7 Important Chicken Checks You Should Complete Regularly
Ensuring that your flock is healthy is requires regular checks. Checks should cover the entire bird and allow you to identify which of your birds needs special care and those that are healthy and well.
But sometimes, it is possible to miss one of two things during a check. So, we’ve created a short 7-point list that explores some common and not so common considerations for your next chicken check.
1. Alert and Clear Eyes
Healthy chickens will have alert and clear eyes. This means that there should not be any discharge or mucus in the eyes or on the face of the bird. If a bird’s eyes appear to be cloudy, this could be a sign of the beginning of blindness. If there is a discharge, this is a sign of potential disease.
2. Healthy, Whole Beak
Broken, flaking and damaged beaks are not uncommon, but if your birds display any of these symptoms, they can lead to challenges that affect the well-being of your birds. For example, a broken beak can make it difficult for a bird to eat and drink and therefore negatively impact its performance.
3. Plump Body
Your birds should be plump when picked up and held by the body. This indicates that the birds are receiving adequate nourishment. If a bird is small, light-weight and has a protruding or prominent breast bone, it will require attention to gain weight and develop appropriately.
4. Clean and Shiny Feathers
Chickens should display clean, shiny feathers without any broken quills or shafts. As feathers are the bird’s protection against the elements, they must be well-maintained. As you inspect your chickens, ensure that you check between the feathers for parasites like ticks and lice that can burrow in between.
5. Clean Vent
As chickens use one orifice for waste excretion, it’s important to keep the vent clean and unobstructed. Obstructions can come in the form of dirt and waste that stick to the vent or feathers. Trim feathers and keep the vent clean as waste attracts bacteria that can cause health problems for your flock.
6. A Healthy Functional Crop
The crop is located at the based of a chicken’s neck. It is used as a temporary storage facility of sorts when a chicken’s digestive tract is processing feed and water consumed. While it is natural for a crop to appear full, ensure that your birds don’t always have full crops as this can be a sign of a blockage. If you notice that a bird has a distended crop and appears to have had it for over a day, this could be cause for concern.
7. Healthy Legs and Feet
Chicken legs and feet are susceptible to ailments, such as leg mites and Bumblefoot (a bacterial infection). When inspecting your chickens’ feet, you’re looking for clear and healthy legs and feet that do not appear inflamed or seem to have loose-looking scales.
While not an exhaustive list, this 7-point checklist will help you identify possible ailments and ensure your birds are healthy and well.
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