I am a big proponent of holistic medicine, and have a whole arsenal of natural remedies for just about every complaint from fever and sore throat to chest and muscle pains. I don't irrationally avoid doctors and conventional medicines, but I always think twice before taking a sick child to a doctor, knowing it's more than likely to catch an even worse virus in the waiting room.
Taking this into account, it's surprising that I didn't think twice before giving my young peafowl antibiotics in increasingly strong doses for persistent respiratory symptoms. The birds, however, not only didn't get better, but appeared weaker. An experienced friend whom I consulted recommended that I discontinue the antibiotics as they most likely have compromised the immune system of my peafowl, regardless of the initial complaint, try giving my birds fresh garlic, and observe the effects. Anxious to strengthen their immune system before the winter, and not seeing much to lose, I decided to give it a shot.
Disclaimer: I'm not a vet, and the following account is purely anecdotal evidence. However, the healing properties of garlic have been known since ancient times, and many poultry keepers use it to promote the health of their flock.
I gave the garlic by finely chopping it and mixing it with mashed up hard boiled egg, a combination my peafowl find irresistible. After a few days of giving them this treat, I happily noted symptoms of amendment in my birds, and increased the dose of garlic. To my surprise, I also noticed a quantity of worms being flushed out in their stools. I have never suspected them to be plagued by worms, but surely having them contributed to a weakened immune system. Now, knowing that I have an issue with worms, I treated my chickens with garlic as well, just in case.
The best part of this was knowing that I'm giving a safe, natural remedy I don't need to be afraid to try. When I gave antibiotics in drinking water, I knew I'm unnecessarily exposing all my flock to a harsh substance, as I don't have a separate space for my peafowl. When I switched to giving antibiotics in food, I had to avoid the other birds getting at it. But I don't need to fret this way about garlic, as it has no adverse side effects.
I have read that giving garlic to poultry may adversely affect the taste of eggs, but we have never sensed any of it so far. It might be that very large amounts of garlic in the diet may influence the taste.
Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Amazon.com Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here.
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