By Alison Colville-Hyde, Chicken Vet
Poultry, like humans, have a particular biological set of healthy gut bacteria. This bacteria helps to keep the bird’s digestive system healthy, which in turn assists in keeping an equilibrium for optimal bird health. Gut bacteria have several functions including digesting food and actually feeding good bacteria. Human gut bacteria and chicken gut bacteria are very different; partly because we have different diets. Each therefore require a special set of bacteria specific to the species. Alongside this, we need to look after the gut and this can be aided by using supplements to enhance the conditions the bacteria like to live in.
If your birds are producing diarrhoea or frothy droppings regularly then it is likely they have a bacterial upset, particularly if they are displaying no other symptoms. Causes of diarrhoea aside from in-house or in-feed
contamination can be down to the wrong diet. Like us, chickens need specific food to meet their physiological demands; and again, like us, they can overdo it with the wrong food stuffs. Commonly, too many tit bits and treats become the diet rather than their concentrate
ration, which is formulated to meet the birds’ nutritional needs. Feed only concentrate layer pellets/meal/crumble as advised on the pack, with very few additional treats, or a small additional scratch feed of mixed corn. When you add extras to the diet it confuses the gut and alters the natural acidity, further upsetting the chicken’s specialist gut bacteria.
It is possible to use a range of products to stabilise the gut flora and reduce any negative impact on the bird. Diarrhoea can give rise to dehydration and loss of nutrients so administering Beryl’s friendly bacteria for chickens will definitely help to resolve the situation. On a daily basis, one of the easiest applications is to use Chicken Vet Digesti-Health which is mixed in with the feed. Digesti-Health is made from the walls of a specific yeast. The yeast binds to the surface of harmful bacteria so they cannot attach to the gut and are passed out in the droppings before they cause harm to the bird.
If you have carried out any of the above options and feel your birds are still not quite right, then it is worth checking if they have worms. You can do this by using a Chicken Vet faecal sampling kit, then worming if advised when you get your results. Optimal gut health will prolong the life of the older hen.