Hens will stop laying if they are about to or are going through a moult (losing last year’s feathers in readiness for this year’s). It takes a lot of energy, protein and calcium to produce these new feathers so it is important to take special care of them in this time, try adding a nutrient supplement to help with overall heath.
This can be a sign of a calcium deficiency or an outward sign of stress or worm burden, it can also just be a ‘glitch’ and rectify itself in a very short time. Try giving free access to oyster shell grit and lots of daylight to help.
Did you know that chickens don’t have teeth, giving rise to the phrase ‘as rare as hens’ teeth’? They use grit to grind down the feed in their crop. This can sometimes get impacted or ‘sour’ so to prevent this make sure there is free access to an insoluble grit – mixed grit is ideal because it also contains soluble oyster shell to help with egg shell production.
This is a common problem and can range from the odd peck from a higher ranking chicken to keep the others in check, to a full-on stripping of feathers. Not to be confused with the loss of feathers when in moult or through a cockerel’s amorous attentions, a feather pecked chicken will typically lose the tail feathers and be quite sore. Make sure there is plenty of space and other enrichment for the chicken to occupy themselves with. If this continues after the addition of entertainment then consider using an anti-feather pecking spray to deter them.
This is caused by a small mite that burrows under the scales on the legs, causing them to raise and become dry, crusty and uncomfortable. These can take a while to get rid of but there are products available to spray on the legs to kill the mites, deter further infestation and provide some relief.
The red mite is a miniscule blood sucking ectoparasite that lives in the cracks, crevices and joints of the coop. They are hard to spot and mostly active at night-time when they come out to feed on the hens. Prevention is key! There are various products that can prevent and treat an infestation. They cannot live on humans and are not known to transmit disease.
Like most other pets and livestock, chickens can pick up parasitic worms from their environment – and we don’t mean the friendly earthworms in your flower beds! It is important to consider treating your chickens with a wormer; one of our specially trained animal health advisors in store will be able to advise on the appropriate course of action and prescribe any necessary products.