Diseases to look for with baby chickens!

For people who are having problems with their chickens!

Parasites in Chickens
The most prevalent threat to the flock is parasites. All warm blooded animals can get a parasite infestation. The main source of external parasite problems are caused by mites, fleas and lice. A scaly mite sticks to the legs and face of chickens. Black fleas can be found stuck to the chicken's comb while white fleas infest the feathers and are constantly on the move. The best treatment for external parasites is to keep the facilities clean and try to keep the flock away from wild birds. If already infested use Sevin Dust sprinkled lightly through the feathers. Vegetable oil applied to the legs when scaly mite is evident will keep them from spreading and the mites will eventually die off.

Internal Parasites in Chickens
Symptoms of internal parasites are poor feather quality (this could also be a sign of external problems). The chickens lose weight, become lethargic, their combs are pale and there will be diarrhoea. Again regular cleaning of the chicken house, nest box area, and surrounding grounds will prevent most outbreaks of worms. If the flock is demonstrating problems with intestinal worms contact a veterinarian for fecal tests and specific treatments.

Newcastle Disease
Newcastle disease is highly contagious and can not only be spread through the flock but be transmitted to humans in the form of mild conjunctivitis. In chickens Newcastle disease is lethal and can wipe out the entire flock in a matter of days. It is an airborne virus that attacks internal organs. Symptoms include hoarse chirping, gasping for breath, trembling and paralysis among others. There is no treatment but administering antibiotics can offset secondary infections.

Mareck's Disease
Mareck's disease affects chickens through white blood cells and presents itself as cancerous tumors. Chickens experience weight loss and difficult breathing. A vaccine to prevent Mareck's disease should be given to chicks at one day old. There is no cure once the disease is contracted and it stays in the environment for a long time. Purchasing chicks from a reputable source and making sure they had the vaccination is the best prevention.

Fowl Pox
This disease is spread through biting insects like mosquitoes. Raised scabs on unfeathered places is a sign of fowl pox. These scabs eventually fall off leaving open bleeding sores which the other chickens will pick at and contract the disease. Fowl Pox spreads slowly and can be treated by a vaccination to prevent it from going through the entire flock. If not vaccinated most chickens recover on their own and are immune for life.

Respiratory Diseases in Chickens
If the chicken coop is not kept clean and ammonia free the likelihood of the flock falling victim to respiratory distress is assured. Coughing, sneezing and nasal discharge are all symptoms of a respiratory outbreak. It is brought on by ammonia, dust, or bacteria from unclean conditions. Vaccinations are available depending on the type of respiratory infection and the severity. Check with the local veterinarian when chickens demonstrate signs of a respiratory outbreak

Prevention is key to keeping your flock healthy.

  • Keep water dishes clean and food dry and contained.
  • Manage you coop in such a way to minimize health risks (sanitation and number of chickens).
  • Although chickens love your kitchen scraps, beware of what you give them. Do not feed moldy or rotten foods.
  • Spend time with your flock and observe their behaviors, poop, and physical characteristics. If there is a problem, catching it early is key! If you find a sick bird, be sure to isolate it from the flock.
  • Some possible symptoms to look for indicating injury/illness/disease include: Coughing, wheezing, labored breathing, warts/scabs, swollen joints, loss of feathers, reduced egg production, thin egg shells, fever, abscesses or open wounds, paralysis, twisting of neck/head, discharge from nose/mouth, diarrhea/blood in stool, not eating/drinking, weight loss, retarded growth, lack of coordination, enlarged abdomen.
Even when you follow proper care habits however, injury and disease/illness can still strike your flock. Many chicken keepers feel helpless when they have a sick bird, and it can be difficult to find an avian vet that specializes in chickens. Many chicken diseases also present similar symptoms, so diagnosis and treatment can be tricky. Here are some resources to help you learn about chicken illnesses, injuries, and disease.

  • What is disease?

  • How does my chickens get sick?

  • What are some of the main causes for illness?

  • How can I prevent as many of these diseases as possible?

  • How can I identify what is wrong with a chicken?

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