DIY Anti-Pick Antibacterial Blu-Kote Knockoff Spray For Backyard Chickens

I would venture a guess that most backyard chicken keepers have heard of Blu-Kote. If you have not actually used it, you probably at least have some in your chicken first aid kit.

It's widely recommended as an anti-pick spray with antiseptic and anti-fungal properties for use on wounds and raw skin due to pecking. In fact, we have long recommended it based on its widespread use among the backyard chicken community.

We just assumed it was safe to use on poultry. But is it?

After fielding a question from a fan recently which prompted a bit of research, we're starting to wonder...

After taking a closer look at the ingredients in Blu-Kote and the can labeling, and noticing that it is not approved for use on horses to be used for food, we started to wonder if it's safe to use on chickens to be used for meat or eggs.

To get the facts, I went right to the source and called Dr. Naylor, the company that makes and sells Blu-Kote.

I spoke with a very nice company representative who told me that no, Blu-Kote is not specifically approved by the FDA for use in poultry. (What? Yet it's probably the #1 recommended product on all the forums and websites...hmmm)

But wait, it's not prohibited or banned either. It hasn't been proven harmful, it merely hasn't been studied or tested on chickens, mainly due to the financial cost related to conducting testing and doing studies.

Blu-Kote has been tested in the US for its use on horses and is not approved for use on horses that will be eaten (good thing we don't eat our horses!), and also has been tested on cows in Canada where it has been approved for use in milk cows.

According to the company, the product has been grandfathered, so it can be sold without actually being tested or its effects studied on chickens.

Active Ingredients: Sodium Propionate, Gentian Violet, Acriflavine.
Inactive Ingredients: Water, Isopropyl alcohol, Urea, Glycerine, Sodium hydroxide.

After a bit of reading, it seems that the questionable ingredient in Blu-Kote is the Gentian Violet that gives the spray its blue color and helps deter pecking.

It has been linked to cancer in lab rats, but hasn't been studied at all as far as poultry or the eggs those chickens lay. For all we know, Blu-Kote is perfectly safe to use on chickens. There just isn't enough research to prove or disprove any risks.

And as the Dr. Naylor rep pointed out, in several decades, there has not been a single problem linked back to the use of Blu-Kote in poultry.  So the jury is out on it, as it is with many products that are routinely used with backyard flocks.

Gentian Violet can also cause skin irritation, which seems counter productive when you're applying it to heal and help with a wound or raw skin.

So .... as you know if you follow Fresh Eggs Daily, we like to err on the side of caution and not take chances with our flock, so it shouldn't surprise you that I started playing around with some concoctions to make my own DIY Anti-Pick Antibacterial Spray.

Since pecking can be a common problem in backyard flocks, and chickens are attracted to the color red, wounds really do benefit from being camouflaged, and having an antiseptic as well as an anti-peck spray in your first aid kit is important.

Here's our version:

Blu-Kote Knockoff


Blue food coloring (use natural vegetable-based dye, if you're concerned conventional dye)
Lemon essential oil

How To

Whisk several drops of blue coloring and and several drops of lemon essential oil into a bowl of honey.

Store the solution in a glass mason jar, squirt bottle or dispenser.

You can dab the solution onto wounds or areas missing feathers with a cotton ball or squirt the solution over a larger area. 

The honey has natural antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties.

The lemon essential oil is a natural antiseptic.

And of course the blue food coloring masks the redness of an open wound or raw skin to prevent the other hens from pecking the wound. sure is blue and it does stain your skin!

I didn't want to turn one of our girls blue unnecessarily, but I'm confident that since it stained my fingers, it will also stain your chickens skin.

It will probably have to be reapplied more often than Blu-Kote would, but I'm okay with that.

I have tossed out our Blu-Kote and will instead keep this DIY Anti-Pick Antibacterial Spray in our chicken first aid kit .... just in case.

As a final note: either Blu-Kote or my knockoff are only to be used sporadically to treat a wound or pecking issue, certainly not on a regular basis, so you need to weigh the pros and cons if each and decide what will work for you.


©2013 by Fresh Eggs Daily, Inc. All rights reserved.


  1. Thank you so much, Lisa, for the research you did on this. I'm passing this on to my son, who is having a big problem with feather loss in his flock, but I'll also make some of your homemade solution in case I need it for my own girls. You're my "go to source" for all things chickens and I can't wait to get your book. Thank you again!

  2. Thanks for the great information. I will not waste money when I put together my first aide kit for my flock!!

  3. We bought something similar recommended by our feedstore called rooster booster. It didnt help. One of our chickens still pecked. Fortunately this pecked chicken moved away when we enlarged our coop and her feathers are coming back. Thank you for this and all your great information. I give my chickens the breakfast of champions because of you. They love oatmeal. Wish I could get them on a crumble from a mash but they are all so set in their eating ways!

  4. Why even add the food coloring?
    Is it so you know that the particular chicken needs to be reapplied and it is easier to spot?

    1. Chickens are attracted to the color red so they will peck at injuries and raw spots. The blue prevents that.

  5. I have not been too happy with the effects of BluKote the couple of times I have tried it. It seemed to burn my chickens. They also seemed to sit there and pull out all the blue feathers and try to get it off their skin! They certainly weren't liking it!

  6. Let me know if you try this and how it works...

  7. Won't they want to peck at the honey? I would think that would be tasty to them.

    1. It would I suppose, but they won't have any reason to peck at it since they aren't attracted to the color blue.

  8. Would another color work as well as blue, as in purple? I can get purple by simmering red cabbage. Blue can be achieved by adding baking soda too but I didn't know how that would affect the ointment.

  9. Peyton purple would work just fine. Anything to cover up the red raw skin.

    1. Thank you for your quick response, Lisa. I feel like I am constantly bombarding you with questions (here and facebook!) and you are always so kind to stop and offer up advice and opinion. :)

  10. I couldn't find where to find Blu-Kote... My son in an athlete and injuries have becomes an permanent part of our life.. I make sure he take a bath regularly with best anti fungal bath soap, the essential oils works like first aid for his skin ailments.


  11. Blu-Kote ingredients
    Active Ingredients: Sodium Propionate, Gentian Violet, Acriflavine.
    Inactive Ingredients: Water, Isopropyl alcohol, Urea, Glycerine, Sodium hydroxide.

    Sodium Propionate- salt form of Propionate acid which is an anti-fungal preservative that is metabolized by a series of enzymatic reactions that are dependent on the presence of vitamin b-12. Therefore we need this to prevent fungus in the product by another means.
    Gentian Violet-powerful antifungal and has some antibacterial, antibiotic, and antiseptic properties to prevent/fight infection
    Acriflavine-Antifungal used to treat aquarium fish primarily

    water-dilute water-soluble active ingredients for topical application
    Isopropyl alcohol-dilute oil-soluble active ingredients for topical application
    Urea-main component of urine, another antifungal agent in itself, as well as improves penetration of antifungal drugs
    Glycerin-humectant to keep mixture from drying back into salts
    Sodium hydroxide-smallest amount, to return PH to neutral so you don't burn chicken, as lemon essential oils will do (try a drop on your lip and you'll understand)

    So apparently the big concern with pecking is fungus. We need to use a diy anti-fungal with antiseptic, antibiotic and antibacterial properties. also we need to dilute, contain enzymes for penetration, add a humectant to keep application moist, and it all has to end with a neutral PH.

    This is what I'm going to try:
    1 tsp Washing Soda=powerful antifungal
    1 c Urine=Urea + dilution liquid
    5 drops Glycerin
    10 drops Genitan Violet
    1 tsp Isopropyl Alcohol ( for oils in urine and glycerin)
    burnt ashes until PH neutral
    (you can make PH paper by pouring boiling water over macerated red cabbage leaves and soaking overnight. Dip paper and dry. dip into solution. Pink color indicates acidic side of scale and green result signifies alkaline. add baking or washing soda for alkaline and lemon juice or vinegar for acid to find neutral)

  12. Angela Nelson-PattersonApril 10, 2015 at 8:39 PM

    Can you substitute the lemon oil? I dont have any!

  13. As a follow up to this post. Did you get a chance to use this mixture? How did it work?

  14. I have a question maybe |out can help. I have 5 hens and one hen likes to pull the smaller feathers out of the other hens. My question is why is she eating them? I got advice to separate her from the rest, we tried it for a week and her pecking the others didn't stop.
    Thank you for any help, Dolly

  15. I had the same problem with one of my hens plucking and eating feathers of two of my other girls. I added more protein to their diet in the form of dried meal worms and hard boiled eggs and the feather picking has pretty much stopped. The damage however is taking a while to recover from. My one hen was red and raw and now she is picking at her own wounds. The blu cote alo g with putting a hen saddle on her is helping her heal. It can't hurt to try adding some extra protein to see if it improves your situation. Good luck

  16. The honey lemon essential oil and blue dye does not work. It bothers the hens so much they just pick it off. Also because of the natural oil on their skin and probably the lemon oil it does not soak in the blue dye very well.