As a chicken owner, you may have experienced the stress and worry that comes with a sick chicken. Whether it's a respiratory infection or a more serious ailment, it's important to take action as soon as possible to give your chicken the best chance at recovery.
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What to Do with A Sick Chicken
Let's cover some steps you can take to care for a sick chicken and help them get back to full health and prevent other chickens from getting sick as well.
As prey animals, chickens are very good at hiding illness to avoid appearing weak, which can cause them to be targeted for pecking or attack.
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It's critical to watch your flock diligently and deal with any changes in appearance or behavior immediately.
Isolate the Sick Chicken
The first thing you should do when you notice a sick chicken is to isolate it from the rest of the flock. This is the most important thing you can do.
This will prevent the spread of disease and give the bird a chance to rest and recover without being pecked or bullied by other chickens. Chickens can be really mean to one another.
You can set up a separate pen or coop for the sick chicken, or use a large dog crate if you don't have a spare coop. We use our larger brooders for hatching. It keeps them safe and I know I can make space in the house for it easily.
Observe Their Symptoms
Take note of the chicken's symptoms and behavior, as this can help you and your veterinarian determine what might be wrong with the bird.
Some common signs of illness in chickens include:
- loss of appetite
- coughing or sneezing
- abnormal behavior
If you notice any of these symptoms, it's important to act quickly and seek veterinary care if necessary.
Keeping a Medical Kit for Chicken
There are a few things that you can have on hand for emergencies. I have a small tote in my kitchen to store everything in, that also works as a tote to keep sick chickens in.
Provide Food and Water
A sick chicken may lose its appetite, so it's important to provide tempting and nutritious food to encourage them to eat.
You can offer soft foods like scrambled eggs, cooked rice, or oatmeal, or mix in some chicken feed with water to create a mash. Make sure the bird has access to fresh water at all times, and consider adding electrolytes to the water to keep the bird hydrated.
Sugar water is also something you can make up quickly if you don't have any electrolytes on hand.
Keep Them Warm and Comfortable
Sick chickens may become weak and vulnerable, so it's important to provide them with a warm and comfortable environment.
I find it's best to toss a blanket or towel over their cage so that they aren't spooked by other animals in your home or even your movements in the house. The dark is also calming for chickens.
Seek Veterinary – if Possible
Seek veterinary care If your chicken's symptoms do not improve within a day or two, or if they are showing signs of serious illness, it's important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
A veterinarian with experience in treating chickens can perform a physical exam, run diagnostic tests, and prescribe medication or other treatment options as needed.
We don't have a local vet that will look at chickens so we're on our own. Yes, this means we can lose a chicken, but we try to be proactive in caring for them. Preventing drafts in their coop means a step towards preventing respiratory issues. Things like that.