Helping to Support Chicken Encyclopedia"

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  Health and Problems   

I have tried to get connections to the experts for all the health problems..
This page will be updated regularly with more information
aids in treating Specific conditions -Mississippi State University
Guide to Poultry Anatomy and Diseases-very impressive site page shows pics of chickens with certain diseases so you can compare your own birds instead of depending on a description. with Pics--Maine Biological Laboratories
Avian Influenza
Guide for Baytril - United States Pharmacopeial
Guide To Disease or Behavior Diagnosis- extremely good site for symptoms and meds
BumbleFoot - One suggestion for fixin'
  Dry Pox  - Article from Mississippi State Univ.
  Egg Binding
Poultry Diseases
Prolapse - possible fix
Respiratory Infections -University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  Scaly Leg
Poultry Medication Guide - Penn State University
Toe Nail Trimming/Spur Removal
Vaccination Guide for the Small Poultry Flock-University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Gape Worm
Technical Article on Worms -By K. J. Theodore, written for Poultry Press
Biohaven - site for external parasites



Toe Nail Trimming: From the Univ. AZ

In birds, the toenails grow constantly. To cut, use human nail clippers or dog nail trimmers, to trim off the tip, or last 1/4 of the nail. The blood vessel which feeds the nail can be seen as a reddish line inside the "quick" or middle of the nail and it extends about 3/4 of the length of the nail. NEVER CUT THE NAIL SO SHORT AS TO CUT THIS BLOOD VESSEL! If you make a mistake and bleeding occurs, push a cotton swab into the cut surface of the nail and apply pressure until bleeding stops. If available, silver nitrate cautery sticks are useful to stop bleeding, but first the blood must be blotted.

Removing Spurs

If you want to get rid of the rooster's spurs. It is very simple. All you have to do according to Stromberg's Book of Poultry is the following:
Place a hot baked potato on the spur and hold it there for a few minutes. Remove the baked potato, twist the spur and you will find it comes right off. There is no blood or mess. Use another freshly baked hot potato for the other spur. This technique really works well.
Advice: Don't eat the baked potato afterwards, let it cool off and feed it to the rooster instead.

Trimming Rooster Spurs

The rooster's spurs can be trimmed to about 1.5 cm in length with secateurs.

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POULTRY DISEASES--This is a page from Mississippi State University on External Symptoms for Diagnosing Poultry Diseases Great site for listing symptoms and then connections to specific Diseases such as: coccidiosis, Marek's disease, Infectious coryza, Lice or mite eggs 


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Avian Influenza   UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Extension Sources and Spread of Avian Influenza virus

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Gape Worm - Glenda Heywood of NPN

Generally if your bird has gape worm it ill never draw a good breath and will constantly stand and shake head. it also expells some gapes as it shakes and coughs, that is how your bird gets it. By wild birds coughing and spiting up gapes and your bird seeing the red worm picked it up and wala! it has gapes. it will cough and spit and choke and really be dead in a week or so. Hope not check out the vet for a good wormer for the whole flock as if one has it the whole flock will have it

Egg Binding

You first generally notice this ailment rather too late, when it is obvious the hen is in some discomfort. The hen often stands or moves in an odd way, usually with her tail held very low and her rear end tucked between her legs. Sometimes they just sit around looking ruffled, but often it is obvious the bird is straining to pass an egg. If you spot it early your chances of helping the hen are greatest.

Egg binding can happen in young hens just starting to lay or in older birds that have become fat.  Lack of exercise can cause fat to build up in the birds body, around the reproductive organs and so cause the egg to get stuck. Lack of calcium in the diet can be a major cause of it.  Sometimes the egg is just too large for the bird to pass, sometimes the shell is rough and not easily expelled.
 In my experience the egg bound hen, (Unless it's a pullet first starting to lay, these seem to respond better) has not got a very good outlook.  If you approach the problem with this in mind then anything you can do to save your bird is a bonus.  Unless the egg gets passed without too much fuss, it frequently seems to cause the bird massive shock, the bird often will die.  Egg binding can also cause a prolapse, which will forever cause problems with that hen afterwards.  However going on the principle that if its going to die without help. You have to try something!

So here are some things you can do to assist the hen, and are always worth trying, especially on a young bird who is just having trouble with her first egg.  These birds are usually the most rewarding to treat, they seem to respond better and often it does not reoccur with them, unlike older birds who have developed internal problems.

The first thing to do is to put the bird somewhere warm for a while,  often, this treatment in itself can help enormously.  As with many bird related ailments, heat can be a wonderful healer.  If the hen is in shock from it is vital.  A comfortable heat will often give the bird enough of a boost to be able to pass the egg herself.  Hopefully this will be the case with your bird.   If after a while she is still straining and no egg has arrived, I would suggest gently introducing some slightly warmed oil (body temp) into the vent, cooking oil is fine.  If the egg is visible hold the hen vent downwards over a bowl of gently steaming water.. (Don't over-heat the poor thing she's going through hell as it is!)

Many people will tell you that if you break the egg the hen will die.  Yes this is very often the case, sometimes the act of breaking the egg may cause the bird to just have a heart attack and drop dead. I've seen it happen, but I have had success on two occasions using this method.  I gently and carefully made a small hole in the visible end of the egg, and emptied the contents.  The contractions of the hen quickly crushed the now empty shell and I pulled it free.  DO NOT leave any egg behind!

If your hen finally lays her egg  she will show immediate and understandable relief!  I always give the hen some electrolytes to drink and a light feed and usually they are happy to go back to the flock after a brief rest.  In the case of an older bird, I usually put her on a light diet for a few days to try to bring her out of lay. Especially if I think it is due to the hen being overweight.

Now for some modern stuff that I have heard about but haven't tried, but I'm absolutely going to ask my vet about! I have recently heard that excellent results can be obtained very quickly with injectable calcium gluconate which is given as an inter muscular injection into the pectoral muscle.
I want to find out more about this as it could be very useful in future.

Preventing egg binding:
I have found that by using a calcium/mineral supplement added to the birds layers rations a couple of times a week that this problem has decreased.  I have a lot of birds and generally used to expect to have a couple of cases of egg binding during the season.  The last couple of years its been very minor, if at all, so I think that the added calcium/minerals may have just given that extra help needed to help prevent this ailment.  As calcium is required for the muscle contractions which push the egg out of the body as well as for the formation of the shell I think extra calcium and minerals are a very good idea during the breeding season. I for one will not rely on breeders pellets and oyster shell alone.

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Scaly Leg

This is seen as crusty like growths on legs with raised scales.  It is caused by a small parasite that burrows under the scales Do not leave scaly leg untreated  as it can cause severe  problems to the bird if  left for a long time. I once saw a case where the scaly leg had grown enough to force the poultry club ring on the back of the birds leg to dig into the good flesh at the front of the leg which must have caused the poor thing a great deal of suffering.

Scaly leg often seems to crop up amongst feathered legged breeds so pay particular attention to any of these you may have.  Scaly leg is NOT a sign of old age!!  many people seem to think that a bird with scaly leg is just old.  Old birds can have nice legs too if you keep them free of this parasite.

Scaly leg can take a long time to correct and the birds legs will never look as nice as if they had never had the problem so prevention is far better than cure. It can affect any bird but is unlikely in waterfowl due to their aquatic nature.  It can be treated in the following ways.

I usually take the bird to the house and soak its legs in warm water for a while to remove any dirt. You will find that this will soften some of the crusts that may become loose and detach.  DO NOT pull at the crusts or they may come away taking the birds skin with it and you end up with a bleeding mess. But any that can be SAFELY removed can be gently eased off.  Don't scrub the legs, you would find this painful and so does the chicken!  Dry the legs and apply one of the following.

Scaly cream: This  is available from  pet shops for treating budgies with scaly face. This works well for small numbers of birds. rub it well into the legs and repeat every few weeks.   For larger numbers of birds benzol benzonate available from chemists can be applied to the legs on a regular basis.

As it is caused by a mite a quick spray on the legs with a lice/mite spray will also work, but only  to a degree as treatment really needs to get well down under he scales.

For the more organic amongst you I have had very good results using Eucalyptus oil. This works like a penetrating oil and after a few minutes of use you will find some scabs becoming very soft and fairly easy to remove. Treat every few weeks. massage well into the legs. I have yet to try Tea tree oil but think that this mixed with Eucalyptus oil would prove useful due to its healing properties.

I  use Eucalyptus oil as a preventative against scaly leg. and it seems to work.

Some old time fanciers still recommend using things like paraffin or old sump oil petrol creosote and other things that today can be considered hazardous to health not just the birds but yours as well.  I'm not for a moment suggesting that they didn't work, they obviously did, but there are really far better and less risky treatments available to the Poultry fancier of the 1990's.

Do remember that when  treating scaly leg with various lotions it can sting if the skin gets broken. So do be gentle when treating for this complaint.

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Prolapsed hen-One Persons fix

with only ONE treatment--you could have knocked me down with a feather !!! A big black
game hen Araucana mix hen had laid a double yoked egg and prolapsed afterwards. I cleaned her with
a paper towel and first applied sugar and then generic Preparation H from Wal-Mart. That hen has
indeed recovered and returned to her flock where she has enjoyed a few fights. Normally a hen like
that would be in her grave.


Roundworms and tapeworms Let’s look at two common types of worms - .  Roundworms are yellowish-white in color and may be 2 to 3 inches in length.  They live in the intestinal tract. The eggs of the roundworm are passed onto the ground or into litter through the birds droppings.  Chickens who are confined to a house or small yard will scratch and peck in the droppings of all birds.  Chickens then get roundworms by eating worm eggs. To control infestations of roundworms it is important  that you keep your birds in a sanitary environment.  Watch your birds for signs of roundworm infestation – pale heads, droopiness, weight loss, diarrhea, and even death.  Diagnosis of roundworms can be made by examining the intestines for the presence of worms  or by taking samples of droppings to a veterinarian for examination under a microscope.  If the presence of worms is confirmed, control is accomplished by the use of piperazine wormer in the feed or water, which can be purchased at most local feed stores.  Treatment must be repeated three weeks later for the best results.

Tapeworms are composed of segments, and are flattened so that they appear as ribbons. The head of the worm is fastened tightly to the lining of the intestines.  Tapeworms vary in length from 3/8 of an inch to 17 inches.  Segments of the worm break off and are passed in droppings.  These segments produce eggs which are eaten by insects.  Since chickens eat the insects - earthworms, grasshoppers, flies, etc – they will  ingest the eggs.   Since chickens permitted to free-range eat more insects than confined chickens do, they are more likely to become infected by tapeworms. Signs of tapeworm infestation include weakness and slow growth or weight loss.  Death can occur but is unlikely.  To control tapeworm infestation, you must first develop a plan for insect control. I would also recommend visiting your vet if you are sure this is the problem. This is important because medication will not totally rid your flock of tapeworms.

Some Poultry Fanciers de-worm their birds on a regular cycle without knowing whether their birds have worms or not.  Indiscriminate worming can cause drug-resistant strains of parasites to develop.  It also does not allow your chickens to build up a natural immunity to parasites. Birds that have built up a natural immunity are usually not bothered by worms unless they are forced to inhabit crowded, unsanitary conditions or are  weakened by some other disease. A different, possibly better approach is to periodically gather a few droppings for evaluation by your veterinarian.  He/she can examine the droppings under a microscope and determine if you need to medicate your flock.  He/she can advise you on the right medication at the right dosage to get rid of those nasty little things

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BumbleFoot-One persons suggestion for fixing

This is condition affects the pads of the feet. It is caused by the bacteria staphylococcus aureus, which is present wherever there are chickens. Most  people notice swelling of the foot pad, and if you look at the pad and note  a dark, blackish scab, it is bumblefoot. The swelling is due to abscess in  the pad. Staph enters the foot through injury to the pad - either by bruising or breaks in the skin caused by sharp objects.

Avoiding Bumblefoot
Bumblefoot is difficult to cure. Make sure the roosts are rounded and not too high off the ground. Sand off any potential splinter areas. Ensure plenty of litter, 3-4 inches or more . Don't use wire bottom cages. Give vitamin supplements, especially Vitamin A.

Have on hand the following:

Betadine, hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin, sterile scalpel or 14g needle, coban, sterile 2x2 gauze pads, surgeon's gloves. Have ready a cage to put the chicken in when you're done. Make the litter deep, ensure food and water. I have used terramycin in the water for a week - follow the directions on the package.

The 'Operation'
If possible, have a helper. You can, however, do this yourself. Wear gloves  - you don't want to get the staph on you!

Wash the leg and foot, scrub with Betadine until clean at least 30 seconds.  If you can soak the foot until the scab is soft, do that and then pull off 
the scab.

Lance the pad with the needle or scalpel and squeeze out the pus. I do this  under running water. Yes, there will be bleeding. After the pus is out as much as you can get, dip the foot into peroxide solution. The blood will cause  a foaming reaction. If there is a lot of bleeding, hold pressure with a sterile 2x2 until stopped or under control.

Apply Neosporin to the site, a sterile 2x2, add some more 2x2s for padding, then wrap the foot firmly with coban. Wrap so the toes and spur are exposed . Don't wrap so tight that you cut off circulation. You will want to start the wrap on the foot and work up to the leg. Coban sticks well to itself and the chicken generally won't be able to pull it off if you do a good job.

Place the chicken in the deep litter cage, and change the dressing in 2-3 days. I keep the chicken confined until I remove the dressing and until the pad is well healed so that it won't open up when back to free-ranging. So far I've never had to cull a chicken due to bumblefoot.


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