Chickens are relatively easy to feed. Many of the uneaten food scraps that you leave behind after a meal, make excellent treats for your birds. Thankfully, chickens are omnivores, and many of the foods humans eat, chickens can also eat. By the same token, foods that are unhealthy for humans are generally unhealthy for chickens. But what about Garlic? Is this herb safe to feed to your flock or is it dangerous, poisonous, or even harmful? I spent some time researching its effects on chickens and would like to share my findings here today.
So, can chickens eat garlic? Chickens can eat garlic, and it is beneficial when given in moderate quantities and as part of a balanced diet. This is because garlic has medicinal properties that are beneficial to poultry birds – garlic is believed to help prevent many of the sicknesses chickens get, such as respiratory problems and it supports the immune system.
You must not overdo it with garlic and be mindful of foods containing a lot of garlic.
Chickens need a balanced diet and must obtain the right blend of macro-nutrients (proteins, carbs, fats) and micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) to thrive. Too much of one type of food is not good.
Nonetheless, garlic does not harm chickens. It’s not part of the onion family even though they are commonly associated; its make-up is completely different.
The element thiosulphate is present in large quantities in onions.
This compound in excess has been known to destroy red blood cells and cause anemia or jaundice in chickens and can even be fatal.
This is why feeding onions must be on a less frequent basis, with controlled portions.
While this compound is present in garlic too, it’s in much smaller and safer amounts.
With all this being said, the benefits of feeding garlic to your hens are endless.
Garlic can create an unpleasant environment for many parasites seeking to make their home in your bird’s gut.
A robust solution of crushed garlic will keep away some mites from your flock. Raw garlic has all the benefits, so make sure that you only feed raw garlic, never cooked.
Garlic can also be used to rub on their skin as antiseptic for minor abrasions and wounds.
Let us now take a closer look at the suitability of this herb in your flock diet. We will also be exploring the full range of benefits, how much garlic to offer and how to feed it most effectively so be sure to read on!
Is Garlic Good For Hens?
Many chickens keepers report that garlic is beneficial to the overall health of their hens. Additionally, many peer-reviewed studies (including this one and this one) have revealed that garlic promotes growth in weak chickens, and it seems to boost the nutritional value of their eggs.
Further, garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiprotozoal properties. It has been concluded that it has anti cardiovascular disease, antitumor, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
Let’s explore the health benefits of garlic for chickens:
Boosts The Immune System
If your chickens look unwell and their feathers look drab, and they don’t want to leave the coop, garlic goes a long way in making these birds feel better, and it helps them to heal faster.
It will help them fight off any bacteria, viruses, or any other pathogen that may be in their environment.
Re-balances The System
Garlic can help a chicken that is feeling sick to return to complete health faster; the reason for this is because garlic targets the bad rather than the good bacteria.
Protects Against Viruses
Research shows that garlic works against viruses; this includes salmonella, cholera, and colibacillosis.
Kills Bad Bacteria
The practice of adding antibiotics to poultry feed is illegal in certain countries and discouraged in others. Garlic is a safer alternative to antibiotics.
Helps Underweight Chickens
Chickens that are underweight or not eating need something to stimulate their appetite, and garlic does just that. It also supports healthy growth and is a great digestive aid; helping chickens extract the maximum amount of nutrition as possible from the foods that they are eating.
Promotes Egg Production
It’s believed that garlic can help hens produce larger and better quality eggs with a reduction in bad cholesterol.
Vitamins and Minerals
Beyond all of these benefits, garlic is also loaded full of trace vitamins and minerals. It also has favorable calcium to phosphorous ratio too!
Garlic is known for being a great source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), manganese, selenium, and also vitamin C. Plus, it contains a decent amount of calcium, potassium, iron, and copper too.
All of which help to serve the health of your birds.
As you can see, there is no doubt that adding garlic to your flock’s diet is of enormous benefit.
But it has applications beyond the internal.
Garlic can be used on the skin to treat minor abrasions, and it can be rubbed on the legs to prevent parasites like the scaly leg mite and even the northern fowl mite.
Is Garlic Dangerous For Hens?
Garlic doesn’t appear to pose any danger to hens; some people believe that feeding too much of the allium can make their eggs taste of garlic.
However you would have to feed a lot of garlic to your chickens before it affects the flavor, we’re talking about 3% of your bird’s daily feed. That is a lot of cloves, and most people wouldn’t feed their chickens that much.
Garlic does contain an element called thiosulphate, which is known to destroy red blood cells. In large quantities, it can cause jaundice or anemia.
However, there are only trace amounts of this element in garlic; it would never be enough to harm your flock, onions contain this element in large quantities which is why onions are considered toxic to chickens.
How Much Garlic Should I Give My Hens?
When contemplating how much garlic to feed your flock, remember that moderation is the key. You should always only ever use fresh, raw garlic.
Consider the following recommendation when feeding garlic to your hens:
- In water – four cloves per gallon or one clove per liter.
- In oil – one clove to four pints or half a clove to one liter.
- Over food – one clove either finely chopped or crushed twice a week.
How To Feed Garlic To Chickens?
When feeding garlic to your chickens, you should feed raw garlic and never cooked; if your hens are used to the taste of garlic, you can feed two cloves chopped up into tiny pieces in a separate bowl from your flock’s normal feed. If your hens are new to garlic, you can sprinkle one chopped clove on their food.
It’s best to crush a garlic clove because an element called ‘allicin’ is released. This element is a powerful anti-oxidant, which can function either by itself or with other agents to boost the immune system.
The best and easiest way to crush garlic is with a press, like this best-seller on Amazon. It takes the time and hassle away and has a variety of other practical uses.
The benefits of crushed garlic lessen after 24 hours, so it’s best to feed it within that time frame. You can also feed garlic to your chickens by putting it in their water or putting it in oil, let’s look at how this can be done:
Feeding garlic in water – Begin by crushing one clove, and it’s one per liter and add it into their drinking water. You can do this twice a week; however, if you have weak birds, you can keep giving them garlic until they’re well.
Garlic in oil – soak two to three cloves in one liter of oil for around six hours and always use it on the same day because of the risk of botulism. You can pour some of this oil over your flock’s feed.
You can also offer dried garlic powder to your hen’s feed. This is a good cost-effective brand to buy on Amazon.
Just 1% of powder over your hen’s feed is sufficient to increase the rate of eggs that your hens lay, it also improves the quality of the eggs, and it increases the weight too.
You can make your own powdered garlic by slicing it thinly and baking it at very low heat for approximately two hours.
Once the slices have cooled, you can store then in a glass jar, and when you need to use them, grind them up with a pestle and mortar to create a fine powder.
Does Garlic Kill Worms In Chickens?
Research has shown that garlic reduces worms in the guts of mice. The study showed that it to work in the first week after the mice were fed garlic.
After that week, garlic had no effect, and it appeared that the garlic wasn’t directly killing the worms, but rather building up the immune system.
Some articles will state that garlic kills worms in chicken guts, but there is no concrete evidence to suggest that it does.
If you do see worms in your chicken’s feces, this means that they have already colonized, and you’re beyond feeding them garlic.
You need to give a wormer for your bird. Adding garlic to your poultry feed is known to deter red mites, so it might have a similar effect on worms, but it’s best not to solely rely on garlic to kill worms.
Garlic is useful for things other than killing worms, consider other ways it is helpful to chickens:
- Garlic can be applied to a chicken’s skin as an antiseptic for minor abrasions and wounds.
- It can be rubbed into your bird’s legs to help prevent parasites such as the leg mite, and some research suggests that it reduces the incidence of Northern Fowl mite.
- Garlic promotes a healthy respiratory system, especially if you breathe steam infused with garlic. You can place a hen inside a cage which a plastic but breathable cover, and place a steaming bowl outside of the cage but under the plastic. The steam will help her breathing as an expectorant, and it will get the anti-inflammatory ingredients working directly into the lungs.
It’s helpful to know that garlic is perfectly safe to feed to your chickens. Not only is it safe, it also has numerous health benefits. It seems it has no harmful side effects to poultry birds, and while it improves the quality and weight of their eggs, it shouldn’t make them taste of garlic unless too much is fed.
The evidence is strong that the addition of just 1.0% of garlic can increase egg production, lower the cholesterol in egg yolks, and enhance the quality of the egg white.
You can ensure that your hens will enjoy the amazing benefits of garlic by growing your own.
Growing your own garlic ensures that it’s free from chemical treatments and that it’s not genetically modified.
Growing garlic is very easy to do, even with limited space. So, enjoy improving your chicken’s health and your own with delicious, versatile, and cost-effective garlic!
Wondering what else chickens can eat? Check out my other chicken feeding guides below!
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.