You want your backyard flock to have good lives. Yet no matter how much love and care you provide your birds, maintaining their health is still a challenge. Though not as difficult as poultry disease prevention for commercial production birds, keeping your chickens healthy requires abundant space, proactive pest control, and a well-balanced diet.
Standard chicken feed at a local co-op or farm equipment supplier is a start, but those who want to fortify chicken’s diet with extra nutrients and prebiotics might consider seaweed. Here are some of the benefits of the Ascophyllum nodosum species of kelp for chickens.
Before your baby chicks have arrived at your home, their health is outside of your hands and they can be exposed to a range of diseases. Ordering chicks from hatcheries that adhere to National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) is one way to reduce that risk, but backyard chicks need extra immune system support in the early days after they arrive as a precautionary measure.
Seaweed additives help provide the beneficial gut microbes in a chicken’s digestive system with essential prebiotics. A robust and diverse population of bacteria and other microbes in the GI tracts of your chicks make it harder for Salmonella, E. coli, Clostridium and other bacteria to find purchase. Then, not only is it harder for bacteria to infect each individual chicken, but it’s much harder for disease to spread among the members of your flock – or your family.
This has been a particular hazard as the popularity of backyard chickens has grown. Though Salmonella is easy enough to prevent with proper hand-washing and sanitation, it’s better to prevent exposure to bacteria outright.
One of the biggest appeals of raising and tending backyard chickens is the fresh eggs right outside your door. Though the quality is already great, you can boost the appearance of egg yolk by including the right amount of brown seaweed in their feed.
Brown seaweeds are particularly effective at amplifying the golden hue of chicken eggs. The addition of 10% to 15% of Ascophyllum nodosum to feed rations, for example, can enhance the amount of pigments such as β-carotene, violaxanthin and fucoxanthin. As a result, this can deepen the yolk coloring to a rich yellow or orange.
As a bonus, seaweed can help to lower the level of cholesterol you’ll find in your eggs, whether you’re using them for breakfast, baking or anything in between.
Want to explore using kelp for chickens? Request a sample of our Tasco® seaweed supplements and give your backyard flock the nutrients and prebiotics they need.