Identifying Problems in Your Birds

For new chicken owners, identifying when a bird in their backyard flock is sick can be a challenge. And knowing what to do about it can be even more daunting. Learn from Nutrena poultry expert Twain Lockhart what to look for, and what to do when you suspect an issue.

 

Helpful tips:

  • Because chickens are flock animals, they try to mask their symptoms so the other birds don’t know that they are sick
  • Some signs of illness include listlessness, loss of appetite, pale fact
  • Check for parasites under the wings of skinny chickens
  • Poultry dust can help to get rid of mites and lice

 

A dirty way to keep poultry clean!

At first the term dust bath seems like an oxymoron. Like “jumbo shrimp”, the two words just don’t seem like they belong together. But believe it or not, getting themselves completely dirty is the best way for chickens to get clean! Dust baths also help chickens stay cool and keep parasites away.

Chickens that are allowed to free-range will naturally find a cool, dirty spot to take a dust bath. If allowed, they usually enjoy digging up mulched garden beds (soil is cool under the mulch) and making a chicken-sized impression!

Chickens in your coop still need dust baths, so remember to give them the opportunity to get dirty. Fill a kitty litter pan or other shallow plastic or metal container with sand or a mixture of particles that can even include some fireplace ashes. Diatomaceous earth is also an optional addition to this mixture. It is a non-toxic powder made from fossils of freshwater organisms that has many uses, including being a natural way to keep parasites off your chickens. It is available at most feed stores.

In addition to keeping pests at bay, dust baths are great for keeping poultry cool on hot summer days. Since they cannot sweat, regulating their body temperature involves using the cool earth for their version of a shower! The particles of dust or sand settle in next to the chicken’s skin and help absorb any excess oil and moisture, making the chickens “clean”.

So, whether in a coop or roaming the yard, be sure to offer your chickens the opportunity to take a dust bath. You will get a laugh observing them enjoy their dirty way of staying clean and cool!