Re-thinking the chicken bath

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by LTygress, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Every single piece of information I have read warns you NOT to give your chickens a bath! Don't do it! A chicken should never get wet like that! It can KILL THEM!

    But now I'm starting to think differently.

    The first idea I ever had of giving my chickens a bath, was one VERY rainy day last summer when I continually moved them under the carport. But they refused to stay there and instead wanted to roam out in the natural rain. My alpha rooster got so wet, his entire tail just dragged on the ground - he wouldn't hold it up. But he STILL would not stay where it was dry!

    But it wasn't until this spring that I actually HAD to do it. One of my younger chicks developed Cocci and had to get a bath to get her butt, wings, belly, neck, and back cleaned too! I have no idea why she apparently rolled in it... But she turned out just fine and got healthy again pretty quickly.


    Now I have a respiratory illness going around my flock. It is taking it's time going around - it's like one chicken per week, and the next week it's a different chicken. Maybe two at once, but never three or more at the same time. And it's annoying because they are NOT simply getting it all at once! So it's an ongoing treatment, not just one big "here's your antibiotic water, everyone!" As a matter of fact, I have put them all on antibiotic water twice now - completely penned up with it so they didn't sneak out and get the clean water. Despite that, they are all still coming down with it!

    So as each one gets sick, I bring her in, give her an antibiotic injection in the neck (Duramycin), put some Vet RX in her nose, throat, and ears, feed her some mealworms, and sit her beside a food cup to make sure she gets to fill her crop. The problem doesn't seem to be the illness itself, but the amount of mucus they get from it. It literally clogs their nose and mouth. I just pulled one sumatra inside who had a mouth so clogged, she was foaming from breathing THROUGH the mucus! But lately that mucus has ended up all over their head, backs, and wings, from their roosting, and sleeping with their heads buried under the feathers on their back.

    And that is why I started to bathe them lately. The mucus on their backs collects dirt and also helps clog their nostrils even more at night. Plus it "glues" down the feathers that they would fluff to keep warm at night, and keeps them from regulating their body temperature.

    But when I started to do that, something even better began to happen. They started to clear up and get better MUCH quicker! I started giving a bath to all of them that came in to be treated - whether they had goo stuck to their back or not. And the more I did it, the less severe the illness got for EVERYONE, and the less time they would spend trying to lay around in the coop to recover. Most times when I gave them a bath, they never developed the mucus on their faces again, at all.

    So while giving a chicken a bath CAN BE deadly, I think it all depends on how it's done. I use a cat flea and tick shampoo to hopefully help treat any bugs that may be on them, and I don't wash their face - I don't want any chance of them ingesting the flea and tick shampoo at all. I use the kitchen sink, and use the sprayer as close as I can to their eyes, nose, and mouth, just to get as much of the dried mucus as I can to loosen up. I make sure the water is very warm, knowing that chickens have a higher body temp than we do (102 as opposed to 98.6).

    And IMMEDIATELY after bathing, I wrap them in a towel (where I hold them to give them the duramycin injection) and then move them under a heat lamp WITH a hair dryer on low. Both the heat lamp and the hair dryer keep them warm, while the hair dryer helps fluff their feathers back out to dry faster. The hair dryer is usually only about 6-12 inches from them. I actually tend to point it at their rear end, and propped up to blow air towards their head. This is the opposite direction of feather growth, so the air gets underneath feathers to dry their down and skin.

    During this time I also give them the mealworms, feed, and fresh clean water. They usually won't eat the mealworms until they are comfortable again - mostly dry and warm again. But I use that as my sign that they are good to go back outside to the pen - although I tend to wait until I see a bulging crop again.
     
  2. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens love baths! The problem is not the bath itself, it is the bird not getting the bottom feathers dry and getting too cold. If you blow dry on low and make sure they get that undercoat dry they are fine.
     
  3. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    Chickens as well as outside birds get wet all the time in the wild. It's deadly because they can't fly or flap away from predators. Show people always bathe their chickens for showing. My 32 chickens would rather get wet free ranging that locked in the coop.

    About respiratory ailment. Have you gotten a new bird recently that infected them all? Or all they all panting because it's hot, and the bath cools them off? Put ice in their water, and a fan blowing on the nests in the coop. Use a mild shampoo for bathing like baby shampoo.
     
  4. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It was a new bird. I told the owner of the hatchery about the problem and he offered me replacements (since they died from it), but I really don't want replacements! I'd rather this just go through my flock, and be done with it. I kept the original flock away from the new ones for a couple of weeks. But just one moment of shared time after that ruined it for all of them. And the chicks I mixed with the flock after those two weeks STILL ended up developing symptoms and dying.

    What's worse is that I think my nieces and nephews are sick from it too. The entire household is now developing sinus infections...
     
  5. War Chicken

    War Chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's interesting. If it's Mycoplasma gallisepticum, it shouldn't be transmissible to humans. Chlamydia psittaci has similar symptoms and can be transmitted to humans.
     
  6. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You probably have no idea how actually mentioning the names of BOTH of these diseases has helped me!

    I finally have something I can look up, and look into! Although the latter of the two worries me more because of the massive amount of treatment time. Thankfully the vial of duramycin that I invested in is 250 mL, so I've got quite a bit to treat them. I just never thought I might be treating them for so long!

    If/when I lose another chick from it (it's only the younger ones that have died from it) I will send it to the Georgia Poultry Lab with a request to test for these.

    I'm pretty sure if it's Chlamydia Psittaci, they're going to lock down my coop. But that is perfectly fine as long as I can get some answers and stop this issue!
     
  7. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    By the way, War Chicken.... do you know if Penicillin is safe to use on Chickens? I have some of that leftover as well, from treating a cat. It was a 100mg bottle, but if it helps with other issues, I don't want to throw it out. I don't have any other animals, but it would be nice to know if I can keep it on hand for chicken illnesses!
     
  8. War Chicken

    War Chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Penicillin is safe but not really effective anymore. I never discard any medication other than pastes or liquids because dry powders or tablets have been shown in studies to be good for decades past their expiration date.

    If the GA poultry lab is like other state labs, you don't have to wait for someone to die. You can send in fecal samples, swabs, etc., for testing.
     
  9. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    He said I could take an entire live chicken up there. But it's an hour and a half away.

    I might do it anyway once my worker's comp checks start to come in.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2013

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