Getting to know your chickens is not only fun but is also important to insure their health. By knowing your chickens, you will be able to determine if they are sick or injured. It's easiest to get to know your flock starting when they are young. Handle them daily. Talk to them, feed them and bond with them. Don't stop as they grow. If they were tamed while young they will be much more easy to handle and care for as adults.
Simply by spending time with your flock each day you will be able to check their overall health. This insures you catching something potentially dangerous early. Check their crop each evening and morning to make sure it has filled up and emptied properly. Check their eyes, nostrils and mouth to make sure there is no unusual discharge. Listen to their breathing and observe their walking. By doing these simple things each day you will be able to find and treat an injury or sickness easier than you would if you found it several days or even weeks in to it. Also, naming your chickens will help too. If you have a chicken problem it's much easier to say "Gracie my buff orpington is lethargic, not laying and has diarrhea" instead of "one of my chickens is lethargic and not laying. I also have been seeing diarrhea but have no idea which chicken it's coming from." So, naming your chickens is not silly but important. (But, it is recommend to not name chickens you plan on eating.)
Here is a checklist you should look for within your flock.
*Eyes-Clean, bright, alert and no fluid emerging out
*Nostrils-Clean with no unusual breathing sounds and no fluid emerging out
*Comb and wattles-Clean, glossy and plump
*Neck and head-Alert, upright and not sagging or lopsided
*Feathers-Clean, slick and well-preened
*Crop-Full and rounded in evening, empty in morning
*Legs and toes-Sturdy, firm, not lopsided and scales should not be raised (Lifted scales can be a sign of mites.)
*Vent-Clean and moist but not very wet
*Droppings-Firm, white capped
*Body weight-Appropriate for age and breed and not over nor underweight
Knowing how your flock functions and acts is important for their well being. Plus by finding something dangerous early, you could save their life.
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