How is a proper chicken inspection done?,

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Lisa Wood, Jul 14, 2016.

  1. Lisa Wood

    Lisa Wood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I want to start doing chicken health inspections, so I have some questions and I am soliciting advise, please.
    So starting with the chickens, they are seven weeks, been in the coop a little over a month, assorted breeds, one rooster.
    So I get a chick, and look her over well, both sides of body, under wings, vent area, legs and feet. Question: Will I know if they have the scaley leg mite? Do I need a magnifying glass, or is it obvious? If bird is not itchy, then I doubt she had this mite, is that generally logical thinking?
    I know to check for a bright eye, but do I pull lower lid down to check for red tissues, or just leave that as long as she is not displaying illness?
    Do I need to open mouth and look in there? Use flashlight to look in ears? I will check under wings, and breastbone for weight? What is proper for that? How will I know fat/skinny/good weight?

    Srarting on creepy crawlies: Do chickens only get the fleas that stick, or can they also get regular fleas that run? Can they get so itchy that they make hot spots like dogs? Do I need to pick thru every feather, or will mites and lice show themselves. I mean, if lice or mites are present, will they infest bird's entire body, or do the stick to one area? Say like under a wing?

    What about nails? Is this also like a dogs? Clip when they look long anf hope you dont hit the quick?
    Hoe often do some of you do nails?

    Last question I promisel Last question in this post. Are these birds gonna hold it against me? Pawing all over them like yhis? Do they hold grudges like parrots?

    Thank you so much in advance for answering any questions, advising mr on any topic.
    Lisa
     
  2. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been doing daily checks while handling my chicks, nothing as complete as what you're planning though. Mostly I feel their crops, peer under a few feathers, check their vents and just give them a look and feel over.

    I would wager most chickens don't need their nails trimmed, since they trim them pretty well with all the scratching they do. I guess it depends on what sort of surface you have them on. Back when I had other pet birds and pet rats I did trim their nails once in a while and it was just clipping the tips on the ones that were obviously long. And avoid hitting the quick.

    Will they hold a grudge? My chicks don't seem to mind too much, as I've been doing this as part of my routine. Also I stuff them with mealworms whenever I pick them up so even the ones that don't like being picked up will hang around and wait for their turn, because they want the mealworms that badly!
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Truthfully, a visual inspection is all I give my chickens. Healthy chickens are active chickens, they are curious and come running. Their feathers are shiny, and eyes are bright. (Although, right before molt, their feathers get a bit ragged) The scales on their legs are flat and tight, although they do get rougher with age. Spot check the manure for any signs of worms.

    Offer more than one feed station so that all can eat, and offer good quality feed and clean water. Offer a couple of hideouts, multiple levels such as platforms and roosts in the run. Keep clean bedding down. MEASURE the coop and run, and calculate the number of chickens that you have and don't over crowd.

    Good food, clean water, dry coops and enough space, and quick removal of a sick bird, will keep your flock healthy.

    I think a daily handling of your birds, would stress them and reduce their egg laying.

    Mrs K
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I'm along the lines with Mrs K. I do visual sweeps and keep an eye on production. Other than that, my birds can go months and never be handled....and when they are it's usually just to move from one pen to another.

    I'm not sure if your parrot background will help or hinder your chicken endeavor. They're both birds, but my understanding is they are worlds apart. Granted, I've never kept parrots, just going on what I've heard. They're more high maintenance than chickens. And more intelligent. Not that chickens are really stupid, it's just a different sort of intelligence. Maybe because I treat my birds more as livestock and don't expect them to act like pets, but I've never had a bird with behavioral issues like caged birds can get. I'm also a big advocate for lots of space, it makes everyone happier.

    But, to respond....

    scaly leg mites...I'm not sure if you can see the actual mites or not. I've seen pics of birds here with it. The leg scales get raised and irritated looking, not smooth and flat.

    I go on the no itch, no bare spots = no mites. I give my birds wood ashes to dust bathe in and have never had a problem with parasites. I guess in theory my birds could be crawling with them, as I never look that close. But I figure if there's something like that, the birds are going to tell me.

    I just look for both eyes to be bright and clear. No close exam.

    I don't think I've ever looked in a chicken's mouth. And I'm not sure how you'd look in the ears? Honestly never occurred to me.

    Can't help much with the other parasite questions. My understanding is mites tend to like the vent and under the wings.

    I don't clip nails, or trim beaks. Chickens naturally scratch a lot and keep their nails worn down. I keep a brick or large rock in my run and sometimes see the birds dragging their beaks across that, I'm assuming as a natural way to trim the beak. If you have a rare bird that doesn't keep it's nails trimmed, I'd just file or clip the end, like a dog's.



    The best way I've found to monitor the flock's health is simply observing them. Pull up a chair and sit and watch them for half an hour or so. Scatter some treats and watch how they eat. If anyone hangs back, isn't interested, acts dull, has brittle feathers, etc, then that particular bird needs a closer look. If everyone come running, glossy feathers, bright eyed, healthy appetite, and production is at a good level, I let them be.
     
  5. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well the other responders obviously have far more experience than I do so take that into consideration with my advice. [​IMG] I'm on my first flock of 4, but as I consider them pets first and foremost I handle them 2-3 times a day and so far they don't seem upset by it. I can't imagine a quick, gentle inspection is a bad thing as long as your birds don't mind it.
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Donrae pretty much nailed it. That's my general management protocol, too. Basically, a studied eye, over time observing your flock, will be able to spot an individual with problems, then a closer inspection is then performed.

    Observing your flock during the day as they go about their various chickeny endeavors, will tell you if all is well or not. Observing them in the evening as they go to roost will be an excellent time to to a quick inspection of legs and feet for injuries and leg mites. Young birds rarely have a problem with scaly leg mites since their scales are smooth and tight. It's my older hens that exhibit the problem. Spraying or painting the legs and feet with castor oil is easily done while they're on the perch in the evening.

    As for ears, chickens, by the way, adore having their ears tickled. It's not hard to flip the tiny flap forward to inspect the ear, but you really needn't bother with regular inspections. Your chicken will tell you if something is wrong in her ear by scratching at it relentlessly. I had one do that, and an application of a bit of mineral oil cured her itches. Sometimes, but very rarely, foreign matter gets in there and you will see it and be able to extract it with tweezers. But, the chicken will let you know. You don't have to go peering in ears all the time.

    I've had a few hens grow excessively long nails in spite of scratching around in the dirt. Even very long nails have a deceptively shallow quick. I refrain from nail clipping except for these rare cases, and then I trim by increments until I see a tell tale "dot" that indicates I'm nearing the quick. Go beyond this "dot" and you will draw blood.

    After nine years of chicken keeping, I finally have myself some poultry lice. (Not me, my flock!) Ugh. Awful to deal with. Let's just say you will know when your chickens have lice or mites. Then good luck dealing with it.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Agrees with Mrs. K, donrae, and azygous... visual inspection and frequent observation of behaviors are key to spotting problems.
    Good space and nutrition are of great import.....too small a space and budget nutrition will almost guarantee problems.

    I do take all the birds off the roost a few times a year and part the feathers to look closely at skin around vent and head/neck to look for bugs.
    Lice and their eggs are pretty easy to see, google for images of lice and mites before your inspection.
    A couple doses of dusting with permethrin takes care of them pretty quickly.
     
  8. Lisa Wood

    Lisa Wood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you so much to aart, azygous, rosemarythyme (will be singing that stuck in my head for a week...),donrae, and Mrs. K.

    Great advise with one of my fav things in life:-common sense.
    Let me first say, I agree with the observance method as well, to find out if there is anything out of the norm happening. I believe in this tactic for all animals, for me dogs and horses. My husband and I warch them incessantly, single and together. They were acquired for several reasons, main one being so I can sit outside and watch them. I am also quite confidant they would get their point across if there was some problem.
    I may not have thought about inspections except for what was suggested on this list. In my experience, there are always polar opposite opinions about what to do, no matter the species. Because I have never seen lice or mites, and I am a little OCD with bugs on my animals or me, an inspection will probably be more beneficial for me than the birds. When I discover no crawly creepy bugs on my birds, several times, I will ptobably lay off being obsessive about it.
    I recently saw a wild eagle on TV being inspected, absolutely crawling with lice. Dont know the type of louse, but the poor bird had no relief from the itch I am sure, untill he was treated that day. I thought lice were light colored, but these were dark, running around like big slow fleas.
    As far as the mouth, I have seen my vets open my birds mouth every time he is examined. I also just watched someone pluck out worms attached to underside of young owl's tongue.
    With the info from your posts, I will forget about mouth, ears, eyes until I see a problem.

    Someone on this list also gave me the idea all birds need handleing enough to understand they will be ok,, and they can be picked up and not die. Some of them love it, some hate it. I think I brooded mine in such a way to cause fear and avoidance. If there is ever a second time, it will be done correctly.
    Again, thanks for sorting out my head for me!
    Lisa
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    That might have been me.
    Even if you didn't handle them when chicks, I've found that if they have a problem that needs handling them they can still learn that they 'will not die'.
    I just spent 2 days handling a 'wild' hen that appeared to have gone blind during a heat wave and was dehydrated because of it.
    She fought hard at first, but became accustomed to the handling, is now back functioning(one eye seems sightless)and is much more amenable to being handled,
    and she's easy to catch from her blindside...haha!
     
  10. Lisa Wood

    Lisa Wood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Let me tell you what I am noticing. When the darlings need my HELP, they are submissive pets who dont mind being held. They are all finally roosting, but last ones up have problems getting up to high perch because sisters are blocking the parking area. I am allowed to assist.
    I looked out kitchen window to find one bouncing around on TOP of netting, upside down. I got to help that one. And I may be hallucinating, but they are freindlier if they see us handle and pet and talk to sisters. Anyone one I hold calms pretty quick if I start talking and petting right spots.,
     

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