Common Skin and Feather Ailments in Chickens
You may have noticed that chickens aren’t just on the farm anymore! What began as a “trend” to keep chickens in backyards and gardens has turned into a full-fledged lifestyle, as more and more people set up coops and started keeping chickens in cities and suburbia, far from farmland. Websites cropped up for amateur chicken enthusiasts and social media pages hatched, celebrating our love of chicken companions. For these new pet parents, their feathered friends are much more than livestock – they are valued pets, and those who have a flock want to keep them healthy, happy, and laying lots of eggs.
While chickens are generally pretty hardy, some conditions affect their health and many of those conditions are made apparent in their skin and feathers. And many common skin and feather conditions chicken owners may come across are caused by insects.
Common Insect Pests
Mites are tiny bugs that can live in your chicken coop and sometimes on the chickens themselves. Depending on the type of mite, they may come out at night to drink the blood of chickens (yes, really!), attack leg scales for their keratin, or burrow into feather shafts for nutrients. Whatever part of the chicken they target, mites cause painful irritation. If you have a mite infestation, you will notice your chickens looking ragged, pulling out their feathers, and scratching themselves frequently. In extreme infestations, birds can become anemic, with their skin and wattles turning yellow.
Lice, ticks, and fleas also attack chickens. These pests can leave brown, black, or red spots on the chicken’s skin and cause skin irritation similar to what mites cause.
Mosquitos carry a viral infection called fowl pox that starts as red pimples that turn into pustules that eventually burst and create scabs. It is most often seen on the head, neck, feet, and legs, where there is less feather coverage.
Handling Pest-Related Ailments
Keeping your flock healthy starts with prevention. Ensure you have enough space for the number of chickens you keep (a good rule of thumb is four square feet per chicken in the coop, and 10 square feet per chicken in a run or yard), feed a nutritionally balanced chicken feed, provide access to plenty of clean water, and keep your coop clean.
If you do find your chickens suffering from insect pests, the best way to combat the problem is to catch it early, care for your chickens’ discomfort, and eliminate the insect infestation. First, reach for Curicyn’s Original Wound & Skin Care Formula – yes, the same one you use on your dogs, cats, horses, or other animals. Spray liberally on your chickens, making sure the formula reaches the skin. Ruffling feathers backward and spraying at the base of the feather shaft is a good way to do this. Spraying your affected birds 2-5 times per day will help reduce irritation and stress, and jump-start the healing process. Don’t worry, it’s 100% non-toxic, so it won’t harm your birds in any way.
Next, you’ll need to address the source by getting rid of the insects. Doing a deep clean of your coop is a good start, as well as replacing water frequently to avoid providing a breeding ground for insects in standing water. Before you replace bedding, spray your flock and the entire coop with Curicyn’s BodyGuard Fly, Flea, Tick and Insect Repellant. BodyGuard is an organic botanical product that works by driving pests away via their olfactory receptors, so bugs don’t need to come into direct contact with it to be driven away. The best part is that university researchers found it three times more effective than other leading insect sprays. Once you’ve replaced the bedding, give it another spray. Continue to apply daily until your chickens are better, then apply regularly to prevent another infestation.
Prevention is worth a pound of cure, but if life happens and you find you need some extra TLC for your birds to prevent or treat an ailment, Curicyn can help.