Even though backyard flocks tend to be exceptionally healthy, there are things that you can do to avoid chicken illnesses within your flock. Perhaps you are already naturally doing many of these things! Great! Even so, hopefully there are a few ideas of things you can do to improve the wellness of your flock and avoid any problems in the future.
Chicken illnesses can be caused by a number of different factors such as bacteria, protozoa, viruses, or problems in their environment. By setting up your flock to be their healthiest you can avoid many potential problems right from the start. If you have had a few health issues in your flock, there’s even more motivation to start improving things for them!
- Chicken Diseases You Need to Know About
- How Do You Know If You Have a Sick Chicken?
- Deworming Chickens: Do You Need To Worry About It?
- Be Ruthless With Chicken Mites And Other Obnoxious Bugs
- How To Clean Your Chicken Coop The Right Way
Be Prepared for Potential Problems
I encourage you to read the above posts so you are prepared in case your flock has any issues. If you want more information on how to keep your backyard birds as healthy as possible or how to treat problems when they do crop it, I highly recommend The Chicken Health Handbook. The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow is one of the best chicken related books you can have at your finger tips. It’s a great one to have on hand just in case you need to refer to it at a moment’s notice. At the very least, pick up from your local library and read through it!
Here Are Things You Can Do To Avoid Chicken Illnesses In Your Flock
The best thing you can do to prevent disease in your flock is to start out with healthy birds. It doesn’t matter if you brought home your birds as chicks or older, if they had healthy parents, they’re more likely to become healthy birds themselves. If you are raising your own birds, always keep the healthiest and most disease resistant birds for breeding.
Keep Things Clean
The second best thing you can do to avoid potential problems with disease is to keep everything as clean as possible. Many chicken diseases are spread by birds pecking at infected droppings. Make sure to keep dirty litter either covered with a deep litter, or help it to compost down quickly. Your birds shouldn’t have to stand in their own waste. They need clean and dry places to hang out.
Avoiding mud can be tricky in wet and rainy areas, but it’s very important to your birds well-being. Ideally you could keep your chickens on grass. Definitely avoid keeping them on wire or concrete because it can cause foot problems. It should also go without saying that their feeders and waterers should be clean as well.
Another big influencer of the health of your flock is the amount of ventilation they have in their coop. If you use dusty litters your flock will be more susceptible to respiratory problems and eye problems. Poor ventilation can lead to a buildup of ammonia, which will result in sick birds. Also, problems such as respiratory infections and frostbite can be decreased with plenty of air circulation to limit moisture build up.
One of the most common problems for flocks without enough ventilation is chronic respiratory disease. It’s best to prevent it, but if you find this is an issue in your flock, you can find dosing instructions for eye drops in The Chicken Health Handbook.
Everyone Needs Their Space
Additionally, avoid crowding your flock. The more space they have the healthier they will be for numerous reasons. It’s also a good idea to practice some basic bio security measures. Don’t bring in new flock members without separating them for about thirty days first.
You can also reserve special shoes for your chicken yard. That way when you go out and about to the feed store or to visit friends with their own chickens you won’t be bringing disease back and forth with you on the bottoms of your shoes.
Good Diet Means Good Health
A healthy diet is beneficial in avoiding ailments as well. Chickens need an adequate balance of nutrients, including protein (they love bugs) and green foods, such as grass. If you can also add in a few supplements as well, such as vitamin E, or even probiotics. Chickens love fresh yogurt and will clean it up in no time!
Discourage Disease Carrying Pests
You can also do your best to limit disease carrying pests. Avoid breeding mosquitoes by regularly refilling waterers. Some mosquitoes can lay thousands of eggs in the tiniest puddle the size of an upside down bottle cap. Keeping your yard as clean as possible should help discourage them.
Mice and rats are everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you need to feed and house them. Keep your chicken feed put away at night in a metal trash can or other rodent proof location. Cover any gaps in your coop with wire mesh screening that they can’t chew through.
Check out Predator Proof Chicken Coops: A Simple Way To Protect Your Flock for more details about keeping rodents away from your birds. If pests are really bad, you may even want to consider adopting a feral cat to be your barn cat.
Enjoy Your Healthy Birds!
With a little attention to detail you can help keep your flock at their healthiest! Healthy chickens means healthy eggs, which are delicious and healthy for you too.
Of course we want to do all we can to keep our flocks happy. Implement as many of the suggestions above as possible to keep your flock at it’s healthiest! It’s also a good idea to take a minute to read through all the resources listed above in the related posts section, and find yourself a copy of The Chicken Health Handbook for future reference!
Thinking About Getting Chickens?
Get ready with the free email course, Intro to Backyard Chickens. The course also includes a free, printable checklist to walk you through step by step!