The Best Probiotics for Chickens And How And When To Use It
There are a large number of probiotic products for poultry, and they vary a lot in quality and quantity of gut friendly bacteria.
When it comes to probiotics for chickens, there are two terms you need to be familiar with: prebiotic and probiotic. They sound similar, but are actually quite different.
What does PREBIOTIC mean?
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".
And why are PROBIOTICS important to chicken health?
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 lactobacillus.
Crowding out the nasty bacteria
Shifting the gut PH and making a good environment for good bacteria to grow can totally suppress the growth of other nastier bacteria, such as ecoli and salmonella. These bacteria like to attach to the gut wall and cause issues.
By crowding that space in the gut out with zillions of other bacteria, and it’s been well shown to 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 be able to exert their nasty effects; such as the secretion of toxins that increase gut motility and lead to diarrhoea and other symptoms of a very upset gut.
A terrible change in the smell of your chook's poo is the other way way you'll know that the gut population is way off key and in need of help.
Dr Richards explains, "So you should actually work on the basis that the gut faeces should not smell. It should be well formed".
So what about chickens and yoghurt?
Despite the fact that chickens struggle to process lactose, if you've seen a chicken devour yoghurt, it's had to argue it's all bad!
I believe there's something special about yoghurt, but when it comes to a probiotic, I've found something even better...
How best to use Probiotics for chickens
They’re not necessarily something that you want to go along and blitz when you think you’ve got the symptoms.
The important thing with using probiotics as a preventative with chickens is that they are supplied every day.
So work out a system to give your animals the same dose every day, and if you monitor their faeces. If they look good and regular, then you’re going to have a happier chook.
But know that more probiotic is not necessarily better.
So what's the best probiotics for chicken health?
Probiotics for chickens can come in liquid and powder forms and some have a few added benefits, particularly the liquid ones. I would go liquid every time, and now that I know and love the product, there's no turning back!
Since using Resistance Assistance 18 months ago, the major benefits that myself and other breeders have personally experienced are:
- Healthier poo - well formed, no nasty smells
- "They eat like elephants" - one of my customers swears Resistance Assistance is the reason he gets bigger, stronger, healthier chicks that have less health issues as growers. Some of the herbs in it are also appetite stimulants, an added bonus.
- It could be the probiotic or appetite stimulating properties, but owners using Resistance Assistance post antibiotic use are noticing that chooks bounce back well post vet treatment.
- Fewer respiratory symptoms - I believe this benefit is because the birds guts are able to better digest food, they are getting more nutrients from their food and build a stronger immunity.
So like Kombucha for chickens?
In many probiotic cultures, particularly the liquid ones, the mere fact that they are grown by fermentation means that there are a whole range of other beneficial organic acids in there.
This is like a whole heap of something for nothing because these also maintain the environment in favour of the probiotic cultures, and tend to physically inhibit those other pathogens that we associate with disease. Talk about a win win!
Probiotics are preventative, there to give us long term stability in the gut. The high quality formulas are absolutely beneficial, but know they will never 100% eliminate disease.
But with no withholding period, why not give them a go?