Question Chicken Health

Discussion in 'Poultry, Domestic Livestock, Pets, & Bees' started by Steve, Sep 29, 2017.

  1. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Messages:
    670
    Likes Received:
    250
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    So a search through this site has uncovered a few gems when it comes to looking after chickens but being a real novice I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. Maybe it's too much info not aimed at a complete idiot (that's me :confused:) because I think that's what I need.

    My question is, how do i look after my chickens' health?
    Please go easy on me, I'm new to chickens.
    What do I need to look out for, and how?
    What do I need to treat them for on a scheduled basis? And how?

    I know these might be some broad questions but if you can break it down a little into simple speak it might help me to get my head around this.

    I'd really appreciate the wisdom of the gurus on this site to guide me to a flourishing flock!

    PS: if theres already a thread that I've missed that's already covered all this then please point me in that direction.

    :feedchooks::feedchooks::feedchooks::feedchooks::feedchooks::feedchooks::feedchooks::feedchooks:

    Cheers,
    Steve
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  2. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,511
    Likes Received:
    1,034
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Firstly Steve, don't be overwhelmed by keeping chickens because you'll soon find out they're as easy as keeping any other pet - probably easier.

    Once your hens get into a routine (after a few weeks of arriving at their new home) they will adapt to your habits and look after themselves by grooming, dust bathing, and exercising via digging, scratching, and interacting with each other.

    Always ensure they have water and food because hens like to actively graze most of the day. Supplement their diet with lots of scraps from the garden and table - chooks love scraps and a varied diet!

    Clean out their coop and nesting boxes whenever necessary. For most coops, a typical cleanout and change of bedding gets done about once a fortnight to a month but generally follow your nose and eyeballs on when to clean it out.
    It's rare for hens in good environments to get ill but it does happen from time to time. I've had them die from the flu, suspected tick bite, sudden heart attack, predator attack, old age, and unknown sickness.

    Your hens should come with vaccinations - most reputable poultry retailers vaccinate their hens against common illnesses.

    Generally, you can tell if a hen is sick because her comb will be dull (not as vibrant) and possibly be flopping over but some breeds naturally look like this, however, hens are active birds so you will notice when a bird is not doing its "thing".

    If this does happen, check the bird all over for any abnormal abrasions, rashes, runny nose, etc. If you see the bird has a cough or a runny nose or is really too sick to even avoid you picking her up then remove her from the flock as a precaution and place her in isolation with separate food and water as she may have a virus or bacteria that could be contagious. Sometimes they simply recover overnight and are fine the next day.

    Rashes and inflamed areas around the feet, legs, vent, under the wings, can be signs of parasites such as mites (sometimes lice in big numbers can be a problem but usually it's not) but mites are serious and literally suck the blood out of chickens. Obviously, mites need to be treated as do intestinal worms.

    Typically, people treat their hens every 3 months to protect against intestinal worms and external parasites by giving worming medication (like Avitrol) either down the throat via a tablet, liquid, or in a liquid mixed in the drinking supply. Dusting with an external mite and lice dust (such as Pestene) to get rid of external parasites is what most people do. Dusting your hens is best done at night when they are perched in the coop as chickens can't see "jack" or "Steve" or "Mark" at night time so you just grab them one by one hold by the feet upside down let them flap out and then give them a good dusting all over except for the face (speaking of face, you should wear a face mask).

    Personally, I don't use the dusting method for hens anymore and prefer to use ivermectin drops on the back of the neck for external parasite control but this subject is a little complicated to explain so it would be best (if you're really interested) to read this thread here and my article on my website here. For now, though, I would recommend you start with the standard dusting method and see how you go first because this is what most people use on their hens and it's effective.

    Also, you should regularly dust or spray around nesting boxes and the coop to get rid of mites hiding in these places. Some mites live off the bird and come out at night to feed on them when perched.

    I'm sure there are other things people may add in regards to looking after chickens but whilst it seems like a lot to read and digest in all honesty the practicalities of caring for several hens is really nothing - yes, larger flocks and breeding can get harder to maintain but half a dozen birds kept for eggs is easy to look after and a lot of fun.

    Chickens are intelligent they're like cats with two legs - don't often show their emotions unless they want something to eat but they're great to have around. :)
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  3. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Messages:
    670
    Likes Received:
    250
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    Thanks Mark, that was a great read and delivered like a 'soldiers-five' so it all makes much more sense now.
    Really appreciate the effort you put into explaining that.

    One follow up question, where is the best place to source the lice/mite/worming stuff? (online, rural produce place, other....)

    Cheers,
    Steve
     
  4. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,511
    Likes Received:
    1,034
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    You can get it anywhere Steve - any produce store will sell the powder and the tablets.

    To give a chicken a tablet I physically place it down the birds neck. What I do is visit the pen at night with a headlamp or dull lamp so I can put it down to have two hands-free and then I place one hand around the back of the hens head/neck so that my fingers are positioned either side of the beak. Then I gently open the beak up (requires a slight bit of force) with the tablet in the other hand I plop it down the hen's throat (over the top of the tongue) and make sure it swallows it. Chickens don't bite or hurt when they peck at your hands so don't be worried about that... :)
     
  5. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Messages:
    670
    Likes Received:
    250
    Location:
    Brisbane Australia
    Sounds like a plan.
    Very much appreciate the advice. I really had no idea how to look after these ladies...
    I thought it was a case of how I treat all the ladies in my life....treat 'em mean to keep 'em keen! :cool: I'm kidding of course. lol
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
Loading...

Share This Page