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Chook Health
Helpful Herbs
Helpful herbs can be added to the daily greens, used in the nest boxes or grown alongside the fence:
Catnip - insect repellent, use in nest boxes
Thyme Coriander - nutritious daily green with antioxidant properties, high in Vitamin A and K
Dandelion - acts as a tonic
Dill - antioxidant, relaxant, respiratory health
Fennel - believed to stimulate laying
Garlic - believed to prevent worms
Lemon Balm - antiviral, antibacterial, rodent repellent
Marigold - believed to stimulate laying
Marjoram - believed to stimulate laying
Mint (all kinds) - insecticide and rodent repellent
Nasturtium - laying stimulant, antiseptic, antibiotic, insecticide, wormer
Oregano - combats infections
Parsley - high in vitamins, believed to stimulate laying
Sage - antioxidant, anti-parasitic, general health promoter
Thyme - antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-parasitic
Wormwood - growing as a hedge is believed to discourage ticks

Find more information on herbs here.

Natra-Kelp Liquid Seaweed For Animals Nutrient Supplements
Consider giving the chooks a nutrient supplement when weather or predators prevent free-ranging. It is also useful to give the chooks a bit of a boost once they start moulting. Natra-Kelp Liquid Seaweed For Animals provides a wide range of vitamins, minerals, trace elements and amino acids. Improvements in animal health can include increased resistance to internal parasites, improved condition of feathers, and higher quality of products such as milk, eggs or meat. Other choices can be sprouted grains, such as wheat, barley or oats.

A homemade tonic can be made using:
  • 3 cups of layer mash
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid seaweed
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic
Mix with hot water and allow to cool slightly. This quantity is sufficient for five birds.
Chooks also require an ample supply of shell grit for digestion and calcium. It is useful to dry and crush eggshells for them as an extra calcium supply.
Charcoal For Chickens
Charcoal can provide real health benefits for your chooks. The charcoal is able to absorb toxins from the food or water, improving hygiene and chook health. While it has no nutritional value itself, charcoal contributes to keeping an animal's digestive system healthy. Charcoal is a laxative and can help move the impurities it absorbs out of the body. If worms or worm eggs are present, it can to some degree help move them out of the body as well. Poultry feed containing 1-1.5% charcoal has resulted in increased laying rate, a longer laying period and increased egg weight. Charcoal in the diet will also reduce the odour of chook manure. Slow burning is essential to charcoal making; you can damp down a fire that is burning too quickly with some water. Once it's all cooled down, crush it up a bit and throw a handful in with the poultry feed or where the chickens will scratch.

Dust Baths
This is how hens keep themselves clean; the dust also helps to kill parasites. Try to provide an area for a dustbath that stays dry no matter how rainy the weather is. Adding diatomaceous earth, once known as sharp sand, or woodash to the dustbath will give extra protection against lice and mites. Wood ash has a very nice texture; the chooks may choose to eat it too.

Arrowroot Plant Hot Chooks or Cool Chicks
We have a responsibility to ensure the welfare of the animals we keep. Over the hot Australian summer make sure your flock doesn't get heat-stressed. Take a critical look at the chook house and make sure there is shade available in the hottest part of the day.
Learn to recognise the signs of heat stress in chickens: they will walk around with their beaks open (chickens don't have sweat glands, so regulate heat via their respiratory systems) and/or wings spread; appear slow and lethargic; they will definitely go off the lay. In extreme cases chooks can die from heat stress. One of the best things you can do is plant a good-sized patch of Queensland Arrowroot. Even on the hottest days the centre of the patch will feel 'air-conditioned'. Treating your birds to a cool shower with the hose can also help. If the flock is confined, ensure the pen's not overcrowded. Some people place bottles of frozen water in the water dispenser or just around the pen to keep the temperature down on hot days.

You can find books on poultry care here.

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