How can I tell if my chicken is healthy? Are there any obvious signs?
Positive signs of health are bright eyes, red comb, dry nostrils, shiny feathers (with most of them there), good weight, clean feathers under the tail, and an alert and active manner

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FAQ

How can I tell if my chicken is healthy? Are there any obvious signs?
Positive signs of health are bright eyes, red comb, dry nostrils, shiny feathers (with most of them there), good weight, clean feathers under the tail, and an alert and active manner.

Lack of feathers could be due to the annual moult (late summer/autumn) on any part of the body. Missing feathers on the tail could be due to other hens pulling them out due to mineral deficiency or stress.

Lack of feathers on the neck sides may be due to the other hens or the de-pluming mite.

Broken and/or missing feathers on the back of the neck and back of the females may be due to over/vigorous attention from the male bird.

How do I inspect a chicken for health problems?
Hold the bird so that it is balanced by resting its weight on your left forearm, its head under your left arm, its legs held between the fingers of your left hand with its tail pointed away from you.

This leaves your right hand free to inspect the bird for positive signs of health, and lice or mites.

I have one hen with feather loss around her neck. Could this be pecking related?
She might just be molting. When chickens molt it sometimes starts on the neck and tails.

Chickens will pick and eat feathers if they need extra protein. Try feeding some rainworms or cat food about 2-3 times week until they finish their molt. Also use dye on her to disguise the blood.

What is Bird Flu?
Bird flu or avian influenza is an infectious disease of birds ranging from mild to severe form of illness.

All birds are thought to be susceptible to bird flu, though some species are more resistant to infection than others. Some forms of bird flu can cause illness to humans.

How do I stop feather picking?
The tendency for feather picking varies widely among different breeds of chickens. Commercial flocks generally use beak-trimming to reduce the birds' ability to harm one another.

Feather picking is increased by: overcrowding; malnutrition; and, inadequate feeder and water container space. Giving the birds access to free range space usually prevents feather picking.

Note: Mysterious feather loss is usually caused by molting or, if it's concentrated on the backs of hens, by roosters during mating. It may also be caused by feather lice. Molting is the natural process of replacing old feathers with new ones, and can also be triggered by stress.

I am getting shell-less eggs. What do I do?
Shell-less eggs are held together by the membranes alone. This may be related to a lack of calcium or vitamin D. Hens synthesize vitamin D from sunlight so this will not be a problem if they are free-range.

Eggshells require a lot of calcium. A feeder full of ground oystershells can provide the calcium they need.

How often do hens need to be treated for worms?
Hens should be wormed at least twice a year. The most common licensed product for worming poultry is Flubenvet. You can only buy a 240 gram tub.

My chickens have black spots on their crowns, what kind of disease is this?
Any loss of colour on the comb usually indicates a circulatory problem, possibly heart disease. Blackness indicates dead tissue due to loss of blood supply or dried blood (try washing it off). It could also be frostbite or damage from fighting.

If it is Fowl Pox there are 2 types:

  • The dry form is very common and does not really cause any damage unless the pox forms right beside the eyes. The dry pox will go through a flock in about two weeks and then it is over.
  • The wet form can be a serous problem and it is where the pox forms down their throats. If you have a wet form of the pox you can vaccinate your flock to stop it from spreading.
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