Benefits of Feeding Garlic To Chickens (why, how, and how often?

We humans have known for centuries that eating garlic offers us numerous health benefits. In parts of the world where garlic consumption is high, rates of cancer and heart disease tend to be lower.

Garlic is known to have almost magical powers in its ability to kill the harmful pathogens it comes into contact with, yet does not adversely affect beneficial bacteria.

I have been keeping and breeding chickens, ducks, geese, and quails for well over 20 years, and during that time I have used garlic to help treat my birds on numerous occasions.

In 1858, the world-renowned microbiologist Louis Pasteur noted that garlic had the ability to kill off not just bacteria but bacteria which at the time were resistant to other methods available. During the First World War, garlic was used to treat German soldiers. Garlic was also used as an antiseptic during the 1913 cholera outbreak, helping keep the number of cases down.

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How Does Garlic Benefit Chickens?

There are many ways in which we can use garlic to improve the general health and well-being of our chickens. Some of these ways are proven thanks to scientific research on the subject, whereas others are based on personal experiences.

Garlic can be used to great effect as a tonic to improve the well-being of any chicken that seems under the weather. Garlic may perk her up if you have a hen who isn’t on top form but can’t find anything wrong.

Studies have also shown that feeding garlic to chickens improves their egg production and can even improve the quality of the eggs being laid.

Garlic can also be used to help prevent worms from taking up residence in your chicken’s intestines (although it doesn’t actually kill worms if your chickens already have them).

Some chicken keepers have found adding crushed garlic to their chicken’s water has reduced the need to use antibiotics for the chickens. This was probably thanks to the garlic boosting the chicken’s immune system in general.

It is also said that rubbing garlic gloves on chickens’ legs helps deter Scaly Mites from attacking the chickens.

Garlic can also be rubbed directly onto the skin of a chicken, acting as an antiseptic for small wounds. This works especially well around wounds caused by excess pecking from other hens.

Finally, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest garlic increase appetite and stimulates a feeding response. In other aspects of pet keeping garlic is used to encourage animals who are reluctant to feed.

How to give garlic to chickens?

There are essentially three different ways we can use garlic to help keep our chickens healthy. We can;

  • Feed it to them raw
  • Add it to their water
  • Use garlic granules

Feeding raw garlic to chickens

One important point to cover early on is garlic should never be cooked before offering it to chickens. Feeding raw garlic is far more beneficial to the chickens.

When garlic is cooked, it changes chemically, and many of the health benefits are lost.

There are basically three ways we can feed garlic to our chickens. We can offer it whole, as gloves the chickens can peck at, we can chop it up and offer it in a separate feeder, or we can chop it up and mix it into the chicken’s normal food.

In my experience, chopping or mincing the garlic and mixing it into the hen’s food is the best way to feed garlic to your chickens. The chances are they will just consume the garlic without even knowing.

Some chickens will eat chopped garlic out of a separate feeder, and some (although not many) will peck at the whole clove, eating small pieces throughout the day.

Adding garlic cloves to chicken’s water

Adding crushed gloves of garlic to the chickens’ drinking water is probably the easiest way to get garlic into the whole flock.

I have found that adding 3 or 4 cloves of garlic per gallon of fresh drinking water (about 1 per liter) is about the right ratio.

You can either add garlic periodically for a couple of weeks at a time as a sort of immune system booster for your chickens, or you can just make garlic a permanent feature of your chicken’s water to prolong the potential health benefits.

If you are adding garlic to chickens’ water and they seem to be drinking less than normal, then consider reducing the amount of garlic in the water. Try halving the number of cloves and see if your hens start drinking normally again.

Feeding chickens garlic granules

If you do not have a reliable source of fresh garlic, or you just don’t have the time to peel and chop fresh garlic on a regular basis, why not try granulated garlic?

Dried, granulated garlic has been shown in scientific research to work just as well as fresh garlic, providing it is not granulated garlic that has been fried.

I have used these garlic granules that I ordered from Amazon. I just sprinkle the garlic granules into my chicken’s food at the rate of about half a teaspoon per pound of food and leave my hens to eat the granules along with their food.

Will Feeding Chickens Garlic affect the eggs?

One question I am frequently asked when discussing feeding chickens garlic is ‘does feeding chickens garlic affect the taste of the eggs?’.

The truth is, that feeding garlic to chickens does not affect the taste of the eggs.

With that said, however, if you are feeding your chickens an endless supply of garlic, there is a good chance it will then affect the eggs, but very few people would make their chickens eat excessive amounts of garlic.

Whilst garlic does not adversely affect the taste of chickens’ eggs, there was a study carried out in 1998 at Clemson University, that discovered blind taste testers actually preferred the taste of eggs from chickens that were feed garlic on a regular basis.

It is believed this ‘improvement in taste’ was due to the garlic reducing the levels of sulfur found in the eggs.

The same research cited above also discovered that adding garlic to the chicken’s feed reduced the ammonia smell from the chickens poop.

Does Feeding Garlic Kill Worms in Chickens?

The short answer here is no, feeding garlic to chickens will not kill worms. The evidence from research suggests garlic is good for deterring worms from taking up residence in the first place, much like adding apple cider vinegar to the chicken’s drinking water. Still, it will not cure an existing infestation.

Much of the research into garlic, chickens, and worms suggests that garlic is improving the chicken’s immune system overall and bolstering their ability to fight off disease and parasites, including mites and lice.

However, it should be repeated that garlic will not work as a cure once your chicken has worms, mites, or lice, it should be used as part of a holistic preventative system.

Does Garlic Prevent Scaly Leg Mites?

Scaly Leg Mite (or Knemidocoptes Mutans to give it its proper name) is a microscopic mite that burrows under the skin on the chicken’s legs and feet to feed on the keratin. The tunnels they dig under the skin cause the legs and feet to become sore and the skin thickens.

There are many solutions to Scaly Leg Mite once a chicken has the issue, but garlic has long been touted as a preventative measure.

Essentially, a couple of times a week you rub garlic or a paste made from crushed garlic into the chicken’s legs, and the aroma and oils from the garlic discourage the mites from taking up residency in the chicken’s legs.

I have not read any reports that suggest garlic is useful once the chicken already has Scaly Leg Mites living under the skin on their feet and legs.

In Conclusion

Garlic has been proven to be a fantastic immune system booster for chickens. The garlic can either be fed directly to the chickens by adding to their food, or it can be added to their water so the chickens consume the garlic when drinking.

Garlic is not a cure for worms and it won’t help if the other basic aspects of chicken keeping aren’t practiced.

There have even been studies that suggested the eggs tasted better when the chickens were fed garlic.

If you found this article interesting, why not check out another one I wrote recently titled ’20 Best Egg Laying Chickens for Beginners’.


Aaron Homewood

Aaron Homewood is HomesteadSavvy.com‘s poultry editor. Arron has spent over 20 years keeping, breeding, and showing different poultry breeds, including chickens, ducks, geese, and quail.​
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Article Sources:

  1. Protection against Helicobacter pylori and other bacterial infections by garlic National Library of Medicine
  2. Scaly Leg British Hen Welfare Trust