need some seasoned advice

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TeamChaos, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. TeamChaos

    TeamChaos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 8, 2009
    I am new to chickens, but not to life and the internet- I've learned by personal experience that one should NOT google every medical symptom they have or else they will read every gnarly worst case scenario story on the 'net and be surprised if they live to see another day. I'm wondering if the same goes for chicken keeping. I've read several books, an embarrassing amount of poultry magazines and, well, I joined this board in order to prepare for keeping chickens. I have five girls that are from the feedstore and are 16 weeks old and I have twenty one chickens from ideal that are 10 weeks old (10 packing peanut roosters and 11 girls). They live on our farm which hasn't had any poultry activity on it for over 30 years. I converted a camper for the coop (bad idea, whole different post), they have a huge fenced run and I've been allowing them to free range in the paddock and berry bushes for over a week now. What I'm asking for here is that experienced chicken owners let me know how much of this is just normal life with chickens or conversely if any of these things are unusual or indicators of a problem. It's hard to search these things to find out if they are normal behavior because everything I've seen or read presents them only as symptom of disease... I have no idea if a normal flock will have some degree of the behaviors without indicating a problem that requires treatment.

    They lose a surprising amount of feathers- some of them seem "Dandruffy"- like the clear shell of the feather is splintering. Some have broken feathers. There are occasional kerfuffles over who rules the coop, so that might account for some of the feathers.

    Some sneeze- today was the first time anyone had any "goo" come out when she sneezed, she goobered my arm, thankyouverymuch. It was clear. Her nostrils are clean. Everyone's nostrils look clean and clear.. just the occasional sneeze a few times a day.

    They scratch their heads. The older hens more than anyone else scratch at their heads several times a day. Sometimes they shake their head before/after.


    They do a "yawn" move or what we call a "chicken burp"- nothing comes out, no sound, similar to a cow pulling up cud to chew. They've done it for nearly as long as I've had them. I've read all about gapeworm and don't see anything in their mouths, nor has the problem gotten worse.

    Thanks.
     
  2. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

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    I'm not able to pin it down for you.

    But I'd suggest checking for mites first, also, they could be moulting. The scratching could be attributed to either one.

    The sneeze with discharge COULD be really bad, do a search for respiratory disease and yes, you will be stunned at all the references and variety. [​IMG]

    Sorry I couldn't help more. I had to respond though, because I thought I was the only person in the BYC world who used the word "kerfuffle"!
     
  3. blueberrychickens

    blueberrychickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Kerfuffle, that might just be my new word!!! I like it![​IMG]
     
  4. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've only had chickens myself for a little more than a year, so I can only speak from that limited experience.

    The feather stuff doesn't sound out of the ordinary to me. The ten week olds could be still growing in their juvenile feathers, which would account for a lot of the dust. I think what you're describing are the feather quills, the white, papery coating that covers new feathers as they're growing in. They splinter and break off when the new feather is ready to emerge. A new feather grows inside this sheath (they're called blood feathers because they're alive and growing and have a blood supply attached to them). In early stages, these blood feathers look a lot like porcupine quills!

    Our doves indoors shed a lot more feathers than our chickens; I guess that makes it seem pretty ordinary to me.

    I don't know what to say about the sneezing; I've never seen ours do that. However, if it's anything like humans, a clear discharge is not a sign of infection. It could just be the chicken clearing out her nose from all that dust!
     
  5. NeeleysAVLChicks

    NeeleysAVLChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would definitely check for mites, just in case, but chicks that age to seem to lose an impressive number of feathers. They're just growing in their adult plumage, I wouldn't worry about it unless you start to notice bare spots.

    The chick "yawning" thing totally caught me off guard at first as well, also freaked out and thought gapeworm. Luckily, a seasoned chicken owner calmed me down and assured me that they're just adjusting the food in their crops.

    Keep an eye on the sneezing thing, but I wouldn't be terribly concerned unless you start to notice drainage and other symptoms like lethargy, loss of appetite, etc.

    Good luck and have fun with them, they grow up so fast.

    And....because nothing in this world is free, BYC demands PICTURES of these little cuties!! [​IMG]
     
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    All of these things are normal chicken behavior...even down to the feathers, especially at this time of the year, depending on your climate. Mine are just starting to moult and their feathers are looking pretty ratty.

    If you observe your chickens quite a bit, which it sounds as if you are starting to do so, you will find that all of these behaviours are normal....unless they become excessive. If a chicken is sneezing a lot and not just a few times a day~this is not normal.

    If your chicken scratches her head a couple or three times a day, this is just part of their grooming ritual....if she is doing it excessively she could have lice or mites.

    Same with the yawning. A little is normal, a lot is not.

    Your birds sound pretty normal to me...and I'm pretty durned seasoned when it comes to chickens! [​IMG]
     
  7. Penturner

    Penturner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Scratching and yawning I don't think are problems.

    Sneezing without other symptoms is most likely dust. Could even be coming from the younger chicks and the feather sheath stuff you mention. Also not something I would be alarmed about.

    Feather loss could be anything from molting (harmless) to mites or even malnutrition. That one you need to investigate a little more if it persists. IT is my opinion that a bird that does not look healthy is not healthy. I do tolerate a bad hair day or two.
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Normal teenage molting. Once they get their final adult feathers, by 16-20 wks or so, this will pretty much stop. Til they molt next year anyhow.

    Some have broken feathers. There are occasional kerfuffles over who rules the coop, so that might account for some of the feathers.

    Chickens do that, it's not a problem [​IMG]

    Some sneeze- today was the first time anyone had any "goo" come out when she sneezed, she goobered my arm, thankyouverymuch. It was clear. Her nostrils are clean. Everyone's nostrils look clean and clear.. just the occasional sneeze a few times a day.

    Not sure what to say about this -- I'd at least keep a close eye on it. They can *very occasionally* sneeze just from getting dust in their nose though, especially if they are eating dusty mash or suchlike.

    They scratch their heads. The older hens more than anyone else scratch at their heads several times a day. Sometimes they shake their head before/after.

    Could be normal molting behavior (feathers itch when they are starting to grow in!), but look VERY CLOSELY for mites or lice which you'd want to treat if you found 'em. Look amongst the head/neck feathers but also at the base of the neck, "armpits", base of tail, and vent area.

    They do a "yawn" move or what we call a "chicken burp"- nothing comes out, no sound, similar to a cow pulling up cud to chew. They've done it for nearly as long as I've had them. I've read all about gapeworm and don't see anything in their mouths, nor has the problem gotten worse.

    If it is only very occasionally, it's normal.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  9. TeamChaos

    TeamChaos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 8, 2009
    *whew* Thank you all so much! I wish chicken info was gaged with a "common-ometer" to let you know the likelihood that your chickens are afflicted by any given condition.

    I'll gladly share some pictures, I hope it doesn't kill the thread!


    Here's the tupperware bin of 21 babies coming home from the post office.
    5 E.E.s
    2 Jersey (not so) giants
    2 cochins
    2 dominiques
    and 10 mystery dudes.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    This is Owl. S/he is a weird little bird and I really enjoy her company. Her beak doesn't match up, her feathers have a weird texture and she crows better than the packing peanut roosters. She likes to follow me and my dog as we work on the farm and she will hang out in the garden and eat any bug that I point at.

    Thanks again for all the reassurance that my chickens are not cesspools of unusual disease!
     
  10. NWChicks

    NWChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You have very cute little puff balls! I appreciate the thread as those questions have crossed my newbie mind as well. I joke with my friend that I've become some sort of chicken hypochondriac after all the reading I've done on chicken illnesses!
     

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