Keep Your Chickens Healthy with Hops

| 1/16/2009 9:43:00 AM

Tags: chickens, feed, hops, farms,

Hops flowers are full of good bitter stuff.Brewmasters have known about the preservative qualities of hops flowers for centuries and beer drinkers have learned to love the sometimes less than subtle bitter flavors. Now, scientists report that the antimicrobial bitter acids contained in hop flowers might prevent pathogenic bacteria from taking hold in your chickens’ stomachs.

According to a recent ARS report, adding the bitter acid lupulone to the chickens’ drinking water appears to be a viable alternative to lo-level antibiotic doping of their feed. In one study, lupulone therapy was specifically associated with controlling Clostridium populations in the chickens’ intestinal tracts.

Why is this important? It turns out that chicken guts is one of the primary sources for meat contamination by pathogenic organisms … especially when mechanized evisceration methods are employed. Even if you raise chickens for eggs, or carefully dress your own, I suspect that you can keep your flock a bit healthier by adding some fresh or dried hops to their diet. Why not plant a vine or two this year and give it a try?

Check out the USDA’s ARS website for more information on the antimicrobial characteristics of hops.

Photo courtesy ARS.

Janet Gardner
3/13/2013 9:15:03 PM

What about spent hops...those that have already been used for brewing? Are they of any use for feed?

grover duty_1
7/16/2009 9:54:20 PM

im looking forward to placeing my add.

Hank Will_2
1/16/2009 12:37:02 PM

Hey Becky -- I think you will be able to grow hops pretty easily. If I recall correctly, you need female plants to get the bitter-acid producing flowers. I suspect that a bit of hops in many animal feed rations could be useful. But I bet some flavor would pass to the milk in dairy animals. I brewed small batches ... 6 gallons at a time. I never malted my own barley, instead I used bagged malt and malt extract from the local home brew supply. Hank