, or acetobacter. Acetobacter requires oxygen to survive. Pasteurized ACG has been heated in an effort to remove potentially harmful bacteria, a process by which the acetic acid-producing bacteria of the mother are also destroyed. The kind of ACV (raw or pasteurized) one chooses to use is inconsequential as a chicken's crop contains lactic acid-producing bacteria which require an oxygen-free (anaerobic) environment to thrive. If one chooses to use raw ACV, the live acetobacter won't survive long in the anaerobic conditions of the crop. Additionally, the other beneficial amounts of nutrients that may be contained within the mother are in such small amounts that they become insignificant in affecting a chicken's overall health. So, the type of ACV used (raw or pasteurized) is really immaterial.

    BENEFITS OF ACV:

    Beneficial intestinal bacterial prefer a pH range of 5.5-7 (slightly acidic). Disease-causing bacteria prefer a pH of 7.5-9 (slightly basic or akaline). The pH of a healthy chicken crop is between 5 and 6. Vinegar is a natural antimicrobial with a pH of around 2-3. Used full strength, it makes an excellent sanitizer for cleaning feeders and drinkers. Used at a ratio of 1 Tbsp. per gallon of drinking water, it helps to maintain an acidic environment within a chicken's crop, helping to prevent the proliferation of harmful pathogens particularly during times of stress and illness (which is where its benefits lie - overall, ACV will not effect pH within the GI tract past the crop).

    A chicken under stress will drink less, which can cause pH imbalance within the crop, increasing the chances of pathogens making their way into the body. Adding a bit of ACV to drinking water encourages a chicken to drink more during times of stress and helps to maintain an acidic environment within the crop. Stress or illness can also cause a chicken to lose its appetite which results in an increased pH in the stomach (an empty stomach will not produce acid). Increased stomach pH discourages the growth of beneficial bacterial and encourages the growth of pathogenic bacteria. A sign of high stomach pH is loose droppings. ACV added to drinking water will encourage chickens to drink more, which encourages them to eat more, which will balance out GI tract pH.

    Additionally, ACV can be used to help relieve respiratory distress caused by excess mucous in the mouth and throat as a result of illness/disease. Apple peal can also be used with the same effect as the tannin in the peal will help to dry out the mouth.

    WHEN NOT TO USE ACV (Use baking soda instead!):

    Do NOT use ACV if a hen is experiencing heat stress during hot/humid weather (range: 80° F/100% humidity - 95° F/5% humidity and above). To cool down, a hen will pant excessively. Rapid breathing will result in an increased loss of carbon dioxide from her body. Carbon dioxide is derived from bicarbonate, which is used as a buffer in the blood to regulate pH and extracted from the blood by the lungs as carbon dioxide. An increased loss of carbon dioxide, therefore, results in an increased loss of bicarbonate, which results in increased blood pH. This condition is called respiratory alkalosis.

    Adding ACV to drinking water reduces the availability of dietary calcium. A lack of calcium due to respiratory alkalosis and decreased dietary calcium can result in fewer laid eggs, thin egg shells and interrupted nerve impulses causing weak muscles and trouble laying eggs.

    One would think that if the blood is alkaline, adding ACV will help to reduce the pH of the blood, but this isn't the case—ACV (acetic acid) has no effect on blood pH, it can only effect the pH of the crop. So what does one do to help reduce the loss of calcium during heat stress? Add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to drinking water at the rate of 1/4 c. per gallon of drinking water. When the kidney's detect that the blood is alkaline, the kidneys attempt to decrease blood pH by filtering out bicarbonate and excreting it. Adding sodium bicarbonate helps to keep bicarbonate levels up, thusly, helping to maintain the pH of the blood during hot weather.

    NOTE ON ACV:

    ACV can erode metal waters and valves, so only use in plastic waterers.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  2. lcertuche

    lcertuche Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  3. GruveyChickens

    GruveyChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 24, 2016
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    You're very welcome! [​IMG]
     
  4. nharbison0722

    nharbison0722 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 26, 2016
    Wow! Thanks for sharing that valuable information! I greatly appreciate it!
     
  5. chickluvinfreak

    chickluvinfreak Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for this. I posted a forum a while ago wanting to know people's thoughts on baking soda in the heat. I was worried my hens shells were getting thin. But no one knew anything about using it. Do you know if you can use electrolytes and the baking soda solution together?
     
  6. nharbison0722

    nharbison0722 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 26, 2016

    You know, I'm definitely not an expert, but I wouldn't think that it would hurt. They are completely different substances, and not like you would get a reaction like you would with ACV and baking soda. You could always do two different feeders- one with baking soda the other with the electrolytes. I have heard that you shouldn't use electrolytes for longer than a week at a time due to the high sodium. Let me do some research and I'll get back to you. My direct email is [email protected]

    Let me see what I can come up with!
    Thanks!
     
  7. twinsmom6

    twinsmom6 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 10, 2016
    Southern Arizona
    baking soda is a base and acetic acid-- by defninition.. if you combine them you can get some reaction.. I would say before you go mixing components other than some pedialyte (which you can get at the dollar store) I would not add a lot of -components- to the chickens water... when you get into combinations of products and addition of other vitamins and supplements to the water you are inviting some complications to the water including acid loving bacteria and some molds can grow in there.. pseudomonas loves a little sugar water and acetic acid... so I know I am a bit old school but I would say.. keep the fresh water a coming.. that is really what they need. If you treat your chickens with (if this one needs it they all can benefit from it) kind of plan you may run into trouble... fresh clean H2O is the way to go... (that is my two cents- new chicken owner - but very old clinician :)
     
  8. nharbison0722

    nharbison0722 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 26, 2016

    Thanks for the advice!
     
  9. nharbison0722

    nharbison0722 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 26, 2016
    The only thing I'm currently mixing is electrolytes and probiotic powder into my chicks water.
    My baby chicks in the brooder get electrolytes for one week along with ACV while in the brooder.
     
  10. chickluvinfreak

    chickluvinfreak Chillin' With My Peeps


    Thanks. I think I'd rather be safe than sorry. They need the electrolytes when it's 110-120 degrees on a daily basis. I have never heard that they can only be on it for a week. I give them a pretty low dose formulated for chickens with probiotics and vitamins added. I give it to them for 6 hours a day and plain water the rest of the day. So I think that their fine. Their egg shells are looking better so I don't think I'll do the baking soda. But it's good to know for the future.
     

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