Avoidance of Chicken Diseases
Of course no one wants sick chickens. Luckily, many chicken diseases can be avoided, if you provide the basis for good chicken health:
- Species-appropriate and clean housing: a sufficiently spacious, bright and well air-conditioned barn, whose regular cleaning functions easily and well
- Good and varied food, with permanently sufficient fresh water available
Regular, precise observation of the chickens helps to detect chicken diseases and also “social ills” at an early stage.
What to Do When Chickens Get Sick?
If you regularly observe your chickens well, sick chickens can usually be detected very quickly. Often they are puffed up, have no desire to eat, sit offside or are even picked by other chickens.
Some chicken diseases or parasites are not as easy to detect. With mites in the cracks of the stable or worms in the excrement one must look a little more closely. It is also worthwhile to occasionally catch a chicken and then inspect it in detail.
Many diseases can spread quickly among the chickens, so the strategy of waiting out – „it’s gonna be fine” – is not advisable.
If a chicken or even the whole herd appears sick, a diagnosis is needed as soon as possible. If the diagnosis of the chicken disease in question is certain, tried and tested methods should be used. In case you are unsure about your diagnosis or medication, you should go to the vet as soon as possible. Even if a treatment of frequently occurring chicken diseases or vaccinations is due for the first time, it is better to go straight to the vet and seek professional advice. Seriously, sick chickens die fast.
The veterinarian is, of course, also responsible for prescribing and often also for obtaining the right medication.
In extreme cases he can also support you in your decision:
Attempt to heal or emergency slaughter?
Sick chickens or chickens that appear to be sick should always be separated and inspected immediately. Whether the chicken might be seriously ill or not, you can often tell by how easy it is to catch it. If it is easy to catch, it may already be weak and waiting for help. After an initial assessment you should always ask yourself whether other animals are at risk. If the chicken disease has been clearly diagnosed, treatment must be initiated right away. If the diagnosis is unclear, you should take the chicken to the vet as soon as possible.
Does the chicken look sickly?
You have no idea what it has or how to treat it?
Go to the vet for the chicken’s sake!
The longer you keep chickens, the more experience you will gain in dealing with and treating chicken diseases. With time, you will learn how to handle the situation.
If the vet doesn’t come to you, you have to take the chicken to the vet. So catch the chicken and get it into a box. And please pay attention to the air supply and the temperature in the car. A cover with a blanket darkens the box and the chicken will behave more quietly. Also, for obvious reasons, a waterproof tub or at least a plastic underlay can make sense at the bottom.
Chicken diseases can generally be divided into the following categories:
Chicken diseases caused by viruses:
Chicken diseases caused by bacteria:
Chicken diseases caused by parasites:
- Blackhead Disease (Histomoniasis)
- Feather lice/Pine lice
- Lime mite
- Red bird mite
- Chicken fleas
Chicken diseases due to poor housing conditions:
- Feather pecking, toe pecking and cannibalism
- Eye inflammation
- Egg eater
- Bunion ulcers
Here are some general questions in regard to behavior disturbances of the chickens:
- Is the feed composition sufficient?
- Isn’t the stocking density too high? Is there stress in the stable?
- How’s the light in the stable? Could it be too light or too dark?
- Are there light reflections in the stable? This can also irritate chickens.
- What is the general climate in the stable like? Is it perhaps too cold or too warm?
- Is there a sand bath?
- Do the nests invite the hens to stay and breed or do they often leave early?
- Are the nests dark enough? So that colleagues can’t see the pretended cesspool of the hen?
- Are there raised perches for retreat? Are there enough seats available?
- Do the chickens have enough to do, even during the winter months?
- Is the chicken run designed in such a way that it is also used gladly?
Other causes of chicken disease:
- Metabolism and nutrient deficiency diseases
- Accidents and poisoning
(Source: Book “Keeping chickens: kind-fairly and naturally“)