Worming Chickens: Ultimate Guide

Worming Chickens: Ultimate Guide

Wondering whether worming chickens is easy? What are some all natural options? In this article, we’ll discuss the type of worms chickens can get, why they’re so dangerous, and what to do about it! 

Think about it: A chicken mama walks into her hen house to collect eggs. She reaches into the first nest and frowns. The egg has an unusual covering of chicken poop. This is not a massive problem. It just requires some extra cleaning. 
On to the next egg. It’s plastered with poop. The farmer begins to suspect something is wrong. Then, onto the third nest, where the prize-winner roosts. She is neat and tidy, and never leaves messes on her eggs. But chicken poop also covers this egg, and there’s some long white strands mixed in. 
Something needs attention, and she wonders what’s going on with her beloved birds. The list possible problems is a short one, and the solution is actually quite simple. These chickens have worms, and they need a better worming regimen.

What Are Worms Exactly?

Worms are parasites that can create health problems in chickens. Worms can cause lots of health issues, such as:
  • poor nutrition (because the worms are stealing vitamins and minerals from your flock)
  • internal bleeding
  • diarrhea
  • flightiness
  • pale combs
  • poor egg production
  • bloody stool
  • vision problems
  • death
You might also notice your hen doesn’t want to forage, and prefers to sit quietly in a corner.

How Do Chickens Get Worms?

A flock of chickens goes foraging, and might stumble upon a big, thick slug. It is a treat to the bird, but this yummy snack hides something insidious: a parasite. Your chickens swallow this parasite, and it finds a warm, comfortable place to live out its life cycle.
Chickens can also pick up worms from the soil, either by stepping on eggs, or ingesting eggs from dirt. Wild birds visiting their poultry cousins can also be a point of infection. Additionally, one chicken can effect her whole flock, since the worm’s eggs might infect her feces. Other hens might pick them up when walking around (which is why it’s important to clean your coop consistently)

What Kind Of Worms Do Chickens Get?

Chickens can get a variety of worms, including:
  • Tapeworms (Davainea proglottina and Raillietina cesticullus)  
  • Roundworms (Ascaridia galli)
  • Hair Worms/Capillary Worms (Capillaria obsignata
  • Gapeworms (Syngamus trachea)
  • Caecal Worms (Heterakis gallinarum)
  • Strongyle Worms (Trichostrongylus tenuris)
Each worm species effects chickens in different ways. But all worms are detrimental to your birds’ health. Most worms fall into two distinct classes.
  1. Direct – a chicken picks up these worms by scratching or pecking through contaminated feces. They spend their entire life cycles inside the chicken. Very often the eggs of these worms drop out of your chicken; they are quite durable and can hibernate for up to a year. Then, when another chicken picks them up, they then hatch, often by the thousands.  
  2. Indirect – these worms inhabit things that your chickens might have foraged. They might be hiding inside slugs, for example. Then, inside your chicken, they find a nice warm habitat to live out their life cycle. Indirect worms need a secondary host, such as an earthworm, before finding their permanent home inside your chickens
The following types of worms can infect your flock:

Caecal Worm

These are light grey to white in color and shaped like the letter S. They can grow to about ¾ inch. Caecal worms do not always show any symptoms in chickens. But chickens suffering a severe outbreak of these worms may look depressed or look worn out. The worms live in the ceca and have a direct life cycle. 

Capillary Worms

These worms are so small that one cannot usually see them with the naked eye. They are also called Hairworms or Threadworms. They live in the crop, intestines, and ceca, but in severe outbreaks, they can also inhabit the throat or the mouth. These worms are usually found in earthworms and slugs. A chicken infected by capillary worms will be weak and anemic. Their comb will pale, and the bird might appear emaciated. They also might suffer diarrhea. Extreme cases can lead to the bird’s death. They have both a Direct and Indirect life cycle. 

Gape Worm

worming chickens with gapeworms

Gapeworms in poultry throat. Image from Wikipedia.

Gape worms are red, and grow to ¾ inch in length. A male and a female lock together, resulting in a Y-shaped organism. Gape worms inhabit the trachea and lungs. They feed on blood get from micro blood vessels.  The most common symptom is a shortness of breath, often accompanied by a gaping beak, stretching its neck, and head shaking. The chickens will cough and frequently gasp for air and may also have a reduced appetite. They are Direct cycle parasites. 

Gizzard Worms 

These worms are very thin and grow to about 3/4 inch. They’re uncommon in chickens (far more common in geese). Symptoms include:
  • anemia
  • weight loss
  • diarrhea
  • a sickly appearance (might include a hunched posture and sagging wings)
This can lead to death if left untreated. They have a Direct life cycle.

Roundworms

roundworms from chicken

Roundworms

Most common of the various worms that your chickens might contract. Roundworms are visible by the naked eye, and can reach lengths of up to 6 inches. Other symptoms can include:
  • Pale combs and wattles
  • decreased appetite
  • diarrhea
  • stunted growth
Extreme cases can also block the intestines, which can kill your bird. The infected bird will shed the roundworm eggs in her poop. Another hen can pick up these eggs, which will hatch in the new hen. Round worms have a Direct life cycle.

Tapeworms

tapeworm chickens

Tapeworm illustration

Tapeworms are white, long, and flat. In chickens, they usually do not grow any longer than 13 inches. Segments of these worms can be visible in chicken feces – they look like bits of rice. Tapeworms live in different intestinal areas and feed on its host bird’s diet. As a result, the chicken will likely suffer an increased appetite, and will appear larger, primarily due to bloating. If a juvenile bird becomes infected with tapeworms, its growth could be stunted. Tapeworms have an Indirect life cycle; they need a host like beetles, earthworms, and other insects.

How Can We Protect Chickens From Worms?

Your chickens are very likely to get worms, especially if they live outdoors. This is a sad fact of life, but it is an important one. Stopping worms is not 100% about preventing worms from infecting your pets, but rather in minimizing the damageThe biggest risks are warm wet climates, and especially between late Spring and summer, when many parts of the USA endure heavy rains. Other areas of the country – the Pacific Northwest, for example – are ideally suited due to an almost year-round warm wet climate.
Worm eggs do not like extreme temperatures and go dormant in weather that is too hot for them or too cold for them. They are also averse to climates that are too dry to sustain them. To prevent a muddy coop, mix a good amount of stone, gravel, or having straight concrete flooring. This can reduce the number of active worm eggs in your flock’s home. 
Keeping grass short can also behoove a smart chicken owner. This helps to maximize the amount of UV light from the sun that reaches worm eggs. These eggs are particularly susceptible to UV light, and sunlight can destroy them. 
Be sure that your bedding is clean and dry. In wet weather, be sure to clean out your coop and chicken housing areas at least 2 to 3 times per week. If you use the deep litter method, and your chickens seem to constantly have worms, consider a different bedding option.

Should I Worm My Chickens?

Not sure if your chickens have worms? It’s easiest to collect some feces and take it to your vet. They can run tests to determine if and what kind of parasites your chickens might have. These tests are usually inexpensive. You’ll learn if your chickens actually need a worming regimen.
Worming regimens should not be year-long. You should do it only every so often (your vet can tell you how often). Parasites and chickens both can develop an immunity to the wormers. If this happens, it means you’ll have a harder time killing off this particular strain of worms. So, continuing to use it will have no effect. You can ask your vet about rotating options if you want to prevent worms. 

What Are The Best Wormers For Chickens?

There’s lots of opinions out there about what wormers are ideal. Some chicken owners might claim you only need natural solutions. Others insist that they are not enough. Ultimately, you should decide for yourself, using our list below as a set of options. Be sure to consult your vet as well. A list of some of the most popular options are below.

Flubendazole/Fenbendazole

In the United States, there aren’t any FDA-approved wormers for chickens. But elsewhere in the world, there’s pharmaceutical options. The UK has stringent standards when it comes to animal welfare, and Flubendazole is approved for this use. Since you can give it to goats, horses, etc, it’s worth asking your vet about it. If you can’t find Flubendazole, ask your vet about Fenbendazole. It’s a common medicine for goats, horses, dogs, cats, etc. Fenbendazole is usually sold in farm stores under the trade name Safeguard. Before proceeding, though it’s always best to ask your vet for dosage amounts.

Ivermectin

Like Fenbendazole, this isn’t specifically approved for chickens. But it’s safe for other species. It’s also proven effective. So it’s worth talking to your vet about it. You can buy it at any farm store.

Apple cider vinegar

This remarkable item offers many benefits, including deterring some worms. It is not a 100% guaranteed treatment, but it’s very cost-effective. It can also introduce healthy bacteria to your hens’ digestive systems. You can learn how to make it yourself here.

Garlic

Garlic is the wonder herb. You can add small amounts to chicken feed. It might help discourage worms from settling in the belly. It also can support healthy digestive systems. 

Chili/Cayenne

Worms dislike the spiciness of capsaicin, and will leave the host area. Like garlic, it discourages worms from settling in the digestive gut. 

WormBGone Nesting Herbs

There’s a long history of certain herbs “doing the trick” to keep parasites from bugging backyard chickens. WormBGone Nesting Herbs includes the best herbs! Made with herbs traditionally used to promote healthy digestive systems and prevent worms. This is an affordable option many chicken owners love.

Vetrx Poultry Aid

You can apply this natural wormer directly on the effected chicken or put it into their water or in treats. 

Durvet Ivermectin Pour On De-wormer

You can pour this wormer onto the infected area. It’s a topical anti-wormer.  

Fleming Wazine Chicken De-wormer

You can mix this solution into feed or water.

My Pet Chicken Organic WormGuard Plus with Flax Seed

This natural mix also claims to reduce odors and moisture in chicken coops. 
Internal parasites are a massive problem that can effect your birds at any point in their lives. And it’s not only their health at stake. Worming chickens can also effect your life. After all, a healthy, worm-free, bird will produce healthy eggs for consumption. 
7 Hacks for Healthier Urban Chickens!

7 Hacks for Healthier Urban Chickens!

One of the questions I get asked the most is: “Can I keep urban chickens even though I live in the city?” And my answer is always a huge YES!

 

Raising chickens is a rewarding and meaningful experience and I highly recommend it to everyone! There are, however, some things that you need to keep in mind when you are raising urban chickens in the big city.

 

It’s totally possible, but you will need to make some adjustments for an urban coop in order to keep you chickens happy and healthy.

 

Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for raising urban chickens in small spaces.

 

My top tips for raising urban chickens are:

  1. Make sure you can have chickens in your area
  2. Feed organic herbs for healthier hens
  3. Feed your chickens a balanced diet with calcium and protein
  4. Use calendula
  5. Practice good coop hygiene
  6. Provide environmental enrichment
  7. Predator-proof your coop

 

 

 

Make Sure You Can Keep Chickens In Your Area

Before we get started with the rest of the tips in this article, first and foremost you need to make sure you can keep chickens in your area. Not every town allows them – PLEASE do your homework first!

 

Your town might allow chickens, but have limits on the amount of chickens, how many feet they need to be kept away from other homes, or whether you can keep roosters or not.

 

It’s no good trying to keep chickens if your area doesn’t allow them – you’re doing your chickens a disservice because you might have to re-home them. Not fun for anyone!

 

Now, if you CAN keep chickens and you know all the regulations, then read the rest of the tips in this article to help your flock be healthier and happier!

 

Use Organic Herbs in Feed & Nesting Boxes

For people keeping chickens in smaller spaces, such as urban backyards, my favorite piece of advice is keeping them happy and healthy with organic herbs.

 

Because urban coops tend to be smaller and owners need to protect their flock from predators, such as dogs and cats, urban chickens run the risk of developing negative behaviors such as feather picking because they don’t have as much space to roam.

 

Urban chickens also tend to have more stressful lives than pasture raised chickens, so herbs such as peppermint, oregano, garlic, wormwood, and calendula.

 

(And blends such as the herbs we carry in the Living The Good Life With Backyard Chickens store) provide both a natural health boost and environmental interest because hens can pick at the herbs and explore their treat.

 

 

nesting box herbs

Feed your urban chickens a high-quality, nutritious diet

Especially for urban chickens, it’s important that you make that they have a well balanced diet. They can’t forage for nutrients, and they lead slightly more stressful lives because urban chickens are typically cooped all the time, or face environmental stress such as polluted air, lots of noise, etc.

 

One important nutrient to ensure the health of your chickens is calcium. Making sure your hens have ready access to high quality calcium supplements is important to ensure they lay eggs with strong egg shells.

 

You can offer a calcium supplement in the form of oyster shells or dried, crushed eggshells. To dry your egg shells, simply wash them so the albumen is cleaned off, then allow them to air dry a bit.

 

Next, toast them by placing them in your oven at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes. Then crush, and offer separately or mix with your flock’s feed.

 

It’s also important to make sure that your urban chickens are getting enough protein. If you want an out-of-the-box treat, black soldier fly larvae are full of protein, fat, AND 50 times more calcium than treats such as mealworms.

 

And hens LOVE them! I have an in depth article about the benefits of black soldier fly larvae here if you want more information!  If you want black soldier fly larvae for your hens, we carry them in the store right here.

 

Keeping urban chickens is easy and healthy!

Mix Calendula With Your Urban Chicken’s Feed

 

For golden yolks (which is why most people keep chickens – for healthier eggs), adding the herb calendula to your chickens’ diet is a must. (We carry calendula in the store right here.)

 

Calendula contains beta carotenes, which lend their orange color to your hen’s yolks.

 

Practice Good Coop Hygiene

All natural hygiene is a must for urban chickens. They are more susceptible to internal parasites such as worms and external parasites such as mites because they’re not able to move around as much as their country cousins.

 

Using essential oils such as melaleuca and lemon when cleaning their coop will help keep their home clean and hygienic.

 

It’s important to not use household cleaners such as bleach – the fumes can harm your chickens, and when bleach mixes with the ammonia from your flock’s droppings, it can produce mustard gas! Yikes!

 

So, all natural cleaners are a must to keep your flock healthy.

 

Keeping urban chickens is fun!

Provide Environmental Enrichment

Like we talked about earlier, urban chickens have more stressful lives due to different environmental circumstances than their pasture raised counterparts.

 

So in order to avoid negative habits such as feather picking, you need to provide your chickens with some environmental enrichment activities.

 

This could be things like providing herbs for them to pick at or ensuring that there are places for your chickens to perch in your coop.

 

Providing environmental activities for your chickens helps to keep them happy and helps keep them from developing bad habits.

 

Predator Proof Your Coop

I’ve seen way too many urban chicken owners get burned because they didn’t predator proof their coop. They thought there weren’t chicken predators in the city.

 

While you might not have to worry about chicken predators like raccoons or possums in the city, you do need to worry about cats, dogs and any other animals that might be “interested” in your chickens. Always make sure that your coop is predator proof so you can keep your chickens safe.

 

Dogs can be another problem for those raising chickens in the city. If you have a pet dog they can be just a little bit too interested in your chickens and that can cause huge problems.

 

My number one tip is to keep your chickens and dogs separate. Even the best behaved dogs might get curious and ANY dog has the potential to seriously injure your chickens (even little dogs), so I recommend that you just keep them apart if you think there’s a chance your dog might play too rough with your chickens.

 

Make Sure Neighbors Are On Board

Many of the readers I get messages from are concerned about their neighbors getting upset because they have chickens. Honestly, as long as you don’t have a rooster, it very unlikely that anyone will know you have chickens at all!

 

In fact, I know someone who was raising chickens in the middle of a neighborhood for years and his neighbors didn’t even realize they were there! Hens can be very quiet!

 

I keep my coop super clean so it doesn’t smell as bad, and hens aren’t typically noisy. In fact, I think dogs are 10 times more annoying for neighbors than chickens could ever be!

 

Most chickens are docile, quiet, and pretty well-behaved from my experience. And trust me the second your neighbors try some of your chickens’ delicious eggs they won’t complain. In fact, they’ll probably want to get chickens of their own!

 

I always recommend that you check your cities’ ordinances and policies about chickens to be sure you know the rules about raising chickens in your area. Some cities might limit the number of chickens you can own based on how big your backyard is. Check it out to be sure!

 

Do you have experience with raising urban chickens? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!




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5 Herbs Every Chicken Mama Needs This Winter

5 Herbs Every Chicken Mama Needs This Winter

While there are a lot of herbs that are great for your backyard chickens, there are a few that are very important during the fall and winter months.

 

Their tiny bodies have to work hard to stay warm and healthy during the winter, and while a good layer feed is ALWAYS the basis of any healthy diet, you don’t need to stop there.

 

There’s herbs you can provide your chickens that’ll support healthy immune system functions – which is especially important when the mercury dips!

 

Here’s the top 5 herbs you should keep handy!

 

Oregano

Oregano is one of my favorite herbs for backyard chickens. It supports healthy immune systems, and hens love to GOBBLE down the little green flecks.

 

You can offer fresh or dried oregano – both are great – and you’ll want to use the leaves of the oregano plant. Mix with their feed, offer separately, OR make a “tea” by immersing them in water.

 

Whenever we have a chicken or duck that needs some extra TLC, I turn first to oregano!

 

You can find oregano for your chickens here: Oregano for Backyard Chickens

Echinacea

Without a doubt, you’ve heard of echinacea!

 

Echinacea has been used traditionally to support healthy immune system functions for centuries, and it’s a great herb for your chickens, too!

 

You can use the leaves or the roots of the echinacea plant – while the roots are more powerful, they’re also more expensive. Chickens love picking at the leaves!

 

It’s easiest to mix echinacea with their feed or use it as a top dress. If your chickens aren’t sure what to do, add an extra treat such as mealworms or dried river shrimp to the mix – your flock will quickly figure it out!

 

To make it easier for chicken owners to get echinacea, we’ve included it in my herbal blend StrongHen (TM). Wherever you buy echinacea, be sure it’s 100% pure!

 

 

Calendula

Calendula is not only good for giving your eggs the perfect golden yolk, but it’s also great to offer your hens during the winter months. In fact, it’s a bit of a “superherb” that’s used in traditional herbalism for many things: to support skin, immune system functions, healthy digestion, and more!

 

As a bonus, it smells DIVINE.

 

The beta carotenes that gives these flowers their pretty yellow petals are also super healthy nutrients for your hens. Calendula has some antimicrobial properties, and is packed with many other vitamins that will help your flock be healthier during the cold winter months.

 

Plus your hens will love picking at these pretty yellow flowers, so it’s a great winter boredom buster.

 

You’ll want to use the dried flowers and/or petals. You can add to feed, create a tea (it makes a pretty sweet tea), or add to nesting boxes.

 

Find calendula here: Calendula for Backyard Chickens

 

herbs for backyard chickens

Elder

Elder is packed full of immune support power for your chickens.

 

Elderberry has been used as a traditional herbal remedy for centuries and researchers are discovering that it’s a powerful herb for keeping chickens healthy!

 

In a 2014 study, researchers found that elderberry helped prevent Infections Bronchitis Virus in chickens (source).

 

For humans, elderberries and elder flower are used to support healthy immune functions. With chickens, you can use the berries and the flowers – hens love both!

 

While humans can use elder in a tincture, you’ll want to stick with dried or fresh berries and/or dried flowers. Particularly if you offer dried berries, add it to their feed – your hens will love to pick at their tiny dark treats!

 

In our herbal blend StrongHen (TM), you’ll find elderberries (along with most of the other herbs I mention in this list). It’s an easy and economical way to get all these herbs in one product.

 

Garlic

Not only is garlic perfect for adding flavor to your meals, but it’s also great for supporting the immune system of your backyard chickens!

 

Garlic has been traditionally used for generations to support healthy immune functions, and it’s no different for chickens! The allicin in garlic gives the herb it’s characteristic smell AND it’s where the power of the herb originates.

 

It’s easiest to offer garlic steeped in your flock’s water. You can use fresh or dried garlic – both are great!

 

You can find garlic for your flock here: Garlic

PCM StrongHen (TM)

My StrongHen herbal mix combines the powers of oregano, echinacea, garlic, elder, calendula, and other great herbs to keep your chicken’s immune system strong. This mix is perfect for fall and winter because it gives your chickens the immune boost they need to stay healthy!

You can find PCM StrongHen here: StrongHen

Have more questions about keeping your flock healthy in the winter? Check out these articles:
Why Are My Chicken’s Feathers Falling Out?

Why Are My Chicken’s Feathers Falling Out?

Why are my chicken’s feathers falling out?!?!? This is one of the biggest questions I get from concerned new chicken owners.

 

There are many reasons why your chicken’s feathers might be falling out. I’ll go through some of the main ones today and give you tips on what you should do.

 

The top reasons chickens lose feathers are:

  1. Molting
  2. Not enough protein
  3. Self-inflicted from stress
  4. Broodiness
  5. Picking by bullies
  6. Mites and lice
  7. Vent gleet
  8. Overmating by roosters

 

Molting

So, chickens molt. And it’s a very common reason why chickens lose feathers.

 

In case you don’t know, molting is when chickens lose feathers and then those feathers are replaced by new ones.

 

And luckily, it’s a natural and totally normal process. (Ducks molt, too!) that happens more or less once a year (normally in the fall), and it can be ugly. (Not always, but sometimes you’ll wonder what happened to your once beautiful hens!)

 

I love chickens, but they just aren’t that good looking when they’re going through a rough molt. It’s messy, ugly, and a little bit uncomfortable as the feathers grow back.

 

The molting process can be scary for first time chicken owners, but realize that your chickens losing their feathers in a molt is a normal process.

 

If you want, you can feed them a high protein treat (like BEE A Happy Hen, which we sell in the store) to help them stay healthy and regrow their feathers.

 


Freaked out over feather loss?

 

Not enough protein

Another reason your chickens could be losing their feathers is because they aren’t getting enough protein. This can happen if you’re feeding your chickens scratch or letting them forage for their food

 

Even if you allow your chickens to roam around the yard and they’re finding and eating bugs as they do so, you need to make sure that you are also providing them with access to feed that is nutritionally balanced and has the appropriate amount of protein.

 

If your chickens start losing their feathers without an explanation (such as molting), then evaluate their diet and feed that you are providing.

black soldier fly larvae backyard chicken treat

What to do:

Provide more protein!!! Start incorporating black soldier fly larvae (we sell them in the store right here – use coupon code FEATHERS to save 10%) or mealworms (use coupon code FEATHERS to save 10%) into your chickens diet – you can mix it with their feed or give it as a treat (we have lots of treats in the store with dried insects for just this reason!).

 

Plus chickens LOVE them  (like….really love them, LOL!) so they will eat it happily! If you want to raise them yourself, it’s easy to start a mealworm or black soldier fly larvae farm

 

Self-inflicted picking or picking by other chickens

One reason your chickens might lose their feathers is from picking, which is usually caused by environmental stress such as over crowding or bullying. Think of it as a reaction to anxiety.

 

Bullying among chickens CAN happen (personally, we’ve been lucky and not experienced this in our coop, but yours might have an alpha hen who picks on a more subservient hen).

 

Every coop has a social order and particularly if the flock as a whole is stressed or the “picked on” hen is new, chickens will sometimes peck the victim until she’s lost her feathers.

 

Or your chickens could also be stressed and so they begin picking feathers of other hens in the coop to deal with that stress.

 

What to do:

The simplest thing to do in this case is figure out why your chickens are stressed and try to remove the problem. If they’re over crowded (10 square feet per chicken in a coop is a good guideline), then give them more room.

 

If they’re bored, then provide environmental enrichment such as treats they have to “hunt” for, swings, branches for them to fly up to (this can also give them more room), places to hide, etc.

 

One popular idea is to put a treat such as cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, or cucumbers on a string and allow your flock to peck at it.

 

If your flock has a bully, then you can remove the bullied chicken from the coop and isolate her from the flock (give her a friend since 2 chickens together are likely to bond since they only have each other for company). You can then try to reintroduce everyone a few days later or continue to keep them separate.

 

If your chickens lose feathers still, then you should figure out if the problem is something else.

 

Broodiness

Chicken’s may also be picking their feathers due to broodiness. Some chickens get broody (i.e they really want their eggs to hatch) and so they’ll sit on their eggs for long periods of time and often pick their own feathers and lay them around their eggs for warmth.

 

If you want your hen to hatch the eggs, then let her do it, and understand she’ll stop picking her feathers after the chicks hatch.

 

If you don’t want her to hatch chicks, then break her broodiness. She should stop losing feathers because she’ll stop picking at herself.

 

Mites & Lice

Yuck. I hate lice and chicken mites, and they can definitely cause your chickens to lose feathers. Now, you might say “I don’t see any mites on my chickens” and assume the issue is something else.

 

I hear this a LOT from chicken owners trying to figure out feather loss. Even though you might not see mites on your chickens, they can still be the source of your trouble.

 

Mites are sneaky. They hide in corners of your coop and then come out at night and infest your flock. And eventually, they can cause more than feather loss – they can cause your chickens to lose the scales on their legs and eventually death as they rob your hens of nutrients.

Chicken losing feathers completely? Here's what to do!

What to do:

Even if you don’t think mites are why your chickens are losing feathers, you can still preemptively clean your coop and use herbs such as peppermint and cinnamon and diatomaceous earth to keep mites and lice away.

 

If you don’t know, diatomaceous earth is a powder that your chickens can bathe in. It has been shown in scientific studies to reduce the number of mites and lice in chickens because it’s sharp edges cut the exoskeletons of insects, causing them to die.

 

However, I highly recommend that you only use DE in well ventilated areas, and keep your flock out of the coop while you’re spreading it about (a little goes a long way)! Chickens have a very delicate respiratory system, so you want to be careful that they don’t inhale it on a regular basis.

 

If you don’t want to bother with DE, you can just use herbs. Mint repels insects, so hanging peppermint around the coop or nesting box is a great way to get rid of or prevent a mite infestation.

 

Another option is to provide garlic for your flock (we sell shelf-stable garlic granules in the store, which I’ve found hens prefer over fresh garlic). Because of the spicy nature of garlic, it repels external parasites (and it’ll help your flock’s immune system as well!)

 

Vent gleet

Another reason your chickens could be losing their feathers is vent gleet, which is a fungal infection in the vent (where your chicken expels waste and eggs) and it can cause some pretty nasty whitish/yellowish discharge along with a loss of feathers.

 

Think of it like a yeast infection. It’s gross and it’s definitely not good for your chicken!

 

What to do:

If you think your chicken has vent gleet, then the best thing to do is take her to the vet, who can give you medications or make recommendations for all natural solutions.

 

One way you can help prevent vent gleet is to ensure your chickens have good gut health! You can do this by adding some apple cider vinegar (about a tablespoon per gallon) to your chicken’s water. We sell apple cider vinegar granules in the store – they’re shelf stable and easy to add to water or feed.

 

 

Rowdy roosters 

So roosters like to mate. A LOT. It’s normal and part of a flock’s social dynamics. If you notice your hens are losing feathers on their back (and only their back) and you have a rooster, you can be pretty sure the issue is overmating.

 

This isn’t to be taken lightly – I’ve seen cases where roosters were overmating hens to the point where the hens lost not just their feathers, but the skin on their chests – which, of course, is a much bigger issue than losing feathers. 

 

In summer, this can end in a bad case of fly strike, and you might have to put your hen down if it’s bad enough.

 

Fly strike is notoriously difficult to get rid of, and treatment – which consists of picking maggots off your hen’s body and removing dead tissue – is painful and difficult, and a lot of animals simply die of shock).

 

Roosters stand on top of hens backs while they are mating and they can cut your hens or cause them to lose feathers.

 

If this happens you might need to separate the roosters from your hens to keep your girls safe. If the issue is only feather loss (and not skin loss), you can also use a chicken saddle, which will cover the bald area.

 

If you have multiple roosters and see them excessively bickering over the hens, then it’s time to either give each rooster his own flock of hens, or re-home one of the roosters.

 

If you have multiple roosters and notice one rooster is losing feathers on his back, then it’s time to separate him from his “prison buddy” if you get my drift. (Yes, this is a real thing that can happen because it’s about social dominance and their pecking order).

 

 

5 Backyard Chicken Friendly High Protein Treats For Fall

5 Backyard Chicken Friendly High Protein Treats For Fall

As the days get shorter, and your backyard chickens begin to molt, you might want to supplement their diet with high protein treats.

 

And luckily, there’s lots of options!

 

Molting is a normal process in the fall – it’s when chickens start losing their feathers to regrow new ones.

 

By the time it’s super chilly, most chickens will have grown a new set of feathers, and they’ll be ready for winter (some DO take a bit longer though!)

 

To get them into great shape, decrease boredom, and give them extra calories as the cold sets in, you can supplement their diet with extra high-protein treats.

 

And you might even have some on hand!

 

Here’s 5 high protein treats backyard chickens (and ducks!) LOVE – and they’re great for fall!

 

Eggs

Yep, you can feed chickens eggs. No, it’s not weird and it’s not cannibalism.

 

In nature, they go for them (it IS protein, after all). When they’re bored, they go for them.

 

And unless there’s a chicken IN the eggs (which there isn’t without incubation), it’s definitely not a case of chickens eating their brethren.

 

Eggs are also a GREAT source of protein (and the shells are a perfect source of calcium for your chickens).

 

You can scramble the eggs, cook them over easy, or hard boil them. It doesn’t matter – your flock will be clucking happy to eat them!

 

When cooked, eggs are less likely to turn your backyard chickens into egg eaters.

 

You can also mix them with any of the other treats on this list.

Black Soldier Fly Larvae

If eggs aren’t your flock’s thing, then you can try black soldier fly larvae.

 

You can buy them dried right here or you can create your own farm – they’re remarkably easy to farm, and they’ll live in anything.

 

(Recently, we discovered a BSFL farm in my truck bed, where some grain had spilled. Totally disgusting and proof they’ll hatch anywhere.

 

We had NO idea they established residence until some torrential downpours caused them to jump ship. Let’s just say the hens were VERY happy for a few days).

 

If farming black soldier fly larvae isn’t your deal, then you can always go with dried ones – hens love them either way!

 

Black soldier fly larvae are about 40% protein.

 

Brewer’s Yeast

It’s not something you typically associate with protein, but brewer’s and nutritional yeast is FULL of protein – they’re both about 40% protein.

 

You can mix brewer’s yeast with your flock’s regular feed, or with a special treat you’ve created for them (such as the eggs or black soldier fly larvae above).

 

It’s probably best to mix it with something else. It’s full of protein but also powdery – so adding it to food with texture will help your chickens enjoy their treat more.

 

You can buy it in our store here, and it’s mixed with garlic, oregano, and echinacea – all herbs traditionally used to support healthy immune systems in chickens.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are also full of protein – and hens LOOOOOVVVEEE them!

 

You might have heard that pumpkin seeds can help prevent and expel worms. While the jury is still out on that, the bottom line is that chickens love snacking on them.

 

And pumpkin itself is full of vitamins and minerals to help your backyard chickens stay healthy!

 

So, the seeds definitely can’t hurt, and they just might help! Just be sure to offer smaller seeds to they’re easy for your chickens to swallow and digest.

 

You can mix pumpkin seeds with herbs – consider chili and paprika.

 

Chili has been shown in studies to help expel worms (the parasites object to the spiciness) and paprika can help with turning yolks that gorgeous golden color we’re all looking for!

 

Sunflower Seeds with Herbs & Dried Berries

Sunflower seeds are another high protein treat for fall.

 

Any type of sunflower seed will work, but black oil sunflower seeds seem to get backyard chickens clucking more than other ones.

 

Like pumpkin seeds, you can mix them with herbs like garlic, or even the brewer’s yeast we mentioned above.

 

A third option is to mix them with gelatin and mold the entire mixture into shapes.

 

You can then hang the treat in their coop and watch them go nuts!

 

If your flock isn’t sure what to do with the sunflower seeds, consider mixing them with red berries, such as strawberries.

 

The red color will attract your backyard chickens, and they’ll naturally peck to see what it’s all about! From there, they’ll start to understand the seeds are a treat!