Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Chick Chick Chick Chickens....

It's time to tackle the feather raising topic of chickens :)

Chickens are becoming more and more popular as pets these days. I remember when I started nursing (yes I am that old) that it was rare to see one, now they are almost a daily occurrence. In animal shelters there is an increasing amount of abandoned or surrendered chickens.

There are various CPDs now dedicated to the 'backyard hen'.

Two hens outdoors on grass © Andrew Forsyth / RSPCA Photolibrary

After having one in today I was reminded of the common chicken issues. This one had an abscess on its foot, I've seen this quite a few times - also known as Bumblefoot. This in an abscess is normally caused by a cut to the skin allowing bacteria like Staphylococcus to enter and form an abscess. Treatment is normally to lance the abscess and flush with a chlorhexidine solution. Antibiotics are not always needed but a wash out period should be used if the owner eats the eggs.

Other common health issues are;

Red mites - Dermanyssus gallinae, are a blood sucking ectoparasite. These mites can be hard to spot unless in large numbers, during the day they tend to live in the chicken coop (in the crevices in the wood) at night they emerge to feed on the chicken. Large numbers of these cause anaemia, reduction in egg laying, weakness etc. Treatment is normally a powder used directly on the bird and also a separate powder to treat the coop. In large numbers some disinfectants can also be helpful to treat the environment.

Worms - Just like in domesticated animals, chickens also get worms. These can cause diarrhoea, anaemia, and reduced egg laying. Treatment is normally with Flubenvet 1%. I would also advise taking a faecal sample into your local vet and asking them to look, this can also rule out other bacteria burdens that your pet may have.

Feather loss - This could be simply sue to moulting. However more often than not its stress induced, pecking or due to mites/lice. Treatment is down to cause. Sometimes it can be down to diet, additional protein can be added to the diet in the form of a multivitamin. Stress could be down to other birds, or lack of stimulation and boredom. Observation of the birds can sometimes rule out if they're just figuring out a pecking order, or if its down to another stress.

In my experience chickens make great pets, they have amazing personalities. Can help with the waste disposal of kitchen leftovers. They're great fun to watch or be chased around the garden by. If in doubt of any health issues seek vet assistance. Otherwise enjoy these amazing pets :)

Image result for sailor and chicken

Check out the guy who took his chicken sailing across the world :)

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