Keeping your chickens healthy is vital to maintaining your flock, whether they are an egg-laying brood or just family pets. Fortunately, diseases in isolated groups tend to be a rare occurrence, but there are some steps you can take to be proactive and protective of your birds.
For starters, make sure that your birds have ready access to clean water, a fresh food supply and a shelter from the elements. Regularly cleaning out cages and coops to reduce excess droppings, moisture and waste will also help prevent disease by removing potential food and water contaminates that can potentially introduce illnesses to your flock.
Young chickens, in particular, are typically the most susceptible birds in your brood to illness. The most common disease among chicks is coccidiosis. Affected birds may exhibit symptoms of stunted growth, diarrhea, drooping wings and red tinge in their manure. Severe causes of coccidiosis can come on quickly and can be fatal. Fortunately, there are medicated feed options available that can easily be used to help prevent coccidiosis.
In larger flocks, vaccination may be a desirable option. While there are a limited number of vaccines on the market for chickens, treatment can help reduce the risk of infection within your coop. As exposure to other groups of birds can introduce new bacteria or viruses to your chickens, vaccination is also a great option if your flock will be frequently traveling or commingling with other broods.
Educating yourself on some of the most common diseases in chickens and what the symptoms are can also help identify any possible outbreaks early. HobbyFarms.com provides a handy list of 11 common poultry maladies, along with the signs to look for with your birds. Identifying a sick bird at the first signs of an illness and quarantining it while you treat it will prevent disease from getting out of hand.
For recommendations on how to care for a chicken you suspect may have become ill, contact Peter Brown AKA the chicken doctor for medical advice and treatment regimens. Check out our comprehensive care instructions here.