Disease prevention, first aid Kit and most common diseases

Pansement bumblefoot

It may happen that one of your chickens or all of them get sick.  It will be handy to be able to assess the problem quickly and plan to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible in some severe cases.  It will be also very useful to note who are your closest vets around that are trained to care for urban poultry.  

Be aware that only a few veterinarians in the province of Quebec care and offer services for backyard chickens.  Find them below in the list provided and keep their number and contact info handy.   Often the problems are minor and will not require a veterinarian.  You can very easily treat and manage a few minor disorders like parasites, leg scale mites or worms.  

Be prepared and gather all your supplies and a good pharmacy of products dedicated to your hens.  Get yourself a good book on poultry anatomy to better understand the common poultry diseases.

By practicing good husbandry, clean practices; you will have less chances of ever getting any chickens sick. We also need to address the need to get chickens that did receive all the proper vaccines. Vaccines are important to the health of your flock because they prevent diseases by boosting a chicken’s immune system and to prevent the use of antibiotics and prevent resistance.  Diseased birds can continue to affect other birds in your flock and risk spreading disease to other flocks if you have contact with other chicken farmers.

The FLAWS of good management

F Feed

L Light

L Litter

A Air

W Water

S Space

S Sanitation

S Security

Note that hatcheries usually sell chicks with a vaccination package.  It is recommended that you purchase vaccinated chicks from the hatchery.   Your adult chickens would also have had a complete package of vaccines.

As a chicken owner, you should adhere to the following practices:

If the birds need to be vaccinated, seek veterinary assistance to ensure proper administration. Double-check the vaccination status with your chick supplier.

  If your flock exhibits any of the following symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately:

  • High mortality for 2 days in a row
  • A drop of egg production
  • Drastic change in feed and/or water consumption.

These can be signs of serious, contagious disease and should be investigated immediately.

It is useful to be able to identify the symptoms in order to quickly establish a diagnosis. It would be advisable to contact a veterinarian in your area to make sure that he can give you services to the poultry. Very often the diseases are minor and can be easily treated by us even at home. A small kit of common sense will take much value! Be prepared and always have commodities ready like a pharmacy for your chickens.

Flock Health Plan

An effective Flock Health Plan contributes to bird well-being by providing strategies for disease prevention, rapid diagnosis, and effective treatment. Prevention of disease rather than treatment is better for bird welfare. Sanitation measures will help to prevent disease transfer from one flock to the next (19). Isolating poultry flocks from other animals (e.g. wild birds, rodents, insects, pets) reduces the opportunity for disease transmission (19). Humans can also transmit diseases to a poultry flock (19). A poultry veterinarian can assist with recommending appropriate vaccinations (19) to prevent infectious diseases as well as internal and external parasitism.
A Flock Health Plan may include:

  • vaccination protocols
  • protocols for dealing with internal and external parasites
  • observation of all birds for injury or signs of disease
  • complete, accurate, and reliable record keeping
  • protocols for the prevention, detection, and treatment of disease or injury, including setting targets for measuring incidences of disease and injuries
  • protocols for pest control
  • protocols for individual bird or group identification and treatment records
  • training programs and protocols for handlers
  • protocols for introducing new birds to the flock
  • protocols for managing sick and injured birds
  • protocols for culling birds, including at the end of production cycles
  • a record of deaths that occur on-farm for purposes of tracking mortality rates
  • protocols for on-farm biosecurity.

Veterinarians play a key role in helping producers attain flock health objectives. While veterinarians are often called after animals are sick or injured, they can play a valuable role on a proactive basis by helping with the development and design of production systems and prevention practices, and should be considered to be part of the flocks’ health management team.

National Farm Animal Care Council – Poultry Code of Practice (nfacc.ca)

Chicken First-Aid Kit

Your chickens may get sick or injured and some may even need to be euthanized. Separate sick or injured birds from the rest of the flock during treatment and recovery. Typical chickens will respond to treatment within 48 hours. Always plan to get a separated cage for sick chickens.

 Use the following checklist to assemble a first-aid kit to treat minor injuries or diagnose disease. 

Separate cage /pen or kennel to separate a sick or injured bird from the flock

  • Band-aids to correct straddle leg in chicks (Vet Wrap)
  • Tweezers to remove debris or inspect wounds
  • Scalpel
  • Bentadine and or desinfectant
  • Rubber/latex gloves to protect yourself and your chicken from spreading any bacteria infection or disease
  • Gauze
  • Adhesive cloth bandaging tape
  • Instant vitamin mixes and electrolytes for dehydrated birds
  • Probiotiques
  • Wormers ( use various ones to prevent resistance)
  • Dust powder
  • DE (Diatomaceous earth)
  • VetRx
  • Veterycin spray
  • Bag Balm
  • Triple antibiotic polysporin ointment

Cleanliness of water containers and food are essential to ensure their good health.

Namely observed in your chickens breathing, the vigor and overall condition:

  • Loss of appetite (ball of food crop)
  • The fall of drastic egg production
  • Yellowish or greenish diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Convulsions or imbalance
  • Problem in eyes
  • Paralysis
  • Crust or scabs on legs


 If you observe any of these symptoms, consult a veterinarian.

The truth about the risk of disease: control centres did exaggerate and scare the population.  The media sensationalism is prone to distortion of the facts and studies. Several organizations exaggerated the reality of the abandoned chickens like the SPCA!  The Center for Disease Control has issued specific guidelines for backyard chicken keepers for avoiding salmonella, claiming that salmonella is “common” in chickens.  But is the media sensationalizing the issue, blaming chickens for a problem that really belongs to their breeders and scaring people away from having contact with chickens? 

 It is not surprising that the CDC would report that salmonella is “common” in chickens since there are approximately 9 billion chickens born inside of industrial hatcheries every year in the U.S. alone, in extremely overcrowded and awful conditions.  And many of the same hatcheries selling to factory farms are also selling “direct mail” chicks to backyard chicken keepers.

Did you know that you have a much higher risk of food infection, poisoning directly from your refrigerator or restaurant foods? More than 49 million Americans contract a form of norovirus or stomach flu due to the food they buy in their stores? That’s one in six!

Our hens are 700 times less at risk than the hens in the industry!  Of all the cases, they were directly connected to industrial hatcheries who had cared for them!

Dr. Peter Saks, an avian veterinarian of Chicago with more than 30 years of experience and practices has seen cases of salmonella in any breeding of City Court! He believes that the cases are isolated and come from commercial or industrial environments where these animal’s lives are inadequate. 



 You can touch, take and caress your chickens safe. On the other hand, common sense hygiene prevails. Always wash your hands after handling them and do not put your hands in your mouth. Educate your kids to practice good hygiene. The hens can sometimes carry germs.  So just a good hand washing.

  • Buy birds from hatcheries that participate in the program intended to reduce the incidence of Salmonella in baby poultry in the hatchery like Simetin and Generations Grains Nature.


 (DE) food grade

DE (Diatomaceous earth) is a naturally soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. It has a particle size ranging from less than 3 micrometres to more than 1 millimetre, but typically 10 to 200 micrometres. Depending on the granularity, this powder can have an abrasive feel, similar topumice powder, and has a low density as a result of its high porosity. The typical chemical composition of oven-dried diatomaceous earth is 80 to 90% silica, with 2 to 4%alumina (attributed mostly to clay minerals) and 0.5 to 2% iron oxide.[1]

Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. It is used as a filtration aid, mild abrasive in products including metal polishes and toothpaste, mechanical insecticide, absorbent for liquids, matting agent for coatings, reinforcing filler in plastics and rubber, anti-block in plastic films, porous support for chemical catalysts, cat litter, activator in blood clotting studies, a stabilizing component of dynamite, and a thermal insulator.



  •  A clean chicken coop is the key to healthy chickens!
  • Protect your chickens from wild birds!
  • Make sure that your visitors spread not microbes from farms or big farms;
  • Wash hands before and after having handled his hens;
  • The new hens should be isolated and monitored for a few weeks before being placed in the presence of your other chickens.  Make sure get you your new hens from reputable suppliers who take rigorous measures of disease prevention.
  • The hens should be isolated for at least 4 weeks especially if your purchases are from auctions, fairs, farms flee markets, or exhibitions. 


Consultation costs are similar to those of dogs and cats.

Chicken diseases

If one of your chickens is sick have Biosecurity measures and take precautions to avoid cross diseases between chicken coops contamination and supervise your visitors and disinfect the shoes.

Below is a list of the major diseases according to their characteristics, symptoms and treatments:

The Newcastle disease or avian

  • The hens are very rarely survived.  This devastating disease can destroy a herd. In addition, it is highly contagious.
  • Symptoms: loss of appetite, fever, feathers spiked, round back, respiratory and nervous disorders.
  • Prevention/treatment: it is best to vaccinate chickens against bird flu. There is no treatment for this disease.


Marek’s disease

  • This disease can be found in small farms and it creates significant damage to the chickens. Rather it is tackling the young subjects.
  • Symptoms: the hen paralyzed gradually (legs, wings, or even both). Tumors can arise on some digestive organs. On the eye level, pupils tend to fade and the chicken becomes blind. His head remains rigid and right.
  • Prevention/treatment: vaccines are not 100% effective and death is quick.




Aujeszky disease

  • Serious illness to rapid growth that can be fatal for the chicken.
  • Symptoms: drowsiness, loss of appetite, breathing problems, cough, earthquake, crete and bluish barbels.
  • Treatment/prevention: vaccinate the chicks and slaughter the chickens infected with the disease.



  • Common and well known breeders, disease is characterized by chronic anemia from a parasitic disease.
  • Symptoms: diarrhoea gory or not, deterioration of the general condition and shot attitude, decline in spawning, intense thirst.
  • Prevention/treatment: antibiotics or anticoccidials avoid mortality if the disease is treated in time.


The typhose

  • Disease mortality is high, it spreads especially in large farms.
  • Symptoms: diarrhoea green, large thirst, laying down.
  • Prevention/treatment: permanganate of potassium into the drink.


The Corysa

Photo : http://www.slideshare.net/ossamamotawae/infectious-coryza-disease-organism-vaccination

  • It is a disease very common among the fowls.
  • Symptoms: sneezing, runny nose, the hen shakes his head constantly to clear his nostrils. The eyes are Puffy, then closed. The hens no longer feed and die.
  • Prevention/treatment: suitable antibiotics.


External and internal chicken parasites

There are also different internal and external parasites causing serious problems of health for poultry:

Worms (external parasites)

  • They are found mainly in outdoor farms because they are transmitted by insects and slugs ingested by chickens.
  • Symptoms: loss of appetite, slow growth, decline in spawning.
  • Prevention/treatment: Use DE every month in the feed. Dewormers 2-3 time per year.



  • They nest in the plumage and the cloaca, which is very unpleasant for the poultry.
  • Prevention/treatment: treat with a suitable insecticide powder.



The leg scale mites

  • It is a small mite that fits under the scales of the fowls feet.
  • Symptoms: white scabs on legs.
  • Prevention/treatment: DE, sulfur ointment, coat the legs with iodine Glycerin or with oil, Sulfur ointment and baths.


Bumblefoot is the term to describe an infection of the foot. ( Plantar pododermatitis).  If not treated, the infection can be fatal and affect other organs.


There are many reasons why chickens can get bumblefoot- roosts, small wounds, “splinter” like cuts, scrapes and trauma. It can also be from lack of Vitamin A and Niacin in the diet. 





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