Chickens make wonderful pets with the added bonus of tasty eggs throughout the year too! Keeping your chickens healthy and happy is a big responsibility and if you’re a new keeper of a back garden flock, it can be daunting to know when something is wrong or not. Your birds should be checked regularly for any signs of illness or distress, parasite invasions and diseases can quickly spread between animals and become a serious issue if not dealt with. This guide will show you how to give your chicken a basic bird M.O.T!
General demeanour – They should be bright and alert with no ruffled feathers or signs of bullying.
Feathers – Should be bright and glossy unless in moult, check between feathers for signs of parasites.
Comb – This should be firm and red in a healthy chicken, any changes may indicate a possible illness.
Eyes – Your bird’s eyes should be fully open, bright and free of discharge.
Nose – Should be clear of discharge and listen out for any raspy or wheezy breathing.
Crop – A bulging crop first thing in the morning could be indicative of an impacted crop.
Legs – The legs should be smooth, a rough bumpy texture could signal a scaly leg mite problem.
Vent – Feathers around the vent should be dry and clean without any sign of faecal contamination. Faeces stuck to the feathers could indicate diarrhoea or other intestinal problems.
Habits – Have they begun eating less or become more lethargic recently?
Droppings – These should be firm and white to brown in colour with the occasional foamier liquid passing. There should be no blood present.
Abnormalities – Any limping, bleeding or trailing wings should be seen by a vet.
Weight – Feel your chicken’s breastbone, a sharp breastbone indicates an underweight bird whilst a hidden breastbone means it’s time to lay off the treats
Eggs – Eggs should have a firm shell and the yolks and shell should not be pale in colour, they should be of a good, consistent size and not irregularly shaped. A drop in egg production when birds are not in moult could also indicate an issue. Any blood specks on laid eggs may indicate a red mite problem.
Call us on 01435 864422 if you have any questions about chicken care.
Heathfield Vets – Quality Care With A Friendly Face