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

Home DIY antibacterial, anti-pick Blu-Kote knockoff spray is easy to make at home - and safe to use on your 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. Because chickens are attracted to the color red, the blue coloring helps to prevent pecking at the wound by other flock members.

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

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

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, I really started to wonder if it was safe to use on chickens to be used for meat or eggs.

Is Blu-Kote Safe to Use on Backyard Chickens?

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.

What's in Blu-Kote?

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 definitively 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.

However, the fact that gentian violet can cause cancer in rats, along with the labeling on Blu-Kote that it is not to be used on horses used for food.... I think I'll pass.

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.

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

So .... as you know if you follow Fresh Eggs Daily, I 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 a natural  antiseptic as well as an anti-peck spray in your first aid kit is important.

Why I Used the Ingredients I Did 

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.

What you Need |

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

What you Do |

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. sure is blue and it does stain your skin! I didn't want to turn one of our girls blue unnecessarily just to test it, but I'm pretty 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.

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