Checklist to ensure a chicken is healthy?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by DianeS, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. DianeS

    DianeS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 28, 2010
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    I am buying four adult chickens on Monday, (RIR hens, various ages btwn 4 - 18 months) and I want to be sure the ones I'm buying are healthy before I pay for them. I've done some searches on the site, and have a list of things to check - please let me know anything else I should add to it!

    --Chicken is alert
    --Bright eyes, not watery or goopy
    --Solid legs, not flaky or wobbly or limping. Chicken can walk and run.
    --Feet apear to be healthy, no sore spots or open cuts
    --Healthy looking feathers (shiny, etc)
    --Skin not overly scarred (although a little scarring might be OK) No open sores. Blow on the feathers to see down to the skin, checking for little black bugs (mites) or other colors (lice).
    --Breathing is not noisy (no rattling, coughing)
    --Vent is moist and pink to red (so they don't stick me with a 6 year old chicken that won't lay anymore)
    --Comb is pink to red (pinker OK for young ones who aren' t laying yet)
    --If I see poop, it should be looked at for obvious worms (although worms are not a deal breaker, I'd want to know right away so I could treat it).

    Anything else a chicken newbie could tell quickly about a particular chicken that would indicate I do not want to purchase it? Thanks in advance!
     
  2. SilverPhoenix

    SilverPhoenix Bantam Fanatic

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    Looks like a good checklist!

    Also, check the scales on the chicken's legs to make sure they don't have scaly leg mites (which is treatable, but you want to know if they have it), look in the bird's mouth, and look for diarrhea/abnormally colored poop as well. Also, feel around the keel (breastbone) to see how the bird's weight is. A thin bird could be ill or need to be wormed. It's good to be familiar with what a "normal" weight is for chickens, so check as many keels as you can to get an idea of what "normal" feels like versus thin or overweight. Check their ears, too. It's rare for anything to go wrong with their ears but it's better to check!

    I think that should do it! I can't think of anything else to check.
     
  3. DianeS

    DianeS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What do scaly leg mites look like?

    And, um, where exactly are a chicken's ears and what do "healthy" ears look like? Is it just I don't want impacted or draining ears? I've had chickens that I've butchered before, but never looked around on their heads for ears. Gosh that sounds like a dumb question! [​IMG]
     
  4. SilverPhoenix

    SilverPhoenix Bantam Fanatic

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    These are all fairly extreme cases (though still perfectly treatable), but here's an example: http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/Health/Dis/scaly.html

    Basically
    , you just want to look and see that the scales on the bird's legs are even and not pushed up, and that there are no irregular bumps or growths or rough patches. If the bird does have scaly leg mites, dipping their legs in oil once a day for a few weeks takes care of it by smothering the mites. [​IMG]

    And here's a chart on where chicken's ears are: http://4hembryology.psu.edu/figure1.gif

    Just
    look behind the little feathers that cover the opening and look for swelling, discharge, abnormal colors, blockage, etc. Here's a photo of a clear ear: http://partnersah.vet.cornell.edu/avian-atlas/sites/agilestaging.library.cornell.edu.avian-atlas/files/avian_atlas_assets/11_ear%20x420.jpg

    I
    hope that helps!
     
  5. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    In truth, you can't be 100% sure they're healthy, just by looking at them. They could be recovered from some respiratory illness, but still be carriers of that disease, like Typhoid Mary. The only way to know that would be to have many tests run, which would most likely be cost prohibitive and maybe not even possible for some diseases. It's always a risk to buy started birds. That said, your checklist looked pretty good.
     
  6. DianeS

    DianeS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 28, 2010
    Oregon
    Thanks, everyone! I got my chickens a few hours ago, and they look great. I forgot to check the ears, but everything else checked out just fine. I appreciate your help!
     
  7. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Best of luck with them! [​IMG]
     

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