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The Holistic Trinity - Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic and DE

I firmly believe in an ounce of prevention.  In fact, wasn't it Benjamin Franklin who said 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' ?  He was a smart man - and I bet he wasn't even talking about chickens when he said that!

But he was right, it's far easier (and cheaper) to keep your chickens' immune systems strong and healthy and give them the best chance at fighting off illness and infections themselves than to try and treat something after they have contracted it.  Being the ultimate prey animal and being part of a pecking order that preys on the weaker members of the flock, chickens work very hard to hide signs of any illness or injury, so often by the time you see any symptoms, it is too late to treat whatever is wrong.

Because of this, in addition to the layer feed mix  I give to our chickens, I also supplement their diet with what I call the 'Holistic Trinity' of healthy chickens: Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic and Diatomaceous Earth. 

The Holistic Trinity  

First in the Trinity is APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. 

It's great for their immune systems, guards against bad bacteria and maintains digestive health in the intestines by lowering the pH levels and is an overal health booster.  It increases calcium absorption so your chickens will get more 'bang for the buck' from the eggshells or oyster shell you provide them.  ACV aso acts as an antiseptic by killing the germs that cause respiratory problems - which chickens are extremely susceptible to - in the throat.

 Apple Cider Vinegar 

Add apple cider vinegar (raw,organic ACV with the 'mother' is best, Bragg's brand for example) to your waterer a few times a week, or alternatively one straight week every month. The ratio is 1 Tablespoon per gallon of water.  The ACV will also help keep your chickens' water free of harmful bacteria and algae.  Be sure and use a plastic or stoneware waterer tho. The ACV will rust the metal and galvanized waterers.

I have also started using the generic store brand ACV to rinse and clean the waterers instead of bleach or another commercial cleaner.  I just mix it with water in a spray bottle or pour some into a pail of water.

Second in the Trinity is GARLIC.   Garlic boosts immune systems and it is also thought that mites, lice, ticks and other parasites are not as attracted to the blood of animals who eat alot of garlic. Garlic is also a natural wormer.


Garlic can be added to your chickens' diet in a couple of different ways.  You can float whole cloves in your waterer (mashed up a bit), replacing them every few days.  You can offer crushed fresh cloves in a small dish free-choice. Or you can add garlic powder to their feed.  I have tried all three and find it easiest to just add the powder to their feed (2% ratio), but every once in awhile I also give them a bowl of the fresh garlic.

Small chicks should also be offered crushed fresh garlic, free-choice, early on so they develop a taste for it.   A splash of apple cider vinegar in their water is also a great health booster for chicks. 

Boost your Chicks Diet too 

The third in the Trinity is DIATOMACEOUS EARTH (DE).  DE is an all natural silica-based crushed fossil that kills hard-shelled insects.  It kills fleas, ticks, flies, aphids and digestive worms while being completely safe for chickens.   Only food-grade DE should be used around the chickens, because they will inevitably end up eating some.  I  add DE to their feed in a 2% radio.

DE does also kill good bugs and can cause lung aggravation if the dust is inhaled, so take care where and how you sprinkle it.   You can wear a dust mask while sprinkling your coop floor, nesting boxes, around the feeders, in the dust bath area, etc.  

 DE shaker 

I find that one good way to disperse the DE is from a plastic shaker bottle, like the kind Parmesan cheese comes in.  I keep a full bottle in the run and sprinkle it liberally, especially in the summer when the flies get bad.

Bonus health tips !  Plain yogurt with live cultures and black strap molasses are also good to give your chickens on occasion as both have health benefits for your flock.  A weekly serving of yogurt will help keep the good bacteria levels high in your chickens' digestive systems and molasses contains lots of minerals including iron and copper, manganese and potassium, as well as calcium.  Molasses helps flush toxins out of the chickens' systems. 

Yogurt can cause diarrhea so it should only be given in small amounts and conversely, probiotic powder can be added to their feed in place of the yogurt to help boost the good bacteria in their intestines.

And there you have your Holistic Trinity plus something for intestinal health.  The holistic secrets to raising healthy chickens.

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mary delong
12/31/2012 10:08:22 AM

Love my chickens and they will soon be getting all of the above

dixi blackford
8/13/2012 6:49:10 PM

I use the same combo on my dogs, pig and rabbits....except I don't use as much garlic on the dogs. I also use the Trinity myself....every day :)

gracie dober
6/27/2012 7:23:37 PM

Love your blog. Something new and interesting every day. Sign me up!

denise cluff
6/27/2012 1:07:08 PM

PLease enter me in the conest....I am not sure where to sign up. I am a Fresh Egg Daily Blogger :)

laurie harris
6/27/2012 3:44:59 AM

Thank you for the informative article. I would love to enter the contest!

peggy eiland
6/27/2012 3:40:24 AM

I already have a cat just like that but I'd love the Grit Magazine etc. Great article too. Very informative. Thanks

esther widgren
6/27/2012 3:29:58 AM

I routinely use ACV in their water and have used the DE in their coop but they really didn't seem to care for yogurt or fresh garlic. Guess I could try adding some granulated garlic to their feed...And I also want to try some of the probiotic powder too!

martha waugh
6/27/2012 3:23:36 AM

Very informative article. I'm going to have to try the garlic and DE.

makenna vanegas
6/27/2012 2:40:41 AM

Love the article! Very informative as always!

lori dunford
6/27/2012 1:55:27 AM

awesome info. i will def. do this. I would also like to enter the contest

dianna ellis
6/27/2012 1:41:43 AM

Great article.Such vital information. Thank you so much. What an honor for you to be a contributor for Grit. Love that magazine!!!

angie lavezzo
6/27/2012 1:41:13 AM

I love Fresh Eggs Daily, and I love Grit!

traci kennebeck
6/27/2012 1:26:04 AM

I will tell you, I am of Italian descent and eat garlic all. the. time. And mosquitoes still love me! :)

mary riffe
6/27/2012 12:52:43 AM

I want to enter your contest. Just found out about Grit. Love it.

deborah benoit
6/27/2012 12:37:06 AM

Thanks for the info - especially about not using ACV with metal watering container. Just bought one and will need to thing about a plastic one to switch out.

tina lancaster
6/27/2012 12:26:47 AM

Love these ideas and put them into place immediately! My girls get raw garlic, applesauce, olive oil, and feed weekly; sprinkles of DE all around...and ACV in their water. An amazing difference!! Thank you!

kimberley carville
6/27/2012 12:23:54 AM

great info. I love using all three.

theresa cardillo
6/27/2012 12:21:21 AM

So much good information! You guys are great!

carrie duncan
6/27/2012 12:15:44 AM

this is so interesting, thank you for all the info.

kathy kass
6/27/2012 12:14:08 AM

Great Article!

rebecca garrett
6/27/2012 12:12:00 AM

Thank you for all the great info!!

chel bess
6/27/2012 12:06:37 AM

Interesting...good to know about the garlic!

kelli jankovich- mcdaniel
6/27/2012 12:03:44 AM

Great advice! Thank you.

jennifer mashiak
6/27/2012 12:03:00 AM

Wow! Being a new chicken mama I love find new things to make them happy ladies. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

barb simeon
6/27/2012 12:01:44 AM

Thanks for the great information!

amanda yelverton
6/26/2012 11:55:41 PM

I had no idea about the ACV or the garlic! I am going to start doing both! Thanks so much for all the good tips!

regena garrett
6/26/2012 11:54:57 PM

Thanks for the great advice!

jesse conner
6/26/2012 11:52:47 PM

Would love to win. Love grit and FED!

brenda davis
6/26/2012 11:49:24 PM

I learned a lot reading this. It was very interesting!

janet hillyer
6/26/2012 11:45:16 PM

I have always added a little ACV to my chicks water, helps keep the mold and sour taste down! I really need to remember to feed my chickens garlic, such a helpful article thanks!!!

betty wilds
6/26/2012 11:42:48 PM

would be great to win. used to sell Grit paper as a kid.

jen ann
6/26/2012 11:42:44 PM

thank you for the wonderful chicken education ... being a new chicken mom i'm eager to learn the very best for my darlin's!! would love to be entered in your contest!!! thank you!

pamela kirsch
6/26/2012 11:39:46 PM

Great article. Thanks!

ann hahn
6/26/2012 11:39:26 PM

Since the cat stays with you (I am allergic) Count me in!

thomas richard
6/26/2012 11:38:54 PM

pick me to win the GRIT SWAG

holly rosintoski
6/26/2012 11:38:46 PM

Love ACV, that stuff works for everything!

elaine dubose
6/26/2012 11:38:43 PM

I've been putting a little ACV in my chickens water for quite some time now. Haven't tried the garlic yet.

stephenie ward
6/14/2012 9:42:43 PM

This is probably a stupid question, but, the eggs won't taste garlicky at all when you do this? Thanks.

mary coffey
6/6/2012 4:48:27 AM

Great writing and very informative!

gillian wass
6/6/2012 1:17:51 AM

I have used these three ever since I first "heard" you talk about this. My chickens look fabulous, they feather are glossy, their combs and wattles are lovely and red. This might not sound like much to most of you but I have rescued chickens and they came to us in a pathetic state. Thank you for all your hints

kim harden
5/30/2012 1:47:54 PM

Does the ACV have to be the organic with mother?

nebraska dave
5/13/2012 2:37:00 PM

Lisa, the proactive plan is definitely the right direction for chicken health. Most of what you are doing for your chickens is also healthy for humans. Although I don't think the Diatomaceous Earth something I would recommend sprinkling around the house. :0) Books have been written about all the great and wonderful benefits of ACV. I have read some and it does seem to be of great benefit for both animals and humans. My grandson gets his daily dose of vinegar in the form of dill pickles. One huge pickle a day along with a popcorn snack is the routine after school. I suspect I should really add it to my diet as well. Keep up the great blog posts about your homesteading experiences. Have a great day on the homestead.