October 30, 2014

Chicken Illnesses, Disease and Injuries.

No matter how much care and attention you give your chickens, unfortunately disease, illness or injury can still strike your chickens. When they do get ill their conditions can often deteriorate quickly if they are not given the correct timely treatment. If you keep chickens it is always a good idea to have the number of an avian vet handy, you cannot always rely on your local vet to be knowledgeable about chickens, especially if you are in an urban area. In this section we will cover most of the diseases, pests and injuries you will be likely to encounter when keeping chickens.

But this is a guide and not a substitute for professional advice, if in doubt consult a qualified vet.

Before looking at the specific problems here is a quick reminder of some preventative measures you can take on a daily basis, to prevent diseases and injuries among your chicken flock.

  • Keep water dishes clean and food dry, fresh and contained. Always keep your coop clean and never overcrowd your chickens.
  • When feeding your chickens scraps, always check that the food is fresh as rotten food will make them ill and you cannot always rely on them to be discerning.
  • Watch your birds, their behaviour, physical health and poop, often there are tell-tale signs which will help catch the problem early. If you suspect a chicken is ill, isolate it from the rest to avoid the problem spreading.
  • Possible problem signs include, coughing, wheezing, swollen joints, feather loss, reduced egg production, thin egg shells, cuts fever, discharge from nose/mouth, diarrhea/blood in stool, not eating/drinking, weight loss or swollen abdomen.

 

Common Chicken Diseases/ illnesses

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Bumblefoot   If your chicken is limping it is possible that it has developed bumblefoot, also known as ‘plantar pododermatitis’.

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Respiratory System Problems  Birds with respiratory problems can quickly deteriorate and it is always a good idea if you suspect a problem to quickly seek the advice of a qualified vet.

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Chicken Crop Problems The crop is an out-pocketing of the esophagus and is located just outside the body cavity in the neck region. The two most common crop problems are sour crop and impacted crop. Impacted crop is also known as being crop bound.

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Pests, Mites, Lice

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Northern Fowl Mite are aggressive mites that feed on the birds themselves.

 

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Red Mite or Poultry Mites  The red mite or chicken/poultry mite  (Dermanyssus gallinae) is a common external parasite of poultry and wild birds and although very small it can be seen by the naked eye.

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Scaly Leg Mite  Scaly leg is caused by an eight leg mite (Knemidocoptes mutans) that burrows under the scales of your chicken’s legs and spends its entire life cycle of 1 to 2 weeks on the bird.

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Lice  Lice are extremely irritating to your chickens and they will if left cause them to injure themselves through excessive scratching.

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Worms  Many health problems that your chickens can develop are related to worms of some kind.

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 Other

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Coccidiosis in Chickens Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease of the intestinal tract caused by the coccidian protozoa, a single cell organism.

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Marek’s Disease   Marek’s Disease from a herpes virus in chickens and turkeys leads to paralysis.

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