I once had farming friends who consumed raw garlic daily as a health aid. Their employer, a hospital in the city, complained about the garlic smell that followed them through the wards. Personally, I love that smell, but I also love the waft of curry and spices, which some people find overwhelming. So why were they munching down on all that garlic?
There are all kinds of assertions on the internet about the wonders of garlic. Many of those claims are prefaced with ‘may’ or ‘might’ and are often unproven and speculative. What we do know about garlic is that it contains sulfur compounds that when crushed, chopped or chewed enter the digestive tract. They’re considered an immune booster because they stimulate white blood cells that provide protection from infection and antioxidants that protect immune cells.
In addition to being a good source of sulfur, garlic contains high levels of amino acids, selenium, zinc, phosphorus and potassium as well as manganese, vitamins B6 and C, calcium and iron. Allicin and allicetoins are antibacterials and prebiotic inulin aids digestion by increasing good bacteria in the gut.
Sometimes what’s good for us is also good for our chickens. I’m not about to make wild claims about all the things it might be good for. I’ll stick to what is known: garlic has a long history of being used to treat chickens for intestinal parasites because it disrupts their mobility and food absorption by blocking fat synthesis. It’s also believed that external biting parasites (i.e. mites and lice) prefer hosts that don’t taste of garlic; in fact, some commercial anti-parasitics contain garlic.
In writing this piece I came across a study that made the link between feeding high amounts (i.e. 5%) of powdered garlic to hens and the subsequent increase in albumen and overall egg weight. Bad gut bacteria was reduced and sperm counts in roosters increased. It was also pointed out that their eggs assumed a garlic flavour, so the recommendation was to decrease garlic intake to 3%.
I’m not motivated to have my hens produce the biggest eggs, but rather on maintaining the health of my flock.
I alternate putting Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and crushed garlic in my flocks’ waterers: 2- 4 crushed cloves in each 1 gallon container for one day several times a month.