How you can help you chickens when they are sick
Finding a trained poultry veterinarian or any vet who will agree to treat chickens is extremely difficult. What I will be writing about will cover basic guidelines to follow when caring for your sick chicken without a vet. Chickens offer cues when they are starting to get sick. Common signs of a sick chicken include: hiding, inactivity, unusual droppings, unusual posture, lack of appetite and reduced egg production.
Do's and Don'ts of of sick chicken care
Priority #1 is to provide a sick chicken with a quiet, protected, warm environment away from the flock where it can be observed closely. Separation from the flock keeps it protected from being bullied or pecked. It also protects the rest of the flock members from what might be contagious.
Priority #2 is to keep the chicken hydrated throughout the crisis even if that means offering it by a syringe or a dropper frequently. Water is involved in every aspect of a chickens metabolism to regulate body temperature, digesting food, and eliminating body wastes. If the bird is not hydrated, it does not stand a chance of fighting off the illness. Adding a vitamin and or electrolyte supplement into the drinking water for a day to a week can help. For the electrolytes you can use (rooster booster electrolytes and vitamin powder) you can add this to the water. If you do not have a store in your local area that does not carry this you can use gatorade as a substitute or you can buy it online. Food is much less critical than water. You can put chicken feed into warm water or milk to make a soupy mash. You can use a dropper, syringe, or tube feed a liquid diet.
Do Not Alter the Diet
If the bird is eating and drinking normally do not drastically change their diet by offering foods or supplements they do not ordinarily take. Doing so can make the chicken unwell or even feel worse.
Do Not Treat or Medicate Randomly
Without knowing what the underlying issue is, randomly treating or medicating a sick bird can make their condition much worse and complicate the ability to determine the real problem. Do not rush to offer dewormers, antibiotics, garlic, vinegar, molasses or oregano to a sick chicken, but you can use them. I have an example in the picture below.
Do Trouble Shoot
In desperation, most of us without vets have or will turn to books or friends who have chickens for help troubleshooting a sick chickens symptoms. The following questions can be useful and narrowing down the range of problems:
When was the last time she laid an egg?
Does she feel lighter or thinner than usual?
How long have the symptoms been present?
Any new additions to the flock recently?
Does any other bird have the similar symptoms of the illness?
Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones, bruising, or other signs of trauma?
Is the bird eating and drinking normally?
If so, what does the daily diet consist of?
Could the chicken have eaten something toxic?
Do the droppings look normal?
Are there any worms in the droppings?
Does the crop feel full, empty, hard or soft?
Are there any insects on the skin or feathers near the vent?
Any unusual lesions on the body, under the skin, comb, wattles or in the mouth?
Is this chicken sneezing, coughing, wheezing, having trouble breathing?
Is there any facial swelling?
Is there any discharge from the nasal, mouth or eyes?
Does the chicken have watery or bubbly eyes?
When a sick chicken is well, they should be reintroduced to the flag as if they were a stranger to ensure a smooth transition, the least amount of stress possible and no harm.