Chickens are generally hardy birds but they can also fall ill due to infestations, diseases, and parasites. Fortunately, any health problems among chickens can easily be treated as long as symptoms are observed early and the proper treatments are given immediately. Delaying treatments could lead to an infestation that may result in a more problematic contamination of the flock.
How Do Infestations Happen Among Chickens?
Overcrowding – Chickens who live in overcrowded conditions are susceptible to stress. This lowers their natural resistance and makes them vulnerable to diseases. Overcrowding can also increase the risk of parasitic infections and diseases among the flock.
Failure to Quarantine
New birds that are introduced to the flock without being quarantined first can be a source of infestation. Before adding new chickens, it is recommended that the new arrivals are quarantined in a cage separate and apart from the main cages for at least two weeks. During this time, the new chickens should be checked regularly for any sign of infection or disease, then treated completely before allowing them to join the main house.
Dirty, unsanitary conditions encourage the growth of bacteria, particularly the ones that cause infections in chickens. All chicken houses should be cleaned and sanitized to eliminate dirt, moisture, waste food, and manure. This should be done regularly to keep the houses free from harmful microorganisms.
Treatments for Common Parasites
Lice consume the dead skin of the chickens and although they do not bite the live skin, the presence of parasites make the chickens uncomfortable, causing them to peck and tear their skin. This action frequently lead to wounds and irritation. Other chickens may also peck at the infected bird and cause it to become depressed and die. Lice are transmitted by one bird to another. To treat, the infected birds should be sprayed using sulfur-based dust sprays or dipped in a Malathion solution.
Red mites thrive in dark and damp areas. These blackish red insects multiply quickly and can be spread by one infected chicken to the whole flock in just a matter of days. Red mites also infect other pets and can live in your house and beddings. These mites thrive on blood and an infestation can be fatal if it is not treated quickly. The mode of transmission is usually through infected rodents or wild birds.
If you suspect a red mite infestation, treat chickens with a Malathion bath. This treatment can effectively kill the mites and prevent them from breeding. Infected areas should also be disinfected. If there are red mites living in disposable equipment or specific houses, you might also consider burning these.
Scaly leg mites live in the legs of the birds where they burrow through the scales. An infestation frequently causes the chicken to limp. These mites live in the soil then hop on to infect a bird. To treat, the infected leg should be brushed using warm, soapy water and dried. A mixture of equal parts olive oil and methyl, and half-part kerosene should also be brushed onto the legs to kill the parasites. The solution should penetrate the scales for maximum efficacy.
Fowl ticks are similar to red mites. They can cause irritation and health issues in infected chickens, often leading to tick fever and paralysis. Without proper treatment, infected chickens can die. Treatment of fowl ticks is similar to that used for red mites – give the fowls a Malathion bath, then disinfect the environment to prevent future infestation.