Raising backyard chickens is a growing trend and a great way to get connected back to your farm roots and produce some protein for your family in a small but satisfying way. Chickens are a small animal that, given the proper care, are simple and usually problem-free. But when problems arise, I recommend looking at all your options before calling the vet. Below are some health tips and a home remedy that I have used and passed along to other fellow chicken farmers.
Prevention is the key to healthy, happy chickens. Keeping your chickens protected from the elements is your first defense against bacteria, mites and other bugs. Make sure that your pen and run are large enough to give enough room for all your animals, inside and out. Also, a well-balanced, nutritious diet is a superior guard against infections and respiratory problems.
One of the most common health problems among chickens is diarrhea, often caused by unclean living conditions and recognized by runny white or green droppings. Check your water, feeders, coop floor as well as roosting and nesting areas as these are key areas that you should clean on a regular basis. If you find that only one of your chickens is suffering from diarrhea, separate it immediately and provide it with a potassium permanganate solution. This drinkable, low cost treatment usually solves the issue and is easy to make at home. Using a plastic water container, simply dissolve two tablespoons of potassium permanganate in a quart of hot water, cool, and provide to the infected chicken.
- Chickens making noise, cackling while interactions are taking place
- Clear, bright eyes
- Resistance and signs of struggling when caught
- Pink tongues (Watch your fingers!)
- A yellow-ish skin color (can vary by breed)
- Normal-size, non-swollen feet
- Droppings (Usually the first sign of a sick chicken)