The best probiotics for chickens and how and when to use it
Updated: 22 January 2022
Are you in and out of the vet and can’t work out why your flock’s health isn’t 100%?
Just like us humans, our feathered friends need to maintain healthy gut bacteria for optimum health.
That’s where probiotics can help.
There are a large number of probiotic products for poultry, all with varying quality and quantities of gut-friendly bacteria.
But, wait, are all probiotics good for chickens?
Here is the only guide you’ll ever need to learn how to keep backyard chickens healthy with probiotics.
Probiotic vs prebiotic - What’s the difference?
There are two terms you need to be familiar with: probiotics and prebiotics for backyard chickens. They sound similar but are quite different.
Prebiotics for poultry
What is a prebiotic?
Dr Grant Richards BVSc defines it well, "Very simply put, a prebiotic is a matrix that enables a probiotic to grow, usually concentrating on the lower end of the intestine. So, a prebiotic is something that probiotic friendly bacteria usually like to grow on".
Probiotics for poultry
Probiotic bacteria enhance the ability of the gut to break down carbohydrates and release energy into the chicken. There are stacks of "good bacteria" that can create a "good" probiotic culture in a chicken's gut, and one of the common ones is lactobacillus.
Why are probiotics important to chicken health?
Crowding out the nasty bacteria
Shifting the gut pH to make the right environment for good bacteria to grow can totally suppress the growth of other nastier bacteria, such as E. coil and salmonella. These nasty bacteria attach to the gut wall and cause serious issues.
Crowd that space in the gut with zillions of other friendly bacteria, and you’ll discourage the attachment of these nasty pathogens.
They’ll still be there, but the environment is so pro probiotic that it stops the organisms from being able to take hold and exert their nasty effects. For example, toxin secretion that increase gut motility and lead to diarrhoea and other symptoms of a very upset gut in your chickens.
You'll also know that the gut population is way off-key and in need of help by a terrible change in the smell of your chook's poo.
If you’re concerned about a salmonella risk in your backyard chickens, read my guide on how to avoid an outbreak.
Dr Richards explains, "So you should actually work on the basis that the gut faeces should not smell. It should be well formed".
What about yoghurt?
Have you ever seen a chicken devour yoghurt?
Although chickens struggle to process lactose, it's hard to argue it's all bad!
While there's something special about yoghurt, it doesn't compare to plant-based, poultry specific probiotic formulas like Resistance Assistance Poultry Probiotic.
The best chicken probiotics in Australia
Liquid probiotics have more added benefits over powders, which is why I would choose a liquid every time.
I only sell products that I use myself, and Resistance Assistance Poultry Probiotic has to be my favourite. Not only does it have superior quality strains and quantities of probiotics compared to other brands, it also has a range of fermented beneficial herbs, each with their own benefits.
It's also used and recommended by Australian Avian Veterinarians. It's 100% Australian, natural and safe for all ages of poultry.
Resistance Assistance Poultry Probiotic
Resistance Assistance Poultry Probiotic is the best chicken probiotic I've used or come across.
It's so much more than a standard probiotic, which are just bacteria growing on a basic substrate.
Other breeders and I have personally experienced incredible benefits:
Well-formed faeces with no nasty smells
"They eat like elephants" - one of my customers swears Resistance Assistance is the reason his chicks are bigger, stronger and healthier with fewer health issues. Some herbal ingredients act as an appetite stimulant - bonus!
It could be the probiotic or appetite-stimulating properties, but owners using Resistance Assistance Poultry Probiotic post-antibiotic use notice that chooks bounce back well post vet treatment.
I believe this benefit is because the bird’s guts can better digest food. They are getting more nutrients from their food and building more robust immunity.
So, it's like kombucha, but for chickens?
In many probiotic cultures, particularly the liquid ones, the mere fact that they are grown by fermentation means that there's a whole range of other beneficial organic acids in there.
This is like getting something for nothing. These acids maintain the environment in favour of probiotic cultures. In addition, they tend to physically inhibit those other pathogens associated with disease. Talk about a win-win!
Probiotics are preventative and can give your chickens long term stability in the gut. The high-quality probiotic formulas like Resistance Assistance Poultry Probiotic can have huge benefits for your poultry, but they will never 100% eliminate disease.
When to use probiotics for poultry
Probiotics can help with the following poultry conditions:
- Respiratory symptoms
- Coccidiosis recovery
- Antibiotic treatment recovery
- Loss of appetite
- Start using as a preventative probiotic tonic, or when birds first display signs of respiratory symptoms.
- Moulting - it's also rich in amino acids
- To increase the appetite and growth of chicks
How to give chickens probiotics for optimal preventative health
Small amounts given daily will have greater benefits than large doses when you see symptoms.
The important thing about using probiotics as a preventative with chickens is that they are given every day.
So work out a system to give your chickens the same daily dose, and monitor their faeces. If their poo looks good and regular, then you’ve got a happier chook on your hands.
But know that more probiotic is not necessarily better. So stick to the recommended dosage.
How to use Resistance Assistance Poultry Probiotic
Mix Resistance Assistance Poultry Probiotic evenly into their feed (1ml per 100g of feed or about 1% of their daily feed weight). You want the grain or pellets to be just damp. An easy way to do this is to mix the feed and the probiotics together in a large bucket, lightly coating the feed with the liquid.
If you’re not sure ‘what do backyard chickens eat for optimum health?’, see my blog here.
With no withholding period, why not give them a go?
Precautions when using probiotics for chickens
Probiotics are not an alternative treatment in acute respiratory symptoms and should not be used in place of veterinary care.
If your bird is on antibiotics, it's recommended you wait until 12 hours after the last treatment before commencing Resistance Assistance Poultry Probiotic.
If your chickens still aren’t up to scratch, read my guide on common chicken illnesses.
You can buy Resistance Assistance Poultry Probiotic and other natural chicken health products here.
Take advantage of our Health Bundle of Resistance Assistance and Solaminovit. Solaminovit Liquid is a vitamin and amino acid supplement for healthy, strong chicks and pullets.
Want your chickens to be the healthiest and happiest they can be? I offer backyard chicken workshops, online programs, phone coaching, and in-person support to families, schools, and free-range egg farmers. Visit my online shop for natural, tried-and-tested poultry supplies in Australia.
Grab my free guide, The First 8 Steps To Naturally Healthy & Happy Backyard Chickens now!
Elise McNamara, Chicken Consultant & Educator.