Poultry - Nutition, Health & Wellbeing

What is sour crop?

Sour crop is a fungal overgrowth in the crop caused by a disruption to the normal flora. Affected chickens are often dull and can have fluid filled, enlarged crops. A number of factors can contribute to sour crop, but ensuring your chickens have an appropriate diet can reduce the risk. Keep treats to a minimum and do not feed your chickens human foods high in refined sugar or starch. Sour crop should be differentiated from an impacted crop. If you suspect your chicken has sour crop please seek advice as this should be managed by your vet.

How do I know if my chickens have sour crop?

Typical symptoms of sour crop are bad or sour smelling breath, with general lethargy, lack of appetite and an enlarged crop (may feel gassy or fluid filled). It may be possible to observe lesions in the mouth and oesophagus, but these are typically more prevalent in the crop and so are not normally visible to owners. Young chicks and growers are more susceptible, but it can also affect mature hens. If you suspect your chicken has sour crop please seek advice as this should be managed by your vet.

How do I prevent sour crop?

Preventative measures for Sour Crop include good housekeeping and hygiene practices, ensuring feed is not mouldy or spoilt, avoiding high starch or carbohydrate rich content human foods and keeping drinkers and feeders clean and free from stale feed. 

Why is my chicken loosing feathers?

It is perfectly natural for your chicken to lose feathers; this is usually down to moulting. A chicken’s first moult is shortly after they hatch and they will have two, sometimes three moults before they achieve their adult plumage. Thereafter, they will moult once a year, usually in early autumn although this can be dependent on the amount of daylight available. An early moult, or perhaps an interim small moult, can be triggered by a sudden change in the daylight hours or temperature, even in the summer.  Typically, as the daylight hours shorten a chicken’s metabolic body clock changes – they eat less and they start to moult.

Some chickens will experience a gradual moult, replacing feathers progressively, working down the body from head to tail, whereas others (the best layers can often be the heavier moulters) can experience a ‘total feather-drop’ and be virtually naked, which can look alarming.

During a moult they are likely to look withdrawn, paler in the face, comb and wattles and will very likely stop laying eggs as feather regrowth will take up all of the available nutrients, so it is essential to support them through this difficult period with extra care and high-quality nutrition and supplementation.

Nettex Vit Boost Tonic is packed full of Vitamins and Biotin to support feather regrowth.

What can I give my chicken to help grow new feathers?

During moult, chickens can become anaemic and the moult itself can put a strain on the immune system which can cause them to look tired and even stop laying. Nutritional supplementation of Biotin and other essential vitamins is key during moult to support them through their change into their new winter wardrobe! Nettex Vit Boost Tonic is packed full of Vitamins and Biotin to support feather regrowth. Protein is also essential to growing healthy new feathers, The Chicken Whisperer suggests that you may wish to switch the flock onto growers pellets during this time which tend to be higher in protein.  Top tip: remember to handle your chickens less frequently during moult to allow their new feathers to grow without disruption and to minimise stress.

What is normal and abnormal for chickens droppings?

Chickens  produce 2 types of droppings, one type is from the intestine, and the other is from the caeca.  The former is usually brown/grey in colour with a white cap. The latter is usually pale brown and pasty. Droppings should be well formed, and your chickens vent should be clean.  Abnormal droppings can be very wet, or blood tinged, in these cases you should seek further advice from your vet.

My chicken is struggling to breathe, what might this be?

We recommend getting advice for any breathing issues as chickens will often show no signs of illness until they are very sick. There are a number of different pathogens that can cause a chicken to breathe abnormally including viruses, bacterial infections and parasites. If you notice this in one of your chickens it would be worthwhile to isolate her in a quiet and relaxing place before seeing the vet, in case it is a contagious condition.

Should I clip my chicken’s wings?

Chickens can’t really fly but they can climb and flap which might be enough to get them over your fence!  Should you have a chicken which tries to fly and escape it might be worthwhile clipping its wings.

How do I clip my chicken’s wings?

Clipping your chicken’s wings is easy and does not hurt them.  You only clip the wings on one side to make them uneven when they try to fly which means they cannot take off.  Clare Taylor (The Chicken Whisperer) recommends that you clip the wings on the left hand side of the chicken as that is the side that has the one functioning ovary which makes them a little heavier on that side. Hold your chicken firmly or ask someone to hold the chicken for you and stretch out the left wing so all the feathers spread out.  Using sharp scissors take 2.5-3″ off the primary flight feathers – these are the first 10/12 feathers on the wing.  The wings will need re-clipping each time your chicken moults.

How do I help my chickens avoid heat stress?

Chickens are very susceptible to overheating.   At 105 degrees, their body temperature is much higher than ours; they are unable to sweat and so have to cool themselves down by drinking, panting, fanning out their feathers and seeking shade.   In hot weather, ensure your chickens have access to shade and provide plenty of fresh, cool water.  You can also pop a frozen bottle of water into their drinker to keep the water cool.  Throughout the summer, it is essential to support your flock with appropriate nutrition and supplementation to maintain optimum health, support the immune system and help prevent stress.  Add Nettex Vit Boost Tonic to your chicken’s water, this contains essential vitamins and minerals to support health and vitality, plus biotin which helps support feather quality and growth.