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DL13 4BN




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Vine House                 Tel:   01388 731131
Nr. Tow Law                Mob: 07763929686
Bishop Auckland        Email: info@durhamhens.co.uk
Co. Durham                 
DL13 4BN




Vine House                 Tel:   01388 731131
Nr. Tow Law                Mob: 07763929686
Bishop Auckland        Email: info@durhamhens.co.uk
Co. Durham                 
DL13 4BN




Hen Health

Chickens are usually healthy and good husbandry will prevent many problems. Our hens are vaccinated against many serious illnesses, however from time to time  you may be faced with a sick hen.  I am an experienced chicken keeper and have written this guide to symptoms, treatments and prevention of chicken illnesses to help when you have a poorly chicken. After reading this guide, if you are still not sure what is wrong with your hen or she is very ill please consult a vet.

As I have provided this health care tool free of charge, I would be grateful if you could support our business by buying your poultry health care products from us either from our ONLINE SHOP or from our premises.

Margaret Manchester, Owner, Durham Hens

 


Symptom Checker

Use this list of symptoms to find out what may be wrong with your hen, then simply scroll down the page to the navy text to find an alphabetical list of problems and their treatments:

Bald Patches - see Feather Pecking, Moulting, Lice, Fleas, Red Mite

Blood in droppings
- see Coccidiosis, Worms

Chicks
   Blood in droppings - see Coccidiosis,
   Lame
- see Splayed leg
   Huddled together
- too cold (increase temperature)
   Noisy
- hungry/thirsty (have feed/water available at all times) or cold/hot (adjust temperature)
   Spread out at edges of brooder
- too hot (reduce temperature)

Comb:
   Orange
- see Anaemia
   Pink
- normal for young pullet - see Anaemia if mature hen
   Pale
- sign of illness, look for other symptoms - see Anaemia
   Purple
- not enough oxygen in blood (heart or respiratory disease)
   Black
- normal skin colour for some breeds - see Frostbite
   Scabby
- see Bullying, Northern Mite, Fowl Pox
   Small
- normal for young pullet and some types of hen - see Anaemia

Coughing
- see Respiratory Diseases

Crop:
   Crop feels like water balloon
- see Sour Crop
   Hard lump in crop
- see Impacted Crop

Diarrhoea - see Diet, Worms, Coccidiosis, Intestinal Infection, Food Poisoning

Droppings
- there are a huge range of normal chicken droppings, click on this link for more information: http://www.chat.allotment.org.uk/ind...?topic=17568.0

Eggs:
   Drop in production -
common in older hens, see Diet, Worms, Fleas, Red Mite, Egg Peritonitis
   Stopped laying -
common in older hens, see Diet, Moulting, Egg Bound, Worms, Egg Peritonitis
   Thin shells -
common in older hens, shock, see Diet, Egg Peritonitis, also give Shell Aid and
Mixed Grit,
   add
Apple Cider Vinegar or Tonic to water
   Powdery shells -
extra calcium on shell, can be caused by stress or too much calcium in the diet
   Blood spots
- less common in free-range hens and those on grass, eggs OK to eat
   Watery eggs -
common in older hens
   Wrinkled shells
- shock, see Respiratory Diseases

Eye:
   Swollen -
see Injury Eye, Sinus Infection
   Closed
most of the time - a nap during the day is normal, they close their eyes if it's windy, however, if closed most of
    the time this is general sign of illness so look for other symptoms
   Bleeding
- see Injury, pecked by other hens, preditor attack
   Missing
- see vet urgently

Face:
   Swollen -
see Sinus Infection

Feathers:
   Fluffed up:
general sign of illness if hen is hunched up, if reluctant to leave nest box see Broody
   Missing:
see Feather Pecking, Moulting, Lice, Fleas, Red Mite

Gasping for air - see Respiratory Diseases, Gapeworm

Head shaking
- see Sinus Infection, Respiratory Diseases, Fleas, Lice, Red Mite

Legs:
   Lame
- see Injury, Mareks Disease, Bumblefoot
   Scaly
-see Scaly Leg Mite, can be a sign old age

Scratching - see Fleas, Lice, Red Mite

Sneezing - see Sinus Infection, Respiratory Diseases
 
Staying out at night -
see Red Mites

Straining
- see Egg Bound, Egg Peritonitis

Sudden Death
- see Heart Attack, preditor attack, injury, poisoning

Wheezy Chest - see Respiratory Diseases

Wings:
   Hanging Down
- see Injury, Mareks disease
   Out to sides - too hot, ensure they have shade in summer




Copyright
Durham Hens Limited




Chicken Problems and Their Treatments


Anaemia
Symptoms: Pale comb and wattles, often caused by parasites
Treatment: Tonic in water, apply Smite Organic Powder or Diatom powder to the hen, clean the coop with Poultry ShieldNutri-drops help to revive lethargic hens.

Broody
Symptoms: Hen sat on nest box, feathers fluffed out, aggressive behaviour, not producing eggs.
Treatment: All hens can go broody (sit on eggs to hatch chicks). Some breeds are more likely to, especially bantams. If you want her to produce chicks, let her sit on fertilised eggs. See our Hatching Guide for more information. If you don't want chicks, remove her from the nest as often as possible until she gives up. This may take up to 3 weeks and it may be advisable to wear gloves! Also block the nest box(es) off at night. If this is not successful, you could try placing her in a dog cage on grass (without the floor) during the day, ensuring she has food and water and a rain cover if necessary. The cooler air on all sides and being outdoors should distract her from broodiness.

Bullying
Symptoms: Feathers missing, wounds, weight loss, reluctance to leave coop, usually soon after getting hens home or adding new hens to a flock
Treatment: Remove from flock if there are any open wounds, Gentian violet to treat wounds, anti-pecking spray to help prevent pecking, ensure they get food and water - some bullied hens will give up trying to eat and simply waste away!  Nutri-drops can help to revive poorly hens.

Bumblefoot
Symptoms: Lameness, swellings on feet, hot to touch, infection occuring after injury
Treatment: Clean foot, also requires antibiotic from a vet

Coccidiosis
Symptoms: diarrhoea often with blood or mucus, most commonly found in chicks but not exclusively, can result in death or leave permanent damage to the gut
Treatment: Coxoid in drinking water as soon as possible, followed by a multi-vitamin tonic. Coxoid is not recommended for adult hens as there has been no testing done for egg and meat withdrawal times. If treating an adult hen, consult your vet. Use  Bi-oo-cyst to kill oocysts in coop/brooder and on drinkers, feeders etc. Herb 'n' Thrive can be used as an organic alternative to Coxoid and there is no egg withdrawal period.
Prevention: Vaccination, chick crumb containing a coccidiostat, good hygiene

Dehydration
Symptoms: Unsteady on feet, loss of balance, lethargic
Treatment: Provide fresh clean water, if not drinking use dropper to drip water into her tongue. Don't force water down her throat as she may drown. Nutri-drops help to revive poorly hens. This may be a symptom of another condition - look for other symptoms e.g. crop problems, bullying, etc. This may be a symptom of another condition - look for other symptoms e.g. crop problems, bullying, etc.

Diarrhoea
Symptoms: Runny droppings, dirty feathers around bottom
Treatment: Ensure plenty of clean drinking water is available. Feed only layers pellets or mash, with a little corn if it's winter, until the problem improves. Do not give greens or kitchen scraps. If hen looks well otherwise try Herb'n'Thrive which effective against minor bacterial infections.  Nutri-drops will help to revive poorly hens. A Tonic will help the hen recover if the problem has been long lasting. If you haven't wormed the flock recently, treat with Wormer. If severe see Intestinal Infection, Food Poisoning.
 
Diet - A healthy diet is essential for the health of your hens. From about 16-18 weeks of age they should be fed on layers pellets or layers mash. This is a complete food designed for laying hens. There are many brands around at variable prices. We recommend Garvo which is one of the more expensive but it is exceptionally good! Hens will eat approximately 1kg of food per week but this will vary depending on whether or not they are free-range and also on the temperature and time of year.

In winter hens need more calories to keep warm. If they struggle to stay warm they will not produce eggs. Feed wheat, mixed corn or maize as well during cold spells - about one handful to two hens per day. This can be scattered on clean ground; hens enjoy pecking for grains. A small amount of greens is good for hens but if fed to excess the hens will get diarrhoea and lay soft-shelled eggs, or stop laying altogether. Nutri-peck blocks are healthy and help prevent boredom.

Mixed poultry grit should be provided in a separate container. This contains calcium for making egg-shells and small flint pebbles that are needed to grind food in the hen's crop.

Clean water should be available at all times. Hens in lay will drink approximately a third of a litre each per day. Supplements such as poultry tonic and apple cider vinegar can be added to drinking water.

Egg Bound
Symptoms: Hen looks like she is straining with her bottom close to the ground
Treatment: Rub vegetable oil or baby oil around the vent, if the egg is broken inside the hen there is severe risk of infection so please see a vet. Can lead to Prolapse.

Egg Peritonitis
Symptoms: Swollen abdomen, loss of weight, laying soft shelled or no eggs, generally looks unwell, if severe can cause respiratory distress (gasping)
Treatment: Antibiotics from a vet

Feather Pecking
Symptoms: Feathers missing, bloody wound if severe, can occur when new hens are introduced to a flock, if their diet does not have enough protein (see Diet), if they are over-crowded or simply if they are bored!
Treatment: Gentian Violet Spray for open wounds
Prevention: Anti-pecking spray on new hens, add Calm'n'Thrive to water when getting new hens, prevent hens becoming bored (more space to forage, perches in run, peck blocks etc).

Fleas
Symptoms: Small insects that jump, reduction in egg production, anaemia, scratching. Humans may be bitten around the ankles but chicken fleas will not live on people.
Treatment: Apply Smite Organic Powder or Diatom directly onto the hen, especially under the wings and around the bottom, clean the coop with Poultry Shield. Also Tonic in water.
Prevention: Use Smite Organic Powder or Diatom regularly inside the coop and on your hens.

Fowl Pox
Symptoms: White blisters on comb and wattles which scab over and fall off after a few weeks
Treatment: Viral infection so no treatment, isolate birds, most will make a full recovery, tonic will aid recovery.
Prevention: Vaccine is available to large scale breeders, hybrid hens are routinely vaccinated

Frostbite
Symptoms: Comb turns black especially at the tips, the tips may fall off if severe, can be fatal. Cockerels are more likely to be affected than hens as they do not sleep with their heads under their wing.
Prevention: Rub Vaseline on cockerels' comb during cold spells

Gapeworms
Symptoms: Gasping, head shaking, neck stretching, gurgling sound (easily confused with respiratory diseases)
Treatment: Worm with Flubenvet

Heart Attacks
Symptoms: Sudden death, usually in older or overweight chickens, can be a result of stress/fright.

Impacted Crop
Symptoms: Hard lump in the crop, watery droppings, fluid from mouth
Treatment: Drip oil (olive, vegetable) onto the tongue, don't force liquids down her throat or she may drown. Once in the crop try to massage the lump so it breaks up and can be passed through the digestive system. If this does not work, see your vet.  Nutri-drops help to revive poorly hens.
Prevention: Use wood shavings instead of straw/hay for bedding and do not pick long grass for them to eat. Ensure grit is available at all times.

Injury:
   Open wound

   Symptoms: Bleeding
   Treatment: If severe apply pressure to stop the blood flow, see vet if it needs stitching, if just a graze clean the wound,
   apply Gentian Violet Spray. Remove from flock until healed
   Muscle/Soft Tissue
   Symptoms: Limping
   Treatment: Limit hen's movement to rest the damaged area, make sure she can reach food and water easily, should heal
   itself in time. Remove perches to prevent jumping which can worsen the injury.
   Eye
   Symptoms: Bleeding, swelling. Can be caused by pecking, accident, foreign object in the eye, sometimes the eye can be
   missing altogether.
   Treatment: Bathe the eye area carefully to see the damage, remove foreign object if present, she may need anti-bacterial
   eye drops from your vet, if the eye is absent see your vet.

Intestinal Infection
Symptoms: Diarrhoea, looks generally unwell, not eating, gasping for breath if severe
Treatment: Herb'n'Thrive is effective against minor bacterial infections. If severe consult a vet.
Prevention: To not feed out of date scraps or food that is mouldy or 'off' to hens. Keep food and water dispensers in the coop so other birds and wildlife are less likely to share and pass on bugs.

Lice
Symptoms: small insects (1-4mm) crawling on the hen's skin, white spots at the base of the feather are eggs, reduction in egg production, anaemia, scratching.
Treatment: Apply Smite Organic Powder or Diatom directly onto the hen, especially under the wings and around the bottom, clean the coop with Poultry Shield.
Prevention: Use Smite Organic Powder or Diatom inside the coop and on your hens.

Marek's Disease
Symptoms: Common viral infection causing internal tumours to grow often resulting in paralysis of one leg and/or one wing, loss of mobility, death. Usually occurs in birds between 12 and 30 weeks old.
Treatment: None, chance of survival poor.
Prevention: Vaccination as a very young chick, all the hens and chicks sold by Durham Hens are vaccinated against Mareks Disease.

Moulting
Symptoms: Loosing feathers, not laying
Treatment: Natural process occurring once a year, Poultry Spice can help hens recover quickly.

Northern Mite
Symptoms: small insects (less than 1mm) crawling on the hens, anaemia, scratching, reduction in egg production
Treatment: Apply Smite Organic Powder or Diatom directly onto the hen, especially under the wings and around the bottom, clean the coop with Poultry Shield. Also Tonic in water.
Prevention: Use Smite Organic Powder or Diatom regularly inside the coop and on your hens.

Poisoning
Symptoms: Sudden death, hens very unwell, may produce gurgling sound, often strongest hens affected
Treatment: See vet
Prevention: Do not put rat poison, lawn fertiliser, weed killers, slug pellets where chickens can eat them. If you have a rat problem, try our Hen Safe Rat Bait Station.

Prolapse
Symptoms: Internal tissues sticking out of the vent, possibly bleeding if damaged or pecked by other hens, hen distressed.
Treatment: Remove hen from flock and see vet.

Red Mite

Symptoms: Anaemia, scratching, reluctance to go into the coop and/or lay in nest boxes
Detection: Use Red Mite Alert to detect the presence of red mite in your coop.
Treatment: Apply Smite Organic Powder or Diatom directly onto the hen, especially under the wings and around the bottom, clean the coop with Poultry Shield. Also Tonic in water.
Prevention: Use Smite Organic Powder or Diatom regularly inside the coop and on your hens.

Respiratory Diseases (many with similar symptoms and treatments)
Symptoms: Coughing, sneezing, wheezy chest, head shaking, discharge from nostrils, possibly wrinkly egg shells
Treatment: Separate hen from flock, give Herb 'n' Thrive, Respite or antibiotics from your vet.  Nutri-drops can help to revive poorly hens.

Scaly Leg Mite
Symptoms: Scales lifted on legs
Treatment: Apply Scaly Leg Spray and/or Vaseline.

Sinus Infection
Symptoms: Swollen patch below the eye on one or both sides, if severe the eye area may be swollen too, also water/pus from eye/nostril.
Treatment: Separate hen from flock, if mild use Herb 'n' Thrive or if severe antibiotic from your vet.  Nutri-drops can help to revive poorly hens.

Sour Crop
Symptoms: The crop will feel like a water balloon, soft and squishy.
Treatment: Caused by a fungal infection. Tip the hen forward to let the fluid pour out of the crop through her mouth (CAUTION: do not hold her like this for more than a few seconds as she needs to breathe!) Feed natural yoghurt. If it doesn't improve quickly see your vet for anti-fungal treatment.

Splayed leg
Symptoms: In newly hatched chicks, one leg sticks out awkwardly, unable to walk/stand.
Treatment: Tie a piece of wool around one leg at about knee height, leave about 2cm loose between the legs and then tie to the other leg at the same height. This will act like a splint and keep the legs in the correct position. Remove after 2 days or when the chick can walk unaided.

Worms
Symptoms: diarrhoea, blood in droppings, loss of weight
Treatment: Worm with Flubenvet
Prevention: Worm regularly with Verm-X Poultry Pellets


Open wound
Sour Crop