Archive for the ‘Chicken care’ Category

Medicated vs. Non-Medicated Chick Feed


As if there weren’t enough variations of chick feed on the market, there is one more option to consider: medicated or nonmedicated? Medicated chick feeds help boost chicks’ immunity to one organism: coccidia.

Coccidia are a parasitic protozoan widely found in the soil, and its oocysts, which are similar to eggs, often find their way into a chick’s digestive tract. Here the intestinal parasites can cause a disease called coccidiosis.

Symptoms include bloody droppings, poor appetite, and lack of normal growth. Chicks may fluff up their feathers and appear hunched over. Coccidiosis spreads quickly from bird to bird and is also associated with a high rate of death.

Most medicated chick feeds contain amprolium, a medication that helps limit the number of coccidia in a chick’s digestive system, allowing the chick to develop immunity to the parasite. Medicated feeds with amprolium do not contain antibiotics and are not intended for other diseases.

Also, medicated feeds are designed to prevent cases of coccidiosis, not to cure existing infections: By the time chicks actually contract the disease, medicated feed will not help them. If your birds do get sick, they should be treated with a water-based coccidiostat (like Corid), carefully following instructions on the package. Be careful not to overmedicate with coccidiostats because they can cause severe vitamin deficiencies in your birds.

Vaccine for Coccidiosis

Many chicks receive a coccidiosis vaccine at hatcheries. Find out if your chicks have been vaccinated for coccidiosis. If so, there is no need to give them medicated feed.

Winterizing Your Chickens


We are heading for some low temperatures this weekend. If you got chicks this spring, you probably asked the question, “How do I take care of the hens over the winter?” Bringing them into the house is not a great idea, and unlike dogs, chickens generally aren’t given to wearing sweaters and booties. Here are some tips for helping your chickens ride out the winter.

Coop Environment

Heat is not a major need for chickens in winter. They can tolerate pretty low temperatures and will eat more to increase their metabolism. Overheating your coop can lead to hefty hens who haven’t burned off all the extra calories they’re consuming. So leave the space heater in the spare room! Your main enemy is moisture. Too much moisture in the coop leads to frostbite. It’s more important to have a dry coop than a warm coop.

  • Clean poop from the coop often. Chicken feces add to the moisture content of the air in the coop.
  • Ensure that the coop is well ventilated but not drafty.
  • Move your coop to an area out of the wind.
  • Cover the run with tarps or heavy-duty plastic to prevent drafts.
  • Stack strawbales around the run to hold in the heat and prevent snow from blowing in.
  • If your coop is raised, the area between the floor of the coop and the ground is often a favored winter hangout. Provide some windbreaks for the birds and they’ll likely enjoy their winter digs.
  • Provide lots of bedding or straw. Bedding should be dry and fluffy so that it traps the heat.
  • You can use a heat lamp when temps are in the single digits for several days. Beware of fire hazards, especially with the dry bedding, and use a red, rather than white, bulb. A reptile heat emitter is a good alternative.
  • If you want your hens to continue laying during the winter, supplement white light in the morning (not evening) so that the hens get 14 hours of light. You can also let their bodies rest and give them the winter off from laying.
  • Provide wide roosts that allow the down feathers on their bellies to cover their feet.

Food and Water

  • Provide fresh, unfrozen water and be sure they have continuous access to food – their bodies need it to stay warm. You can keep two waterers – one in the house and one outside – and swap them out as the outside one freezes.
  • Provide extra protein for the birds during the winter months. A handful of dry cat (not dog) food will give an extra protein boost.
  • You can provide a handful of scratch grain in the evening, before they head to the roost for the night. This will help keep their metabolism going during the night.
  • Provide a head of cabbage, hung from a string or chain to keep them engaged and prevent pecking.
  • Use a bird suet basket as a treat box.

Frostbite

  • Use Vaseline on combs and wattles to keep them from freezing.
  • Watch feet, combs, and wattles signs of frostbite – they will look swollen and puffy at first. They will eventually turn black and fall off. Infection is a possible risk of a bad case of frostbite.

Contact Home to Roost if you’d like an in-home winterizing consultation.

Register Now for Chicken Health 101: Online with the Chicago Botanic Garden, Oct. 7, 2020!


I will be teaching Chicken Health 101: Online for the Chicago Botanic Garden on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 6 – 8 p.m. Please join us for this online class! Learn about the common health issues chickens face and how you can keep your flock healthy. We will cover basic chicken physiology, disease prevention and transmission, and chicken first aid.

Registration information is available here. Please note that all registrations must be submitted online 2 days before the class starts.

Upcoming Home to Roost Classes at Chicago Botanic Garden


I will be teaching a series of online chicken classes for the Chicago Botanic Garden! All classes are 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

Basic Chicken Keeping – online class, Wed. September 23

Chicken Coop Basics – online class, Wed. September 30

Chicken Health – online class, Wed. October 7

Please note that all registrations must be submitted online 2 days before your class starts.

Online Class: Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping, Sept. 19, 2020


Home to Roost is pairing with Mokena Public Library to offer a virtual workshop on basic chicken keeping on Saturday, Sept. 19 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Click here for more information and to register.

This class is designed for curious folks who are considering getting chickens, as well as for those who already have their own birds. Learn how to raise chicks, care for adult birds, and keep your neighbors happy! The workshop is open to all.

Odd Health Conditions: Chicken with Curled Toes


Ruby_curled_toes

 

Being an urban chicken consultant means encountering a lot of unusual chicken health conditions. I recently heard from James and Sarah. Their pullet Ruby had an odd condition: the toes were curled up on one of her feet, and Ruby was having trouble walking.

“She couldn’t put any weight on her feet. Whenever she tried to walk and put pressure on that foot, she would sort of slip and fall,” James told me. He had tried Googling her symptoms but was unable to find information on her exact condition.

I realized that Ruby was suffering from curled toe paralysis, a condition that is caused by a vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) deficiency. The treatment: vitamin B2 drops and a splint for the affected area. James isolated her from the other hens and gave her a few drops every day.

“It took her about 3 weeks to a month to recover, but she’s healed,” James reports. “She’s walking normally and her foot doesn’t bother her at all.”

James offers kudos for Home to Roost: “Jen’s service was great. Seeing how she handled hens gave us more confidence to help Ruby out. Jen was able to tell us what was wrong and what our options would be. This is our first time keeping chickens, and having her help and knowledge was really useful!”

Here is a lovely “after” photo of Ruby, with toes uncurled!

Ruby_all_better_crop

Date Change: Chicken Health Workshop moved to Aug. 17, 2020


The Chicken Health Virtual Workshop, originally scheduled for Aug. 1, has been moved to Monday, Aug. 17 from 6:30 to 8:30pm. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope to see you on the new date/time!

What are the common health issues chickens face, and how can you treat them? Better yet, how can you keep your flock healthy? This class addresses chicken physiology, disease prevention and transmission, as well as chicken first aid. Cost is $20.

Register Here for this online class, co-hosted by Home to Roost and the Rebuilding Exchange.

Please note there is a prerequisite: the Basics of Chicken-Keeping class. Haven’t taken this class yet? No problem! You can purchase the recording of this class when you register for the Chicken Health workshop.

FREE Basic Chicken Q&A Zoom meeting with Home to Roost!


Bring your questions about chickens to a FREE Basic Chicken Q&A Zoom meeting with Home to Roost!
First come, first served!
I usually have a number of classes in the spring – basic chicken care, coop building, etc., but due to COVID-19, I’m going to be offering some classes online in the near future.
Topic: Basic Chicken Q&A with Home to Roost
Time: Apr 16, 2020 07:00-07:40 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Space: 100 participants
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 716 3026 2022
Password: 7R1sf7

Coop Camp is right around the corner! Memorial Day special price!


Have you signed up for Coop Camp yet? Speakers include author Patricia Foreman (City Chicks) and Perdue’s Darrin Karcher and Patricia Wakenell! Check out the rest of the speakers and presentations!

Home to Roost will be speaking on chicken first aid and flock psychology.

Coop Camp is in Danville, IN ( just west of Indianapolis), June 7 to 9. Sign up for this weekend filled with chicken-y fun and great informational sessions on how to help your birds live healthier, happier lives! The cost has been cut to ONLY $99 (regular price $125)!

**Home to Roost’s promo code is HTR!**

Looking forward to seeing you there!2019 Coop Camp Registration June 7-9 in Danville, Indiana near Indianapolis!

Virulent Newcastle Disease Found in Chickens in California


Cases of Virulent Newcastle disease (vND) in chickens have been reported in the Western US. This highly contagious virus can cause disease and death in various kinds of poultry, as well as in parrots. Nearly 100 percent of unvaccinated birds may die. Even flocks vaccinated for vND are not completely safe.

There have been 422 cases of vND in California, including 132 in San Bernardino County, 246 in Riverside County, 42 in Los Angeles County, 1 in Ventura County, and 1 in Alameda County; 1 case in Utah County, Utah; 1 case in Coconino County, Arizona.

Symptoms are varied but may include lethargy; lack of appetite; respiratory issues (sneezing, gasping, coughing); fluids coming from nose and mouth; greenish, watery diarrhea; swelling of eyes and neck; and sudden death. It may also cause paralysis. Note that

The virus often originates in illegally imported exotics that have not undergone USDA quarantine.  It can be transmitted by contact with infected birds; by feed, water, air, manure; on hands, clothes, shoes, and equipment; by animal feet; and in incubators contaminated by eggs from infected hens.

FAQs for Chicago Chicken Owners

Do I need to be worried? Probably not, unless you’ve traveled to the areas affected and interacted with poultry or poultry owners.

What is the risk to humans? There are no reported cases of people getting sick from eating infected poultry that is properly cooked. In humans, the virus that causes vND can cause conjunctivitis (pink eye).

How can I keep my chickens safe? Practice good biosecurity, using the following tips:

  • Quarantine any new birds for 30 days.
  • Know your flock’s history. Do not take in birds whose origins and bill of health are not known.
  • Wash hands and clean shoes thoroughly when entering or leaving a place with poultry.
  • Disinfect equipment (e.g., such as coops, incubators, feeders) before it comes on to or leaves your property.
  • For more info on biosecurity, see the USDA’s tips at the Defend the Flock website.

What do I do if I think my bird has vND? Ask an avian vet to run a pathology report. This disease should be reported to state and federal officials. Call the USDA at 1-866-536-7593 and the Illinois Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare at 217-782-4944

Where do I find more information on vND?

USDA Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service’s vND page

Photos of poultry infected with vND

Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Animals pages