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Probiotics and Prebiotics in a Chicken Diet

Do you know the difference between probiotics and prebiotics? Learn how each can help your chickens lead healthier lives.

Most of you are likely familiar with probiotics, but you may not be as familiar with prebiotics.


Probiotics and Prebiotics in a Chicken Diet

I'm guessing you know what probiotics are - I mean who hasn't seen the Jamie Lee Curtis yogurt ads on TV - but you may be surprised to learn that probiotics work basically the same way for chickens as they do for humans.

Poultry Probiotics are specially formulated for backyard chickens and ducks.

Probiotics

Probiotics aid in digestive health and maintain a healthy bacterial balance in the intestines by boosting the 'good' bacteria. They are created by the act of fermentation and include foods like yogurt, apple cider vinegar and sauerkraut. Fermenting your chicken feed (find out how I do it here) will add beneficial probiotics to your chickens' diet.

While probiotics are helpful in preventing or curing diarrhea in chickens, an excess of yogurt (or any dairy product) can actually cause diarrhea because they can't digest the milk sugar enzymes, so adding some probiotic powder  (in a 2% ratio to the feed) is a far better way to increase the probiotic levels for poultry. Although feeding a bit of plain, unflavored yogurt on occasion won't hurt any and your chickens will love it.

I add probiotic powder to my chickens' daily feed as a health supplement, but even if you choose not to make it a regular part of their diet, probiotics should always be given any time antibiotics are being administered, to help rebuild the good bacteria levels that the antibiotics destroy.


Here's more on the benefits of probiotics...

What you might not realize is, that in order to work correctly, probiotics need prebiotics.

OrganicCoop Kelp  is a great source of prebiotics.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics basically set the stage for probiotics to work. They go hand in hand with probiotics by nourishing the probiotics and providing 'food' for them. Prebiotics trigger the growth of healthy bacteria and increase a body's resistance to pathogens.

Some common sources of prebiotics that chickens love to eat include:

Barley
Berries
Dandelion greens
Garlic
Honey
Lentils
Sea kelp
Wheat bran
Yams

A lack of probiotics can lead to runny poop, dirty vents and matted feathers, as well as other intestinal issues.

So for better chicken health, consider adding both probiotics and prebiotics to your chickens' diet. After all, a clean, fluffy butt is the sign of a happy, healthy chicken!



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