Why Do Chickens Get Sick?

The Coop Crisis Behind Why Chickens Falling Sick?



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As a backyard chicken keeper for over 5 years, I’ve seen my fair share of sick chickens.

It’s never fun to walk out to the coop and find your feathery friends looking a little under the weather.

But don’t worry, this is a common occurrence for flock owners and most chicken illnesses can be easily treated if caught early.

Just the other day my rooster Chanticleer was looking pretty pathetic.

His wattles were pale, he was moving slow, and he just seemed overall droopy.

I gave him a quick exam and noticed his crop felt a bit hard and swollen.

Uh oh, I thought, looks like a case of impacted crop.

This is when food gets backed up in their crop (the pouch near the throat where food is stored before digestion).

I gave Chanticleer a ginger and olive oil drench to help break things up and softly massaged his crop.

Within a day he was back to his old self, crowing loud and proud.

Here’s the funny part – later that day I saw one of my hens, Henrietta, sneakily making her way out of the coop with an entire ear of corn in her beak! No wonder poor Chanticleer had an impacted crop.

That naughty Henrietta was hogging the corn and he probably swallowed a whole kernel.

Silly chickens!

Common Causes of Sickness in Chickens

Just like any other animal, chickens can get sick from a variety of causes.

Why Do Chickens Get Sick?

Here are some of the most common:

  • Parasites like mites, lice, and intestinal worms – Mites and lice live on the skin and feathers, causing irritation, feather loss and skin damage. Worms like roundworms and tapeworms live in the digestive tract, robbing nutrients and making chickens more susceptible to other illnesses.
  • Respiratory infections like infectious bronchitis or mycoplasmosis – These viral and bacterial infections affect the respiratory tract, causing sneezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, and sinus inflammation. Infectious bronchitis is highly contagious.
  • Impacted crop – When chickens eat long pieces of grass, litter or other debris it can get lodged in the crop, blocking food passage. The crop becomes swollen and hard.
  • Infectious diseases like coccidiosis, fowl cholera, or avian influenza – Coccidia parasites damage the intestinal lining, causing bloody diarrhea. Fowl cholera is a bacterial disease causing sudden death. Avian influenza is a viral respiratory illness spread by wild birds.
  • Nutritional deficiencies – Deficiencies in vitamins A, D, E, and B-complex or minerals like calcium and phosphorus can cause chickens to be more susceptible to illness.
  • Stress – Stress from overcrowding, moving, or adding new flock members can depress the immune system. Molting and hot weather are stressful too.
  • Heat exhaustion – Chickens don’t sweat; in hot climates they need shade and cool water to avoid heat stress.
  • Wounds – Pecking-order disputes, predators, and sharp objects can wound chickens, allowing bacterial infection.


The Top 10+ Chicken Diseases Chart

Why it happens How to prevent
Avian Influenza Spread through infected wild birds; poor biosecurity Strict biosecurity measures; vaccination
Marek’s Disease Herpesvirus; contact with infected birds or contaminated environment Vaccination; maintain a clean environment
Coccidiosis Protozoan parasites; contaminated feed or water Proper sanitation; coccidiostats in feed
Fowl Pox Mosquito-borne virus; direct contact with infected birds Vaccination; mosquito control
Respiratory Infections Poor ventilation; crowded living conditions Good ventilation; isolate sick birds
Salmonella Infection Contaminated feed or water; contact with infected birds Sanitary practices; proper hygiene
Botulism Consumption of contaminated feed or water Ensure clean water sources; proper feed storage
Blackhead Disease Parasitic infection; contact with infected earthworms Worm control; biosecurity measures
Infectious Coryza Bacterial infection; direct contact with infected birds Isolate sick birds; antibiotic treatment
Mycoplasma gallisepticum Bacterial infection; direct or indirect contact Isolate infected birds; antibiotic treatment
Aspergillosis Fungal infection; contaminated bedding or feed Proper ventilation; clean living conditions
Newcastle Disease Viral infection; contact with infected birds or their secretions Vaccination; biosecurity measures
Enteritis Bacterial or viral infection; contaminated feed or water Hygienic practices; clean water sources
Parasitic Infections Various parasites; contaminated environment Regular deworming; clean living conditions
External Parasites (Mites, Lice) Infested bedding or contact with infected birds Regular cleaning; use of pest control measures
Heat Stress Excessive heat; poor ventilation Provide shade; ensure proper ventilation
Cold Stress Extreme cold; inadequate shelter Provide insulation; ensure proper shelter
Leg Disorders Genetic factors; poor nutrition Ensure balanced diet; selective breeding
Egg-laying Issues Age-related; nutritional imbalances Proper nutrition; adequate calcium intake
Protozoal Infections Various protozoa; contaminated water sources Water sanitation; preventive medications
Lead Poisoning Consumption of contaminated soil or feed Keep poultry away from lead sources; provide uncontaminated feed
Swollen Head Syndrome Bacterial infection; respiratory transmission Isolate affected birds; antibiotic treatment
Ascites Cardiovascular or respiratory issues; genetic factors Ensure proper ventilation; select for stronger cardiovascular health
Yolk Peritonitis Reproductive issues; bacterial infection Provide proper nesting conditions; monitor reproductive health
Feather Pecking Behavioral issues; overcrowding or boredom Ensure adequate space; provide environmental enrichment
Salmonella Infection Contaminated feed or water; contact with infected birds Sanitary practices; proper hygiene
See also  Top 15+ Reasons Why Your Chickens Ain’t With Us No More


The Chicken Stress Chronicles

Chickens might seem carefree, but life in the coop can be more stressful than a hen at a fox convention. Picture this: your flock is crammed tighter than rush hour traffic.

Feathers are ruffled, and not in a good way. Stress levels skyrocket, and before you know it, your once-chill chickens are clucking like they’re auditioning for a poultry drama series.

Why Do Chickens Get Sick?

Tip: Create a chill zone in your coop. Give your chickens some space to spread their wings, both figuratively and literally.

A stressed chicken is like a ticking time bomb, and ain’t nobody got time for that on the farm.

Now, let me tell you about the time I underestimated the power of chicken stress. I decided to rearrange the coop without warning.

Guess what happened? Cluckles Malone, the prima donna herself, decided to protest. Feathers flew, squawks echoed, and I was left pondering my life choices.

Lesson learned: chickens value their personal space more than I value my morning coffee.

Bacterial Shenanigans

Chickens might have a tough exterior, but inside, they’re not invincible.

Bacteria can sneak into the coop like stealthy ninjas, turning your feathered friends into unwilling hosts for a clucking calamity.

Why Do Chickens Get Sick?

Imagine this: your once-healthy chicken starts sneezing and wheezing like they picked up a poultry cold. That’s bacteria throwing a party, and your chickens are the unwilling hosts.

Example: It’s like a coop invasion.

Bacteria march in uninvited, set up camp, and your chickens are left dealing with the aftermath – a full-blown cluckfest.

Let me share a tale of bacterial betrayal. I slacked on keeping the coop clean, thinking a little extra straw here and there wouldn’t hurt.

Oh, how wrong I was.

Bacteria seized the opportunity, and my once-healthy flock turned into a chorus of clucking coughs. Moral of the story: clean your coop like your chicken’s health depends on it. Because it does.

Nutritional Roulette

Chickens are what they eat, and a lack of proper nutrition can turn your coop into a health hazard. Imagine this: you’re stuck eating the same bland meal every day.

You’d be grumpy, right? Well, chickens are no different. Feeding them a one-size-fits-all diet is like expecting a chicken to lay golden eggs – it just ain’t happening.

Tip: Invest in quality chicken feed.

It’s like giving your feathered pals a VIP ticket to a buffet of health. A well-fed chicken is a happy chicken, and a happy chicken is a clucking legend in the making.

Picture this: I decided to experiment with a budget-friendly chicken feed, thinking I was the Einstein of the coop. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t.

My once-vibrant flock turned into a bunch of lethargic, uninspired fluffballs.

Lesson learned: nutrition matters. Don’t skimp on your chicken’s chow, or you’ll have a bunch of mopey birds plotting a coop rebellion.

The Coop Conspiracy

Your chicken’s living conditions can make or break their health.

A clean coop is the fortress of a healthy flock. Now, imagine this: your living space is so dusty you feel like you’re inhaling sawdust with every breath.

Chickens don’t dig it either. Respiratory issues can hit them harder than a rooster’s wake-up call if the coop resembles a dust bowl.

Tip: Be the Marie Kondo of the chicken world – keep that coop spick and span. Cleanliness is next to chicken godliness, my friend.

Let me regale you with a tale of coop chaos. I neglected the coop cleaning routine, thinking a bit of dust wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Oh, how wrong I was. Feathers started floating like confetti, and my once-healthy chickens sounded like a wheezing choir.

Moral of the story: dust off your cleaning gloves and treat that coop like a five-star hotel. Your chickens will thank you with clucks of approval.

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Feathered Friends Folly

Chickens are social beings, but sometimes their pals can be carriers of chicken chaos. Diseases can spread through the flock faster than gossip at a ladies’ brunch.

Quarantine might sound harsh, but it’s the superhero cape your flock needs to fend off contagious cluckers.

Rhetorical Question: Would you let your sick friend crash on your couch? Probably not. Same goes for chickens.

Quarantine might seem like tough love, but it’s the chicken health equivalent of a superhero cape – protecting your flock from the villains of the coop.

So, there you have it – the not-so-clucking-simple reasons why chickens catch the bug. Armed with these tips, you’re now the Dr. House of the chicken world.

Now go, tend to your feathered pals, and keep them clucking happily ever after.

Coop Crisis: Identifying, Treating, and Preventing 7+ Popular Ailments in Chickens

Did you know that a chicken’s immune system can be trickier than a fox in a chicken disguise?

Now, let’s dig into the top 7 common diseases that can turn your cluckers into feathered drama queens.

1. Fowl Pox: The Chicken’s Version of the Common Cold

Fowl Pox is like the chicken’s version of the common cold, but it’s not as innocent as it sounds. It’s more like a feathery hurricane sweeping through the coop.

Imagine this: scabby sores on combs and wattles, turning your once vibrant rooster into a walking horror movie. It’s a clucking nightmare.

Tip: Quarantine is your superhero cape. Keep those infected feathered pals away from the healthy ones, just like you’d avoid spreading the flu in a cramped office.

Remember, a healthy chicken is a happy chicken, and happy chickens don’t want to share a perch with sick buddies.

I personally underestimated the power of quarantine once. I thought a bit of comradery between sick and healthy chickens wouldn’t hurt.

Oh, how wrong I was. The scabby sores spread like wildfire, turning my once pristine coop into a scene from a chicken horror flick. Lesson learned: quarantine is the VIP section of the chicken health club.

2. Marek’s Disease: The Chicken’s Sneaky Ninja

Marek’s Disease is the silent ninja of the chicken world.

It strikes without warning, causing paralysis and tumors. It’s like a chicken conspiracy, and your flock might not even see it coming. Vaccination is your secret weapon against this undercover villain.

Example: It’s like a surprise attack. One day, your chicken is doing the chicken dance, and the next, it’s more like the chicken wobble.

Picture a coop filled with chickens suddenly struck by an invisible force, stumbling like they’ve partied too hard.

Now, let me share a tale of Marek’s Disease striking my flock:

I neglected vaccination, thinking my chickens were immune superheroes.

Big mistake. The ninja struck, and my once lively coop turned into a somber dojo of paralyzed chickens. Moral of the story: vaccinate, or you might end up with a coop dojo instead of a dance floor.

3. Coccidiosis: The Uninvited Gut Guest

Coccidiosis is the unwelcome guest in your chicken’s gut. It brings diarrhea, lethargy, and a general “ain’t feelin’ so hot” vibe. It’s like a party crasher ruining the coop fiesta.

Analogy: Imagine your chicken’s gut as a VIP club, and Coccidiosis is the gatecrasher causing chaos on the dance floor.

Your once lively flock now resembles a sad disco where the dance moves are more like the chicken shuffle due to upset stomachs.

I once ignored the signs of Coccidiosis, thinking my chickens were just having an off day.

Oh, how wrong I was. The coop turned into a scene from a sad country song – chickens moping around with upset stomachs. Lesson learned: don’t let gut invaders crash your chicken party.

4. Infectious Bronchitis: The Chicken Cold

Chickens catch colds too, and it’s called Infectious Bronchitis.

Sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes – it’s like a chicken flu party, and nobody’s sending out invitations.

Tip: Isolate the sick chicken pronto. Think of it as sending them to their own cozy chicken spa until they’re clucking fit.

Just like you’d avoid a contagious colleague in the office, keep your sneezing chicken away from the healthy ones.

I once ignored the sneezes in my coop, thinking it was just a case of hay fever. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

The infectious bronchitis spread like wildfire, turning my once harmonious coop into a cacophony of clucking coughs.

Moral of the story: quarantine is your friend, even if your chicken protests it with theatrical sneezes.

5. Avian Influenza: The Chicken’s High Fever

Avian Influenza, or bird flu, is like a high fever for chickens. It spreads faster than gossip at a ladies’ brunch, and the symptoms? Think swollen heads, blue combs – it’s a clucking nightmare.

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Rhetorical Question: Ever seen a chicken with a fever? Trust me, it’s not a sight you want in your coop.

Imagine your chicken coop as a hospital, and avian influenza is the contagious patient in the waiting room. Keep your healthy chickens in a separate wing, far away from the feverish drama.

I once downplayed the risk of avian influenza, thinking my coop was immune to such high-stakes drama. Guess what happened?

The fever hit, and my once lively flock turned into a somber symphony of sick chickens. Moral of the story: don’t underestimate the power of a chicken fever.

6. Egg-Laying Issues: The Chicken Maternity Dilemma

Chickens can have maternity dilemmas too. Egg-laying issues, like egg peritonitis, can turn your egg factory into a maternity ward gone wrong. It’s like expecting a delivery and getting a chicken-sized plot twist instead.

Example: It’s like your chicken’s maternity leave turning into a Netflix binge-watching session. Unexpected and not exactly what you signed up for.

Picture a coop filled with hens suddenly faced with maternity complications, turning their once-easy egg-laying routine into a medical drama.

I once overlooked the signs of egg-laying issues, thinking my hens were just taking a brief hiatus. Oh, how wrong I was.

The coop turned into a maternity ward, with hens experiencing complications I never saw coming. Lesson learned: don’t let maternity dilemmas turn your egg factory into a coop soap opera.

7. Respiratory Infections: The Chicken Sniffles

Chickens can get the sniffles too.

Respiratory infections, like mycoplasma, can turn your cluckers into a chorus of wheezing maestros. It’s like a symphony of sneezes, and nobody’s getting a standing ovation.

Tip: Good ventilation is your coop’s best friend. Imagine your chicken coop as a spa – everyone deserves fresh, clean air.

It’s like giving your flock front-row seats to the concert of life, where the air is as crisp as a morning breeze.

I once underestimated the importance of coop ventilation, thinking it was an optional extra. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

The respiratory infections spread like wildfire, turning my once serene coop into a cacophony of wheezing clucks. Moral of the story: fresh air isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.

How to Keep Your Flock Healthy

Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to chicken keeping.

Here are my top tips for keeping your flock in tip-top shape:

  • Provide a balanced diet with 16% protein feed, calcium from oyster shell, and fresh fruits/veggies. Supply fresh, clean water at all times.
  • Keep the coop clean and dry. Remove manure, uneaten food, and wet bedding daily. Disinfect feeders/waters weekly.
  • Allow access to the outdoors and grass/bugs if possible. Fresh air and exercise keep chickens healthy.
  • Separate any chicken showing signs of illness right away to prevent spreading diseases. Have a quarantine pen ready.
  • Quarantine new chickens for 30 days before adding to flock. Monitor for illness.
  • Check chickens weekly for lice/mites, worms, and illness. Monitor droppings.
  • Avoid overcrowding in housing or runs. 10 sq ft per bird inside, 8 sq ft outdoors.
  • Ventilate coop well, but avoid drafts. Good airflow controls ammonia and bacteria.
  • Use predator-proof housing/runs. Check for holes, dig barriers, use hardware cloth.
  • Reduce stress. Adopt new chickens in small groups. Limit disturbances.

When to Call the Vet

In most cases, common chicken illnesses can be treated at home with some TLC. But there are times when you need to bring in the professionals.

Contact your poultry vet immediately if you notice any of the following:

  • Unexplained masses, swellings, or abscesses – These could indicate tumors, impacted crop, or other issues.
  • Loss of appetite, extreme lethargy – Chickens that remain puffed up and inactive despite warmth likely need medical care.
  • Labored breathing, wheezing, severe nasal discharge – The chicken may have a serious respiratory infection.
  • Diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours – Can cause dehydration and emaciation.
  • Sudden drop in egg production across the flock – Could signal infectious bronchitis or other disease.
  • Signs of neurological issue like stumbling, falling, twisting neck – Potential vitamin deficiency or Marek’s disease.
  • Any major change in personality, appearance, or habits.

Chickens are hardy birds, but they are vulnerable to various diseases and parasites.

As a chicken keeper, the best thing you can do is stay vigilant about biosecurity and be prepared to address illness when it pops up.

With prompt treatment most chickens bounce back quickly. Here’s to keeping your flock healthy and thriving!

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After nearly a decade running my own egg empire and mastering the art of keeping chickens, I’ve stuffed all my insider secrets into the aptly named “How to Raise Chickens for Eggs”.

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Get Crackin’ on Your Own Egg Empire

Do you crave the rich golden yolks and thick whites that only come from the freshest eggs?

Dream of a waddling flock of feathered friends in your own backyard?

Then stop dreaming and start hatching a plan, people!

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I’m talking building a palace of a coop guaranteed to impress the neighbors, concocting feed for peak egg production, collecting eggs so perfect you’ll weep tears of joy – plus hilarious stories and accidental mishaps along the way.

So get cluckin’ and grab the key to creating your own morning egg paradise before I sell out!