Pasty Butt in Chicks: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

pasty butt chicken

Have you noticed a crust of poop on your newly-hatched chicks’ vent? Pasty Butt, or pasting, is a widespread condition in baby chicks and could be fatal if left untreated. I’ve had to treat many of my young pasty butt chicks over the years and this came on the heels of losing my chicks because I didn’t know what to do.

Having a pasty butt chicken can be irksome. We also don’t want you to lose any chicks, so we’ve put this article together to help you deal with this condition among your chicks.

What is Pasting?

Pasting occurs when poop comes out of the vent and sticks to it instead of falling off. Over time, the poop builds up, and the butt becomes clogged. Consequently, it becomes impossible for the baby chick to release excreta, and this is dangerous to the chick’s health.

To safely remove pasting, you need to have a good understanding of the chicken’s anatomy. The chicken’s anatomy reveals an orifice (the vent) from which the chick passes out excreta. Many people mistake the vent for the belly button and vice versa. When cleaning up the chick’s pasting, it’s critical not to mistake one for the other.

You should also be careful not to tug at the chick’s belly button. In a newly-hatched chick, the belly button has a fold of tissue that should become dry and fall off in a couple of days. Pulling on this tissue could lead to disembowelment and fatal complications, so you have to be very careful.

Symptoms of Pasty Butt

chick sick

The earlier you spot pasty butt in your chick, the higher the likelihood of your chick’s survival. As such, you should always watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Slow or absence of noticeable growth
  • Lack of sleep
  • Inability to feed or drink
  • General weakness, compared to other chicks
  • Protrusion of the vent

Noticing that your chick has a pasty butt before the manifestation of these symptoms is even better.

Causes of Pasty Butt

Pasting usually occurs in chicks that are less than three days old. However, some diseases can lead to pasty butt in chicks that are over a week old. It’s improbable for chicks raised by a brooder hen to get a pasty butt. The reason is simple: they are not affected by the stress of mailing and temperature changes.

The major causes of pasting in newly-hatched chicks are temperature change, stress, and improper dieting.

1. Temperature Changes

Baby chicks that are sent via mail usually experience a change in temperature that might clog their vents. Also, such chicks are usually dehydrated after a long journey, and giving them water that’s less than 35°C can cause their butts to paste.

Besides temperature changes due to transportation, heat lamps, commonly used in coops, can also cause the newly-hatched chicks to overheat, leading to a blockage in their orifice.

2. Poor Digestion

A major cause of pasting is the ingestion of food ingredients that are difficult for the chicks to digest. This results in the chicks having to excrete a more viscous and stickier poop that eventually remains on their butts.

pasty butt

The common reason for this is the chick’s under-developed digestive system. Young chicks’ digestive systems aren’t fully developed with enough enzymes to break down these food materials. This explains why pasty butt isn’t common in birds over a week old as they are capable of producing enough digestive enzymes.

3. Improper Dieting

For some people, adding electrolytes to the drinking water of their chicks is an excellent way to enable them to recover from the stress of traveling.

While such medications are generally healthy for your chicks as they enhance immunity, excess electrolytes can lead to pasty butt. More often than not, what baby chicks need is fresh, clean water even when they show signs of disorientation.

In most cases, when you notice a recurring case of pasting in your chickens, it’s likely due to the type of feed they’re consuming. For instance, some feeds made from soybean have been reported by many poultry farmers to cause pasty butt in baby chicks.

4. Infectious Diseases

Sometimes, chicks can get infected with viruses and bacteria, leading to diarrhea, which is a risk factor for pasting.

5. Stress

Chicks sent by mail and those raised in incubators experience stress, which translates to pasting.

If you’re new to homesteading, and you’re buying baby chicks (usually under three days old), ensure you don’t get those with poop sticking to their vents. Also, ensure you check the chicks’ vents immediately you get home. If any of them has a clogged vent, initiate treatment immediately, and keep an eye on them after that.

Treatment

chick sickness

Here’s a routine of what we do to treat our baby chicks when they come down with pasty butt:

1. Clean up the Vent

The first thing to do is to clean the butt of the chick. Gently and softly wipe the butt with a napkin or washcloth dipped in warm water. Do not try to forcefully pull the excrement when it’s dry because you could tear the chick’s skin, and even damage the vent.

As an alternative, you can place the backside of the chick under running warm water. The warm water will help loosen the harden poop and open up the vent. If the excreta is very dry, you can use a cotton swab to dislodge them. It’s a pretty straightforward process and takes just a couple of minutes to perform.

After cleaning the vent, dry the chick with a paper towel or a hairdryer set on low heat and held 10 inches away from the chick’s butt.

2. Use Vaseline

To prevent chaffing, I always apply Vaseline to the chick’s butt. After cleaning and drying the chick, take a little portion of Vaseline with a cotton wool applicator and apply it to areas surrounding the vent.

That way, the excreta won’t stick the next time the chick tries to poop. If you prefer a similarly effective but natural alternative, you can opt for olive oil.

3. Feed Them Cornmeal

The next thing is to put some cornmeal on a tray and let the chicks forage on them.

Prevention

sick baby chick

Just like with every disease, prevention is far more cost-effective and time-effective than treatment. It’s better to take the necessary steps to prevent your baby chickens from developing pasty butt in the first place. We’ve done the following over the last couple of years and had brilliant results

1. Pay Attention to Their Diet 

What’s in their food? What’s in their water? In our poultry, we add probiotics to the chick’s water. Probiotics help boost the immune system by aiding digestion and the absorption of nutrients.

Besides probiotics, we also add organic apple cider vinegar to their water. This is a very common practice among poultry farmers. You can add two tablespoons to a quarter of the birds’ drinking water to prevent the clogging of their butt.

There is, however, no direct scientific evidence that organic apple cider vinegar can help prevent pasty butt, but it remains a healthy supplement.

2. Maintain the Right Brooder Temperature

Heat lamps are potentially hazardous, with a temperature far above the recommended average for brooding. Newly-hatched chickens flourish in places with temperature ranging from 60OF to 70OF.

As a rule, I don’t use heat lamps for my young chickens as they are arguably the most harmful heat source for baby chicks. Instead of heat lamps, I stick to alternatives like radiant heat plates, which are remarkably safer and more energy-efficient.

It’s also important to monitor the body temperature of the chicks. You can easily gauge their level of comfort by watching their position in the brooder; when they cluster while awake, they’re probably cold. Make necessary adjustments like increasing the room temperature to make the chicks comfortable.

3. Serve them Scrambled Eggs

Scramble up an egg and feed the chicks with it to supply them with protein. We do this immediately after cleaning up the chicks’ vents. We first learned of this method when we had recurring cases of pasting in our new poultry. Over half of our baby chicks had pasty butts, and we had to find a permanent solution.

What we did was to mix scrambled eggs with the chick’s feed and offer it to them. It helped to clear things up, and we didn’t record any other incidence in those birds.

4. Keep the Brooder Clean and Comfortable

Keep your brooder clean to forestall bacteria growth and spread that could make the situation worse. The brooder has to be extremely comfortable for the young birds, with clean water and healthy feed available at all times.

Conclusion

Treating your baby chicks of a pasty butt is a pretty easy endeavor. However, ignoring it can lead to the chick’s death, so initiating immediate treatment is vital. Implementing preventive measures against pasting is a better way to reduce the likelihood of losing your chicks to the condition.

As a poultry owner, you must take the following steps in protecting your newly-hatched chicks from developing pasty butts:

  • Pay attention to their diet
  • Maintain the right brooder temperature
  • Serve them scrambled eggs
  • Keep the brooder clean and comfortable.

If you have any questions about pasty butt in chicks, feel free to drop them. I’ll respond to every one of them.

Coccidiosis in Chickens: How to Treat and Prevent

coccidiosis in chickens

Chickens tend to become sick at different points in their lifetime. While that may be normal, there is still a need to have an in-depth idea of the factors that triggered the illness in the first place. Coccidiosis is one of the causes of illness in chickens.

In this article, we shall look at some of the important things you need to know about Coccidiosis. From the meaning, the symptoms, the treatment, and the prevention, you will have a good idea of what to do when you have such a case on your hands.

What Is Coccidiosis in Chickens?

Coccidiosis is a common and deadly intestinal disease, which affects many chickens. Some reports have also posited that chicks are the worst hit by the disease.

Ideally, the disease called Coccidiosis is an intestinal disease, which starts to manifest and become obvious after a microscopic and parasitic organism (called a protozoa) attaches itself to the intestinal lining of a chicken. By doing that, the organism will be able to damage the intestine of the chicken, damage the guts, and in the end, causes the affected chicken to start bleeding.

coccidiosis chicken poop

Contrary to the notions held by some people that Coccidiosis is not common, the fact is that the disease is always present. Interestingly, there is always the presence of the Coccidiosis organism in the bowel of every chicken.

The only difference there is that some chickens tend to develop theirs faster and will get affected quickly than the others that have slower paces of developing the diseases. In addition, the disease (Coccidiosis) starts to develop with an oocyst, which is a microscopic egg that is passed out anytime the chicken drops or defecates.

That is where the interesting part of Coccidiosis becomes clearer. After the oocyst has been passed out through the chicken’s droppings, it will not be able to become infectious (sporulate) except if the surroundings give it the opportunity to thrive. Also, it tends to lay dormant in the soil for a year or more.

The infectious (sporulate) state of the oocyst starts to come into place after the environment/surrounding where it was dropped becomes generally wet and humid between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Are Chickens Affected?

Once the oocyst begins to thrive, the next step is to infest the chickens. Ideally, after it becomes infectious (sporulate), the oocyst can become infested in chickens after the birds eat off from the ground where they had been laying. It can also get into the chickens’ bodies when the birds scratch the ground and when they drink in the same surrounding.

Symptoms of Coccidiosis in Chickens

You may not be able to figure out if Coccidiosis is present or not except if you have a microscope with you. In the absence of that, there are other foolproof ways you can identify the presence of Coccidiosis in your chickens.

Here are some of them:

Blood or Mucous in the Droppings

chickens coccidiosis

It is not out of place to have a healthy chick today and the next day, it has either become weak or sick. It does happen. And the presence of Coccidiosis in the body of such birds is one of the reasons for such “unexplained illness”.

That notwithstanding, you should look out for blood or mucous in the droppings of your chickens because that is one of the veritable signs of identifying Coccidiosis in chickens.

Have in mind that you shouldn’t confuse this with the normal brown and red-colored blood that the birds tend to shed as a result of the shedding of caecal cells.

You can always work hand-in-hand with your veterinarian to find out if the chickens are already infested with Coccidiosis.

Stunted Growth

chicks often have retarded and stunted growth if they are suffering from Coccidiosis. Watch out for that!

Other symptoms to look out for are:

  • Inconsistence in laying eggs
  • Diarrhea
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Pale skin and comb
  • Lack of vigor
  • Weight loss in older chickens
  • Loss of appetite

How to Treat Coccidiosis in Chickens

chicken coccidiosis

The causes and symptoms of Coccidiosis in chickens have now been identified and explained. The next thing we have to do is to look for better ways to handle the situation and stop the disease from affecting the chickens further.

Here are some of the best ways you can treat cases of Coccidiosis in your birds.

1. Use Amprolium

Amprolium has been applauded in many quarters for its helpfulness in ensuring that Coccidiosis is treated in chickens. So, if you have birds that are suffering from the disease, you now have a treatment option in Amprolium.

You may be wondering about how Amprolium works with regards to treating Coccidiosis in chickens. The important point to note is that this treatment option is designed to block and restrict parasites from uptaking and multiplying. Hence, if you suspect your chickens are suffering from Coccidiosis, you can use this treatment option to get rid of the disease.

How can Amprolium be used to get the best results? Below are some of the things you need to do and how you can get the most out of Amprolium for treating Coccidiosis in chickens.

  • Administration: You need to administer Amprolium by adding it to the chickens’ water. If your chickens are too weak to take water, you can consider ingesting Amprolium orally.
  • Treat for 7 Days: In as much as Amprolium may start treating Coccidiosis in chicken in as little as 24 hours, it is important that you complete the medication for seven (7) days.
  • Administer on an Ongoing Basis:Even if your birds have been satisfactorily treated of Coccidiosis, it is pertinent that you continue to administer Amprolium on an ongoing basis. That way, your birds will be at fewer risks of contracting the disease again.

2. Do A Complete Change of Beddings

As noted in the transmission of Coccidiosis to chickens, it is understood that the disease can be contracted if the environment or surrounding is not tidied. Because the disease tends to lurk around where the oocyst was dropped, it now becomes important that you do a complete change of bedding.

By doing that, you will be able to limit the exposure of your birds to the disease. It also helps you to reduce the population of dispersal of the Coccidiosis organism (coccidia) in different directions.

3. Empty and Disinfect the Feeders and Water Dispensers

You never can tell where Coccidiosis is lurking. That is why you need to empty or pout out the contents of the feeders and water dispensers used by your chickens.

While doing that, remember to use a 10% bleach in water solution to disinfect the water dispensers and the feeders.

How to Prevent Coccidiosis in Chickens

coccidiosis in chicks

To avoid going through the herculean task of treating Coccidiosis in chickens, you want to be sure that you can nip it in the bud.

So, what are the ways you can prevent or control the spread of Coccidiosis in chickens?

1. Keep the Surroundings Dry

Although your chickens may have developed and passed out the oocyst, there are still chances that you can be able to prevent the disease that comes with it (Coccidiosis) from spreading in your flock of birds.

The rule of thumb is to keep the surroundings (where your chickens are) clean. That is because Coccidiosis thrives in humid, moist, and wet environments.

By keeping the surroundings clean, you will be able to maintain optimum dryness that will reduce the spread of Coccidiosis.

2. Quarantine New Birds

If you are adding new chickens to your flock, the general rule is that you quarantine or isolate them for about 12 yards.

It is during this isolated stage that you can check to see if the symptoms of Coccidiosis in chickens are manifesting in the birds.

If they are, you will be lucky, as you have successfully scaled the potentiality of putting the health of your older birds at risk. You will then be able to treat the new birds accordingly.

3. Provide Clean Beddings

Coccidia, the organism that causes Coccidiosis doesn’t necessarily need to be on the ground alone. Sometimes, it can find its way to the chickens’ bodies and that is done by the spread of the disease through the feces of infected birds.

Ideally, anytime a chicken that is already infested with Coccidiosis drops feces, it will be on the bedding. If you failed to change the bedding in such moments, the chances are high that the chickens will soon get their feathers onto the bedding, thereby picking up the coccidia in the bedding. In extension, the birds will also get the disease into their body when they use their beak to clean themselves (preening).

Therefore, you should be on the lookout for wet beddings and replace them as soon as possible to prevent the further spread of Coccidiosis in chickens.

Coccidiosis Can Be Treated and Prevented

The amazing thing about Coccidiosis is that it can be treated. Therefore, you don’t have to fret about how you can treat and prevent Coccidiosis in chickens because the tips explained above are some of the veritable ways the disease can be treated and prevented.

How have you been treating and preventing Coccidiosis in your chickens?

Chicken Diarrhea: Causes, Treatment and Care

Chicken Diarrhea

Got chickens? When you have any type of livestock, you are responsible for their health. This includes the quality of their nutrition and the frequency of their exercise, the safety of their surroundings. It also includes the medical care that they receive. Chicken diarrhea is something that requires your intervention.

Many backyard chicken owners are new to farming in general. Often, novice hen enthusiasts go to great lengths to ensure the health and happiness of their birds. They name each member of their flock and spend time holding and petting them.

They also build creative, beautiful and Instagram-worthy sheds and runs for their comfort and enjoyment. Finally, they provide high-quality feed and snacks for their feathered friends.

These highly-prepared individuals are often ready for anything the bird-life can throw at them. But what about illness? When your hen shows the first signs of sickness, what do you do then?

Although many backyard chicken owners panic when their beloved birds seem unwell, this is not helpful. Calling a vet that specializes in livestock might be in order, but you may be able to provide your hen with the care it needs at home.

The Scoop on Chicken Poop

chicken diarea

One common sign of sickness in chickens is diarrhea. If you are new to chicken-raising, you might not yet feel confident in identifying ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ droppings. Normal, healthy chicken poop is usually firm and brown with a white cap.

In addition to this type of healthy droppings, chickens also produce several cecal droppings per day. Cecal droppings are reddish-brown and sticky but are also signs that your hen is healthy and normal. Although cecal droppings resemble diarrhea, it is just a different type of chicken poop.

If a hen has diarrhea, she will have only, or mostly, droppings that look like cecal droppings. If you see that more than a third of the poops are sticky and reddish-brown, then you will know that your hen has chicken diarrhea.

You should check the feathers and vent areas of your flock if you have multiple birds, to identify which bird is ill. A hen that has diarrhea will likely have a vent area that is red and sore, and the feathers around the vent will be pasted with dry, yellow droppings.

What Causes Chicken Diarrhea?

Just like in people, chickens can experience diarrhea for a host of reasons. Sometimes, the chicken diarrhea will pass before you are able to identify why they had it in the first place. If your hen has persistent diarrhea, however, you should ascertain the root cause of it in order to treat it properly. Some common reasons for chicken diarrhea are:

  • Poor flock management
  • Bacteria/viruses
  • Parasites

Poor Flock Management

Commonly, chicken diarrhea can result from mistakes or neglect regarding how the flock is being managed. If birds are kept too closely together, or without adequate ventilation, floor space, and access to the outdoors, they can suffer the effects of heat stress.

A symptom of heat stress is chicken diarrhea. Another cause of chicken diarrhea is vent prolapse, which can occur because of a calcium deficiency or because the bird is over- or underweight.

In many cases, vent prolapse can be prevented via providing the flock with access to proper nutrition and exercise. Other symptoms of poor flock management that can result in chicken diarrhea include excess salt intake, Hardware disease, moldy food, raw soybean meal, and toxic plants.

Hardware disease results from chickens eating sharp or toxic metal items they find in their environment.

Bacteria/Viruses

There are a handful of bacteria and viruses that can cause chicken diarrhea. More common causes are Colibacillosis, Lymphoid, leukosis, and Marek’s disease. Avian intestinal spirochetosis, avian tuberculosis, infectious coryza, and fowl cholera are additional, though less common, possibilities.

Parasites

Parasites such as Coccidiosis, threadworms, and (less commonly) Blackhead disease are often to blame for chicken diarrhea.

Treatments for Chicken Diarrhea

chicken diarhea

Important! If you suspect a hen of having a contagious disease, isolate it from the flock immediately to reduce the chance of transmission to other birds.

In order to successfully treat chicken diarrhea, it is helpful to first identify the cause. Now you better understand the potential causes of chicken diarrhea: poor flock management, viruses or bacteria, and parasites. Are you able to make a diagnosis, or at least make an educated guess, about the cause of your chicken’s diarrhea?

Poor Flock Management

Chicken diarrhea caused by poor flock management will require changes to how you are managing your flock. Simple fixes to your flock’s diet, such as reducing sodium content, increasing phosphorus, decreasing protein, increasing (or decreasing) calcium supplementation, might be all that is needed to fix the problem.

If your hens are eating too much, reduce or eliminate ‘treats’ like salad greens until diarrhea has subsided (usually in 24-36 hours).

Similarly, providing more space, shade, or access to the outdoors for your hens might resolve the issue relatively quickly, if the diarrhea was caused by heat stress. Or, you can stand her in cold water, aim a fan at her, and mix her food with cold water to help her cool down faster.

Check your feed and replace all of it if there are any signs of mold or contamination. Replace damp bedding with a fresh and dry substrate to remove concerns of mycotoxins. Also check your hens’ surroundings for any potentially toxic plants, decomposing animals, or sharp metal objects that might be ingested by curious hens.

Reminder: Always ensure your flock has ample access to fresh, clean water, especially on warm or hot days. Birds are especially susceptible to the effects of heat and require you to provide them with the proper environment to remain cool.

Bacteria/Viruses

If you suspect or know that your chicken’s diarrhea is due to bacteria, viruses, or parasites, the above treatments will not hurt. However, more might be needed to help your hen’s digestive system get back on track. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if it is a bacterial or viral infection.

Bacterial infections can be treated with the appropriate antibiotics; antibiotics may also cause diarrhea, so give your bird probiotics as well.

Antibiotics do not treat viral infections; if your hen is suspected of having a virus, provide palliative care. In cases of bacterial or viral infections, isolate your infected chicken(s) from the rest of the flock to minimize the likelihood of transmission.

Parasites

If your hen is experiencing gut damage and diarrhea due to intestinal parasites, or worms, you will need to treat your entire flock for worms. You can procure the appropriate deworming medication from your local vet or agricultural supply store.

Follow the instructions exactly and make sure not to eat or sell eggs from the treated hens for the specified length of time. Parasites like Coccidiosis usually only affect young chicks under 10 weeks of age. Chicks with Coccidiosis need to be treated promptly with a coccidiostat, probiotics, and electrolytes or they may die.

Caring for Chickens with Diarrhea

chicken diarrhea

Ensure all hens with diarrhea have plentiful access to proper food, clean water, shade, and fresh bedding. Until or unless you have been able to determine the cause of the chicken diarrhea, isolate your infected bird(s) from the remainder of your flock.

Because some chicken illnesses can be transmitted to humans, it is important to take extra precautions when handling sick chickens. It is safest to keep your hens contained outside and to not cuddle or kiss your feathered friends.

Wash your hands immediately after touching your hens, their enclosure or coop, or their eggs. Make sure to change your clothes after spending time in your chicken’s run, and do not wear your soiled shoes indoors.

As stated earlier, if a hen is being treated for a parasitic infection, refrain from eating her eggs until the indicated amount of days has passed. Many of these precautions should be taken whether or not your hen has diarrhea, as even healthy chickens can make people sick. These measures will help protect you and your family from becoming ill from your hens.

Prevention is Key: Once your feathered friends are feeling fine, consider implementing additional measures to prevent future cases of chicken diarrhea. Well-managed flocks should have ample space to roam, roost, and nest indoors and outdoors.

They have constant access to clean water and high-quality, nutritious feed. Their coops and runs are regularly disinfected and clean, fresh bedding and substrate are routinely added.

Summary

If your hens have chicken diarrhea, determine the likely culprit and take action quickly. Monitor your flock daily to identify any signs of infection early on. By removing ill, or potentially ill, birds from the flock early, you will be more likely to contain the spread of any contagious infections.

Molting Chickens: What Is It and How to Fix It

chicken molting

Chickens are the most domesticated bird in the world. There are more than sixty billion chickens, making them the most successful birds on the planet. While they have been very successful procreators, they too have vulnerable moments. In this article, we will be discussing their most vulnerable state, the molting chicken.

Molting Chickens and What that Looks Like

When the days start to get shorter and the season starts to cool down that is when you start to see the first signs of molting in your chickens. Molting season usually begins late summer and early fall. The shortening of the days is the biggest trigger for the molting process.

No matter the weather, after a year in age, chickens will molt once a year. Young spring chicks may molt several times before fall and thus skipping the normal molting season to continue their molting process the next year.

One of the first things you may begin to notice is a shorter supply of eggs. Chickens feathers are made of 85% protein. Chickens may stop laying eggs when molting to conserve protein and other vital nutrients needed in the production of feathers. Feathers are made mostly of keratin. The following list describes briefly the parts of the body you may find feathers.

  • The neck
  • The midsection
  • The wings
  • The legs
  • The tail

Do not panic. This is a natural process that happens every year. If you rely on eggs laid by your chickens, you may freeze excess supply before molting season to ensure there is not a shortage of eggs.

The more you know about molting chickens, the better prepared you will be to aid your chickens in this process. Chickens start to molt in a sequence. Beginning with the head, they lose their feathers slowly.

The shedding process then moves down from the back to the breast then to the thighs, ending with their delicate tail feathers. In the same sequence, they lose their feathers do new feathers emerge. These are called pin feathers. Pin feathers can bleed and are often painful for the bird. It is important to handle your molting chickens with care because of this.

While the sequence of shedding remains the same, molting chickens do differ in time. Most of the feathers will be shed and regrown, however, not all feathers are lost in this process. Some chickens are more efficient and only require 3-4 weeks.

Others require more time. This may depend on the amount of feathers they will be shedding. It is important to note that both hens and roosters molt. Chickens losing more feathers may require up to 13-16 weeks for molting.

Feather Anatomy

What is molting without feathers? In this passage, we will briefly discuss the anatomy of feathers so you may get an idea for how they work and why they molt. An adult hen needs about 14-17 hours of sunlight to produce an egg, thus granting the best time to molt when the days become shorter. While an opportunist, the shedding of feathers is essential to maintaining a good quality of health.

Chickens have four types of feathers each with a unique purpose. Below I have included a list of each feather type their benefit.

  • Webbed Feathers: These are the larger feather types. They help insulate rain and wind and are protective.
  • Plumules: These are smaller feathers that grow closer to the body and provide warmth.
  • Bristle Feathers: These are even smaller feathers located in the eyes, beak, and ears. These feathers help keep away pests.
  • Filoplumes: These are ever finer feathers, hairlike and soft. These feathers may have sensory or decorative features.

Once a feather is shed, the pin feathers come in. These pin feathers a covered in a protein sheath. The protein sheath is then removed in a process called preening.

While each feather may differ in size, texture, color and other variants, the anatomy stays the same. The base of a feather, the part mostly in contact with skin, is called a quill. You may know the quill from old usages of it for writing.

Next is the central shaft or rachis. This is usually curved and forms a vane. Following that is the inner vane and the outer vane. An up-curved edge is found at the bottom and a down-curved edge is found at the top of a feather leading to the feather tip. A barb, barbule, hook and catch create the most recognizable features of the feather.

How to Assist Molting Chickens

molting chickens

In the molting state, chickens are very fragile. They require more protein and are weakened by painful pin feathers pushing their way to the surface. This resembles porcupine quills and may look rather patchy. There are many ways that you can help your chickens out during this vulnerable time.

It is important to monitor your chickens to make sure they are not actually suffering from illness at this time. While monitoring your chickens, you may also want to consider intervening in their daily protein take and feed supply. With the proper nutrients and a quality diet, molting chickens can be managed safely and efficiently.

Most chicken farmers suggest at least a 16% diet of protein for chickens throughout the year. Since more protein is required during the molting process, it is suggested to increase this diet to 20-22%. A high-quality diet is required during this time.

Some recommend the free choice method of feeding as opposed to rationing when chickens are molting. While rationing feed may be economical most times of the year, free access allows the chickens to have the best chance at getting the nutrients they need for their molt.

There are other ways to provide enough protein for your molting chickens than their feed alone. Biotin is an essential vitamin for healthy bones and feather growth. You can use biotin powders by sprinkling into their feed. You may also add biotin or other supplements into their water supply. It is very important to have an abundant source of water during this time.

You may also consider other methods of protein for molting chickens. These can be offered regularly or in the form of treats. Below is a list of high protein snacks to consider for molting care.

  • mealworms: 53%-30% protein
  • cat food: 26%-30% protein
  • sunflower seeds: 26% protein
  • oats: 10%-17% protein

Alternative Tips to Help Molting Chickens

when do chickens molt

As suggested above, it is important to reiterate how fragile a chicken maybe when molting. Now that we have a good idea of how the molting process works and what nutrients may be required, we can see some alternative care tips to ensure a most successful molt.

Stress may be a huge factor in molting recovery. As we have learned molting can be a rather stressful and draining process. One way you may reduce the stress in a chicken’s environment is by not introducing new, un aquatinted birds. Chickens are highly social animals.

Because of this, they are great for domestication. While very social, each new chicken may induce stress on the flock and may disorient their highly established pecking order. It is a good idea to understand the social nuances of your animals.

Another great tip is to handle with care. As much as possible avoid handling molting chickens. As discussed earlier, the porcupine-like pin feathers are quite painful. They are supplied with blood when coming in. They often bleed and are very sensitive to touch.

It is great to monitor your birds during this time, but avoid touching them. Handle only when necessary and with great care. Luckily it is easy to see the most sensitive areas so you may avoid them.

If a patch is bald, it may mean the pin feathers are coming in and are just below the surface. Each bird may vary with the time it takes to grow new feathers, but you will be able to see where they will be coming in.

Since water is very important for molting chickens, you may want to consider adding a variety of water drinkers to your coup. This, accompanied by a free choice method of feeding, may allow your chickens to choose their appropriate nutrients.

For example, adding Apple Cider Vinegar to one drinker and supplements to another drinker adds variety and improves health. You can add other supplements to each drinker in order to create variety and choice during the molt.

Summary

In summary, a little bit of patience can go a long way. Be kind to your molting chickens. These are very social creatures. Offering them support both environmentally and nutritiously can go a long way in the renewal process. Remember that this is a natural cycle. With your support, your chickens will be back producing eggs in no time!

Chickens Parasites: Everyting You Need to Know

chickens parasites

Chickens are prone to becoming hosts to a range of internal and external parasites that can lead to many different problems, such as illness, developmental problems, and even death. Knowing what parasites to look for in your chickens and what the evidence of those parasites typically is can help you prepare for and prevent an infestation before it becomes too destructive.

External parasites are tiny creatures, often insects, that live outside of the chicken’s body and whose bites or burrowing can lead to inflammation, infection, and disease.

Symptoms of most external parasites are feather loss and possibly bleeding from over-preening and pecking. Internal parasites live inside the bird’s bloodstream or organs and can spread disease and cause destruction from within.

Symptoms of internal parasites include changes in eating, sleeping, bathroom, or laying habits, as well as physical signs of infections such as inflammation. For all kinds of parasites, the best means of preventing infestations is to keep the coop and run clean at all times and to let your birds take regular dust baths (a mix of half wood ash and half peat moss works well).

EXTERNAL PARASITES

Lice

The most common external parasites in chickens are lice, including head lice, body lice, shaft lice, and wing lice. They live for only three weeks, but in that time they can lay up to 300 eggs.

Chickens typically pick up lice through contact with wild animals or birds, from contaminated clothing or equipment, or from new birds being added to the flock. Chickens infected by lice should be treated with poultry dust, particularly around the wings, saddle feathers, and tail. Dusting should be repeated every 14 days until the lice are gone.

Fleas

Chicken fleas spread quickly, with infestations often developing during the warmer months. If one bird has fleas, it is likely elsewhere in the flock as well. European chick fleas are found across most of the U.S.; Western chick fleas are found in Canada and the northwest of the U.S. The fleas are brown and large enough to be seen in the bird’s feathers or, sometimes, its droppings. One variety, stick tight fleas, appear in masses around the eyes, combs, and wattles.

chicken parasite

these need to be removed by tweezers and the affected area coated with petroleum jelly. Chickens infected by fleas should be treated with poultry dust, particularly around the wings, saddle feathers, and tail.

Dusting should be repeated every 14 days until the fleas are gone. After the fleas are gone, replace all the bedding and nesting materials in the coop and clean out the coop fully. Repeat this cleaning again in 14 days.

Ticks

Fowl ticks are small blue parasites that are typically only found in warmer climates. Their bite releases a neurotoxin into the bird’s blood that disrupts its sleep patterns and can carry diseases that could lead to paralysis or even death.

If fowl ticks are found and removed from a bird but it still shows signs of being sick, the bird should be seen a veterinarian. Ticks should be removed with tweezers and the birds treated with poultry dust.

Flies and Mosquitos

The same biting insects that bother humans also bite chickens. This includes black flies, gnats, and mosquitos, which can spread avian pox. The population of these biting insects can be reduced by removing stagnant water near the coop or using a pesticide; do not apply the pesticide where chickens might consume it.

Botflies lay their eggs on the chicken’s skin. When they hatch out, the larva burrow into the flesh to grow. Once they are fully mature, they burrow back out of the flesh. Prevention is the best measure with botflies: keep the coop cleaned regularly and check for signs of infection.

Blowflies infest birds when their maggots burrow into the flesh—a process known as myiasis—and can introduce tapeworms into the bird. Chickens with myiasis should twice a day be bathed in warm water and the infection cleaned with hydrogen peroxide and then warm saline to flush out the maggots, which can then be pulled out with tweezers.

Apply Vetericyn spray to the damaged area. After two days, stop use of the hydrogen peroxide but continue the warm bath, saline, and physical removal of maggots.

Mites

These arachnids are often quite small and hard to see. Their bites drain blood, resulting in anemia, which often can be identified by the wattle, comb, and skin around the eyes turning pale.

The easiest mite to see is the Northern fowl mite, which typically strikes in the winter and leaves bits of waste around the base of feathers. To remove these mites, dust the birds and coop with wood ash or poultry dust.

chicken parasites

Scaly leg mites eat the flesh under the bird’s leg scales, leading to lameness and possibly death. To remove them, soak the legs in warm water and brush off the loose skin, dry them, rub them with a toothbrush that has olive oil on it, and then cover the legs with petroleum jelly to suffocate the mites. Repeat this process three times a week until all evidence of the parasite has disappeared.

Red mites are the hardest to remove; they hibernate through the winter and strike from the spring through fall, usually at night. The only way to effectively mitigate Red mites is to remove your flock to a different coop temporarily—6 to 7 weeks is usually enough time—and to completely clean out and treat the original coop.

After mitigating any kind of mite infestation, increase the protein and iron content of your flock’s regular food for several days in order to help the birds recover. If you are wanting something more specific, you can read our article: Chicken Mites and Lice: How to Get Rid in 3 Weeks.

INTERNAL PARASITES

Worms

Chickens can become infested with worms by eating droppings or other material that has been infected by the eggs or by eating creatures that have been infected with the worms.

To reduce the likelihood of your flock contracting worms, keep the yard and runs free of mud, keep the coop fresh and dry, muck frequently, keep the grass short (sunlight can kill worm eggs), keep wild animals out of the run and coop, give your flock plenty of space, and quarantine sick birds immediately.

The most common worms in chickens are roundworms, which can permeate the bird’s body; they are most likely to invade hens younger than four months. Symptoms of roundworm infestation are diarrhea, loss of appetite, drop in egg production, dizziness, and isolation.

Capillary worms infest the chicken’s crop and esophagus, producing symptoms similar to the roundworm’s. Adding a deworming medicine, like Wazine, to the flock’s water can eliminate either parasite, but you cannot eat their eggs while they are taking the medication and too much use can actually build worms’ resistance to the treatment.

A chicken can contract tapeworms and eye worms by eating an intermediate host that is already infected. Tapeworms can lead to weight loss but rarely kill the host. Eye worm, which is common in warmer climates, results in red swelling and drainage around the eye, scratching at the eye, and eventually blindness. It can be treated by spraying the flock with VetRx.

Gape worms infect the chicken’s lungs and respiratory system. Symptoms include gaping of the mouth to inhale, head shaking, and hissing. If left untreated, gape worms will produce lethargy and weight loss in their host, and eventually death.

Wazine can be used to eliminate gape worms before they become too developed, but if the infestation becomes advanced, a veterinarian’s prescription for Fenbendazole will be needed.

Coccidia

poultry parasites

These microscopic, spore-forming protozoa live inside the cells of the chicken. Chicks and pullets are particularly susceptible to coccidiosis, which is one of the leading causes of death in chickens between three weeks and six weeks of age. Symptoms include lethargy, loss of feathers, and bloody diarrhea.

Vaccination against the disease is available, as is a medicated diet. To be safe, new chicks should always be kept separate from the flock for two to three months before being introduced into the population. Probiotics in the water supply may also help prevent the development of the parasite. Read more about Coccidiosis in Chickens.

Toxoplasma gondii

The T. gondii parasite is carried by rodents, cockroaches, and biting flies. The disease caused by the parasite, toxoplasmosis, can cause diarrhea, trembling, weight loss, decreased egg production, and blindness.

If birds display the symptoms of toxoplasmosis, they should be medicated to suppress the parasite’s multiplication and the coop should be thoroughly disinfected and any openings that might allow rodents to access the coop should be closed up.

Summary

Like most fowls, chickens are active foragers, which makes them vulnerable to a range of external and internal parasites. If these parasites infest a bird, they can produce a wide range of symptoms, including behavioral problems, illness, and even death.

While some treatment options exist for infected birds, preventative measures are the best course of action to keep your flock healthy and safe.

The Complet Guide to Chicken Dewormer

dewormer chickens

Chickens are a great addition to any small farm or homestead. They are fun, interesting, and make enjoyable companions all while producing eggs for you to eat or sell. While chickens are generally easy to keep, they do require some regular care to keep them healthy. One of the things chickens need is regular deworming.

When to Deworm Chickens

It can be hard to know when you should deworm your chickens, as they may not show any signs of having worms. It is important to watch for symptoms of worms in your chickens. This way you can make sure that you treat them with chicken dewormer before the worms harm them. Some common signs of worms in chickens are:

  • Diarrhea: Droppings will be loose and watery. Chickens may have droppings stuck to the feathers under their tails.
  • A decrease in the number of eggs: Your chickens will lay fewer eggs than usual. There may be a sudden drop in egg production or it may decrease slowly.
  • Loss of Weight: Chickens may carry less weight than before. They may look or feel bony, even though they have plenty of food available.
  • Pale egg yolks: The egg yolks may look very pale yellow instead of a deep, rich yellow or orange that is seen with healthy chickens.
  • Shaking heads: Chickens with worms may shake their heads frequently. Usually, there is no sign of any other reason for the head shaking.
  • Coughing: Chickens with worms will often cough or have raspy breath sounds. Healthy chickens rarely cough or have breathing issues. This is a definite sign of a problem.
  • Lethargic: Your birds may seem very lethargic, totally lacking in energy or enthusiasm. They are likely to be uninterested in eating, scratching, or other usual activities.
  • Death: Worms that go undiagnosed can cause chickens to die for seemingly no reason. A dead chicken may be the result of a problem that is limited to that chicken alone. However, most often it signals a problem that might be affecting the entire flock.

If your chickens have worms you are unlikely to actually see them, though in some cases they may be visible. Most worms stay hidden inside their host’s body and the only evidence is often the presence of worm eggs. Since the eggs passed are microscopic, you’d need help from your veterinarian to accurately diagnose them this way.

Kinds of Worms that Affect Chickens

deworming chickens

Chickens get worms because they live outside and eat things that carry worms, such as different kinds of bugs and slugs. They can also be infected when they forage for food in an area that has been contaminated by the feces of other animals.

Worms or worm eggs can survive outside of a host for a year or more. This means they can lie there on the ground just waiting to be picked up by your chickens. A good chicken dewormer will kill most kinds of worms that your chickens are likely to have.

Some of the more common worms that chickens get infected with include the following:

  • Hairworm or Capillaria: This worm can be found in several different places in a chicken. This includes the intestine, crop, esophagus, and proventriculus (stomach). The hairworm is very thin, which is where it gets its name. It is usually only bout 1 to 2 cm long. Chickens can pick up this worm from all kinds of things they may eat, including earthworms. Hair worms will damage the internal organs of infected chickens and can ultimately kill them. A chicken dewormer that targets this parasite will get rid of hairworms.
  • Roundworm: This common parasite gets into chickens through hosts such as earthworms and from the presence of wild birds. It commonly is passed through a flock by contamination of food and water with feces. It can result in the death of infected chickens by blocking their intestines or by stealing nutrition when the chicken eats.
  • Tapeworm: These are segmented worms that affect chickens around the world. Tapeworms rob chickens of the nutrients they need to live and to produce eggs. Infected chickens may lose weight or fail to grow or thrive. A tapeworm infestation itself may not kill chickens, but it can impact their general health. This leaves open to contracting a variety of illnesses that could end up killing them if the worms are not removed with a chicken dewormer.
  • Gapeworms: These worms take up residence in the chicken’s windpipe. Affected birds may be seen struggling to breathe, a condition known as the gapes. This is particularly dangerous for young birds and can kill them if a chicken dewormer isn’t used to protect them.

Chicken Deworming

chicken deworming

A variety of commercial chicken dewormers are available that can be used to kill worms in chickens. These will protect them and prevent them from falling victim to these pests.

It is ideal to know the type of worms you are targeting with your chicken dewormer, if possible. However, the use of a good all-purpose chicken dewormer will remove most kinds of worms. If you deworm your chickens and continue to have problems, consult a veterinarian for help.

When you decide to deworm your chickens, you can choose to do it in response to symptoms or as a prophylactic measure. When deworming chickens showing signs of infestation you should deworm them as soon as you notice symptoms of worms.

When deworming chickens as a prophylactic measure, give them chicken dewormer on a schedule. This is done whether they show signs of having worms or not.

Chicken dewormer is readily available from your veterinarian, farm and feed supply stores, and many online sources. Most commercial chicken dewormer contains either fenbendazole, ivermectin, albendazole, or levamisole. Some chicken dewormer can contain more than one of these medications.

Chicken dewormer containing piperazine is also commonly available. While this medication is safe, piperazine only kills roundworms. Fenbendazole and albendazole are also safe and will kill more than one type of worm.

Use caution when deworming your chickens. Chicken dewormer is unlikely to kill all of the worms infecting your chickens, but it does control them. Deworming means that the parasitic worm population in your chickens is reduced. The numbers of parasites are reduced to levels that won’t harm your birds.

Deworming them too frequently won’t get rid of all of the worms. What it will do is to result in the remaining worms becoming resistant to the deworming medications. Many people choose to rotate the type of medicine used to deworm their chickens. This means that the worms encounter a different medication every time, so they’re more likely to be affected.

Natural Chicken Dewormers

Some flock owners believe that the commercially available chicken dewormers are harmful to their chickens. They prefer to use more natural methods, such as herbs and diatomaceous earth. While such methods may have some benefit for chickens, the evidence is limited. There is no scientific proof that worming chickens with such natural methods are effective.

Some people advocate the use of tobacco as a chicken dewormer. The evidence is against this, as it will kill worms but is also likely to harm the chickens. Tobacco is far too harsh for chickens to consume safely.

How to Deworm Chickens

dewormer for chickens

Chicken dewormer is given to chickens in their water or in food. There are two parts to administering chicken dewormer. The first part is to get the dose right. This is especially important in chicken dewormer that is mixed with the chickens’ water.

Too strong of a mixture may harm your chickens. Too weak of a mixture won’t be effective. It’s important to follow the instructions on the chicken dewormer to ensure that it does the job in the safest way possible.

When administering medicated food that contains chicken dewormer, it’s important to remove all other food. If the chickens have a choice, they may refuse to eat the medicated feed. This can result in them not being dewormed effectively, if at all. Small doses can also lead to resistant worms that will no longer be able to be killed by chicken dewormer.

The other part of administering a chicken dewormer to your flock is to make sure they have it available to them for long enough. It’s not going to be enough to put out some chicken dewormer for a day or two.

Most of the time you’ll need to leave the medicated food or water out for as much as a week. This makes sure that all the chickens have gotten enough medication and that the dose has been repeated several times.

Summary

Chickens count on their owners to ensure that they are safe and well-cared for at all times. This means that they need a safe place to live and plenty of food and water. It also means that flock owners must care for the health of their chickens. Chicken dewormer is an important part of that care, as it prevents parasites that can sicken or harm your birds.

Fowl Pox in Chickens: Cause, Treatment and Prevention

fowl pox

You will hear it called fowl pox or avian pox, but either way, fowl pox becomes a catalyst to disease in all avian species, including the chicken. When you have a growing flock of chickens, don’t underestimate the health of your bird. You want to keep them as healthy as possible because the meat will taste better, and the bird will have a higher quality of life.

Some of the other birds susceptible to fowl pox include:

  • Turkey
  • Ducks
  • Pheasants
  • Wild birds

Fowl Pox: What You Need to Know

This disease characterizes itself through lesions on the unfeathered parts of the bird. Experts call this dry pox. When you have mucous membranes in the oral cavity, trachea or larynx, they call this wet pox.

Usually, fowl pox’s mortality rate sits between one to five percent. This depends on the severity of the disease, and you have cases where wet pox will have a much higher mortality rate.

This viral disease spreads slowly, and you have three types of fowl pox to be aware of. First, you have the fowl pox that impacts chickens and turkeys. Next, you have pigeon pox virus, and finally, you have the canarypox virus. With each viral disease, it only targets the specific species of birds. Chickens, for example, can’t catch the pigeon pox virus.

Wet and Dry Pox

avian pox in chickens

You have two forms of fowl pox: wet and dry. The dry form happens more often, and luckily, it poses fewer dangers to your chickens than wet pox, but either one can threaten your herd if you don’t handle it with care. Dry pox causes lesions to the legs, body and head in places that don’t have feathers.

While it begins as a small blister, it progresses to wart from where you will have many risks. The warts first appear as small yellow bumps, but they will continue to grow with time. As the pox lesion grows in size, it might change to a dark brown color. In particular, cases close to the eye can cause many problems.

Next, you have wet pox. Most chicken farmers consider this the deadlier form of the two. Wet pets will cause problems within the throat and the respiratory tract as white nodules. Eventually, it grows into a large mass that might even appear to be cheesy.

The danger comes from how as it grows, the chickens stop drinking water, eating food and altogether breathing. In severe cases, you can usually figure that it will result in the death of your prized birds.

You do have cases where chickens might have wet pox and dry pox at the same time. With either type of infection, it leads to a loss of appetite, and you get a lower production of eggs.

In most cases, birds that suffer from this will recover within two to four weeks, but you could see where it takes several weeks or even months for the bird to recover. Part of the reason for the slow recovery comes from how this viral infection spreads slowly throughout the pack.

Origin of Fowl Pox

Fowl Pox originates from mosquitoes that bite one of the flock. They carry this disease and introduce it to the bird. Normally, this happens because the mosquito previously fed on a chicken that had fowl pox, and this led to them being a latent carrier of the disease.f

After a mosquito feeds on a chicken with fowl pox, it will keep the disease in its salivary glands for up to eight weeks. When the mosquito bites another chicken, it spreads the illness to the uninfected chicken.

Once the chicken catches the illness, it can spread fowl pox to other members of the flock through scratches, mucous membranes and broken skin. This gets spread, and it can easily transmit to the other birds.

What Age Can Birds Catch This?

fowlpox

The age doesn’t matter much, and birds can catch this no matter what age they might be. Along with targeting no particular age, fowl pox can happen at any time of the year. This virus spreads around from skin dander, dried scabs and feathers.

Signs of the Disease’s Presence

  • Weight loss
  • Eye swelling
  • Scabs and wart-like lesions
  • Yellow canker lesions
  • Lower water consumption

Treatment Options

While you don’t have available treatments for this disease, luckily, it doesn’t have a high mortality rate. If you want to control this disease from causing an outbreak among your chickens, you might vaccinate them to it. You have several pox vaccines available for birds. Because this virus doesn’t spread quickly, you can typically still vaccinate your chickens even if 20 percent of the flock exhibits signs that they might have this disease.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Your birds will contract fowl pox, and they will never experience a second case of it again that’s the good. You might consider it like chicken pox with humans. Lower the risk through vaccinating them.

The bad is that fowl pox can and will return to the flock and infect those that may not have had it previously. This can be an ongoing problem that you hope you never have to go through again.

The ugly comes from how as your bird catches this disease, they will be vulnerable to secondary infections that can worsen the condition of your flock. They could get cutaneous or systemic infection. You can handle the dry form relatively easily, but if your flock contracts the wet form, it can be more difficult for them to manage.

How Do You Care for Birds with a Pox Infection?

fowl pox treatment

Once fowl pox infects your birds, you need to reinforce their immune systems. A stronger immune system can help them to fight the infection and to stay healthier for longer. You might give your birds vitamins to strengthen their immune system.

Some of the common vitamins given include Vitamin E, Vitamin D and Vitamin A. These oil vitamins will work best when you give it to them in liquid form.

You won’t pay much for vitamins, and it goes a long way to protecting the flock.

Can This Spread to Humans?

Luckily, fowl pox can’t spread to humans. The pox found in humans happens because of a different virus. Nevertheless, the virus could still be brought to your birds through the virus is on your equipment or your shoes.

You should always wash your hands thoroughly after you have handled your birds, and you need to sanitize your equipment as well. Usually, this virus will have an incubation period of between four to 14 days before it fully manifests.

Conditions Rife with This Virus

In particular, this virus will have an increased chance of happening when you have flocks enclosed to a small area. Either that or the large and unsanitary commercial settings have become an equally dangerous breeding ground for this type of virus.

In some cases, however, you can’t avoid it because of how your flock needs to stay inside for the winter. That becomes another risk, but you can’t do much about it. Any birds that might have fowl pox should be put on quarantine to prevent its spread to other birds. While this virus spreads slowly, you want to do what you can to contain the infection.

How Would a Veterinarian Handle It?

fowl pox in chickens

Veterinarians will usually prescribe antibiotics to deal with this illness. This helps to defend the bird from secondary illnesses as it recovers from the initial disease. No medication exists for the fowl pox virus because you technically can’t treat viruses, but the vet will put its primary attention on helping to keep it from harming the bird.

Prevent It

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of the cure. To prevent it, you might take proactive measures to vaccinate your chickens for fowl pox. You want to do whatever you can to wage war against insect pests.

For example, you might spray the area to kill off the mosquitoes. In this way, you lower the risk that one of your chickens will get bitten with fowl pox. After it has happened, you can’t do much other than to wait it out.

Summary

In general, if you want to prevent fowl pox from ever taking hold of your flock, you need to check your chickens for it. Do what you can to keep it from happening. Treat any abnormalities that you notice as quickly as possible because this will keep your flock in the healthiest condition possible.

Luckily, this virus isn’t the worst one that your chickens can get. The most dangerous include Marek’s disease, Infectious Coryza and Coccidiosis. Still, you want to take active measures against fowl pox because it can still cause a lot of harm to your chickens.

Scaly Leg Mites in Chickens: Cause, Treatment and Prevention

scaly leg mites

Have you ever seen a chicken strutting with feet that are just gnarly and nasty looking? It’s hard to imagine anyone willing to just get near those chickens. They certainly look like they’ve got some disease.

Well, what you’re seeing is the result of the work of mites. They’re tiny but they’re ravenous and very contagious. And if you grow your own chickens, you’d want to know about how to deal with them. Just read on.

What are Scaly Leg Mites?

The Scaly Leg Mite, also known as Scaly Foot, is a super tiny arthropod, a separate family of segmented invertebrates that you know of where the spiders and scorpions are their distant relatives. They’re known in the scientific community as Knemidocoptes mutants.

It’s just that they’re very small. They’re so tiny that they can be just 0.5 millimeters small, hardly visible. Larger scaly leg mites can grow up to 25 millimeters.

They’re round in shape with four stubby legs close to their head-like extension that’s actually its retractable feeding appendage. They don’t seem to have eyes nor a brain. But just like many of its relatives, the Scaly Leg Mite is a parasite, engaged wholly in the activity of feeding.

The Scaly Leg Mite lays eggs, typically under the scales and tissues of bird legs such as the chicken. It’s the very place where these mites thrive. These eggs are laid by female mites and takes about two weeks to hatch where they start out as larvae. After a few numbers of molting, they become nymphs. And with a few more molting, they become adults.

These parasites have very short lifespans compared to their arachnid relatives. Their entire life cycle lasts from 10 to 14 days.

Their primary means of dispersal is through their contact and movement of their favored host, which typically include chickens, turkeys, passerines like the finches, canaries and sparrows and the psittacines such as the parrots, the parakeets and the budgerigars. They are known to also affect woodpeckers, ducks, geese and swans. Raptors like hawks get them too.

While they’re primarily found under the scales of bird’s legs, the comb and the wattle, some related specie of the Scaly Leg Mite even feeds on the feather follicles which cause balding. Their primary means of transmission is by prolonged direct contact when birds socialize.

This is particularly so when the parent birds inadvertently infect their young. The mite seems to also get into the surfaces and crevices of any bird’s habitation, prompting chicken growers to sanitize the coop. They are highly contagious.

Effects of Scaly Leg Mites

chicken scaly leg

Once the Scaly Leg Mites crawl in between the scales of a chicken’s legs, they burrow themselves deeper, eating their way through the tissues underneath while slowly tunneling their way around. The life cycle for the scaly leg mites begin. Soon they start laying their eggs.

As these mites burrow and leave behind secretions. This along with their feeding irritate the tissues where these mites live. These, in turn, cause excessive growth of scales. These scaly lesions look crusty and scabby with whitish growths wherever they are infected.

These lead to deformities on their legs and toes as well as on the chicken’s wattles and comb if they get infected too. These deformities on the chicken’s feet can lead to difficulty in walking, irritation, pain and discomfort. And if they are not treated and instead left on their own, the condition can even mean the loss of their toes and, in extreme cases, even death as an indirect result.

These affected parts become sensitive and peeling the crusty white growths can injure the chicken.

These growths themselves are not contagious. It’s the mites that are. Thankfully, these are not the specie of mites that pass on to humans. It’s perfectly alright to touch or handle them as you work on treating your birds.

There’s a way these scabs and mites can be treated in a way that doesn’t have to endanger or irritate your birds. These solutions have been applied by other chicken growers and have seen their effectiveness.

I’ll let you know which ones are often used and which ones you might want to stay away for the safety and health of your chickens. It will certainly help if you carry out the treatment with a companion to assist you – one to hold on the chicken and the other to apply the treatment.

Here’s what you can do to treat them effectively without causing any pain on your chickens.

How Do You Treat Scaly Leg Mites?

scaly leg mites in chickens

There are products available you can buy that specifically treat Scaly Leg Mites on chicken legs and feet. They’re often in handheld spray bottles that make them easier to apply with one hand while you hold on the chicken with the other.

It’s still better if you’ve got an assistant though. These contain active ingredients that kill the mites where they are underneath the leg scales of chickens and soothe their injury. They may have oil that can prevent future scaly leg mite infection.

You can buy these online from $10 to about $32 a bottle from online companies that specially sell agricultural products to hardware stores.

If you’re looking for cheaper alternatives using effective and proven DIY mixes, here are some things you can do.

Treatment 1: Warm Water – Drying – Petroleum Jelly

The most popular DIY treatment applied to treat Scaly Leg Mites on chickens is the use of petroleum jelly. A few initially soak the chicken’s legs and feet in comfortable warm water with soap solution before they dry them with a towel and apply the petroleum jelly.

The idea of soaking the chicken feet in the water is to take out some of the gnarly growths hanging on the chicken legs and feet. Warm water softens them while the soap solution disinfects them. Taking out some of these growths help open up more surface area for the application of petroleum jelly.

You may use gloves if you want to but it is perfectly safe to use your bare hands and fingers to do the petroleum jelly application. The idea is of applying the petroleum jelly is to basically suffocate the mites that are burrowed under the scales.

Massaging the petroleum jelly in between the scales and the cracks between the growths will help reach into these hidden mites. Smothered in the petroleum jelly, they won’t be able to breathe, leading to suffocation and death. They are easily sloughed off after that.

Don’t pull off these growths on your own. Some of these are still attached to tissues underneath the growths. Pulling these out can injure your bird.

The application is often done twice to three times a week for two weeks covering the lifespan of a mite. There are farmers who apply this daily.

Treatment 2: Sulfur and Petroleum Jelly Mixture

scaly leg mite

You can also apply an alternative treatment, mixing 2 tablespoons of sulfur powder and half a cup of petroleum jelly.

Treatment 3: Ivermectin

For serious cases of Scaly Leg Mite, a prescribed medication used specifically to treat parasitic infestations is given orally or by injection. This is normally prescribed by a veterinarian.

Dosage of 0.2 milligrams per kilogram per bird is the guiding amount given once every two weeks. This is a strong medication. It is recommended that you’d use this as a last resort if you’d want your chickens free of any medication from its body and eggs.

Treatment 4: Gasoline – A&D Ointment

Here’s a treatment recommended by Dr. Michael Darre, Ph.D., a Poultry Extension Specialist from the University of Connecticut.

The treatment starts with dipping the legs into the gasoline and letting it air dry on the first day. Once dry, you slather the affected legs and feet with the A&D ointment helping them to heal. The gasoline kills off the mites.

The next day, you just apply the A&D ointment without the gasoline.

On the third day, you do the gasoline dip, drying and A&D application again.

Cleaning Out Your Coop

It’s not enough to treat the chicken legs and feet of the Scaly Leg Mites. These parasites do come back with a vengeance. It’s smart to treat the coop where they sleep and when possible, their run area. You should be able to treat the surrounding area and the coop with purposely made disinfectant you can purchase online and the store.

Another thing you can do to keep the mites affecting your flock at a minimum is keeping the area dry. Covering the grounds with hardwood wood chips will keep their feet and legs dry while sanitizing the area regularly with diatomaceous earth.

Doing routine coop disinfection will help keep the mites off of your birds or at least minimize their effects.

Summary

Scaly Leg Mites are more often a nuisance but its a problem that’s worth the effort if you’d want your chickens living happily in your coop. You’ll be rewarded with plump hens with lots of eggs often. Remember to keep on eye on their legs and feet. And if you see one showing signs of these mites, it’s time to treat everyone in your flock and disinfect their coop.

Chicken Worms 101 – Beginner’s Guide

chickens worms

In this riveting article, we’re going to dissect the curious subject of worming chickens. We’ll go over the most fascinating aspects of this topic, answering the top questions that novice farmers have about keeping chickens healthy and parasite free.

What You’ll Learn From This Article

  • We’ll discuss the top treatments and alternative methods. We’ll even go into detail about the history of worming and other interesting topics.
  • Since I’ve been volunteering to assist on my brother’s farm for the past few decades, we’ve had the opportunity to troubleshoot nearly every problem that a farm animal can have. We’ve dealt with all sorts of issues with chickens, hens, and roosters.
  • This article is my way of sharing the information that we’ve gathered through hard work. If you need help with a parasite that’s giving your chickens problems, you’ve come to the right place.

What Will Happen If You Don’t Take Care of Your Chickens

worming chickens

In the worst case scenario, the worms could infect the chicken to the point where the animal is unable to process foods efficiently. The animal could be in pain, and the worms could be severe enough that the animal dies from being loaded with parasites. However, parasitic worms usually feed in a way that prevents mortality.

If the chicken is healthy, you won’t notice any abnormal behavior. However, the worms will spread to other chickens. Other animals could pick up the parasite because it is easily transferred through stool.

When you harvest eggs from a chicken that is loaded with worms, you will actually notice the worms inside of their eggs. This could cause sickness for the people that eat the eggs.

Fortunately, there are several ways to manage parasitic worms in chickens, so there’s no reason to panic. As long as you take immediate action, there should be no dire consequences.

What Are Worms?

According to an astounding article from a backyard chicken farmer, there are five types of worms that every chicken farmer should be concerned about preventing. Veterinarians have claimed that worms are a normal occurrence when raising chickens, so you shouldn’t feel bad or blame yourself for this problem.

Even though there are several other types of worms that could get into your chicken coop, there are really only five types that you’ll need to take seriously.

The following section goes over the worms that matter; these worms could cause disease if they’re left unattended. Since some worms live in the intestine, they are able to absorb nutrients that the chicken needs to survive.

Five Major Types of Worms

worms in chicken
  • Cecal Worms: Cecal worms live in the bowels of the chicken. In fact, our sources indicate that they take root in the part of the intestine that creates the stinkiest chicken feces. Oddly enough, experts claim that cecal worms don’t pose any threat to the lives of their hosts. They also pose no threat to humans. However, they’ll deplete nutrients from the host, so there’s a worthy incentive to get rid of these parasites.
  • Capillary Worms: These worms are able to live in various areas of a chicken’s body, including the intestines. Capillary worms are one of the smallest worms on this list. They’re as thin as a hair, and you won’t be able to see capillary worms in stool.
  • Tapeworms: One of the most well-known worm parasites is the tapeworm because it occurs in household pets, and the tapeworm is even known to be a problem for malnourished people. Although, they cannot be given to humans by an infected chicken. Tapeworms are difficult to treat, and any infected chicken should be isolated for the entire treatment process. In order to treat the tapeworm, you’ll likely need to incorporate a drug from your veterinarian. Although, you could try a natural treatment, such as Diatomaceous Earth.
  • Round Worms: Although these worms could cause death by blocking digestion, round worms are one of the most common problems that chicken farmers have to deal with. In the section below, we’ve prepared some steps to help take care of worms. If problems persist, contact a professional. These worms will be identifiable by looking at the stool produced by the chicken.
  • Gape Worms: Although these parasites are unsightly, it is unlikely that they’ll become transmitted to any human on the farm. If you notice your chicken has trouble swallowing, they might have a gapeworm. The chicken will usually keep its mouth open, or it might have trouble breathing. These worms don’t require a microscope, but you’ll need to treat the infected chicken in an isolated environment for a period of roughly three weeks.

Don’t Use These Olden Methods to Worm Chickens

worms in chicken poop

From the blog of a mother and farmer who likes to share interesting facts, you’ll never believe what farmers used to do to get rid of parasites. Before treatment options were so readily available, farmers would add a little lye into the food that went to their livestock.

Lye is not recommended by veterinarians because it could cause serious health issues for an animal. In fact, this poison could be carried by the animal, and microscopic doses could matriculate into the foods that are produced in a process called biological magnification.

While it may be interesting to find out what farmers used to do, please do not rely upon this method. Remember that you’re taking time to research thoughtful, proven methods to get rid of parasites that are harming your chickens. Let’s take a look at some of the top treatment options for getting rid of worms in chickens.

What to Do When You Find Worms

  • Step 1: Try using a few natural methods to get rid of the parasites, but don’t be afraid to use the preferred gel treatment option for worming chickens. One natural method is to feed them apple cider vinegar. This wholesome ingredient will give your chickens stronger immune systems, so their bodies will be able to fight the parasites. Another natural product to try is garlic. Adding garlic to your chickens’ feed will usually eliminate the parasite problems, but some farmers have complained about a garlic-heavy diet causing sour eggs. If all else fails, you’ll need to treat your worm problem with medical gel. A serious load of parasites could be fatal for any chicken, and the problem will spread to other farm animals. Workout gel is easy to use, and some farmers use it on a regular basis to prevent parasite infestations from occurring. Simply add the gel into the chickens’ water to treat them for a variety of parasites.
  • Step 2: Add Diatomaceous Earth into the chickens’ feed to get rid of all parasites. If you don’t do something to avoid spreading worms, your entire flock could become compromised.
  • Step 3: After you’ve taken the above precautions, it’s important to avoid further infestation by changing out the bedding that is used in your chicken coop. The senior editor of this chicken coop blog reminds readers to avoid muddy conditions. After it rains, you should be concerned about moving your chickens to a dryer place. You might need a second run to accomplish this. However, leaving your chickens in a muddy space is asking for problems with worms.

Keeping Chickens Healthy

signs of worms in chickens

If your flock becomes infected with parasites, you will find yourself battling to get rid of the worms that you’ve found in their stool. This is a difficult process, for it can be unsettling to find worms in the stool of your beloved chickens. Even if you don’t see worms in their droppings, it’s possible that the parasites are too small for you to see.

It’s vital that you make every effort to keep your birds safe from natural threats to their physical well-being. If you suspect that your birds have picked up worms, you don’t have to worry. You’re not an irresponsible animal owner, but you should take steps to remedy the situation. If you let it go unnoticed, it’s possible that the worms will become a big deal.

When you take pride in your coop, you’ll feel better about raising wild animals. It’s tough to deal with parasites, but it’s a normal part of raising chickens.

Quick Summary

Incorporate natural ways of dealing with parasite prevention. Methods listed above will help you control any parasite situation before it gets away from you. It’s a good idea to take regular precautions by worming chickens with one of the popular methods mentioned in this article.

Molting Chickens: What Is It and How to Fix It

chicken molting

Chickens are the most domesticated bird in the world. There are more than sixty billion chickens, making them the most successful birds on the planet. While they have been very successful procreators, they too have vulnerable moments. In this article, we will be discussing their most vulnerable state, the molting chicken.

Molting Chickens and What that Looks Like

When the days start to get shorter and the season starts to cool down that is when you start to see the first signs of molting in your chickens. Molting season usually begins late summer and early fall. The shortening of the days is the biggest trigger for the molting process.

No matter the weather, after a year in age, chickens will molt once a year. Young spring chicks may molt several times before fall and thus skipping the normal molting season to continue their molting process the next year.

One of the first things you may begin to notice is a shorter supply of eggs. Chickens feathers are made of 85% protein. Chickens may stop laying eggs when molting to conserve protein and other vital nutrients needed in the production of feathers. Feathers are made mostly of keratin. The following list describes briefly the parts of the body you may find feathers.

  • The neck
  • The midsection
  • The wings
  • The legs
  • The tail

Do not panic. This is a natural process that happens every year. If you rely on eggs laid by your chickens, you may freeze excess supply before molting season to ensure there is not a shortage of eggs.

The more you know about molting chickens, the better prepared you will be to aid your chickens in this process. Chickens start to molt in a sequence. Beginning with the head, they lose their feathers slowly.

The shedding process then moves down from the back to the breast then to the thighs, ending with their delicate tail feathers. In the same sequence, they lose their feathers do new feathers emerge. These are called pin feathers. Pin feathers can bleed and are often painful for the bird. It is important to handle your molting chickens with care because of this.

While the sequence of shedding remains the same, molting chickens do differ in time. Most of the feathers will be shed and regrown, however, not all feathers are lost in this process. Some chickens are more efficient and only require 3-4 weeks.

Others require more time. This may depend on the amount of feathers they will be shedding. It is important to note that both hens and roosters molt. Chickens losing more feathers may require up to 13-16 weeks for molting.

Feather Anatomy

What is molting without feathers? In this passage, we will briefly discuss the anatomy of feathers so you may get an idea for how they work and why they molt. An adult hen needs about 14-17 hours of sunlight to produce an egg, thus granting the best time to molt when the days become shorter. While an opportunist, the shedding of feathers is essential to maintaining a good quality of health.

Chickens have four types of feathers each with a unique purpose. Below I have included a list of each feather type their benefit.

  • Webbed Feathers: These are the larger feather types. They help insulate rain and wind and are protective.
  • Plumules: These are smaller feathers that grow closer to the body and provide warmth.
  • Bristle Feathers: These are even smaller feathers located in the eyes, beak, and ears. These feathers help keep away pests.
  • Filoplumes: These are ever finer feathers, hairlike and soft. These feathers may have sensory or decorative features.

Once a feather is shed, the pin feathers come in. These pin feathers a covered in a protein sheath. The protein sheath is then removed in a process called preening.

While each feather may differ in size, texture, color and other variants, the anatomy stays the same. The base of a feather, the part mostly in contact with skin, is called a quill. You may know the quill from old usages of it for writing.

Next is the central shaft or rachis. This is usually curved and forms a vane. Following that is the inner vane and the outer vane. An up-curved edge is found at the bottom and a down-curved edge is found at the top of a feather leading to the feather tip. A barb, barbule, hook and catch create the most recognizable features of the feather.

How to Assist Molting Chickens

molting chickens

In the molting state, chickens are very fragile. They require more protein and are weakened by painful pin feathers pushing their way to the surface. This resembles porcupine quills and may look rather patchy. There are many ways that you can help your chickens out during this vulnerable time.

It is important to monitor your chickens to make sure they are not actually suffering from illness at this time. While monitoring your chickens, you may also want to consider intervening in their daily protein take and feed supply. With the proper nutrients and a quality diet, molting chickens can be managed safely and efficiently.

Most chicken farmers suggest at least a 16% diet of protein for chickens throughout the year. Since more protein is required during the molting process, it is suggested to increase this diet to 20-22%. A high-quality diet is required during this time.

Some recommend the free choice method of feeding as opposed to rationing when chickens are molting. While rationing feed may be economical most times of the year, free access allows the chickens to have the best chance at getting the nutrients they need for their molt.

There are other ways to provide enough protein for your molting chickens than their feed alone. Biotin is an essential vitamin for healthy bones and feather growth. You can use biotin powders by sprinkling into their feed. You may also add biotin or other supplements into their water supply. It is very important to have an abundant source of water during this time.

You may also consider other methods of protein for molting chickens. These can be offered regularly or in the form of treats. Below is a list of high protein snacks to consider for molting care.

  • mealworms: 53%-30% protein
  • cat food: 26%-30% protein
  • sunflower seeds: 26% protein
  • oats: 10%-17% protein

Alternative Tips to Help Molting Chickens

when do chickens molt

As suggested above, it is important to reiterate how fragile a chicken maybe when molting. Now that we have a good idea of how the molting process works and what nutrients may be required, we can see some alternative care tips to ensure a most successful molt.

Stress may be a huge factor in molting recovery. As we have learned molting can be a rather stressful and draining process. One way you may reduce the stress in a chicken’s environment is by not introducing new, un aquatinted birds. Chickens are highly social animals.

Because of this, they are great for domestication. While very social, each new chicken may induce stress on the flock and may disorient their highly established pecking order. It is a good idea to understand the social nuances of your animals.

Another great tip is to handle with care. As much as possible avoid handling molting chickens. As discussed earlier, the porcupine-like pin feathers are quite painful. They are supplied with blood when coming in. They often bleed and are very sensitive to touch.

It is great to monitor your birds during this time, but avoid touching them. Handle only when necessary and with great care. Luckily it is easy to see the most sensitive areas so you may avoid them.

If a patch is bald, it may mean the pin feathers are coming in and are just below the surface. Each bird may vary with the time it takes to grow new feathers, but you will be able to see where they will be coming in.

Since water is very important for molting chickens, you may want to consider adding a variety of water drinkers to your coup. This, accompanied by a free choice method of feeding, may allow your chickens to choose their appropriate nutrients.

For example, adding Apple Cider Vinegar to one drinker and supplements to another drinker adds variety and improves health. You can add other supplements to each drinker in order to create variety and choice during the molt.

Summary

In summary, a little bit of patience can go a long way. Be kind to your molting chickens. These are very social creatures. Offering them support both environmentally and nutritiously can go a long way in the renewal process. Remember that this is a natural cycle. With your support, your chickens will be back producing eggs in no time!