If you’ve noticed one of your chickens laying down all the time, it could be nothing to worry about. If your chicken just wants to relax and take it easy, why not?
However, if the chicken in question is usually quite active and suddenly starts to be lethargic, it doesn’t bear investigation, and you should check for signs of unwellness, just in case.
Here are a few tips on examining your chicken if you suspect it may be sick.
Take a Good Look at Their Comb
The comb is the red crest on top of a chicken’s head that helps regulate body temperature and circulation. It’s the easiest part of the body to check out.
If your chicken’s comb is pale or has lost its usual healthy color (bright red), this could indicate that they are suffering from an illness or infection.
It’s also important to look out for any swelling (also known as ‘pasting’) which can occur due to dehydration.
Check Their Eyes and Nostrils Are Clear
Another sign of illness in chickens is when their eyes become cloudy, or pus drips from their nostrils. If there’s pus dripping from anywhere, it is a cause for concern; same with humans!
Both indicate respiratory problems like infectious bronchitis, which require antibiotic treatment.
You should take a look at their wattles, which are the fleshy lobes located beneath the chin; these should be firm, without any areas that appear swollen or red.
Take a Look at Their Vent (Rear End!)
A healthy vent should be clean and free of abnormal discharges, such as yellowish-white stringy material, which could indicate worms.
And if there is any bleeding from the vent area, this indicates possible coccidiosis, another condition needing medical attention.
Also read: Warm Water Trick for Hatching Eggs
Feel Their Crop Area
The crop is located beneath the throat and is used by chickens to store food until it can be digested. Therefore, feeling this area can help detect any abnormalities, such as an impacted crop or sour crop (an overgrowth of yeast).
An unusually large crop could either mean that your bird has been overeating or has contracted an infection in the digestive system.
Look at Their Droppings for Anything Abnormal
Chicken droppings contain valuable information about their health status.
Normal droppings should have formed shapes and have light white urates present on them (these are often mistaken for maggots).
If you find anything unusual, such as discoloration or diarrhea in feces, this could signify that something isn’t right with your chicken’s health. Therefore, the chicken(s) should be examined by a vet as soon as possible.
Look at Their Plumage and Feathers
It’s not uncommon for chickens’ feathers to become unkempt if they’re ill.
Look out for patches of missing feathers. Also, feather loss around the wings/head/tail area, flaky skin, lice or mites infestations, etc., are all signs indicating something may not be right with your bird.
Moreover, please pay attention to how active they usually are compared to now. This can give further insight into whether they may be sick.
As mentioned in the intro, if they’ve become lethargic, it might be worth seeking help from a professional poultry veterinarian!
Are They Laying Eggs Normally?
Chickens who aren’t healthy tend to lay fewer eggs than usual. So keep track of egg production and note anything strange such as excessive shell thinning or soft-shelled eggs, which may indicate disease/illness too!
Problems with eggshell strength may also indicate dietary deficiencies, so please make sure your bird(s) are getting a well-rounded diet.
If you don’t think your bird is laying enough eggs, take steps towards improving their nutrition levels by providing them with a high-quality formula for laying hens and access to plenty of fresh water and adequate amounts of exercise.
If your chicken is lying down all the time, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition. On the other hand, it could just be a sign of a relaxed bird!
But by checking their comb, eyes, nostrils, vent area, and droppings, you can get a better sense of what — if anything — might be wrong. What’s more, looking at their plumage and feathers can give you clues as to whether they are healthy or not.
If you’re unsure what’s wrong with your chicken, consult a veterinarian for help.
Photo by Adam Nir on Unsplash.