Causes of Common Problems of Hens - dummies

Causes of Common Problems of Hens

By Julie Gauthier, Rob Ludlow

Part of Chicken Health For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Some of the problems that backyard chicken flock keepers most frequently see in their hens are respiratory illness, feather loss, and strange eggs. The following contains some common causes for some chicken ailments. Other things could be responsible for the signs you’re seeing, but they’re less likely to be the culprits than the causes listed in the table. A veterinary diagnostic laboratory or a veterinarian who’s willing to see chickens can help you sort it out.

Problem Signs Common Cause Possible Actions
Respiratory illness Sneezing, coughing, gasping, swollen face Mycoplasmosis (MG), infectious coryza, infectious
Isolate sick birds from the rest of the flock
Feather loss All over Normal molt or louse infestation Examine feather shafts for lice
Head, neck, and shoulders Feather pecking from flock mates, poking head through wire
Observe flock for signs of feather pecking behavior
Hen’s back Attention from the rooster Provide hens with protective cloth saddles
Vent area Feather pecking from flock mates Provide toys and veggie scraps to keep the flock busy
Strange eggs Thin shells Old hen, hot weather, or lack of calcium in diet Keep hens cool, provide oyster shell for the hens to eat
Soft or no shells A scare or a stressful event, or an infection of the
Handle hens quietly and gently. Make their living quarters safe
from predators.
Blood-stained shells Young hen, underweight hen, or vent pecking by flock mates Feed good quality layer diet. Place nest boxes no more than 18
inches off the ground.
Weird-shaped shells: ridges, chalky coating, lumps, and so
Stress, rough handling, too few nest boxes, or oviduct
Provide more nest boxes. Handle hens quietly and gently.