Health Problems

Here we have provided some guidance on some of the common health problems your pet hens can encounter.

This section is not intended to replace professional veterinary help and is based on our own personal experience and that of our supporters. If you would like to speak to one of our team, hen help and reassurance is just a phone call away on 01884 860084.

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  • Affected Anatomy

  • Symptoms

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Avian Influenza

Avian Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of birds and is classed as a notifiable disease. It is a legal requirement to report suspected cases to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

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Depluming Mite

The depluming mite (knemidocoptes gallinae) can infect most backyard fowl including chickens, ducks and geese. The mite burrows into the feather shafts and the skin surrounding the feathers.

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Egg Binding

Egg Binding

Failure to pass the egg from the shell gland to the vent is referred to as Egg Binding (Dystocia) or more commonly as a hen being Egg Bound.

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Impacted Crop

The crop is a muscular bag at the bottom of a hen’s neck which stores feed for the day and on occasion can become impacted.

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Lice

Lice

Lice are often found on hens that are debilitated or unwell, and live their entire lives on the body of the host chicken; adult lice shun sunlight and will quickly scatter when feathers are parted. They cannot spread to humans or other species.

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Liver and Kidney Problems

Chickens can develop problems with their liver and / or kidneys. The three most common conditions being Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome (FLHS), Fatty Liver and Kidney Syndrome (FLKS) and Enlarged Liver. Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome (FLHS) This disease can affect

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Health Problem Mycoplasma

Mycoplasma

Mycoplasma (Gallisepticum and Synoviae) is a bacteria not a virus. Both can affect the kidneys and hens are not routinely vaccinated to prevent them catching it. Infected birds become carriers, remaining infectious for life, although some birds may become immune.

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Newcastle Disease

Newcastle Disease is a highly contagious viral infection of birds and is classed as a notifiable disease. It is a legal requirement to report suspected cases to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

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Northern Fowl Mite

Northern Fowl Mite

The Northern Fowl Mite’s entire life cycle is spent on the host where it feeds on blood and is a source of irritation to the bird. Eggs are laid in masses at the base of the feathers, usually in the vent area.

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Oral Canker

Oral Canker

Oral Canker (Avian Trichomonosis) is caused by a protozoan parasite (trichomonas gallinae) commonly found in pigeons and doves.

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Prolapse

Every time a hen lays an egg she pushes out the inner lining of the vent slightly. In 99% of cases this shiny red protruding flesh immediately pulls back inside the hen.
In a small number of cases it doesn’t, resulting in a prolapse.

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Red mite

Red Mite

Red mites are yellow / brown in colour becoming red after feeding on blood from the hens. Mites are almost invisible to the naked eye (0.6 to 1mm).

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Salpingitis

Occasionally you may come across an abnormal object in the nest box that is neither egg nor dropping. This may be yellow or flesh-coloured and may look at first glance like a lump of sausage meat – this phenomenon is commonly known as a Lash.

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Scaly Leg

This is a condition caused by a mite called ‘Knemidocoptes Mutans’ which burrows under the skin on a bird’s legs to feed on the keratin.

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Soft Shell Eggs

Soft Shell Eggs

Soft shell eggs, caused by a lack of protein and calcium, can be difficult for a hen to lay as the egg has no hard shell to help it exit the vent easily.

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Sour Crop

This is caused by a yeast infection which makes the crop lining sore and inflamed. The condition is sometimes called thrush. It is possible to successfully treat the condition.

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Vent Gleet

Vent gleet is the common name given to a cloacal fungal infection caused by Candida albicans; it presents in a similar way to thrush. 

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Worms

Hens can pick up worms in exactly the same way as any other pet. However, caged hens are unlikely to have worms at the point of adoption as they have no contact with solid ground. Free range and barn hens often do have worms when adopted.

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