Veterinary FAQ

Q?We have recently hatched five chicks and one have clubbed feet. What caused this?
A.

This can be caused by a lack of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) in the diet of the parent birds, particularly if they have black feathers. If one or two of the toes curl inwards it could be due to a faulty incubator temperature or inherited. Sometimes, infra-red heat lamps can cause the toes to turn outwards. Splayed legs can be cause by the chicks being on a slippery surface.

Q?One of my birds has developed a choking sound as if being throttled, she has also gone off lay and looks under the weather.
A.

This could be Gapeworms, which live in the trachea; treat by worming. or possibly a small piece of grain lodged in the syrinx (voice box) which can be removed with an endoscope.

Q?What is the cause of green droppings?
A.

Green droppings can be causd by either; too much cabbage but in which case they would smell, or a bacterial liver disease which can be treated with Terramycin, or possibly some form of Coccidiosis which can be treated with Coxoid or Bacox.

Q?The droppings of one of our birds have tested positive for Campylobacter. Is it possible to eradicate this from the flock and are the eggs likely to be infected?
A.

Two types of Campylobacter are sometimes found in poultry, they are C jejuni & C coli, which can be present without symptoms.

Q?One of our birds is producing a very pale cream yolk but is on the same feed as the other birds and has access to a grassy area. Is this an illness or in the genetics?
A.

The yellow in egg yolks is produced by carotenoids found in grass and other greenery. It is added under the name of ‘canthaxanthin’ to the rations of barn and battery hens to give the perception of a healthy egg. Your hen may be unable to process the cartenoids due to a genetic defect, or it may have been exposed to Infectious Bronchitis at some time.

Q?My hens has developed a swelling on the underside of its foot
A.

This is called Bumblefoot and is caused by the streptococcus bacteria which enters through a wound. It is difficult to treat due to the thick crust which forms around the pus so any antiobiotic would have to be put into the swelling to be effective.

Q?One of my hens has rattly breathing, and is sneezing with a bubbly eye.
A.

This could be Mycoplasma which can be contracted from wild birds like crows

Q?Should garden hens be vaccinated?
A.

The current advice from vets on vaccination is to only do it if there is a problem in your area with a certain disease.

Q?My hens’ droppings a runny, fawn in colour and sometimes frothy. What causes this?
A.

This could be due to a parasite which inhabits the caecum, a section of the lower gut used for fermenting plant food, so try treating with Flubenvet wormer. Failing this, the cause could be from thee heen eating some unusual plant.

Q?I have heard that giving cider vinegar to my hens can be beneficial. How much should I give them?
A.

To boost the immune system and aid detoxification, use 1ml. per litre of water – double the dose during periods of stress such as moving house.

Q?What is the cause of a very bloated heavy abdomen, the hen eventually died?
A.

This could be a symptom of egg peritonitis

Q?How long does it take for a newly introduced cockerel to make eggs fertile and how long do they remain fertile if he is taken away?
A.

It takes 3-4 days for the eggs to become fertile and the hens will remain fertile for two weeks after he is removed because there are special storage glands in the oviduct for the sperm

Q?My hen has developed scaly legs. How do I treat this?
A.

This is caused by a mite which burrows under the scales of the leg and crates white crusty lesions. the legs are very itchy and can ulcerate. It is contagious. To treat use Panomec from the vet, applying 3 drops per hen, and repeat after 3 months. The egg withdrawl period is 2 weeks. Metholated Spirits is also effective but time consuming. The leg scales moult once a year which will determine how long you have to wait for new scales to grow.

Q?Can you recommend a good wormer for hens?
A.

Flubenvet is an effective wormer with nil withdrawl for eggs with a dose of 12g for 10kg. of feed for seven days. For tapeworms double the dose to 24g. To obtain an even mix with the feed, the powder is mixed with a handful, which is then mixed with a cupful, then a jugful and so on. Don’t mix Flubenvet with water because it isn’t soluble.

Q?For the past 6 months our chickens have suffered from broken feathers. It looks like a moult but the stems of the feathers are still there.
A.

Your birds could be on an inadequate feed, for good quality feathers the birds need quite high levels of iodine, which can be provided by giving Cornish Calcified Seaweed. Other causes could be stress or some change in the environment or diet.

Q?My hen has just died of Marek’s. she had a large tumour on the leg and a histopathology showed up Lymphosarcoma attributed to Marek’s. Would my other hens now be carrriers? Should I vaccinate?
A.

There is no treatment for Marek’s disease as it is caused by the herpes virus.

Q?One of our hens appears to have turned into a cockerel. How can this be explained?
A.

It is a well known fact that female birds can grow male plumage and crow. Only the left ovary is normally functional and if this gets damaged for some reason then the right one can become a testis producing male characteristics.

Q?My hen has some small white mites around the face, what are these?
A.

These may be Cheyletiella which also affect rabbits, dogs cat and people these can be treated with louse powder applied to the face taking care to cover the eyes.

Q?Can you list the most common plants poisonous to poultry?
A.

It is unusual for hens to eat poisonous plants but prevention is always advisable.