~ December 25th, 2015 ~

Winter Oil

We take a lot for granted in the summer months, that of sunshine and warmer temps. The freedom our flock has to free range. Winter can offer challenges of close quarters, lots of cold temps and cold air, and a serious lack of sunshine. Dietary changes with a marked lack of green forage in the diet dramatically shifts the nutrient need for our flock.

Most people assume in the winter that the sun is sufficient for Vitamin D production. In fact, most likely it is not unless you live in the south. In the winter, the skin will produce very little Vitamin D from the sun at latitudes above 37 degrees north which is generally north of New York in the East, and north of San Francisco on the west coast This risk of Vitamin D deficiency extends to your flock as well.

In 2002, I started to experiment more using garlic besides in it's raw form and application in the drinking water. I hit upon infusing garlic into oil, for both garlic and oil benefits that are particularly helpful during the cold winter months. Mixed with their favorite wild birdseed treats which is a great carrier to make sure they get every drop. Here is how it helps your poultry's health:

  • Garlic - Soaking the crushed garlic in oil has a completely different effect than soaking crushed garlic in water. The allicin will still soon dissipate, but instead of forming sulfides, in the oil it will create the compounds ajoenes and dithiins. These particular compounds have antiparasitic properties for protozoan parasites. Ajoenes shares many of the antimicrobial properties that allicin has, so the macerated oil will retain this full strength value of fresh crushed garlic up to 36 hours after mixing.

  • Cayenne Pepper - Cayenne pepper will add support to the digestive and circulatory system. It will generate internal heat by aiding efficient food processing and push blood to the periphery to ward off frostbite..

  • Monounsaturated Oil - Monounsaturated fats in the form of pure oils, such as olive, canola or peanut oils are nutritious choices while corn and sunflower contain polyunsaturated fats for example. Both of these kinds of fats are considered healthy compared to saturated or trans fat. Olive oil contains vitamins A, E, K, and the phenols can be effective as probiotics for the digestive system. Good fats creates efficient energy to your flock to stay internally warm.

  • Cod Liver Oil - Cod liver oil is derived from the liver of cod fish. high in Vitamin A, but even more importantly, it is high in Vitamin D. It also has high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids among other acids.

  • Wild Birdseed - My flock likes wild birdseed and I use it to mix with the winter oil for consumption. You can use other seed as well like black oiled sunflower seed (BOSS), millet or organic scratch if your flock prefers. Seed has it's own oil and you will gain even more oil and nutrients from the seed as well.

  • Vitamin D - Vitamin D is needed to help as assimilate calcium and phosphorus to produce healthy egg shells. It is also needed for bone strength as well as healthy beaks and claws. Deficiency signs are irregular laying with intermittant small, soft or thin shelled eggs Beak, claws and keel will become soft. A deficiency may also cause egg eating.

  • Vitamin A - Vitamin A is an important vitamin for aiding the immune system. It helps to maintain healthy tissue in the digestive, reproductive and respiratory tracts of our poultry. Finally, it is important to embryos in the egg and growing chicks for healthy bone formation and eyesight. It is part of the vitamin regimen needed for general body growth.

Preparation and Application


2 cups monounsaturated oil
1/2 tsp cod liver oil (optional Vitamin D if needed)
8 cloves crushed garlic (alternative 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper)
1 tablespoon cayenne peper (optional for internal heat)
Wild birdseed

1 crock pot
1 mixing bowl and spoon
Mason jar with lid (storage)


Crush garlic cloves.
Add to monounsaturated oil in crock pot.
Infuse in crock pot on LOW for 4 hours.
Let cool and strain out garlic.
Mix in cod liver oil (if needed).
Mix with wild birdseed enough to cover the seed.
Serve immediately.
Prepared winter oil will store in fridge for one week.


Fueling Our Poultry's Energy Backyard Poultry Magazine October/November 2010. Author Susan Burek

Time For More Vitamin D

The Effect of Cod Liver Oil in Various Amounts and forms on the growth of young chickens

The Chicken Health Handbook, Author Gail Damerow, 1994.

Moonlight Mile Herb Farm 2015 Susan Burek