I’ve recently been putting in a splash of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in my animal’s drinking water. I got the idea from Justin Rhodes, the Permaculture Chicken Ninja Master, but did not initially utilize this watering method when I first got my rabbits. My biggest concern was hurting the little guys. I guess in my mind, rabbits aren’t as hardy as chickens and maybe vinegar would shock their system. I held off on putting ACV in my animal’s waterers until July came about. The increased sunlight caused algae to grow rampant in the bottles. Recalling Rhode’s advice regarding ACV, I decided to do a little research and see if the solution would be beneficial for my animals.
There does seem to be some controversy regarding the use of ACV in animal water. Regarding ACV’s use for chickens, a few studies concluded that ACV can lower a number of harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, in chickens before they go to slaughter. This can help in keeping freshly butchered chickens uncontaminated during the butchering process and have a chance to be safer to eat than a bird that did not consume ACV. However, the numbers just aren’t there to make this conclusion sound. According to other studies conducted on chickens consuming ACV, the number of bacteria reduced is insignificant (compared to a chicken that did not consume ACV) during the chicken’s growth and before its slaughter.
Additional research more in line with the animals I’m actually raising, that being rabbits and quail, has nothing but positive posts regarding the benefits of ACV. According to Rise and Shine Rabbitry, ACV boosts a rabbit’s immune system and can help them fight off infections. Further, the water/ACV solution can help keep a rabbit’s coat soft and shiny, clear up and brighten their eyes, and maybe clear up skin infections. I cross-checked this information with several rabbitry forums and decided that my rabbits would be receiving ACV. Many rabbit breeders swear by a capful of ACV in a gallon of water. They also insist the entire herd drink the solution so as to keep the entire population healthy. So far the rabbits don’t seem to mind the mix and to my relief, there’s little to no algae growing in the bottles.
As for the quail, I put ACV in their water the very first day we got them. Quail benefit from ACV similar to chickens. ACV reduces harmful bacteria in their gut and give quail an immunity boost. I was at first very skeptical that ACV was benefiting my quail. I lost one on the very first day, followed by two more the following week. However, these three chicks I suspect were already ill upon arriving or broke their necks. This latter is assumed because I read recently that quail have a tendency to easily be flushed out and take flight. If your hutch is too tall, the quail can slam into the top of the hutch, fall straight down and break their necks. The third quail died in this manner. I quickly lowered the hutch roof after that incident. Regardless, the remaining quail are growing out their adult feathers and I haven’t lost one since lowering the roof. Fingers crossed these last 17 make it to adulthood!
Should you use ACV in your animal’s waterers? Well, that will depend on you and the quantity, as well as the quality, of research you conduct over the matter. I am still on the rocks regarding ACV’s benefits and continue to sift through forums weekly. I’m very much a beginner regarding the raising of small livestock, so I want to be as informed as possible and not, out of sheer ignorance, poison my animals. Sure, that’s a bit morbid to state, but I feel I have a responsibility to give them a good life, free of cruelty, all the way to their end. I’m not religious but I find myself thinking of my responsibility as a “steward of the animals”, and do the absolute best that I can to work with them.
As always, be kind and tender to one another.