The Scoop on Using Prebiotics and Probiotics for Chickens

Poultry Probiotics Can Help Keep Your Flock Healthy


When chicken keepers get their birds, they often wonder what to feed chickens. It’s probably the first question most newcomers ask. They naturally concentrate on commercial feed rations, fresh water, and nutritious treats. But what about prebiotics and probiotics for chickens?

This is a topic we’re all familiar with as humans since we see lots of commercials for foods that have probiotics right in them. Big celebrities endorse the regularity and gut health that probiotics can bring. But does this work with backyard chickens?

First, let’s get back to the basics and explore what are prebiotics and probiotics. Probiotics are live organisms that live in your intestinal tract and, to put it delicately, keep things cleaned out and flowing well. They also help to strengthen your immune system. They can be found in foods that have live cultures, like sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, cheese, sour cream and, famously, yogurt. Prebiotics set the stage for probiotics because they are the food for probiotics. Prebiotics are a non-digestible type of plant fiber. Many high-fiber foods are also high in prebiotics.

At Bluebonnet Feeds® we love your chickens as much as you do. Each and every bag is hand-crafted with an open label, locked formula, and wholesome natural ingredients. We even include prebiotics and probiotics for unmatched support of the digestive and immune systems. Healthy birds are happy birds! Visit to find a dealer near you.


Probiotics for Chickens — What Do They Help?

These tiny organisms can be helpful to chickens just as they are in humans. Remember, that if you have a sick chicken, prebiotics and probiotics should not be considered as medicine. These are meant to support a chicken’s health and help prevent future illnesses.

  • Probiotics for chickens can help to prevent and clear up diarrhea. If you have an adult chicken with a chronically “poopy” butt, try probiotics. If you have a baby chick with a poopy butt, that’s an entirely different matter. Usually, that’s a case of pasty butt and should not be treated with prebiotics and probiotics.
  • Probiotics for chickens can mean fewer flying insects. If you have chickens with clean butts, that attracts fewer flies. This is good for everyone around a chicken coop, and especially your chickens. Flies carry disease. A “poopy” matted butt attracts flies and this can lead to fly strike, an especially awful situation where the flies lay their eggs in your chicken. This is painful as the eggs hatch and maggots eat your chicken. It can lead to death if not treated properly and promptly.
  • Probiotics for chickens can lead to less smelly feces with less ammonia.
  • Probiotics for chickens can lead to a better feed conversion ratio.
  • With a healthy digestive tract, hens that consume probiotics can maintain a healthy weight and keep quality egg production high.
  • The instances of salmonella in chickens that consume probiotics drop significantly.
  • Probiotics for chickens can aid in composting.

So, how can you make sure your chickens are consuming probiotics? First, pick a high-quality commercial feed that contains prebiotics and probiotics. You’ll find lots of choices at the feed store. Just be sure to read the label. Most companies are proud to say they’ve included these digestive additives.

Probiotics and Prebiotics for Chickens

Second, many foods that are on the list of what chickens can eat also contain prebiotics and probiotics. If you’re giving your chickens treats, why not make sure they contain these nutritional powerhouses! Just remember to keep treats at 10 percent of a healthy diet. Also, remember that dairy in small quantities is not bad for chickens. Chickens are not lactose intolerant. They can digest small amounts of dairy products. But, the effectiveness of probiotics can be reversed if you give your chickens too much milk. Small quantities equal big happiness!

Sources of Probiotics for Chickens
Dairy Products – Yogurt, Goat Milk, Whey
Apple Cider Vinegar


Prebiotics are a little easier to give chickens since they come from high-fiber foods. These are more easily found. We usually have some scraps from the kitchen or leftovers from dinner that fit the bill! Plus, the added bonus is they make great, healthy treats that your chickens will love.

Sources of Prebiotics for Chickens
Bananas (Do not feed the peel.)
Dandelion Greens
Flax Seed
Wheat Bran


Overall, the key to healthy chickens is a rich and varied diet that contains lots of nutrient-rich foods, along with clean water, a clean coop and plenty of fresh air and exercise. Prebiotics and probiotics for chickens can help chickens stay healthy and productive as part of your backyard farm. They are easy to give your chickens whether through commercial feed and/or yummy treats. Your chickens will thank you for it with lots of fresh eggs. And, they’ll have nice clean fluffy butts for all your Fluffy Butt Friday pictures!

Do you use prebiotics and probiotics for your chicken’s health? Do you give your chickens prebiotics and probiotics solely through their commercial feed or do you supplement with natural treats? Please let us know in the comments below.

  • Jim P.

    As I read this article I got to thinking about what we do for our chicks and what people of today do not know about probiotics and what they really are. check out this article We ferment our food and it does several things. Fermented food is moist and the chickens don’t put half of it on the ground and poop on it. When you put it in their run or coop they eat it all, if they had tongues they would lick the bowl. They like it and there is no waste. The problem with fermented food, let us take sauerkraut for instance, you take cabbage, cover it with water and salt and let it sit for two weeks or so to ferment, once it is fermented you put it in the fridge to slow down the fermentation, and eat it. Commercial sauerkraut is done more of less the same way, but they can it, so it can set on a shelf. Canning kills all the bacteria (the probiotics) that is good for you and your chickens. Same as milk. You go to the store and buy milk. It is illegal to sell milk that is not pasteurized. When you pasteurize milk you kill all the nutrients, all the good stuff in it. It is not good for you anymore, only whole milk is- the kind of milk that comes out of a cow, poured thru a few layers of cheese cloth into a jar and sold. What you want to do for your chicks are to go on line and buy pickle pipes. When you get them take wide mouth quart jars (Mason or Kerr), fill it half full of chicken feed, add filtered water till jar is filled to about 3/4 full, put on the pickle pipe and the ring (the screw on part of the lid) and set it in a bowl and leave it for 3 days. The bowl is for when the fermentation overfills the jar and you don’t have a mess on your counter. You do want to do this process in you home, fermentation does not work when it is cold. You then take the ring off and the pickle pipe, put another lid on it and put in the fridge. We feed our chickens night and morning with the fermented feed and leave the dry out for them all the time. They eat some dry but mostly the fermented. What we have now is 3 quarts of fermentation going all the time, one new start each morning, and one in the fridge that we feed them for that day. By doing it this way the girls are getting live probiotics and they are healthy.

  • We add enough water the night before to let the food plump up. Also add kiefer or kumbucha or apple cider vinegar. It all soaks up overnight and is put out in the morning. They love it. They are healthier and number of eggs has increased. There is less stink.


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