Category / Health Issues

Chickens Health Issues Stories from Our Nest

Under the Weather?

So, yesterday morning and today, Oyster Cracker drank water like crazy!  Then she walked over and vomited what appeared to be water.  Other than that, she appears to be totally normal.  She is eating, drinking and pooping normally.   Her crop is normal and she doesn’t have any foul smells coming from her. Her tail is up.  She has bright eyes and her comb and wattle are both brilliant red. 

I searched around this morning.  I found one post on www.backyardchickens.com.  The poster said that sometimes chickens can drink too much and they vomit up the rest.  After she vomited, she did sound a little congested, but that cleared with time.  I removed her from the coop and placed her in my makeshift infirmary.  I put food and water in the infirmary.  I also scattered some scratch on the ground.  Finally, I gave her a big bowl of yummy yogurt.  Over the course of the next couple hours, she acted entirely normal.  She ate the entire bowl of yogurt and did not vomit anymore. 

While I was back inside, I heard the hens and rooster calling for her from the main coop.  Then she started answering them.  It was the loudest BWACK, BWACK I had ever heard.  After about a half hour of this continuous chicken talk, I caved in.  I decided that I would take my chances and return her to her family.  Their reunion was beautiful.  Everyone came over to talk to her and ask her where she had been.  They truly did miss her and their love was clearly evident.  So, for now, I am taking a risk that perhaps she has a little cold or just drank too much water.  I will be picking up some electrolytes to add the everyone’s water supply to help boost their immune systems.  If she appears to be getting worse, I will separate her again.  However, sometimes being around your loved ones is all you need to feel better.

Chickens Health Issues

Tips for Chickens from Our Coop to Yours

Well it has been seven month since we started raising chickens.  I thought that I would share a few tips that I have learned along the way since raising chickens.  They might make a difference in how you do things too.

1.  Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 1 gallon of water that they drink.  This helps to promote gastrointestinal and crop health.

2.  Mix food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) into their feed.  Approximately 2%.  This helps to keep parasites down and also provides the chickens with extra vitamins and minerals.  This also keeps pest from living in the chicken’s feeders and eating their food.

3.  Buy a Pest Pistol from www.treatsforchickens.com.  Fill it with DE and blast the nooks and crannies of your clean coop.  This will keep down any mites or bugs that like to bother your chickens.  You can also dust your chickens’ bottoms and under their wings too. 

4.  If your hen ends up with an egg stuck in her vent, gently coat the area with Vaseline and coax the egg out.  If the egg breaks inside, then you will need to go to the vet.  It can lead to egg peritonitis.

5.  If your hen has a prolapsed vent (the inner portion of the vent is sticking out), treat it like a hemorrhoid.  Put a mixture of Neosporin and Preparation H on it.  Keep her in a warm dark place and limit her amount of food, not water, until the vent returns to normal.

6.  In winter or a wet spring while cleaning the coop, toss the dirty shavings and straw from the coop into the run.  This helps dry out wet areas and the chickens will turn it into compost very quickly for use in your garden.

I hope you enjoyed these tips.  Do you have any to share?

Chickens Coop Care Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 4 of a 5 Part Series

THE FIRST SIX WEEKS

I think that you will be utterly amazed at the pace in which these adorable little chickens grow! Don’t blink because you will miss it! Take the time to enjoy them.  They should start to develop a pecking order. Every flock has one.  By watching your flock, you will be able to determine things such as; Who eats first?  Who eats last?  Who seems like an outsider?  Who sleeps next to whom?  Who plays together?  Who is the smartest one?  Who is the fastest?  Your answers will help to determine their pecking order.  The idea of a pecking order is hardwired into every chicken from days when they had to survive in the wild.  Each chicken will have a role.  These roles are fought for or settled on depending on how the chickens jockey for position.  There is not much you can do to change it.  Once a true order is established, it should not change.   The only exception to this is if you add or subtract anyone from the flock.  Of note, roosters are not part of the pecking order.  Roosters are separate from the hens in this manner.  If you have more than one rooster, there will be an alpha rooster and the other will be submissive to him.  They may fight now and then and sometimes it is deadly.  The rooster’s role is to be a protector of the flock and to fertilize eggs.  If a predator attacks, it is the rooster that will sacrifice himself for the sake of the girls.

Chickens Coop Care Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 3 of a 5 Part Series

THE ART OF CHICKEN HOMEMAKING/ CREATING A BROODER

As the arrival of your chicks quickly approaches, you will need to create a brooder.  This will be their home for about the next 6 weeks.  For their first week of life, the chicks will need the brooder temperature to be about 95 degrees F.  This is maintained by your heat lamp.  As each week passes, the temperature is lowered by 5 degrees until you reach the outdoor equivalent or they are fully feathered.  When we had our chicks delivered in June, temperatures were already in the 70s outside.  At six weeks of age, they transitioned outside.   Our mid-July temperatures were in the mid-eighties at that point.  We only used the heat lamp with the 250 watt bulb for about 2 weeks.  After that, I used a regular household light bulb of various wattages in the heat lamp.  Some people create brooders in their bathtubs, living space, or sheds.  Just remember that chickens are messy, sometimes stinky and produce dust in this stage.  Thus, we set our brooder up in the garage.

Chickens Health Issues

Got Mites?

A nice clean coop, hopefully mite free

Well apparently I did!  I cleaned out the coop yesterday.  While scraping out the nooks and crannies, I saw two areas of red mites, about 20 in each spot.  It took me a little while to recognize what they were.  They were so tiny and microscopic.  I could only tell they were mites because they were crawling.  Apparently, mites like to hide out in the dark corners of the coops.  At night when the chickens come in to roost, the mites crawl up the chickens’ legs and bite them.  Aside from driving the chickens crazy, they made me go nuts.

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So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 2 of a 5 Part Series

Storey-KGTKC-MCaughey-photo11-1wp

GOING SHOPPING

Preparing for the arrival of the chicks was so exciting!  It was almost like Christmas.  We counted down and with each passing day, our anticipation rose!   In our household, it was a family affair.  I ordered the chicks in February for a June delivery date.  Why did I wait so long?  Well, I had a few reasons.  I wanted to do more research about their permanent coop and run.  I also knew that the chicks would grow very quickly.  In fact, at about 6 weeks they look like mini-chickens!  I wanted the kids participate in the experience as much as possible, so I waited until summer vacation.

Chickens Coop Care DIY Projects Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 1 of a 5 Part Series

So, how do I go about this, you ask? Well if you’re like me you read everything you can get your hands on, check the internet and dive head first into something figuring you’ll just troubleshoot along the way.  However, there is some planning to optimize your chicken experiences that will make life easier.  So, lets start at the beginning.  How do I get the chickens?

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Fossils for Chickens?!

Diatomaceous Earth!  Diatomaceous Earth or DE is really a miracle worker. What exactly is it?   DE consists of fossilized microscopic hard-shelled algae called diatoms. It comes in a very fine powder and can be a real preventative as well as curative for many chicken ailments.The most important thing when you want to use DE with your chickens is that you purchase FOOD GRADE DE.  The great thing about DE is that it gets rid of unwanted pests naturally.  It is an organic technique that has been utilized by farmers for quite some time.  DE works by a process called desiccation.  It’s sharp microscopic edges cut into the bugs’ outer body skeletons and causes them to dehydrate.  DE kills ticks, fleas, mites, digestive worms and keeps pests away from food and out of the coop.  It also provides a wide array of trace minerals to your chicken’s diet. You can add up to 2% of their feed.

Studies have shown chickens fed DE have an increase the amount of eggs, decreases the mortality rate, keeps mites away, helps to dry up droppings, helps with flies and decrease worm loads in the GI tract. It also found that hens fed DE in their diets laid eggs with more albumin and yolk . I also love that my hens are getting the valuable trace minerals. In the feed, it keeps insects from spoiling the feed too.

In the newly cleaned coop I sprinkle it into the corners, edges, in the nesting boxes and onto the floor prior to adding a fresh new layer of bedding.  We never have had a pest problem inside the coop and we live in a very wooded area! This product as been a terrific addition to my backyard chicken experience.  I love that something easy and natural is so beneficial.

As a word of precaution, DE should only be used in well ventilated areas and should be avoided getting it into your eyes, nose and throat. As you research DE, you will surely come across literature that discusses the health risks associated with accidental inhalation. The condition is called Silicosis. Silicosis is a medical condition of the lung that occurs with regular repeated inhalation over a period of many years. Silicosis can also be caused from the use of sand (silica dust) in the coop and run. So please take precautions when using sand or DE.

Update 6/11/2013: Please click here to read an article that I wrote for Community Chickens on DE- chock full of even more information, including precautions that you should take if using DE with your flock.


References:

Poult Sci. 2011 Jul;90(7):1416-26. doi: 10.3382/ps.2010-01256.
Effect of diatomaceous earth on parasite load, egg production, and egg quality of free-range organic laying hens. Bennett DC1, Yee A, Rhee YJ, Cheng KM.

RESULTS OF THE USE OF CODEX FOOD-GRADE DIATOMACEOUS EARTH WITH POULTRY, C.S. Mangen, DVM, San Diego, California