Does Diatomaceous Earth Really Benefit Chickens?

I was browsing through social media one day and found a question on one of the homesteading boards I follow.

Someone wanted to know if diatomaceous earth for chickens was a good wormer. I let them know that from my experience it was, but I was soon shocked at the amount of pushback my response received.

Apparently, in the chicken community, if you want to start a fight, mention the words diatomaceous earth for chickens and internal parasites in the same sentence. It gets heated quickly.

People seem to either be all for using Diatomaceous Earth for chickens to treat worms, or they’re adamantly against the use of it.

The chicken world is torn which led me to do some research. I wanted to find the truth about DE and chickens. Here are the facts you need to know to make the most informed decision on whether you’ll use DE on your flock or not:

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a common product in most parts of the world. It can be easily found in animal feed stores or online.

It’s created when algae become fossilized underwater. These fossils will be crushed over time. People come along and mine the areas where these fossils are crushed and dig up what is now diatomaceous earth.

Diatomaceous earth is made up of different types of silica such as sand, quartz, mica, clay, and even glass. It also contains a variety of minerals and iron oxide.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth

Though we’re mainly focusing on diatomaceous earth’s uses when dealing with chickens, it has a variety of uses.

The main idea is when sprinkling DE on a surface, it will fall onto unwanted bugs. It will cause the bugs to dry out and ultimately die.

This is why many poultry keepers will sprinkle it around their coop and onto their chickens to remove external parasites.

You can sprinkle it on your pets to get rid of fleas. DE is also an item many gardeners will use to get rid of unwanted pests.

It’s important to note if you’re going to utilize DE on any living creature or around living creatures, spend the extra money to buy food grade DE.

This will ensure if it ends up being consumed, it has been approved for human consumption. Therefore, if it’s safe for humans, it eliminates a great deal of the risk for your pets and livestock.

The Pros of DE

is diatomaceous earth for chickens really beneficial

Since we now understand what diatomaceous earth is and how it can be used, let’s discuss the pros of using this product around your flock and coop. Here are a few reasons chicken owners like diatomaceous earth:

1. It’s Natural

Many people prefer to stick with natural products, and I don’t blame them. When I read a label and can’t pronounce (let alone understand) what’s in a product, I become leery.

DE is an all-natural product which has been deemed safe for human consumption when purchasing food grade.

Therefore, if it’s safe for you to eat and add to your diet, it should be okay for your chickens to consume in theory.

2. Money Matters

Diatomaceous earth is extremely affordable. Many people keep chickens to raise their own food, know what goes into what they consume, but also to decrease their grocery bill.

Not everyone can afford to run to the store and purchase expensive medications when an animal has fleas or parasites.

DE has been proven to help with certain parasites without attaching a hefty price tag. Therefore, it’s a viable option for a variety of people regardless of income limitations.

3. They See Results

It has been proven DE works on external parasites. According to some studies, those who used diatomaceous earth for chickens found it not only killed off internal parasites, but it also made the birds heavier and better layers.

Therefore, if you have an item which is natural enough to be consumed by the chicken owner, is affordable, and has been proven in certain studies to improve the health of the flock, it seems logical to utilize this product on your flock.

The Cons of DE

diatomaceous earth for chickens could or could not benefit chicks

Before you get too excited about diatomaceous earth, there’s still another side to this argument. Here are the cons and inconclusive facts about DE and your chickens:

1. The Jury is Still Out

While there are some studies which show diatomaceous earth is effective in killing both internal and external parasites, there is other research which leans toward it doing nothing to kill internal parasites.

DE is known to kill external parasites because the bugs have an exoskeleton. Worms don’t have an exoskeleton.

Therefore, it shouldn’t have the same effect on worms because there’s nothing to dry up and ultimately kill the worms inside the bird. This is why people struggle to agree on whether DE is actually a good wormer for chickens.

2. Respiratory Concerns

Some chicken keepers are concerned about the chickens breathing in DE when it’s being applied to them.

In an effort to help the birds, are we actually hurting them? Chickens have a sensitive respiratory system, and it is alarming to some for their birds to be breathing in dust which is made from small shards of glass.

When chickens get into respiratory trouble, it can be a life or death situation. Therefore, some people prefer to skip DE to decrease the chance of respiratory issues within their flock.

3. Chicken Saliva

While some chicken keepers aren’t convinced DE works because internal worms don’t have an exoskeleton, others have another issue with allowing chickens to consume DE as an intestinal wormer.

Diatomaceous earth is thought to slice bugs in half, dry them out, and ultimately kill them through dehydration or cutting the bugs into shreds.

Chickens have spit in their mouth, like any other living creature. When they consume the DE, their spit will soften the dirt when being swallowed. This wouldn’t allow the DE to cut the bugs once in their system.

Plus, if DE has an ingredient which can draw moisture out of a parasite, it would leave you to wonder if it would also pull moisture from the chicken’s body and dehydrate it as well.

4. Could DE be Playing Tricks on Our Minds?

There’s no in-between on the chickens and diatomaceous earth argument. You either are convinced it’s working on your birds and continue to use it, or you aren’t convinced the risks are worth the possible rewards.

After doing my research, the only happy medium I could reach is to assume people might be seeing results with diatomaceous earth and their chickens’ internal parasites because the DE is preventing the chickens from getting worms.

By reducing the number of external parasites in the coop, in theory, it should reduce the parasites from carrying worms to your chickens. Therefore, reducing the load of intestinal parasites in your flock.

Again, I’m not a scientist and am only here to present the two sides to the argument to allow you to make your own informed decision, but this does seem to be a possible theory.

Which would lead us back to where we started. Is DE effective for your flock or is it playing tricks on the minds of chicken keepers?

The ball is in your court. You make the call whether diatomaceous earth is a friend or foe of your chicken flock.

About Phoenix Chickens: The Long Tailed Exhibition Bird

Phoenix Chickens are rather unique which you won’t see every day. Characterized by the long and flowy tail, this is a fun and ornamental breed. A Phoenix rooster would certainly catch the eye of anyone that wants a little something different. For the exhibition enthusiast, this is a fun challenge that would be a joy to show.

About the Phoenix Chicken

Although this chicken looks like it’s straight out of Japan, it was actually bred in Germany using birds imported from Japan. Hugo du Roi, the first president of the National Germany Association is responsible for the creation of this breed. Leghorn, Malay, Modern Game, Old English Game, and Yokohama breeding stock along with other rare breeds were used in the development of this chicken breed.

The Silver Phoenix was the first variety to be accepted into the American Poultry Association, in 1965. In 1983, the Gold Phoenix was accepted, with the Black Breasted Red following most recently.

Phoenix Characteristics

1. Size and Weight

As is true to their game bird heritage, these are not large chickens, despite their giant tail. Average grown weight of a Phoenix rooster is 5.5 pounds. Phoenix hens weigh in around 4 pounds.

2. Temperament

Just like the birds used in their breeding program, the Phoenix aren’t overly friendly. This breed prefers to be standoffish and flighty. However, they do make good mothers. Due to their game bird background, roosters can be aggressive, so be sure to keep your hen to rooster ratios healthy.

3. Exhibition

Exhibition is the primary use for these birds. They are certainly some big-time eye-catchers. A lot of work goes into maintaining the glory of the showy tails so they are show ready. It’s also good to heavily socialize your birds from an early age so they are handleable.

4. Egg Production

Egg production from the Phoenix is by no means optimal. They are fair producers of small white eggs.

5. Meat Production

Since the full-grown weight of a rooster is only 5.5 pounds, you can probably guess that meat production is not ideal. You might be interested in some dual-purpose breeds for better meat and egg production because you won’t find that in the Phoenix.

Caring for Phoenix Chickens


1. Feeding

Due to their showy plumage, it’s a good idea to give Phoenix chickens extra protein to keep those pretty tails on point. Especially juvenile birds will need good boosts of protein to keep up with their growing tails.

There are game bird feeds that work well for supplying necessary protein, but if you have laying hens, they will need calcium supplements for their egg-laying.

If you’re looking for good treats to supplement protein, there’s a lot to choose from. Scrambled eggs (yes, your hens will love it!), pumpkin seeds (raw and unsalted are the best), peas and oats are some good things to try.

You can crush up your used eggshells and feed them back to your hens for a healthy and free source of calcium, or buy oyster shell to supplement.

2. Housing and Fencing

Although this is a small bird, it’s best to provide the same amount of space as you would for a large chicken, because they have some hefty tails. It’s a good idea to provide four square feet per bird in the coop. Make sure that the roosts are high so their tails can hang down without sitting in the dirty bedding all night.

This chicken can fly very well, so if you choose to keep them in a run, it probably needs to be covered. 10+ square feet per bird in the run is a good size to start with. If you choose to let your birds free-range, the Phoenix is a great candidate for free-ranging.

3. Health Issues and Care

Other than maintaining healthy feathers, which we talked about earlier, this is a pretty healthy chicken. Keep a clean environment for them to live in and a close eye on flock behavior to catch any issues early on.

4. Breeding

This is certainly a fun bird to play around with breeding and genetics. You have quite a few gorgeous colors to choose from when breeding. The Phoenix is also a breed on the watch list according to the Livestock Conservancy, so a breeding project would help raise the overall numbers.

Breed Alternatives

1. Yokohama

Yokohamas are another breed that sports the gorgeous and long tail similar to the Phoenix. A Yokohama is a bit smaller than the Phoenix, but egg and meat production is about the same.

2. Sumatra

Sumatras are an equally stunning chicken, with tails that can grow to be even larger than a Phoenix. As with the Yokohama and Phoenix, meat and egg production is nothing to write home about because these are primarily ornamental chickens.

Did You Know?

Phoenix chickens are able to grow such large tails because they generally only molt every other year instead of once a year. The sickle feathers alone can grow to be 2-5 feet in length.

What an adventurous chicken! Do you think it’s a fit for your chicken operation? It’s certainly not for everyone, but it can certainly make a good addition to a flock equipped for such a beautiful bird. Because, who doesn’t want the chicken version of a peacock?

Phoenix Chickens are bred for exhibition and is characterized by a long and flowy tail. It is a fun and ornamental breed beautiful to have around.

How to Safely Introduce a New Goat to an Existing Herd

Goats are herd animals by nature.

I remember when I first read that statement on some blog, or in a book, many years ago. It seemed like such a quaint, charming idea. I envisioned goats living harmoniously together and cooperating to enhance their collective well-being. However, the reality of a goat herd is very different than I imagined.

A goat herd is not built on harmony but on exclusivity and hierarchical competition. Within a herd, there are often factions as well. So, even though there is central leadership such as the herd queen or head buck, there are also some pretty complicated dynamics at play in the lower ranks.

How to Introduce a New Goat into a Herd

The less than idyllic nature of herd dynamics makes bringing home a new goat to join an existing herd a bit of a risky prospect. But there are some things you can do to help the integration process happen with less stress for you and your herd.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned that I hope will help you through the process too.

Understand Herd Mentality

When you introduce a new goat into an existing herd, you should expect several days (or longer) of fighting to establish the new goat’s position within the herd. Goats aren’t necessarily opposed to new members as long as those new members are likely to make the herd stronger. But herds are reluctant to welcome new members perceived as weak.

If your new goat is strong and will ultimately take a position a bit higher up in herd order, the fighting tends to wrap up fairly quickly. Unfortunately, if your new goat is considered a weakling, the fighting can go on for much longer.

It seems cruel, but goat herds exist for goat safety (not harmony as I once thought). So discouraging members who might slow down the herd or not be an asset in the event of a predator attack is normal goat behavior.

Goats, even on our comfortable homesteads, are still hard-wired to think in terms of herd protection. Sometimes new goats just came from small herds and aren’t skilled at fighting. In that case, after a long initiation period to make them stronger, they are welcomed.

Sometimes, though, a goat is just not as hardy as the rest of the herd. In that case, if you have enough space, those goats will isolate themselves and survive on the perimeters of the herd. If you don’t have a lot of room to give them that space, then it can get ugly.

Quarantine Your New Goat

With that background in mind, the first thing you want to enforce when bringing home a new goat is a quarantine period. This not only protects your herd from potential disease transmission but also gives you time to make sure your new goat is in great condition before you put them through the gauntlet of joining the goat herd.

Even if you buy healthy goats from reputable breeders, you’ll want to isolate your new goat for a period of time to ascertain if any health risks exist. The length of the quarantine depends on the condition of your goat and the timeliness and results of any virus or parasite testing you do.

1. CAEV Testing

For example, if you bought a goat that had recently been tested for CAEV with negative results, then your main quarantine concerns might be parasite-related. However, if you need to perform the CAEV test, your quarantine might be longer.

2. Parasite Testing and Treatments

If you perform tests for parasites, then you may just need to quarantine for a short period of time so you can do a fecal exam, or have one performed by a veterinarian. If the goat is in good health, treatment may not be necessary and your quarantine may not have to be as long.

If you automatically treat for parasites rather than testing, or if the goat requires parasite treatment, then your quarantine might last through two cycles of de-wormer or coccidiosis treatment (for young goats).

3. Observation

Quarantine also gives you a chance to closely observe your new goat’s health and behavior. As a goat keeper, there are a lot of clues you can pick up just by giving yourself time to know your new goat and determine what’s normal for them.

You’ll get a sense of your goat’s fitness and be able to address any deficiencies before they meet the rest of the herd.

4. Food Transition

Unless your new goat was eating exactly the same diet as your current herd, there’s also a transition period on supplemental feed. Changing locations is already stressful enough, but completely changing a goat’s diet can actually create health problems and make new goats more susceptible to parasite overload.

By using the quarantine time to slowly transition goats from the same feed and supplements they were on at their old home, to the feed and supplements you use, you can help ensure their continued health and the health of your herd.

5. Quarantine Length

The big question though is, how long does a goat have to be quarantined? There is no perfect answer. But, the most common quarantine period seems to be about 30 days.

Though, some goat owners will quarantine as long as 90 days. You’ll need to make that decision for yourself based on the facilities you have available and the condition of your new goat.

6. Quarantine Company

Some goat keepers have an extra wether or two in their herd to use as company for new goats while they are quarantined. Those wethers will, of course, be at risk for catching anything your new goat has. But, if you are bringing in a prized dairy goat that you just spent a fortune on, giving them company during quarantine may help maintain their health during their transition.


Timing is also important for a successful goat integration. The right time can vary depending on the sex and reproductive status of your goats.

1. Does and Doelings

When does are getting ready to kid, when they’ve recently kidded, or when they are in estrus, they tend to be a bit more…shall we say… sensitive. If you are trying to integrate a new doe or doeling goat when your existing herd hormones are in havoc, that might exacerbate an already tricky situation.

I find it much easier to integrate new female goats into my herd after kids are weaned and before fall when estrus cycles become more intense. If you can’t make this window, then aim for times when your herd queen and other lesser leaders are not experiencing any hormonal changes that make them more persnickety than usual.

2. Bucks

If you are bringing home a new buck to replace your old one, and your old buck is out of the picture, introductions are easy. Just bring in the buck when one or more of your does is in the mood and they’ll be a welcome addition.

If you are bringing home a buck to accompany your existing buck, then make those introductions separate from the ladies. Put the bucks together in a place far away from your does and leave them there until they agree on a winner.

3. Wethers

Wethers are a bit confusing to both bucks and does. Their reproductive herd mates don’t quite know what wethers are without their sexual organs to identify them. So, integrating wethers usually doesn’t require any special timing. But, it’s probably best to try for the off-season if possible as a precaution.

A Few More Integration Tips

when you integrate a new goat, give them all plenty of hay to eat
Endless Hay Access

Now, with the herd mentality, quarantine, and timing issues covered, there are some simple things you can do to expedite a successful integration.

1. Silver and Gold

Do you remember this scout song?

Make new friends, but keep the old.

One is silver, the other is gold.

Well, this is also good advice when it comes to integrating your new goat into your old herd. Treat your old girls like gold and your newbies like silver. Yes, in the end, they’ll all be your golden goats.

But, your old goats will be more accepting of a new goat if they think you like them better than your newbie. You’ve spent plenty of time bonding with your new goat during quarantine, so now it’s time to let your goats bond with him or her as quickly as possible.

2. Horn Policies

when you integrate a new goat, there will be battles

Personally, I find it easier to have a herd that is either all horns or all disbudded and polled. If all of your goats are equally equipped to do battle then the battles are fairer.

When you bring a horned goat into a herd with hornless goats, that horned goat is, as the expression goes, like bringing a knife to a fist fight. But if you bring a goat with no horns to a horned herd, it’s potentially a whole lot worse.

If you are mixing horned with non-horned goats, then you may want to take precautions such as putting foam pool noodles over goat horns to blunt the blows. Some owners also file the tips of their goat horns to reduce risk.

3. Individual Introductions

Your herd will take their cues from your herd leaders on how relentless to be in their testing of a new goat. So, if you want a preview of what your new goat will be up against, start by introducing them to your herd leaders individually.

That initial introduction won’t change the outcome, but at least you’ll know if you have more work to do to get your new goat in condition for the ensuing battles. Also, you’ll know whether to plan extra supervision for whole herd introductions.

4. Selective Supervision

On the subject of supervision, I try not to intervene much during introductions. But, I do free up a few hours to watch herd dynamics during the initial meeting to make sure there’s no immediate jeopardy to my new goat.

If after a few hours my new goat hasn’t been allowed a chance to eat or drink by their herd mates, I’ll give them a little private time to eat, drink, and relax before putting them back out with the herd.

5. Offer a Take-a-Break Room

If you make introductions on open pasture with lots of room, new goats can get away and take breaks from taking beatings when needed. If you have limited pasture area or are making introductions inside goat barns, then you may want to offer a semi-private space for your new goat to retreat to.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is the key for small spaces. If your new goat can “disappear” into a dark corner or around a stall divider, the herd will lose interest for a bit and let them recover.

Personally, I have a fairly big pasture for initial introductions, then I allow goats access to two rooms in my goat barn during integration periods. My herd queen always takes the front room, so new goats can make themselves scarce in the backroom to get a rest.

6. Abundant Atmosphere

During introductions, you may want to offer your entire herd endless access to hay and more frequent treats. This offers a distraction from the fighting.

Plus, when your goats feel a sense of abundance, they are more likely to welcome a new member. If they feel deprived or are limited to non-preferred weeds in pasture, they are more likely to extend their torment to discourage new additions.

Now, even when you give your goats plenty of food during the transition, they’ll still be competitive eaters and will not be likely to share with new members. So, you may still have to feed your newbie separately to make sure they stay strong.

How to Integrate a New Goat Conclusion

The truth is, goats tend to work it out even without all this preparation and intervention from us. Only a very small percentage of new goat introductions result in severe injury and even fewer end in death. But, even when the risks are low, none of us want to see those outcomes.

So, with some basic precautions, a few easy tricks, and making sure the goats you bring home are top quality in the first place, you can safely add new herd members with much less stress for you and your silver and gold goats.

What Causes Bumblefoot in Chickens and the Treatment for All Stages

By Amanda Pieper

The first time you see your backyard bird limping, you might assume it merely has stubbed its toe. But as the days go by, it becomes clear that the affliction is not getting better, and in fact, your bird’s health seems to be going downhill.

A quick internet search will tell you that your beloved bird probably has bumblefoot.

What is Bumblefoot?

Bumblefoot is a nasty bacterial infection that enters your poultry’s foot through a wound, sets up shop, and ends up causing a slow, painful death if it is not treated.

An initial injury with an open wound provides an entry point for bacteria. Bacteria are found everywhere, from droppings from other members of the flock, other animals on your property, or in any other kind of unclean element.

Bumblefoot can be treated if caught early; however, the fact that the injury is on the foot of your chicken, makes treatment difficult.

The medical name for bumblefoot is Ulcerative Pododermatitis, which generally speaking, means an ulcerative inflamed infection of the foot. This beast of an infection can lead to systemic infections of the bones and tissues of the rest of the chicken, and eventually, the bird will become too weak and sick to survive.

Many people think of chickens when they think of bumblefoot, but in truth, other types of birds can contract this bacterial infection. Guinea hens, ducks, penguins, and birds of prey can all get bumblefoot.

Surprisingly, other animals can also contract different types of bumblefoot; however, it is usually referred to as sore hocks, according to PetMdD. Sore hocks are often caused by animals living in small spaces, typically due to poor hygiene.

How Do Chickens Get Bumblefoot?

Bumblefoot in poultry is often caused by a staph infection that develops in an open wound on their feet. Sometimes a small cut on your chicken’s foot from scratching and foraging is enough to invite infection into the body.

A dirty coop creates a prime condition for the growth of harmful bacteria that leads to this disease.

In addition to small cuts caused by everyday wear and tear, there are a few causes of injury that you may be able to prevent:

1. Messy Environment

If you’ve got a lot of stuff lying around like tacks, nails, broken glass or sharp metal objects, your chickens can easily puncture the bottom of their feet. Ensuring your poultry have a safe, clutter-free environment is just one way to prevent an injury that could lead to bumblefoot.

2. Splinters on The Roost

A ratty perch can cause slivers and splinters to get under the skin on a chicken’s rough and tough feet. If you’ve had your roosts set up for a few years, consider doing routine checks. You can ensure that your chickens’ feet aren’t getting spiked by wood splinters every time they roost in the evening.

3. Overuse of Diatomaceous Earth (DE) in The Chicken Coop

Diatomaceous Earth, which is usually used to treat mites and parasites, is a fantastic resource to have on hand. However, if you are too generous while distributing diatomaceous earth, you could dry your chickens’ feet out, and cause cracking.

Bacteria can enter through cracked feet and result in an infection that may lead to bumblefoot. Try to limit diatomaceous earth to your chickens’ favorite dry bath location, so they can access it when they need it.

4. Rough Landings

If you have larger breeds of poultry, repeated heavy landings can cause damage to the bottoms of their feet. Keeping roosts close to the ground can help alleviate the impact.

5. Living in Confinement

Poultry kept in confinement can survive just fine if they have the appropriate amount of space; however, if your birds have to stand in one place for extended periods, the pressure from limited movement can lead to sores. Think of it as being similar to a human’s bedsore: if someone is bedridden, they can get sores on their body due to the pressure of the mattress, or chair, against their skin.

6. Fighting Between Birds

Usually, a pecking order brawl will work itself out pretty quickly. However, if you have two aggressive roosters that engage in a blood bath, their feet can become scratched and punctured.

Spurs can slice through the soft flesh on the bottom of a chicken’s foot, creating an entrance for bacteria from the environment or the other bird’s dirty claws.

Symptoms of Bumblefoot

Luckily, Bumblefoot can be identified early on, before the infection spreads to bones, joints, and tissues. Watch for the following symptoms to determine if your poultry has contracted an infection caused by bumblefoot:

1. Limping

Chickens and other poultry limp from time to time. If they are jumping from high places, they may strain their feet and legs due to the landing. However, if you do see your bird limping, check the bottom of its feet immediately, and look for open wounds.

2. Red Bumps or Sores on Feet

These little bumps will usually be rough and scattered. This kind of bumblefoot is caused by jumping, or walking, on rough or hot surfaces. Usually, this symptom is an early one, and if the conditions that caused the injury can be corrected you can prevent bumblefoot from progressing.

3. Swollen feet

You’ve noticed your bird limping for some time, and one foot appears to be much larger than the other. Swollen feet are the most obvious sign of Bumblefoot and an indication that the infection has spread to other parts of the body.

4. Fatigue

Your bird probably has a few other symptoms that point to bumblefoot, and if you’ve already identified those, and your bird has become weak, listless, and needs to take frequent breaks, it’s probably because of Bumblefoot. In this scenario, the bird’s system is infected and possibly starting to shut down.

5. Decrease in Appetite

Your bird has a great appetite typically, but all of a sudden, it doesn’t seem to be eating or foraging as much as it used to. When the infection starts to spread to other parts of the body, the bird’s appetite will slow down as they don’t feel very well.

6. Plug-like Black Scabs on Bottom of Feet

The telltale sign of bumblefoot in poultry is the presence of a blackened plug (or scab) on the bottom of the bird’s feet. This happens when infected cells begin to die, otherwise known as necrotic tissue. At this point, the infection has been around for a while, and it’s safe to assume that it’s spreading to other parts of the body.

Stages and Treatment of Bumblefoot

A healthy chicken without Bumblefoot

Catching bumblefoot early on is essential if you are hoping to treat the infected bird. Because chickens and poultry use their feet constantly for walking, perching, scratching, fighting, and foraging, a simple wound will not heal on its own. However, there are actions you can take at each stage of the infection that can change the inevitable outcome of Bumblefoot:

Stage 1 of Bumblefoot: The Initial Wound

The first stage of bumblefoot is usually the presence of a wound on the bottom of the bird’s foot. It will be difficult to identify the potential infection in this stage unless you saw the injury occur or you check your chickens’ feet regularly.

If your chicken stepped on something, you might notice limping even before an infection sets in. If you do see signs of pain, get hold of your chicken as soon as possible, and look for wounds.

– What To Do

Soak your chicken’s foot in a warm Epsom salt bath. Restrict perching, activity, and keep the chicken on a soft surface for healing. If the wound is bleeding, you can use cornstarch or blood stop on the wound to help it clot.

Stage 2 of Bumblefoot: The Start of an Infection

During this stage, you will notice that your chicken is clearly limping and in pain. This is the turning point for the infection; it should be addressed now, or it will continue to spread if not treated.

– What To Do

Do everything in stage one and treat the foot with an antibacterial substance, then wrap the foot to keep additional bacteria from entering. Some people use honey on their chicken’s wounds due to the antibacterial properties; however, it isn’t a time to experiment, so go for the big guns like a triple antibiotic ointment.

Stage 3 of Bumblefoot: The Black Plug

If your chicken is showing symptoms of bumblefoot and has not been treated accordingly, the initial wound will have formed a black plug-like scab. This is an ulcer of dead cells and can cause extreme pain for your chicken if it attempts to walk on its foot. If your chicken has a black scab, you are now in the danger zone.

– What To Do

Here’s where things get ugly. You can still attempt to help your chicken if you think the infection is reasonably local. In this stage, you will have to put on a metaphorical surgical gown because you are going to try to remove the black plug, drain the pus, and treat the infection.

Follow the steps in stage one, then use a sanitized scalpel to remove the blackened plug. Do your best to wash the wound, and gently squeeze the pus out of the wound.

Remember, the plug is mostly dead tissue, and once it is softened in the saltwater bath, it can be removed easily with very little cutting involved.

You must wear gloves during this stage because you can contract certain types of staph infections from your chicken’s wound if you are not careful.

If you are lucky, you may have a veterinarian nearby that can do all of this for you, which I highly recommend.

Stage 4 of Bumblefoot: Time to Make a Decision

Stage four is the final stage of bumblefoot. You’ve done everything you can, but the infection is relentless. In this stage, your chicken has a systemic infection, and their organs are slowly dying.

The bird has most likely begun to lay down, not want to move much, and seems to be struggling to live. You may want to consider euthanasia at this point, or you can consult your vet for rigorous treatment options.

Prevention of Bumblefoot in Poultry

Some causes of bumblefoot are preventable; however, bumblefoot can also occur due to things we cannot control, like an overweight hen jumping from a high perch or a nasty fight between two roosters. If you want to do your part to keep bumblefoot at bay, make sure to:

  • Keep the coop clean and dry
  • Separate roosters
  • Ensure a clutter-free environment
  • Maintain perches and roosts
  • Keep roosts close to the ground
  • Keep infected birds separate
  • Give birds ample space
  • Keep chickens on smooth surfaces

Bumblefoot is a dangerous infection, and once it grabs hold, it can be hard to treat your chicken; however, it can be done at nearly any stage. It is always best to consult a vet, but there are things you can do to help the healing process early.

13 Common Chicken Diseases Every Chicken Keeper Should Know About (and How to Treat Them)

1. Fowl Pox


If you notice that your chickens develop white spots on their skin, scabby sores on their combs, white ulcers in their mouth or trachea, and their laying stops then you should grow concerned that your chickens are developing Fowl Pox.

If you would like to remove the odds of your birds even contracting this disease there is a vaccine available. If not, know that they can contact this disease from other contaminated chickens, mosquitos, and it is a virus so it can be contracted by air as well.

2. Botulism


If your chickens begin to have progressing tremors you should grow concerned. If your chickens have botulism the tremors will progress into total body paralysis which does include their breathing.

It is a serious disease.

You will also notice their feathers will be easy to pull out and death usually occurs within a few hours.

But what can you do about it?

Well, there is an antitoxin that can be purchased from your local vet. Though it is considered to be expensive. However, if you catch the disease early enough you can mix 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts with 1 ounce of warm water. You can give it to them by dropper once daily.

If your chickens have contracted this disease it means that there has been some type of dead meat left near their food and water which contaminated it. Which means this disease is avoidable as long as you keep your chickens in a clean environment and clean up any dead carcass from around their environment.

3. Fowl Cholera


You should be suspicious of this disease if you see your birds begin to have a greenish or yellowish diarrhea, are having obvious joint pain, are struggling to breathe, and have a darkened head or wattle. Fowl Cholera is a bacterial disease that can be contracted from wild animals or food and water that has been contaminated by this bacteria.

But the downside to your chicken developing this disease is there is no real treatment. If by some chance your chicken survives, it will still always be a carrier of the disease.

So it is usually better to put them down and destroy their carcass so it will not be passed.

But there is a vaccine for your chickens to prevent the disease from ever taking hold.

4. Infectious Bronchitis

This disease hits close to home because it wiped out half of our flock when we were new to raising chickens. You’ll recognize this disease when you begin to hear your chickens sneezing, snoring, and coughing. And then the drainage will begin to secrete from their nose and eyes.

Their laying will cease too.

But the good news is you can get a vaccine to stop this disease from impacting your chickens.

However, if you decide against that then you will need to move quickly when seeing these signs. Infectious Bronchitis is a viral disease and will travel quickly through the air.

To treat Infectious Bronchitis, give your chickens a warm, dry place to recoup. I gave my birds a warm herb tea and fed them fresh herbs, which seemed to help.

5. Infectious Coryza


You will know that your birds have caught this disease when their heads become swollen. Their eyes will literally swell shut and their combs will swell. Then the discharge will begin to flow from their eyes and noses. They will stop laying and will have moisture under their wings.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to stop this disease.

Once your chickens contract this disease they should be put down. If not, they will remain a carrier of the disease for life which is a risk to the rest of your flock.

Be sure to discard the body afterward so no other animal becomes infected by it.

However, the light at the end of this tunnel is that even though this disease is a bacteria it only travels through contaminated water, other contaminated birds, and surfaces that have been contaminated with the bacteria.

6. Marek’s Disease

This disease is more common in younger birds that are usually under the age of 20 weeks.

So you will know that this disease has struck your baby chicks if you begin to see tumors growing inside or outside of your chick. Their iris will turn gray and they will no longer respond to light. And they will become paralyzed.

Unfortunately, this disease is very easy for them to catch. It is a virus which means it is super easy to transmit from bird to bird. They actually obtain the virus by breathing in pieces of shed skin and feather from an infected chick.

And sadly, if your chick gets this disease it needs to be put down. It will remain a carrier of the disease for life if it survives.

However, the good news is there is a vaccine and it is usually given to day old chicks.

7. Thrush


Thrush with chickens is very similar to thrush that babies get.

You’ll notice a white oozy substance inside their crop (which is a space between their neck and body.) They will have a larger than normal appetite. The chicken will appear lethargic and have a crusty vent area. And their feathers will look ruffled.

It is important to mention that thrush is a fungal disease. This means it can be contracted if you allow your chickens to eat molded feed or other molded food. And they can also contract the disease from contaminated water or surfaces.

Though there is no vaccine, it can be treated by an anti-fungal medicine that you can get from your local vet. Be sure to remove the bad food and clean their water container as well.

8. Air Sac Disease

This disease first appears in the form of poor laying skills and a weak chicken. As it progresses, you will notice coughing, sneezing, breathing problems, swollen joints, and possibly death.

Now, there is a vaccine for this illness, and it can be treated with an antibiotic from the vet. But it can be picked up from other birds (even wild birds) and it can be transferred from a hen that has it to her chick through the egg.

So just keep an eye out for any of these symptoms so it can be treated quickly and effectively.

9. Newcastle Disease

This disease also appears through the respiratory system. You will begin to see breathing problems, discharge from their nose, their eyes will begin to look murky, and their laying will stop. Also, it is common that the bird’s legs and wings will become paralyzed as well as their necks twisted.

This disease is carried by other birds including wild birds. That is how it is usually contracted. But if you touch an infected bird you can pass it on from your clothes, shoes, and other items.

However, the good news is that older birds usually will recover and they are not carriers afterward.

But most baby birds will die from the disease.

There is a vaccine for the disease though the US is working to rid the country of the disease all the way around.

10. Mushy Chick


This disease obviously will impact chicks. It usually shows up in newly hatched chicks that have a midsection that is enlarged, inflamed, and blue tinted. The chick will have an unpleasant scent and will appear to be drowsy. Naturally, the chick will also be weak.

So this disease doesn’t have a vaccine. It usually is transmitted from chick to chick or from a dirty surface where an infected chick was. And usually, it is contracted from an unclean area where a chick with a weak immune system contracts the bacteria.

There is no vaccine for this disease, although sometimes antibiotics will work. But usually, when you come in contact with this disease you will need to immediately separate your healthy chicks from the sick ones.

Use caution as the bacteria within this disease (such as staph and strep) can impact humans.

11. Pullorum


This disease impacts chicks and older birds differently. The chicks will show no signs of activity, have a white paste all over their backsides, and show signs of breathing difficulty. Though some will die with no signs at all.

However, in older birds, you will see sneezing and coughing on top of poor laying skills.

This is a viral disease. It can be contracted through contaminated surfaces and other birds that have become carriers of the disease. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for this disease and all birds that contract the disease should be put down and the carcass destroyed so no other animal will pick up the disease.

12. Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza is most commonly known as the bird flu. It was one of my initial fears of owning chickens because all you hear about on the news is how people get sick with bird flu from their chickens. However, after knowing the symptoms you’ll be able to put that fear to rest.

You need to know how to act quickly if you are afraid your backyard birds have come in contact with it.

So the signs you will notice will include respiratory troubles. Your chickens will quit laying. They will probably develop diarrhea. You may notice swelling in your chicken’s face and that their comb and wattle are discolored or have turned blue.


And they may even develop dark red spots on their legs and combs.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine and the chickens infected will always be carriers. Wild animals can even carry the disease from bird to bird.

Once your birds get this disease, they need to be put down and the carcass destroyed. And you will need to sanitize any area that the birds were in before ever introducing a new flock.

Use great caution because this disease can make humans sick.

And here is a great resource about avian influenza for all backyard chicken keepers. Hopefully, this will help to put your mind at rest about this disease and your backyard flock.

13. Bumblefoot


Bumblefoot is a disease that you’ll know exactly what you’re looking at when you see it.

It begins by your chicken accidentally cutting its foot on something. It can happen when they are digging in the garden, scratching around in mulch, and so many other ways. But then the cut gets infected. And the chicken’s foot will begin to swell. It can even swell up the leg.

So you can treat it by performing surgery (learn how here.) If not, the infection will eventually take over the chicken and claim its life.

Obviously, bumblefoot can happen very easily and there isn’t much you can do to prevent besides just keep a close eye on your chickens’ feet. If you notice they have a cut then be sure to wash and disinfect it to prevent this disease from setting up.

That is all of the common chicken diseases I have for you today.

However, there are many less common illnesses too. So just be sure to always pay attention to your flock and stay alert to any changes. Never be afraid to research. It is better to overreact than to underreact and miss something that could be detrimental to your whole flock.

Helping Chickens Avoid Heat Stress

hot weather chickensThe weather outside may consistently be freezing right now, but pretty soon we’ll be swinging into the spring and summer months, meaning heat, heat, and some more heat just to mix things up. Chickens can typically handle themselves in the heat just fine, especially if it’s a breed that excels in hot weather such as the Brahma or Rhode Island Red, but that still leaves some room for heat stress. You don’t want your birds getting anxious and uncomfortable when the weather gets too hot, so here are some tips to help them avoid heat stress.

Heat stress is a condition that can occur in any breed at any time when the temperature and humidity suddenly rises, though as with most things the most susceptible are the young, old, and already sick. When a chicken is affected, their egg-producing abilities will take a dive, plus mortality rates climb in the overall flock. Simply, heat stress is a bad thing, so you’ll want to be prepared when it arrives.

Oddly, a chicken’s normal body temperature is between 104 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit, so their preferred outdoor temperature is roughly 15 degrees less than that (90 at most). When the outdoor temp goes up, so does the poultry’s body temperature. If it gets up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit, then you know they’re in danger.

As chickens can’t sweat, the best they can do all alone is pant excessively. That’s why it’s imperative to provide plenty of water for your flock to splash around in, drink, and overall use for cooling down. Keeping very cold water in a shaded area will do wonders to alleviate heat stress and should completely prevent much of the problem.

Also, chickens, as with pretty much every animal, increase their body temperature during digestion. This means that they become warmer when eating, so feed them only at night or during the cooler times of the day.
For the coop, ensure that it has adequate ventilation, installing a fan if necessary. Overcrowding it a huge source of heat (and stress in general), so more space for less chickens is best. Along with this comes the need to clean soiled bedding or litter as soon as possible seeing as how decomposing litter will generate heat as well.

If you have a misting system installed in either the coop or the run, this will go a long way to cool things down, but if that’s not the case then consider keeping short grass in the chicken’s area. Grass that’s too tall will stop any sort of airflow, whereas bare dirt will only help spread the heat. Shortly trimmed grass allows the air to flow and the heat to dissipate. Simple, but effective.

Again, the weather outside right this moment may be more ice and rain than sun and scorching, but it pays to be prepared for that inevitable shift. Don’t let your chicken be caught off guard by heat stress!

Avoiding Salmonella in Chickens

One of the greatest gifts a chicken can give is itself as a rich, delicious dinner. Sure, that may seem a bit weird, but it’s one of the primary uses chickens are bred for. However, there’s a downside to eating chicken if you don’t know what you’re doing. Prepared incorrectly, you could easily be dealing with a nasty case of salmonella. What is salmonella and how can you avoid it? Read on and find out.

Before learning how to prevent it, you might be interested to know what salmonella actually is. Salmonella is a bacteria commonly found in the intestines of animals, though we associate the bacteria with chickens more than any other creatures. Should you ingest the salmonella bacteria, you may suffer from salmonellosis, or salmonella poisoning. Symptoms include stomach cramps, fever, and diarrhea, typically presenting within the first 12 to 72 hours of ingestion. In most cases, the worst you have to worry about is constant diarrhea, but if the infected party is very young, very old, or has an auto-immune disease, it could be a lot worse.

So basically, this is something you want to avoid, yes? Though you could easily give up chicken, something vegetarians and vegans will tell you is not the end of the world, for most of us that simply isn’t an option we’d prefer. Thankfully, there’s a lot we can do to prevent salmonella from bothering us, all with some simple precautions.

First, when purchasing raw chicken from the grocery store, make sure not to keep it in the same bag as other foods or items. There’s a reason that stores provide extra plastic bags in the meat sections, plus you’d be hard-pressed to find a bagger that doesn’t know to keep any raw meats separate from fresh produce or things of that nature.

Next, when you do get home, make sure to stick your raw chicken straight into the freezer or the fridge if you plan on using it that evening. This seems like common sense seeing as how you don’t want it to spoil, but this also helps reduce the growth of the bacteria itself. To thaw the chicken then, put it in the fridge for six hours, place it in a bowl of cold water, or microwave it. Whatever you do, just know that once the chicken is thawed you shouldn’t refreeze it at least until it’s been fully cooked.

One of the biggest steps is the proper cooking procedure. With chicken, you want to make sure you’re cooking it to the point that the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. This is the breaking point where salmonella can be killed, so if you can get it above that temperature, there is virtually no chance the meat itself can pose any threats. For the best results, make sure to use a meat thermometer on this step.

Lastly and possibly most importantly, everything that has come in contact with the raw chicken must be cleaned with soap and warm water. And this does mean everything, so your hands, any cutting boards, the counter, knives, tongs, forks, the meat thermometer, any and everything. Your hands especially carry the most risk, so flip on the water and wash for 20 seconds or more.

Salmonella doesn’t have to scare you away from chicken forever. There’s that small risk, yes, but if you take the time to dine safely, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy your meal free from the worry of bacteria. Happy dinner!

Keeping Your Chickens’ Nails in Check

Chickens are known to peck and scratch as that’s how they forage for food best. As a result, Mother Nature seemed to decide that the best way to help them get along was to provide them with strong beaks and sharp claws. But deadly predators they are not. You as the caretaker of a flock of chickens must be responsible for their grooming and the wellbeing of their beaks and nails. Every so often you may need to step in and do some trimming of your own. If that’s the case, here’s what you’ll need to know to keep your chickens’ nails in check.

Generally, chickens have good sharp nails at the end of their toes, allowing them to easily dig into the ground to forage for food like grubs and seeds and such. As they go about their business digging and scratching, the importance of their nail lengths become more and more prevalent as nails that are too long will be unwieldy and provide problems doing the most basic tasks,. Worse still, once a chicken’s nails get too long, the chicken itself really has no way of reducing its length in any way.

That’s where you have to step in and start clipping. It’s vital that you keep their feet in good health as they need them for feeding themselves and maintaining good exercise. Clipping said nails is not overly difficult, though you do have to be careful as a panicked hen can flail and scratch you pretty good. You’ll need a pair of specially designed nail clippers to accomplish this task, but acquiring one it’s very difficult. Actually going through with the clipping can be the hard part.

Those of us who have cats or dogs have probably experienced nail grooming before and how tricky it can be when clipping. For chickens the need to clip correctly is even more important as poorly-clipped nails can prove more harmful that overly long nails. You need to be careful not to cut into the quick, otherwise pain and bleeding will occur, but you need to be careful not to cut them awkwardly or too short, otherwise they will have a hard time scratching as normal. Frequently, it’s just a good idea to take them to your vet or a chicken fancier if you’re not feeling confident enough to do it yourself.

However, the best way to keep your birds groomed properly in the nail department is to provide them with hard ground to naturally file down their toenails on. The coop flooring will end up being critical for their wellbeing, so something like dirt or wood is alright, but concrete will ensure that their claws are getting scrapped down to a manageable length instead of growing uncontrollably.

When it comes to the beak though, you definitely want to be on top of things and be sure to have it filed down or clipped if it becomes apparent that it’s growing to a point there feeding is difficult for your bird. Simple fingernail clippers should be enough to clip off the extra protuberance here.

Roosters have one other bit to watch out for as many breeds can grow a sharp talon behind their leg. This talon can grow normally and become long and deadly, or it can sometimes begin growing into the leg itself. Either way, getting it cut down is a smart idea.

Raising chickens is like babysitting a very feathery, very odd child. You need to be their caretaker in more ways than just providing them with food and shelter but also by making sure their fingernails are clean and neatly trimmed. It may be silly to think about, but if you don’t take care of your chickens, no one else will!

Trimming Your Chicken’s Beak

One of the most common complaints you’ll hear about raising chickens is that frequently, the beaks of birds in the flock can become so long and sharp that a few pecks is like a dagger being jammed into your flesh. Some may tell you that trimming their beaks is inhumane, but there’s a very safe and harmless way to do it that will save a lot of hassle in the future. Here’s what you need to know about beak trimming.

The arguments in favor of trimming tend to rest on the need to stock painful peckings, and not just to the owner. Chickens will frequently peck at each other, and a bird with a longer, sharper beak can inflict a lot more damage, an act that can leave to serious wounds or even death in some cases. This certainly isn’t what you want to see occurring, and the need to step in and solve the problem should be foremost in your thoughts.

Now, this article isn’t about debeaking or mutilation. Both of those are cruel practices that will result in a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering for your lovely chickens. Rather, this article is about simple grooming, much like how you’d make sure to clip your dog’s claws now and then to keep them short, or file your own finger nails back to keep them from getting in your way.

The same is true for chickens. Their beaks grow much like fingernails, constantly getting longer and longer as time progresses. Usually the act of trimming and filing is accomplished imply by pecking in the yard for insects and such, but now and then you’ll be able to notice a very clear instanced where a chicken’s upper beak is hanging over their bottom beak quite a bit. There’s some debate as to whether this indeed makes it more difficult to eat for the bird,but again, the biggest cause for concern is that they’ll be hurting you and the rest of the flock if something isn’t done.

Actually trimming the beak is a very simple task. Taking a pair of fingernail or toenail clippers, hold your chicken and clip just the very tip of the top beak so that the sharpness and pointiness is reduced. You don’t want to cut too far back as, just like with humans, dogs, and cats, you can clip into fleshy parts that will bleed and be somewhat painful. A good guideline is to see where the beak is overhanging and clip just to the point where it’s now level again with the lower beak.

The alternative to clipping is to file the beak down using nail file. You should probably use a nail file anyway to help file away rough edges from the clipping or to properly shape it back into a useful tool. Again, the goal here is not to render your chicken helpless but to stop it from going overboard. This is just routine hygiene rather than a drastic change.

Making the decision to trim your chicken’s beak is a fairly simple one to make, and it’s not very difficult either. Just be careful and cut correctly as you don’t want to harm them in any way.

Common Chicken Parasites

Parasites are one of the biggest pests for the backyard flock raiser. Know who you’re up against and what they look like so that you can treat them!


Cecal Worms
Carried By: Beetles, Earwigs, Grasshoppers
Symptoms: Can cause no symptoms or can cause weight loss and weakness
What they do: Cecal worms invade the ceca, the blind pouches attached to the intestines. They rarely cause serious problems though they are the most common worm.

Ascarids or Large Roundworms
Carried By: None
Symptoms: Pale head, droopiness, weight loss, diarrhea, and death
What they do: Roundworms invade the intestines, attaching to the intestinal wall and preventing the body’s absorption of essential nutrients by taking it all for themselves. Chickens usually become resistant by three months.

Capillary Worms
Carried By: Earthworm
Symptoms: Droopiness, weight loss, diarrhea, death
What they do: These are hairlike worms that invade the crop and upper intestine. If your chicken sits with its head drawn in, it likely has capillary worms.

Carried By: Earthworms, Slugs, Snails
Symptoms: Gasping, coughing, head shaking, death from asphyxiation in young birds
What they do: These are red, fork-shaped worms that attach themselves to the windpipe and can cause breathing trouble and throat irritation.

Cestodes or Tapeworms
Carried By: Ant, Beetle, Earthworm, Slug, Snail, Termite
Symptoms: Weakness, slow growth, weight loss, death
What they do: These long, ribbonlike worms attach to the intestine and absorb nutrients. They infect large numbers of birds, but are rarely fatal.

Flukes or Trematodes
Carried By: Dragonfly, Mayfly
Symptoms: None
What they do: These leaf shaped worms attach themselves to the inside of the body or beneath the skin. They are prolific in swampy, unsanitary areas.

All worms can be treated by de-worming. If you suspect your birds have worms, as a vet to run a fecal sample to determine which worms are present and which medication is right to treat with.


Red Mites
What they look like: Small grey specks crawling on your chicken at night. They turn red after their bodies are full of chicken blood.
Treatment: Control red mites by cleaning your coop thoroughly, dusting your birds, and dusting every possible crack and crevice with an insecticide.

Northern Fowl Mites
What they look like: Small grey specks that crawl over nesting boxes, eggs and birds during the day. They also cause scabbing around the vent and are more prevalent in the cooler months.
Treatment: These mites procreate quickly, so dust everything with an improve insecticide. Keep your birds dusted and pay special attention to any cracks or crevices where they could be hiding out.

Scaly Leg Mites
What they look like: These little guys burrow under the scales of your chickens’ legs. You won’t know they’re there until the chicken shows symptoms of lost scales and stiff legged walking.
Treatment: These are slow spreading and can be controlled by brushing the legs of your birds with a mixture of kerosene and linseed oil, one part to two parts, once a month.

What they look like: Tic appearance can vary by region. Most tics are pea-sized when hungry and various colors of brown.
Treatment: Keep chickens away from areas where tics generally reside. Keep roosting boxes off the ground, keep tall grass trimmed down and avoid having your coop near trees.

Chickens that are tormented frequently by mites may refuse to go into their coop at night or become restless at bedtime because they are anticipating a painful night. Consider lining nesting boxes with tobacco leaves and using cedar chips for nesting. You can also give ivermectin to birds that are not meat or egg birds. This will make them unappealing from the inside out.

Lice are an all around nuisance that may stop laying and cause your birds to pull out their feathers. You can see them crawling on the birds, find their eggs at the base of feathers and see scabbing around the vent from where they have been chewing on the skin. Treat all your birds if you spot lice on one as it spreads quickly. Repeat the treatment twice, every seven days, to kill any eggs that hatch between treatments.

Sticktight fleas are the most common and though easy to remove on a bird are more difficult to get out of housing. Apply a flea salve to the face of the bird, and remove all bedding. Heavily dust the coop and repeat every two or three days over the course of a two week period.