Apple Cider Vinegar for Chickens: How to Prepare it for Your Chickens

If you’re new to keeping poultry, you may have heard about using apple cider vinegar for chickens. Some of the claims about apple cider vinegar sound too good to be true and yet many people claim that it’s a great option to support the health of chickens. In this article, we will take a closer look at what apple cider can do for chickens. When you start to use it you may consider making it a part of your regular routine.

6 Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Chickens

Killing Bacteria: Like other vinegars, apple cider vinegar has a high level of acetic acid which is believed to offer protection against bacteria and bacterial diseases.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Chickens

Extra Nutrition: Apple cider vinegar contains amino acids, antioxidants, and other nutrients which can support the health of humans and chickens.

An Improved Immune System: Apple cider vinegar supplementation is a simple and organic method to maintain and support the immune system. Adding a few drops to the chicken’s drinking water will protect the birds from a wide variety of diseases and illnesses.

Improving Digestion: Many humans take apple cider vinegar to improve their digestion and this works for birds too. Apple cider vinegar contains probiotics that support gut health and it regulates pH levels in the bird’s body. More research is needed in this area, but many experienced chicken keepers use apple cider vinegar for its probiotic qualities alone.

Maintaining Respiratory Health: Apple cider vinegar cannot cure every disease, but it can maintain respiratory health in chickens. If you have one or more birds that are prone to respiratory problems, you may notice that this regimen can keep their airways open and ease their breathing.

Parasite Prevention: Many experienced chicken keepers use apple cider vinegar to prevent worm infestations and other potential health issues.

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Chickens:

It’s pretty simple to make your own apple cider vinegar at home. But, this is not strictly necessary, even organic vinegar is relatively inexpensive and a single bottle will last longer than you may imagine.

If you do produce apple cider vinegar at home, it will have lower acidity levels than commercial alternatives. So, if you’re not careful, homemade vinegar can be prone to mold growth problems. Braggs is probably the best organic apple cider that you can buy in stores because it has 5% acetic acid, it’s unpasteurized and gluten free.

How Much Apple Cider Vinegar Is Enough?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Here are four things to consider:

  1. Adult Birds: Concentrations of 1-5% in drinking water have been tried and the optimum level is 2%. So, you would need around 5 tbs of apple cider vinegar in every US gallon of drinking water.
  2. Chicks: A chick only needs a 0.5% concentration which is 4 tbs in every US gallon of water.
  3. Wet Food: Apple cider vinegar cannot be added to food because when food is wet it is more prone to potentially harmful bacterial growth.
  4. Plastic Waterers: Drinking water that contains apple cider vinegar should not be left in a plastic waterer for longer than a single week in every month.

Precautions and Considerations when Using Apple Cider Vinegar:

Apple cider vinegar is safe to use, but it’s acidic, and it can dissolve certain materials, here are seven things to consider when you’re using it:

Metal Waterers:

If you’re using a metal waterer it can be corroded by apple cider vinegar and the metal can leach into the drinking water creating a potential health issue. This is especially true if they are made from galvanized steel or iron.

Poultry Fences:

These are another galvanized metal risk if pieces of the fence fall on the ground and are eaten by the birds. Chickens love shiny objects and swallowed galvanized metal can react with their stomach acid to poison them with zinc.

Hard Water:

The hardness of water is measured by the concentration of dissolved calcium carbonate that it contains. The calcium level tells you how hard the water is and the carbonate level is related to the alkalinity.


How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Hard water tends to have a higher concentration of calcium and adding apple cider vinegar can lower the pH level slightly. The alkalinity of the carbonate offers a partial buffer which makes hard water easier to use. Extra calcium can be beneficial for humans and chickens, but it is accompanied by the buildup of limescale and other problems.

Acidic Water:

Water is measured on a 1-14 pH scale where 1 is the most acidic and 14 is the most alkaline. On this scale, a pH level of 7 is neutral and more beneficial for health. If your water is very acidic it may dissolve copper piping which can contaminate drinking water.

Egg Production:

Apple cider vinegar can impede the ability of the hen to absorb calcium which can be detrimental for egg production. But, some studies have shown that adding a little acetic acid to a diet can help with calcium absorption. There is even evidence that apple cider vinegar does nothing at all and this can cause confusion. The truth is that acetic acid is very weak and the amount you add may not affect the pH level at all!

Moderate Use:

The takeaway from all this is that an apple cider vinegar excess may be detrimental. But, both humans and chickens can thrive with extra calcium in their diet, and adding a little apple cider can make calcium more bio-available for health. Ensuring that the water is clean and cool for drinking is always the priority for healthy chickens. But if you add apple cider vinegar in the concentrations shown above you may prevent or cure a wide variety of health problems.

Conclusion-Apple Cider Vinegar for Chickens

As you can see, adding a few drops of apple cider vinegar for chickens can be beneficial for the flock. More research is required, but low concentrations are not harmful to the birds. Apple cider vinegar is known to support gut health in the same way as many other fermented foods. If you want to use apple cider vinegar, follow the tips and tricks in this article carefully as part of your regular care routine. Always have clean drinking water, a balanced feed, and a clean environment to further support your efforts.