It's not only humans who need a vitamin boost at times writes Alison Colville-Hyde of Chicken Vet.

As humans we can wander into a health food shop and peruse the array of vitamins and minerals before our eyes. An aid to every problem and complaint imaginable. Humans are capable of living a long time, with varied diets. Medical research has unearthed conditions and deficiencies which we have been able to create treatments for, often being a specific vitamin or mineral or a combination of both. Chickens on the other hand live a much shorter life, have a naturally limited diet and veterinary research involves far fewer conditions and it is rare to have a deficiency especially if the birds are on commercial rations.

However, there are some known times in a chicken’s life when a top up can be of great benefit to keep health at an optimum level. If you are ill you often do not eat as much as is required to fuel your physiological needs; the same goes for a chicken, so a top up through the water can substitute the deficit which is not being taken in through the diet. All creatures tend to drink unless they are particularly unwell, so getting some extra nutrients into the bird via the water can work wonders. Chicken Vet developed Chicken Vet Multivitamins to serve this purpose, by taking into account what chickens actually need at times of illness or stress Chicken Vet Multivitamins serve their purpose.

The advantage of Chicken Vet Multivitamins is the broad spectrum of components aside of the multivitamin element; Oregano oil which has antibacterial properties, helpful when birds are lethargic as bad gut bacteria can get out of hand due to a decreased appetite. Prebiotics are included to feed the healthy portion of the chicken’s gut bacteria along with amino acids, which are proteins required for growth and development. Combining these components covers many bases when chickens are out of sorts, therefore maximising the likelihood of recovery following stress, disease or a trauma. The recommended period of use is 3-5 days and at times of moulting for 7 days. These are diluted at the rate of 15ml to 2 litres of fresh drinking water.

Birds under stress metabolise nutrients and dietary components at different rates therefore supplementary support really helps them get through a tough time. For example, when mixing in birds to a flock where there is an established pecking order this can upset both the new and established birds. Periods of hot weather or freezing temperatures can also affect how birds behave and feed.

When birds are eating well and in good health the regular concentrate ration should be sufficient to meet their needs. As long as excessive quantities of treats are not fed, as these will dilute what the bird actually requires, (along the lines of us eating too much sugar for example) then supplementary multivitamins do not need to be used.