As the owner of a small flock of chickens, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of illness in your birds. Chickens can be susceptible to a variety of diseases and conditions, some of which can impact their health and egg production and others which can spread to other hens and even be fatal. In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common illnesses in domestic chickens and show you what to look out for.
- Infectious Bronchitis (IB)
Infectious Bronchitis is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects chickens of all ages. It is caused by the coronavirus and can lead to decreased egg production, poor egg quality, and even death. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, and difficulty breathing. If you suspect your chickens have IB, contact a veterinarian immediately.
- Marek’s Disease
Marek’s Disease is a viral infection that can cause tumours, paralysis, and death in chickens. The virus is spread through feather dander and can survive in the environment for months. Symptoms can include paralysis, weight loss, and tumours on the skin or internal organs. There is no cure for Marek’s Disease, but vaccination can prevent it.
Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Eimeria. It can cause diarrhoea, weight loss, and decreased egg production in chickens. Young chickens are especially vulnerable to the disease, which is spread through contact with faeces. Treatment includes medication and good hygiene practices.
- Avian Influenza (AI)
Avian Influenza, also known as bird flu, is a viral disease that can be deadly to chickens. It is spread through contact with infected birds or contaminated materials. Symptoms include respiratory distress, swelling of the head and neck, and sudden death. If you suspect your chickens have AI, contact a veterinarian immediately.
- Newcastle Disease
Newcastle Disease is a viral disease that can cause respiratory distress, nervous system disorders, and death in chickens. It is spread through contact with infected birds or contaminated materials. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, and paralysis. There is no cure for Newcastle Disease, but vaccination can prevent it.
- Fowl Pox
Fowl Pox is a viral disease that can cause lesions on the skin, mouth, and respiratory system of chickens. It is spread through contact with infected birds or contaminated materials. Symptoms include scabby lesions on the skin, difficulty breathing, and decreased egg production. Treatment includes good hygiene practices and supportive care.
- Egg Binding
Egg Binding is a condition where a chicken is unable to lay an egg. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor diet, stress, and reproductive problems. Symptoms include lethargy, difficulty walking, and straining to lay an egg. Treatment includes gentle massage and veterinary intervention if necessary.
- Mites and Lice
Mites and lice are common parasites that can cause irritation, anaemia, and decreased egg production in chickens. They are spread through contact with infected birds or contaminated materials. Symptoms include scratching, feather loss, and irritability. Treatment includes good hygiene practices and the use of insecticides.
No one wants their pet chickens to get sick, so it’s important to be vigilant and keep an eye out for signs of illness in your flock. By being aware of the most common illnesses and what to look out for, you can take steps to prevent and treat them. Regular vet check-ups, good hygiene practices, and a healthy diet can go a long way in keeping your chickens healthy and happy.