Garlic-Infused Apple Cider Vinegar for Better Chicken Health


I've written a lot over the years about the benefits to chickens of adding apple cider vinegar and garlic to their water on a regular basis. From better respiratory, immune system and digestive health to increased calcium absorption, natural antibiotic properties and protection from parasites, both ACV and garlic are considered cornerstones of natural chicken keeping.

I personally add a Tablespoon or so of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar (yes, you want the "good" stuff with the mother in it for the best results) to my girls' water at least once a week, and I actually grow my own garlic because I use so much of it in my own cooking and for our chickens. I like to toss a smushed fresh garlic clove into their water pretty frequently (in addition to the garlic powder I add to their daily feed). 
And yes, "smushed" is key. Did you know that research has shown that crushing, slicing or mincing garlic and exposing the cells to oxygen for a few minutes releases the enzyme "allicin" that creates the chemical reaction necessary to turn that garlic into an antiviral, anti-fungal and natural antibiotic powerhouse - which will then help combat a wide range of pathogens including staph infections (important as related to bumblefoot, as you may know). 


I incorporate lots of fresh and dried herbs into my chickens' diet as well. Oregano, thyme and other culinary herbs have antibiotic and other beneficial properties. Adding fresh or dried herbs to your chickens' diet is beneficial, but a sick chicken will often stop eating, while still drinking a bit, so incorporating some herbal benefits into the water is especially helpful whenever you're treating an illness, but also great as a natural immune system boost or health elixir!
So taking inspiration from Michelle over on Facebook at A Coven of Cackling Hens, I'm going to show you how bump your chickens' water up a notch by infusing some garlic in a jar of vinegar - and also save yourself time in your chicken chores by combining these nutritious water supplements into one easy step
Michelle, a self-professed curator of potions and spells brewed from ingredients from her little shelf of "oddities", has been infusing apple cider vinegar with garlic for years now and says she credits her flock's health to that practice, among other herbal creations she feeds them. This recipe is adapted from Michelle's original recipe found HERE.

Garlic-Infused Apple Cider Vinegar

Pint mason jar with ring lid
Apple cider vinegar with the "mother" (you can even make your own!)
3 cloves fresh garlic - chopped, smushed, crushed or thickly sliced and set aside for at least 10 minutes*
Fresh oregano and/or thyme, leaves slightly bruised (optional)

Place the garlic cloves and optional herbs into the mason jar. Fill the mason jar with the apple cider vinegar, leaving 1/2" headroom at the top. Set aside to age, shaking the contents every once in awhile, for a week or so. Now you've got a simple one-step water supplement for better chicken health....naturally! Tuck the jar onto a shelf in your coop storage area or somewhere else that's convenient when you do your chicken chores.

To use as an overall health tonic, measure out a Tablespoon of the infused vinegar and add to your chickens' water twice a week. Be sure to use a plastic or stoneware waterer because the vinegar will eventually rust even a galvanized water container. For an ailing hen, you can increase the dosage to 4 Tablespoons per gallon of water if need be.
And you know what? If you feel a cold coming on, swigging a spoonful wouldn't do you any harm - and very well might ward off whatever bug you happened to catch. Just be aware, this stuff has a real kick to it!

Note: The acidity in the vinegar ensures that no botulism toxins can grow (as they might in an infused oil concoction), so there's no need to heat or otherwise sterilize or process this infusion and it will last almost indefinitely.




Further reading:
http://www.fivegreenacres.com/wp/2011/06/06/got-chickens-get-garlic/
https://bobvivant.com/2010/05/07/apple-cider-vinegar-with-fresh-garlic/
https://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/make-garlic-infused-olive-oil-vinegar-home-0153966/
http://fresheggsdaily.com/2012/01/holistic-trinity-acv-garlic-and-de.html
https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-garlic/
https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/getting-enough-garlic/

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