We all want a healthy flock of chickens, but the reality is, illness and injuries happen. We want to help you catch, diagnose, and treat any illness or injury in a timely manner to help you maintain a healthy flock.
Lice & Mites:
Lice and mites are transmitted from other birds to yours. This is most common when buying chicks or chickens that have been with others who are infected. Some common signs that your flock has lice and mites are dirty looking vent feathers, decreased activity, a pale comb, changes in appetite, a drop in egg production, weight loss and loss of feathers with scab spots on their skin.
Treatment: Carefully dust your chickens with wood ash or Diatomaceous Earth (DE). You’ll want to make sure the dust is getting down past their feathers to their skin where the lice and mites live. After their initial treatment, you can provide them with a dusting area for them to bathe themselves, or you can continue to dust them individually. Dusting must continue once a week for a month. Treating them for a month ensures you catch all the eggs that may have hatched since the initial treatment. At the end of the one-month mark, you’ll need to clean the entire coop and dust it with DE.
Pasty butt is a common problem with chicks; however, it is easy to spot and easy to treat. Pasty butt is when dried feces get stuck on your chicks’ vent. If left untreated, the chick will be unable to pass feces and will cause your chick to die. A quick check of your chicks during your daily chick chores will help prevent any issues with pasty butt. Some symptoms your chicks may show if they have pasty butt are lethargy, no or slow growth, not eating or drinking and a protruding vent.
Treatment: Hold the chick between your thumb and forefinger with its rear end pointing outward. Just a warning, the chick will not like this but it in no way hurts them. Run the chicks butt under a gentle flow of lukewarm water. While the chick is under the running water, gently wipe the poop with a cotton ball or soft piece of cloth. This may take a bit of time, but don’t pull on the poop as it will hurt the chick and may cause a more serious illness.
Bumblefoot begins with your chicken accidentally cutting its foot on something. It can happen when they are digging, scratching and in so many other ways. Once the cut occurs, it is common that you wouldn’t see it due to being on the bottom of the foot, but it then becomes infected. You’ll likely notice the infection when the foot begins to swell, and your chicken starts walking with a limp.
Treatment: Carefully clean the wound, removing any scab and squeezing out any pus. Dry the wound and treat it with a wound spray. We recommend using Theracyn Poultry Wound & Skin Care Spray or Banixx for Chixx Spray. Dress the wound with gauze and tape it up to prevent any dirt from re-entering. Treat the wound every day until it is fully healed. Checking your flocks’ feet a couple times per week is a great preventative measure to avoid serious bumblefoot infections.
Coccidiosis is a common intestinal disease caused by several species of parasites. Symptoms of the disease are diarrhea, lethargy, pale skin color, loss of appetite, weight loss, and failure to thrive. Coccidiosis is commonly transmitted through dirty water or contaminated food.
Treatment: An antibiotic prescribed by your local vet which is given through their drinking water for 4 days will cure your flock of this disease. There are also preventative measures you can take to protect your flock. A vaccination is available and can be given to day old chicks. We also recommend starting your new chicks on a medicated starter feed which protects your flock by ingesting the medication to protect their stomachs.
If your chickens have thrush, you’ll notice a white oozy substance inside their crop (the space between their neck and body). They will have very large appetites, appear lethargic, have a crusty vent area and their feathers will look ruffled. Thrush is a fungal disease which means it is contracted if you allow your chickens to eat molded feed or scraps. It can also be contracted by drinking contaminated water.
Treatment: There is no vaccine to prevent thrush, but it can be treated by using an anti-fungal medicine that you can receive from your local vet. To prevent this from happening again, remove any soiled food and clean their water containers often.
You’ll recognize this disease when you begin to hear your chickens sneezing, snoring, and coughing. You will also notice drainage from their nose and eyes. This disease appears in chickens as the common cold does in humans. If your chickens are of laying age, you will also notice a decrease in egg production. This disease is spread from bird to bird by direct contact.
Treatment: There is not a defined treatment method for infectious bronchitis. Researchers have found that if the disease is caught soon enough using antibiotics for 3 to 5 days may aid fighting off the disease. It is also helpful to raise coop temperatures by 5ºF and ensure they are in a dry location. Once the symptoms go away you can return your coop temp back to normal. One preventative measure for infectious bronchitis is administering the vaccine that is available while your chicks are young. The vaccine is available in a spray form or can be administered into their drinking water.
Your chickens will begin to form progressing tremors which makes them unable to move. You will also notice that their feathers will easily pull out. This disease is contracted by coming in contact with contaminated meat. Whether a small rodent died in their coop, or they found one outside, they probably pecked at it and have now contracted botulism.
Treatment: If caught soon enough, you can purchase an antitoxin from your local vet. This treatment is rather expensive but quickly cures your chicken. If you catch the signs early enough, you can also try mixing 1 tsp of Epsom salt with 1 ounce of warm water and administer directly to your chicken by mouth.
While there are many other illnesses your flock may encounter, this is a quick reference to the most common issues and their treatments. If you experience any health issue that you are questioning the treatment for, we suggest contacting your local veterinarian to consult with you and your flock.