Healthy chickens will act differently than unhealthy ones. You should be noticing these 4 things if your flock is healthy.
They Are Communicating
Chickens talk to each other during the day and some chickens talk a lot! When you spend time with your chickens you will start to recognize certain sounds that are made repeatedly. Sometimes you may hear a certain sound coming from your chickens and you just know it is an alarm of some sort. It differs greatly from the regular clucking and squawking that they make. Another alarming sound is any respiratory sound. Coughing, heavy breathing sounds and raspy sounds are signs of serious illness and should be evaluated quickly. It would be good to familiarize yourself with avian influenza symptoms. Always isolate the bird with sick symptoms and reduce the chances of any contagious disease spreading.
There are two basic types of droppings that are excreted daily. One type is often seen first thing in the morning. It is firmer and capped with white urine salts. Less frequently, the chicken will expel a runnier brown or green, cecal dropping. While both droppings will have a slight odor, you should note if the odor is extremely bad or if the appearance is really out of the normal range for your flock.
Chickens who are unwell do not eat much. Sometimes they stop eating completely. If a chicken does not come for food, stays off to itself, and is not pecking at the ground for insects or morsels, something could be wrong. What follows next is weight loss, another sign of illness. Young chickens are continually growing and maturing. A young chicken who does not eat enough will not gain weight like the others in the flock. The young birds continue to fill out in size for the first 6 months. Even after egg laying begins, some growth and weight gain can still be occurring. Older hens and roosters should be able to maintain their weight. The older hen that begins to look scrawny and small, may be suffering from an undetected illness.
Young Hens are Laying Eggs
Many factors can influence egg laying, including age, molting, weather, stressful environment, and placement of nesting boxes. If you reliably get an egg a day from a good laying hen, and then she stops laying, you may wonder why she stopped laying? The quality of the eggshell can also be a sign of problems. Thin, weak shells can be caused by inadequate nutrition or inadequate mineral absorption.
Sick Chicken Symptoms
Is the bird active or listless? Is the bird grooming or is it unkempt with ruffled feathers? Is the bird interested in eating? Is the bird coughing or expelling fluid? Is the bird able to stand on its own? Is the hen still laying eggs? Is the bird excreting normal or abnormal droppings? As is the case with all types of animals, prevention and a healthy life will go a long way to preventing serious illness. Feeding an appropriate healthy diet will help them ward off many minor illnesses.