Chickens Health Issues

15 Thoughts on Caring for Chickens with Health Issues

Long before I began blogging about the chickens, the gardens, and the bees, my career has been in medicine. Without a doubt, I draw on my experiences in medicine to care for my chickens. Yes, there is a difference between treating chickens and treating humans.  However, many things do not change such as infection causing organisms, basic biological processes, wound care, and classes of medication to name a few. I wanted to do a post with some basic information that you might find helpful, specifically when a flock member becomes ill.

An infection can be caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They can even cause an infection at the same time. Many many individual organisms and strains exist within these classifications.  Antibiotics act on the organisms’s weakness.  Like Sherlock Holmes, not only do you need to know what are the most popular infectious organisms and where they live in the body, you need to know whether they survive in oxygen or without (aerobic vs. anaerobic). Is their cell wall gram positive or gram negative? Are they a cocci or a bacilli?  Which antibiotics work best for skin, gut, respiratory systems and the like based upon the knowledge base of infectious organisms. Without a medical background, things like this can be very complicated to say the least!

It is important not to treat your flock with antibiotics unless you are exactly sure what you are treating.  
~If you pick the wrong medication for the wrong organism, your chickens will not get better.
~If you don’t treat long enough, your chickens can develop a resistance to the antibiotic and it will not work in the future.
~If you give your chickens antibiotics without a clear cut reason, this too can make them resistant to the medication.
~Whenever there is doubt, seek out help from a veterinarian. They are the experts.
Use natural treatments with caution.
~I am an advocate of natural treatments. However, if your chickens are not responding to the natural treatment you have selected within 2-3 days, you should consider re-evaluating your treatment plan.
~Although certain items such as lavender, garlic, vinegar, lemon, honey, ginger, citrus and the like have been shown to have antiseptic properties against microorganisms, they can lack potency. Often more potent antibiotics are necessary with more serious situations.
~Super oxidized water products such as Vetericyn (animals), Sterilox (to clean medical equipment) and Microcyn (humans), have been clinically proven for the topical treatment of common bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Prevention is key.  
~There are many natural products that can help keep your chicken healthy. Three such examples are as follows.
~Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (FGDE) will not cure your chickens of severe worm infestation, neither will raw pumpkin seeds. However, there is evidence that they may help to curtail their population. Thus adding pumpkin seeds and FGDE to their feed can help keep the worm population down.
~Adding apple cider vinegar can help to keep the digestive tract bacteria in balance and keep yeast levels in check.
~Using FGDE and Nesting Box blend in the nesting boxes and coop help to curtail poultry lice, mites, fleas and other pests from taking up residence in the coop and on your chickens.

I Cannot Recommend these Popular Treatments in Backyard Chickens

~Sevin Dust 5%
Chicken keepers regularly use this to treat animals and the their living spaces for mites, fleas, ticks and poultry lice. New labeling no longer states it is recommended for livestock. This is due to its active ingredient, Carbaryl, is neurotoxin, and has been shown to cause cancer and reproductive health issues in laboratory animals.
~Topical Monthly Pest Applications such as Frontline (Fipronil) and Advantix (pyriproxyfen)
When used on chickens, these chemicals are detected in tissue, fat deposits, and eggs. These detected chemical levels are considered “safe” by the EPA. However, personally, I know that chemicals can have a cumulative effect in the body and I prefer to keep them out of my food source entirely. (Source: Pesticides in Food 1999- Review by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.)
Many use this for worming chickens. The warning label states that it is “not to be used in chickens producing eggs for human consumption”.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

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