If your hen is not quite herself but not poorly enough to need a vet, alternative therapies can play their part in improving health. Here are a few suggestions to complement rather than replace veterinary advice.
Flower remedies. Hens can suffer from stress just like humans and other animals. A visit from a neighbour’s dog or a close shave with a fox can leave your girls extremely stressed and unsettled, but there is a simple and natural remedy you can use which will help to calm and settle them.
In the 1930s Dr Edward Bach established a series of 38 natural flower remedies which he found worked well for particular characteristics and emotional states within people. The remedies contain no poisonous plants and can be safely given with no fear of overdose or ill effects; they can be used individually or in combination, but the best known is Rescue Remedy.
This is a combination of five flower remedies (Rock Rose/Impatiens/Cherry Plum/Star of Bethlehem/Clematis) known to have a calming and settling influence. A couple of drops diluted in drinking water during the first week after collection may help hens acclimatise and adjust from being in a commercial system to becoming much-loved pets.
Herbal remedies are also extremely helpful for hens who may be a little under the weather. Our Cornwall volunteer, Ruth Burroughs, is a trained herbalist and suggests a number of products which can be effective.
For example, hens don’t really get coughs and colds in the same way that we do, but a hen with a respiratory problem may benefit from a garlic supplement. Use the dried capsule formulation, and Ruth suggests one capsule twice daily.
Easily found plants such as Ribwort Plantain can be made into a tea and given to the hen in place of drinking water. It is anti-catarrhal and antiviral so therefore useful for hens with a lot of mucus. Thyme, rosemary, elderflower, oregano and sage teas are also of great benefit, and oregano oil is now available in a liquid form which can be added to drinking water.
Dried Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) is beneficial for respiratory symptoms and sore eyes. It can be made into a tea (1 tsp to 1 cup of boiling water, left to infuse for 15 minutes, strained and cooled) and given to the hen in drinking water or used as a soothing solution to bathe sticky or sore eyes. It is available from a good dried herb supplier online.
* Please note, this advice is not intended to substitute professional veterinary advice but is based on our own experiences and research.