With more and more cities passing ordinances permitting the ownership of a small number of hens in suburban and even urban areas, backyard chickens are more popular than ever before. While these chickens can provide you with entertainment, companionship, and a regular source of healthy protein, they're also prone to some health problems with which you may not be accustomed if you haven't raised chickens before. Read on to learn more about tackling some common health issues with backyard hens as well as when (and how) to seek medical attention for a hen in crisis.
What health issues could you find your backyard hens facing?
Although chickens are a relatively low-maintenance pet, they do require a certain balance of nutrients and minerals in order to generate healthy eggs. Chickens who are deficient in calcium can have soft-shelled eggs, which may sometimes get stuck in the birth canal and cause discomfort and major internal issues. It's important to feed your chickens a well-rounded diet that includes lots of calcium-enriched products rather than empty calories like are found in white bread or plain cracked corn.
Another common issue for chickens is skin mites. These mites attach themselves to your chickens' skin and cause itching, leading your chickens to pick at their own feathers until their skin is raw and painful looking. Giving your chickens some dust or even a sandbox in which to bathe their skin and ruffle their feathers can go a long way toward keeping them mite-free and their skin infection-free.
A final issue you may find your chickens facing at some point is crop impaction or stasis. This happens when your chicken eats something too large for her crop to process; it stays stuck in the crop, sometimes blocking the exit of other food and preventing your chicken from getting all the nutrients she needs. A severely impacted crop will be hot and swollen and may require surgical intervention in order for your chicken to begin eating and drinking normally again.
To diagnose and treat any of these issues, it's important to interact with your chickens on a regular basis. The more frequently you see your chickens, the more likely you'll be to notice any changes in appearance or behavior, and you'll also be able to spot any problems much sooner than someone who only sees the chickens during daylight hours once or twice a week.
How can you get help for a hen dealing with a health crisis?
With the increase in popularity of backyard chickens, more veterinarians and emergency vets are beginning to accept poultry patients—although many still classify them as "exotic" animals along the lines of reptiles and tropical birds. It's good to familiarize yourself with an animal hospital or emergency veterinarian within quick driving distance who is able to diagnose and treat chickens as soon as you acquire them, just so you have someone to contact in a situation that requires quick action. You'll also want to have a carrier handy, as trying to transport a sick, distressed chicken in your vehicle can be a stressful and sometimes messy process without a carrier in which to keep your chicken secure.
Finally, you may want to consider joining an online forum or message board devoted to backyard chicken care so that you have somewhere to turn for a second opinion or even an unofficial diagnosis of symptoms. Although not doctors, the other board members will be able to provide you with their own experiences, and discussing their responses to some common chicken-health issues can help give you the confidence you need that you and your chickens' veterinarian are on the right path.Share
14 November 2016
Having your pets spayed and neutered is more important than most people realize. Not only does it help manage the pet population, but it can help your pet's behavior and protect them from unwanted and unsafe pregnancies. Our blog is all about spaying and neutering pets. You will learn about the procedure, the benefits and even the potential risks of having it done. Hopefully, the information that we have included here will help you come to an educated decision about whether your pet should be spayed or neutered. Take your time to read through everything compiled here and you should have little question about the procedure.