We have many clients who not only have cats and dogs as pets but also get to enjoy the pleasure of fresh eggs on a daily basis from their back yard chickens.

In this article we hope to provide a couple of health problems we often see and their clinical signs.

Health problems

Red mite:

These are a small mite that feed on the blood of chickens, they feed at night so are often not seen by owners during the day time. They also can survive in the environment for long periods of time without feeding, so they can be tough to get rid of. We often see chickens that are very pale – owners notice their comb and wattle become pale, along with itchiness and irritation.

Please contact your nearest Swaynes’ branch to have a chat to our vets if you think your chooks have a mite infestation. We always advise cleaning out their houses very thoroughly in all the corners to check for these mites. The treatment for red mites focuses on removing the mites from the environment and often there are specific powders we can recommend.

Egg peritonitis:

This is often termed as being egg bound which perhaps is the wrong term for this condition. A chickens ovary and uterus is described as a ball and a catching mitt. When the chicken ovulates the oviduct/ uterus catches the egg which normally would form the egg as we know it that chickens produce. Occasionally the oviducts can be damaged by disease or other causes, this prevents the egg from getting to the right place. The egg falls into the chickens abdomen – a bit like an ectopic pregnancy – and often acts as a source of infection. They often present very collapse, with fluid in their abdomen and very painful.

Treatment sadly for this condition is often euthansia as the chickens can be in a lot of pain and we as vets often have to sadly suggest this to owners. If you have any concerns your chicken may have egg peritonitis please call your nearest branch.

Routine preventative treatments:

Worming

When chickens show signs of worm infestation (such as gape worm), we normally advise to use a product called Flubendazole for 7 consecutive days. We advise to worm chickens when they are showing signs of worm existence within the flock, worm egg counts can also be performed to monitor whether your chickens need worming. Please do discuss this with your vet at your local Swaynes branch.

Chickens can be very good at hiding health problems, sadly there are often strict hierarchies amongst flocks of chickens so the first sign of any chicken not feeling well make sure you check on the chicken and isolate them straight away if possible.

If you have any chook questions please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Swaynes’ branch.