This website is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission.

How Can Chickens Get Sick?

Last Updated: 22.04.24


Chickens can get sick just like humans do, bacteria and viruses being the most common pathogenic agents affecting their health, even if you install a chicken fence and think them well protected. If you’re interested in information on how chickens get sick and what you can do to protect them, you can check it out here.


Chickens can get sick from other birds

Since they share many characteristics with other birds, including wild ones and waterfowl, if they come in contact with infected individuals, your chickens can get sick. If your chickens are free-range, while that can have a positive impact on their wellbeing, it can also be a factor that plays a role in them getting sick.

So, if you allow your chickens to roam, they might get sick by getting in contact with droppings from other infected birds. They can also have troubles with internal parasites, or mites and lice if they happen to pass through areas contaminated by other birds.

To keep your chickens away from such problems, ideally, you should get a chicken coop with a top. That way, you can keep a clean environment for your birds. Another solution is to use a mobile chicken coop when you want to take your chickens to feed on pastures.

New birds might bring diseases

In case you notice that your chickens get sick after you brought new birds to the coop, that might mean that the newcomers came with those diseases. To prevent such a thing from happening, quarantine is required. Preferably, you should keep any new birds quarantined from the rest for an entire month.

That is enough time to see if they suffer from something they might pass to the rest of your flock. Other measures should be taken, as well. For instance, you need to make sure that you use different equipment when handling and feeding the chickens from the two separate groups.

Also, remember to wash your hands after working with your chickens. Even more, to avoid passing parasites from one area to another, change your clothes and footwear.


Used equipment

Sometimes, the culprits for a sickness spreading throughout your flock are not other birds, but something you might bring home without even knowing. For instance, if you use equipment you borrow from someone else, you might introduce a new disease into the coop.

Also, your clothes and footwear, if they get in contact with droppings from other birds and invisible bacteria and viruses, can bring some diseases with them. Even more, the tires of your car might carry diseases from other places.

Some cautions must be taken to prevent such a thing from happening. Should you visit another farm or even a neighbor who has chickens, you must change your clothes and footwear, and wash your car – including the tires – before you get in contact with your chickens again.


Chickens can have hereditary health problems

Your poultry can be vulnerable even before being born. Some bacteria and viruses can affect unhatched eggs, and make the fetuses ill. In case you have poultry with unknown genetic issues, the hens and roosters affected might easily transmit their problems to their chicks.

Don’t forget that some problems might appear if the eggs are kept in poor conditions. Temperature and humidity must be ideal for making sure that bacteria don’t reach the unhatched eggs and make the chicks ill.

What are other factors that can make chickens ill?

Besides the factors enumerated earlier, others can affect your chickens’ wellbeing. Some viruses are airborne, so, if the air is contaminated, your chickens can fall ill. The soil is another source of possible diseases, as many bacteria and parasites live inside it.

In case your chickens eat bugs that carry parasites or are bitten by mosquitoes and flies, they can, again, get diseases. Poisonous plants and sudden drops or rises in temperature can affect their health, as well.

You can prevent all these by ensuring a healthy environment for your chicken, as little in contact with pathogenic agents as possible. That’s why creating an enclosure for your poultry is the main recommendation you will hear from experts.


Common signs of illness

If one or more of your chickens fall ill, it is recommended to notice the symptoms as fast as possible so that you can quarantine the diseased individuals to avoid spreading. Recognizing such signs is a challenge since chickens don’t show sickness easily, and sometimes it can be too late. But some extra attention might make you able to tell when they fall ill.

For instance, chickens that don’t eat or drink water are most likely ill. Another sign is weight loss, and also lethargy can signal that some members of your flock suffer from something. Search for symptoms such as dull eyes, tendency to stay hidden, feather loss, abnormal droppings, and walking with difficulty.

Of course, these are just some of the many symptoms ill chickens can have. The rule of thumb is to pay attention to any abnormal behavior, as that can be a telling sign of a disease.

Chickens might get respiratory diseases

You might have heard of avian flu, and the truth is that related respiratory conditions are no strangers to poultry. So, any signs like those of a cold in a human will tell you that your chickens might be down with the flu or something related.

A runny nose, coughing, and sneezing are a few symptoms that should trigger the alarm. Breathing problems are other such signs. As soon as you notice them, you should take your chickens to the vet. He or she will be able to give the correct diagnostic and offer treatment solutions.


What you can do to treat your chickens when ill

The conditions for taking your chickens to the vet might not be met sometimes. Some measures can be taken on the spot. You should separate those that are ill from the healthy population, and keep them somewhere warm and dry.

Add a bit of garlic to food and a little vinegar to water so that your chickens can receive some mild treatment. In case the chickens don’t eat, use treats to get them to nourish a little.




Leave a comment

0 Comments Protection Status