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Chicken Health & Hatching Advice


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  • Chicken Health & Hatching Advice

    This thread is for all the useful chicken related information that one can find on the Vine and is meant as a repository for that wealth. If you find a post that is particularly useful please click on quote and then copy the text in there and paste it here for all to see and that way one can see who provided the useful gem.

    Thank you to Jennie whose post started it. (I so wish I had that information a few months ago!) So here it is.
    Never test the depth of the water with both feet

    The only reason people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory....

    Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Bramble-Poultry View Post
    SOUR CROP usually eminates a foul odour, but then if its in early stages then it may not be fully developed. The squidyness is actually a side effect, it is the bird drawing water from the digestive system, this will cause your bird to be very dehydrated.

    Making your chicken sick is one method - it involves holding the chicken upside down with her neck straight down and allowing any fluid to come out, obviously do not move her until all the fluid is gone and she has stopped dripping - chickens do not have a gag reflex and the fluid will go down the airway and that is the end.


    You start by putting an eyedropper full of vegetable oil (any oil will do olive etc) into the crop and then massaging the crop. This will soften the impaction. Put the dropper all the way back in the bird's mouth and slowly push out the oil. remember you need to get it as far back as possible birds do not have a gag reflex so choke very easily, their airway is a hole at the base of the tounge so you need to get it past this, empty it very slowly to allow it to go down.

    Next mix 1 pint warm water with 1/2 cup bicarb of soda

    Fill the syringe and insert it as far as you can into the mouth of the chicken. Have someone hold the bird upright in front of you. Slowly and very gently fill the crop, do not over fill and get liquid into that hole at the base of the tongue. Gently press up under the chickenís breast and slide your hand up to the crop. This makes the bird open its mouth and the impacted mess will come out the bird's mouth. Push the contents up and out of the crop and out of the mouth. make sure you are holding teh bird upside down. Repeat this gentle stroking pressure until nothing comes up.

    If there the crop is not empty, flush it again until it is empty.

    Once the crop is empty, give another dropper of oil.

    Now personally we only use this method as a last resort due to the risks of the bird choking to death but listed the method here for you so you had it.

    Sour crop is caused by a fungal infection and if you go to the vet he will prescribe nystatin but we use oral Daktarin - its an anti fungal medicine used for oral thrush available from all chemists. pop a pea sized drop on a small peice of apple (similar size) and see if she will eat it - if not open her beak and shove it as far to the back of her throat as you can now push it even further with your little finger - you can push your whole finger in without causing more than discomfort. This needs to be repeated 3 to 4 times per day.

    Whilst your chicken has sour crop do not allow it to eat anything but have plenty of fresh water available extra food will just cause the problem to worsen but fluid needs to be high due to dehydration - whichever method you use!

    Offer her live yoghurt or something with "friendly" bacteria, it will help her digest anything else left in the crop. (this can be syringed down too if shes not eating)
    Last edited by Nicos; 02-08-2014, 02:03 PM.
    Never test the depth of the water with both feet

    The only reason people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory....

    Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.


    • #3
      Soft eggs - main causes

      Old hen, ex-battery hen, nutritional problem, toxins, parasites (internal and external), illness, management problems, shock and Coccidiosis.

      Ok so here goes....

      hen physiology and nutrition 101 (the condensed version - I mean condensed we did a whole year on hen anatomy and physiolgy at college and i'm doing it here in 1000 words or less!)

      lets start with calcium - a very likely culprit

      hens store calcium in the medullery bone, they store more than they need so by the time they are laying soft eggs calcium levels have been a problem for quite a while. A hen who eats a balanced formulated diet will NOT have a deficiency in calcium in the diet (assuming they are eating enough) - however calcium uptake and calcium deficiency are two totally differnt things! Increasing calcium in the diet is not necessarily increase the calcium in the bird.

      Phosphorus is a limiting factor in calcuim uptake, ie phosphorus stops calcium being abosorbed and vica versa, however phosphorus is vital in the diet and also aids in shell formulation - calcium and phosphorus are both consituants of bone. Vitamin D is the facilitator in calcuim uptake - if vitamin D is deficient then calcium will not be taken up by the bird regardless of how much you give it. Vitamin D one of the best non meat based sources of Vitamin D is eggs!! Vitamin D deficiency can be caused by insufficient in the diet or a liver problem (its a fat soluble vitamin so is processed in the liver)

      To increase the calcium uptake in a hen quickly requires a small particle size that is quickly broken down - limestone flour is the best for this, but for this to be effective you also need to increase Vitamin d in the diet (for short periods poultry can tolerate 100 times their requirements for vitamin d so toxicosis will not occur) - best way is to buy preformulated vitamin drops designed for birds - any birds the budgie one will do, its the same stuff just differnt dosage. feed this in the diet for a week, if you want to make sure she eats it make it a treat in the afternoon mixed in wth some pasta or sweetcorn or anything she will scoff down. If soft eggs are still being laid after a week then its not calcium deficiency. If eggs are starting to return to normal then continue feeding this for another week and then cease feeding the extra ration - if eggs remain normal it was a blip (it happens 1001 causes) - if they return to being soft then there is an underlying problem - this will need investigating

      Toxins - the most common toxin your hen will ingest is a mycotoxin called aflatoxi, it is a produced by a mold found in corn, this is one of around 3000 mycotoxins that your bird can ingest, mycotoxins can interfere with the absorption and metabolism (use) of both calcium and Vitamin D amongst other things and this is the usual cause of deficiences when an otherwise seemingly appropriate diet is fed.

      Note on above - this is for a calcuim defficient bird - an excess of calcium will KILL your bird and I do not advocate feeding limestone flour or any calcium pills to an otherwise healthy bird on a regular basis, oyster grit can be offered in a seperate pot to the feed the hen will take only what they need and the particle size means that only small amounts of calcium enter the system anyway. excessive calcium will stop the absorption of phosphorus and some otehr vital trace elements and ulimatley cause death.

      Next parasites - internal and external will strain the system, internal will obviously utilise the nutritional benefits within the feed before the hen gets chance to do so - this gives you a nutritionally deficient bird!!

      Management problems (not accusing you just stating causes) - insufficient or innappropriate feed is given to the hen also insufficient water, without water a hen cannot absorb many of the nutrients in the feed and they are excreted without ever entering the hens system - not going to tell you the outcome of this as you are not stupid!!!

      Illness - again many illnesses can cause nutrition andphysical problems, liver problems, respiratory problesm, coccidiosis - all obvioulsy cause problems for then hen but I'm going to bypass this as you have not mentioned that she is otherwise ill.

      Are you all bored now and have nodded off - lots of information to take in, but all highly likely contenders in a soft egg layer.

      All of the above is only of any use if she is a soft egg layer who is then eating them because they are an easy target if she is an egg eater then it will be probably of no use what so ever. egg eating can be a deficiency in the diet, salt or vitamin d or protein are the main culprits, but it quickly turns into an unbreakable habit - then its Richmonds suggestion of doctoring an egg for her to eat
      Last edited by Nicos; 02-08-2014, 02:05 PM.
      My Blog


      • #4
        Originally posted by Bramble-Poultry View Post
        Maureen - a quick pointer to you and anyone else who has seen this happen such as happened to your last chick that had the prolapsed intestine.

        We have had it here a couple of times and it comes from putting late hatchers in with their older (albeit a few hours) siblings.

        When a chick hatches it is usually still attached to the remnants of the yolk by an umbilical chord. This dries off and detaches from the yolk, but is still quite wet at the end nearest the stomach of the chick. Ideally the chick should be left in the incubator for around 12-16 hours (never more than 24) before moving into the brooder with the others. This allows the umbilical to dry off properly.

        Seeing a new chick, the others will investigate and peck and tug at it to see if if moves etc as they are inquisitive. If the chick still has a "wet belly button" this will become the target of endless moments of entertainment for the other chicks, resulting in the potential for the stomach muscles to be breached and the intestines pulled out.

        We have learnt this they hard way, once by finding the chick wandering about as you did, and the other time by physically watching the blighter do it!.

        We did think of pushing it back in, but in the end we did the deed. Speaking to the vet later that week, he suggested that we did the best thing as stuffing back intestines isnt easy, and if you kink the intestine or it doesnt go back quite right, you are storing up trouble for the chicken later on in life when it grows up and cant digest food properly as it has a twisted gut.

        so, Maureen, as much as you hated to do it, you did the right thing for it.
        Last edited by Nicos; 02-08-2014, 02:07 PM.
        Never test the depth of the water with both feet

        The only reason people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory....

        Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.


        • #5
          Added this here as well, look at the link and see why

          Last edited by Nicos; 02-08-2014, 02:10 PM.
          Never test the depth of the water with both feet

          The only reason people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory....

          Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.


          • #6
            Fantastic fact sheets. I read the one on worms and recognised symptons of gapeworms in our late light sussex hen - promptly going to get flubenvet - where can one buy flubenvet- would be useful to know?


            • #7
              I bought mine online Petal, think it was from Pet Dispensary, but if you just Google Flubenvet, it'll come up with some choices for you
              My girls found their way into my heart and now they nest there


              • #8

                I paid £12.01 inc of p&p for 60g Flubenvet from Animal Medicines . Received within two days of placing order and one day was an RM strike day in London.
                If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing to excess


                • #9
                  Thanks for the fact sheets BarlingPoultry, very good.
                  Do ALL hens moult EVERY year?
                  Two of ours are bats, and one of them is virtually bald Is this normal??
                  What is this life, if full of care,
                  We have no time to stand and stare
                  . . .[/I][/I]


                  • #10
                    Once they're about a year old they do and yes it is normal for them to go bald or oven-ready as some Grapes describe them The Hen Trust publish knitting and fleece pattern to make 'jumpers' for batts who are fresh off the farm to enable them to cope with the drop in temperature.

                    Help us make hen jumpers!
                    If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing to excess


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bramble-Poultry View Post
                      Not sure if Jennie has posted the recipe for gloop, but i thought you might all like a look at the recipe that Jen uses to pull round sick birds.

                      We use this recipe for chicks that are having difficulty feeding, for intensivly feeding sick birds, and as a general tonic for birds in shock etc. As you all know, we get birds of all states here dropped off, so our regime usually starts with a health MOT and a morsel of food. If they show no signs of feeding and show signs of a thin breast bone, then onto gloop they go!

                      Before i give you the full recipe, you need to be familar with and happy to use a syringe feeder. we make ours from the childs dosing syringes you can buy from Boots and a short length (around 2") of aquarium air line. Preferably the green or opaque soft one, not the hard plastic one if possible.

                      To feed a chicken via a syringe you must be absolutely certain you have the tip of the syringe (or tube) in the throat / crop not in the airway. if you pump 5ml of gloop into the air way its game over within seconds

                      The easy way to ensure you dont miss the target is to get someone to hold the bird facing you, then open its beak. you will see its triangular shaped tongue with a small hole at the very base of it. This is its airway. further back is the throat. As long as you clear the back of the tongue you should be fine.

                      Also note when feeding this way, it is better to give lots of small feeds rather than one big one as this may mean that you overfill the crop and it starts to back up and flow over into the airway. Never fill the crop of a bird that is having trouble keeping its balance. If it falls over there is a possiblility that the food could leach into the airway when the bird lays down. Better to keep to small feeds and prop up the bird if in doubt.

                      Right - gloop

                      approx 1 tablespoon of EMP Egg Food (canary rearing formula from most good pet shops)

                      approx 1 tablespoon of Hipp Organic Baby rice Meal (morrisons stock it)

                      a tiny tiny pinch of worming powder

                      three drops of concentrated vitamin fluid (pet shop again)

                      1 teaspoon of "Critical Care Formula" (available from Reptile shops and off the web)

                      Grind the EMP in a pestle and mortar to make a fine dust. You may need to sieve out the hulls from the hemp seeds etc.

                      Mix in the other dry ingredients. Add enough water to mix into a reasonably wet mix. Allow to stand for a few minutes. Add the liquid ingredients

                      Mix with enough water to make it into a loose semi-thick fluid. A bit like runny custard. Note the baby rice will absorb a lot of water so keep checking the consist

                      Take to the bird and feed by drawing it up into the syringe and pumping into the crop. As a guideline, unless you know what you are doing, do not exceed 4 syringes (10ml) of gloop to an adult bantam, and around 15ml to a large hen. Feel the crop and when its about the size of half a golf ball stop. you can always feed again in 30 minutes or so.


                      - Never let the bird go to bed on an empty crop

                      - Place the bird into a confined box or similar to restrict its movement whilst on gloop. you are trying to get its weight back on it, not let it run it off.

                      - If the birds is in shock or immobile, place into a small box with a fabric covered base (for cleaning) and place the whole box on top of a hot water bottle to keep the bird warm.

                      - If keeping on gloop for more than 24hours, remember to give the Critical Care Formular neat (diluted with water as per the instructions) every other feed to ensure the bird is getting enough fluids.

                      - keep the bird covered. It will recooperate better in a semi dark environment, rather than a stressful heavily lit one.

                      - Never keep an old batch of gloop for the next feed. Use a new batch each time

                      - Never use and old syringe. Always wash out the syringes and steilise in hot water before each use.

                      - Always use antibacterial handwash before and after touching the bird, and definately between handling each bird to stop the transfer of disease. Remember the cold virus is zoonotic so you can give it to your hen. Clean yourself of all harmful germs by regular handwashing

                      - If feeding other birds outside etc, always feed the ones on Gloop last. This stops you transferring illness to the birds outside.

                      Typical Regime for new introduction

                      Recieve bird. Spray with frontline, head, neck, shouders, under "arms", vent and legs to remove/reduce load from parasites and scaly leg mite.

                      Check movement in wings and legs. Isolate if needs be.

                      Check over face for running nose and eyes. Panting, shaking etc.

                      Place into quarantine unit until 7 days have passed when you can be certain tha tyou will know if it has any "hitchhikers" etc.

                      Medicate as necessary

                      All waters to contain respite for 7 days.

                      All birds to recieve Flubenvet for the first 7 days

                      This should ideally be undertaken before introducing to you existing flock.

                      Hope that helps

                      Have pasted this from a diiferent thread 'cos i thought It may come in useful for someone later...
                      Last edited by CoraxAurata; 24-10-2009, 12:44 AM.


                      • #12
                        I've just been onto the factsheets recommended by Barling Poultry ad found them very informative. Thanks for the post! Helped my out on my little problem of possible scaly leg mites.


                        • #13
                          I think a lot of people don't think about what hens need, BP. I've lost count of the times people have said to me, "oh chickens are easy to keep, you don't need to do anything to them". So I think, but what about de-lousing, de-worming etc etc. These people are also the ones who turn round and ask "why are my hens not laying?" It's amazing how many people replace their chickens after a year or two saying they are not laying any more. It's usually because of healthcare issues that they are not laying, rather than they are old or spent.


                          • #14
                            great thread - hopefully one of my girls is moulting rather than about to pop off!


                            • #15
                              One of my older girls has laid an egg with another egg inside do you think this is her last egg or is it normal?


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