Top 6 Ways to Prevent Disease in Chicken Coop
If you are a New Zealand Backyard Chicken Keeper, then you understand the importance of keeping your hens healthy. Healthy chooks consistently lay better quality eggs. A hen in good health also naturally lives longer, and they tend to cope better with environmental stress. They have a more natural resistance to common parasites and even disease. Good coop management is fundamental to the wellbeing of your backyard chickens. Here are our Top 6 Ways to Prevent Disease in Chicken Coop.
1. Keep the Chicken Coop Clean
So many of you may read this and think this is so obvious. But one of the biggest reasons disease spreads throughout a Chicken Pen or Coop is the lack of cleanliness. It is because of this very reason we list it as number one in our Top 6 Ways to Prevent Disease in Chicken Coop. Poultry parasites and diseases spread through faeces. Mites as well as lice lay eggs around the chicken coop and also in the bedding. Therefore the cleaner the pen is, the better.
With ingredients you would generally have in the home, you can make a natural cleaning solution safe for your chicken. Apple cider vinegar cleans with no harmful VOC's or toxic chemicals. It can be used safely around chickens, laying hens and poultry. It is also ideal for people who suffer an allergy from chemical cleaners. Plus it leaves a pleasant, fresh fragrance.
Simple, Easy Chicken Coop Cleaning Solution:
Add 35ml of either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar with 450ml of Water in a spray bottle. Then merely spray on surfaces and wipe off with a damp rag or micro fibre cloth.
Stronger Coop Cleaning Solution:
In a 2lt sprayer combine 60ml of baking soda with water. Add 150ml of white or apple cider vinegar. Mix and then top with water.
For areas on the floor where droppings have become a little stubborn. Just allow time to soften by wetting first. Then using a paste of baking soda and water, scrub with a nylon or hard bristle scrubbing brush and this clean up quickly.
How to Keep a Chicken Coop Clean:
- Consider Chicken roosts, so hens are not sleeping on their faeces.
- Frequently remove droppings
- Clean the chicken pen and wash as outlined above or disinfect regularly. If you have a choice, select a coop of an easily cleaned material like metal or plastic. Wood can absorb urine and faeces bacteria.
- Replace nesting material fortnightly. Inspect weekly however and check if it is soiled. If so, replace it.
- Treat the pen and nesting area for mites and other parasites. Your local Pet Store will be able to assist you with ways to treat mite infestations.
- Locate the pen in a sunny, well-drained position. Rotate pasture wherever possible.
- Avoid wasted feed and scraps on the ground at sunset and in the evening. Not only does it rot, potentially causing illness, but it is also the primary attractant for rats and mice which carry disease.
2. Avoid environmental stresses
Illness in chickens is often brought on by stress. It is also the effect of parasite and disease. Poor environmental conditions often increase illness. Something as simple as avoiding environmental stresses can make a massive difference to a chicken’s resistance to illness.
To avoid environmental stresses:
- Never overcrowd your pen.
- Protect Chickens from extreme weather.
- Ensure chickens have access to good water supply using a Dine A Chook Chicken Drinker.
- Ensure that birds have a warm place to roost. It should be protected from wind and rain, and provide somewhere cool to rest in hot weather.
- Take particular care of your chickens when they are suffering from stresses such as moulting, breeding, transport as well as changes in diet.
- Use supplements to counteract the effect of stress:
- Electrolyte solution available at your Pet Store may help chickens during high temperatures and heat waves;
- 2 Pak Probiotics for pigeons, chickens and birds may prevent the impact of stressful situations like transportation;
- Seed Oils and Liquid Vitamins provide much-needed extra calories and nutrients during breeding and moulting.
3. Keep your chickens healthy
Healthy chickens are far more resistant to diseases and parasites. To help Optimise the health of your birds:
- Provide a clean dust bath. A dust bath will help prevent external parasites like mites and lice. You can obtain Chicken Dusting Powder from your local supplier.
- Ensure a balanced diet – Read our extensive article on What is the Best Diet for Chickens?
- Chicken health and immunity is boosted through the use of probiotics and supplements. In addition to a high-quality shell grit, at Dine a Chook we give our birds regular access to 2 Pak Probiotics, and we use VetRx Poultry Remedy as a booster against colds and respiratory infections.
- Do not place feed on the ground where it could become contaminated by faeces. Even treats should be given in a clean, dry dish.
4. Implement a health management program
A health management program may sound complicated, but preventing illness in the first place is far more effective, and simpler, than treating it after the fact.
- Inoculate chicks against coccidiosis.
Many chicks bought commercially will be vaccinated for this common disease. If you are buying your chicken from a reputable supplier, ask them to verify whether your chicken has been vaccinated. You can treat an infected hen with Coccidiosis using medicated feeds from your supplier. It should be noted, medicated feed should not be fed to laying hens.
- Treat chickens and Poultry for worms twice yearly, preferably in spring and autumn.
Treat chickens for mites and lice at least twice a year, in addition to treating the pen with an insecticide (see above).
Use Rotenone dust on chickens as an external treatment. Also, Internal parasite controls are available, speak to your local Poultry feed Supplier or Pet Store.
5. Avoid introducing disease and parasites into your chicken coop
There are various sources of diseases and parasites that infect chickens:
- Rodents carry parasites and disease. These spread through faeces. Always ensure that food sources are not easy for rats and mice to access. A Dine A Chook Chicken feeder is designed to aid in deterring Rats and Mice. Dispose of any feed contaminated by droppings. The Dine A Chook Feeder is designed to stop feed ending up on the ground from Chickens raking it. Spilled feed is what attracts typically rats and mice to the chicken coop, and once they are there, they are a serious problem as well as a health risk to your flock.
- Wild birds are generally infected with worms and also carry many diseases that can be passed on to domestic fowl. Where possible, limit the access of wild birds to your chicken coop. Use a Quality Bird Netting to help keep pest birds out. It is particularly important to ensure that these unwanted visitors cannot access your feeder and waterer. If the pest birds harbour disease and they can access your flock's food and water supply, this can spread infection throughout the entire flock.
- Chickens naturally eat insects, slugs, snails, earthworms and other insects. These are also potential carriers for worm eggs. When they hatch they infect your chickens. Never feed your chickens these pests and limit access if possible.
- New birds commonly introduced disease to the chicken coop. Even birds from a certified breeder may carry a bacteria or harbour disease which may decimate your flock.
It is good practice to isolate new birds for a period of up to two weeks, watching them carefully for signs of illness, before introducing them to your flock.
6. Remove Sick Birds
Illness spreads rapidly amongst chickens. It is essential to monitor your birds carefully and remove any bird showing signs of disease as quickly as possible. This helps to prevent the infection of others. Removing sick chickens also gives them a better chance of recovery, and stops other birds from picking on them.
Once the bird has been isolated, ensure it is well-hydrated and warm. If it is not eating or drinking, use a spoon or dropper to give it water fortified with an electrolyte solution such as AviLYTE until it is recovered enough to drink on its own.
If you are treating a bird for a communicable illness, it is usually advisable to treat the whole flock. Ultimately, even if only one bird is showing signs of illness, chances are that the whole flock has been infected and it is only a matter of time until they too fall ill. This is particularly the case with internal parasites such as worms.
So those are our Top 6 Ways Preventing Disease in Chicken Coop. If you have any further questions or would like to more about the treatments or products mentioned in the article, please contact our support team.
For other great tips on raising healthy, happy backyard chickens visit our Learning Blog.