Baby chick scratching at head/ears

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Nov 5, 2018
Birmingham UK
I have a two week old Dutch bantam chick who is constantly scratching at his head or ears area. It is literally every few seconds and both sides of his head.

I have attempted to check inside his ears but they are so tiny I can't see much. The other chicks in the brooder with him are not affected.

Everything else seems normal, eating, pooping, active and energetic. But clearly bothered by something on his head.

Now this chick had a lot of difficulties after a late hatch, including reluctance to eat and crooked legs and feet plus tremors that seemed to be neurological. Finally all of these issues seemed to have resolved. The tremors are gone but this itching issue is definitely worsening.

The chick has been scratching on and off for most of its life but now it is very very often. What on earth could be the cause? Could it be neurological? Are mites a possibility even though he lives indoors and the other chicks are not itchy? What can I do for the little guy?


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What the incessant scratching of the ears indicates is extreme discomfort. You do need to take steps to inspect the inside of the ears, as tiny as they are.

Find a magnifying lens somewhere, even if you have to got to the stationary supplies in the store to look for one. This is an important item in a chicken first aid kit.

You'll need a helper to hold the chick while you shine a strong light and look at the ears with the hand lens.

Look for a foreign object such as a sliver of shavings bedding or crusted material clogging the ears or mites. Also, inspect the inside of the chick's mouth for signs of plaque which would indicate a respiratory infection.

If nothing is obvious, it could be extreme dry ear. Use mineral oil in the ear opening to counter the dryness and it will also help if there are mites.

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