Frequently Asked Questions
1. Egg binding
Egg binding is when an egg gets stuck in the oviduct and will not pass through into the cloaca to be laid. It is more common in young laying hens just starting their initial laying cycle. Heavy fat hens are also more prone to the condition. It can be caused by nutritional issues or disease issues. Medical or surgical intervention is often needed. Other problems can be present in hens thought to have a bound egg. Oviduct impaction, internal lay, yolk peritonitis and ascites secondary to liver disease or cancer can all give a hen the appearance of egg binding.
2. Marek's Disease
Marek's Disease (MD) is caused by a very contagious herpes virus of poultry, Marek's Disease Virus (MDV). It does not affect people or other animals. The MDV is considered to be ubiquitous in areas where poultry are raised. There are different types of this virus, some being very mild and others quite pathogenic that cause a lot of disease. Most often, in small backyard flocks, we are only dealing with the more mild strains. The most common sign of MD is paralysis of one or more limbs. The virus causes certain white blood cells to infiltrate nerves, as well as other organs and tissues, leading to the paralysis, crop stasis and other visual signs. Affected birds are usually over 4 months old and this is often seen about the same time young pullets start laying. There is no known cure. To help protect your birds, you should purchase chicks that have been vaccinated for MD at the hatchery. If you raise your own chicks, you need to vaccinate them on the day they hatch! There are other diseases that can look similar to MD. The inability to walk is often caused by bacterial infections and some other viruses, as well as trauma.
3. Respiratory Disease
Birds have breathing systems that are uniquely different from other animals. The have lungs like we do but they also have air sacs throughout their bodies. The air they breath in goes through the lungs, into the air sacs, through the lungs again and then back out. Because of this more extensive system, if a bird should acquire an infection of the airways, it can spread quite easily through the rest of the body. Infections in other parts of the body can also more readily affect the lungs and breathing system. There are several things that can affect a birds respiratory system. These include viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, air quality, temperature and physical blockages or trauma. Most people think that if they see their bird gasping, it must have Gapeworms. This could be but there are many other things that could be causing the issue as well!
Should I use medicated feed for my chicks? The most common medication in chick feed is Amprolium, a coccidiosis treatment. If you have a problem with coccidiosis, usually evident by blood in the feces, then go ahead and use medicated feed. Adult chickens rarely have a problem with coccidiosis unless they have never been exposed to it.
You should NEVER use a medicated feed or other medication in hens laying eggs for human consumption!!! If you have chicks that are being medicated, stop the medication when they are about 16 weeks of age or younger. Otherwise, you will end up with medication residues in the eggs. These residues can be harmful to the human consumer, potentially causing allergic or other reactions, as well as antimicrobial resistant infections.
If you are seeing roundworms in the fecal droppings of your birds, you can treat with Safe-guard AquaSol at the dose on the label in chickens, including hens laying eggs for human consumption. It is the only de-wormer labeled for such use.