United Poultry Concerns
Tips about caring properly for chickens
and other domestic fowl.

Photo by: Dr. Erin Simmons karen_and_troubador (53K)
UPC President Karen Davis and Troubadour the Rooster
at the Eastern Shore Animal Hospital in Painter, Virginia.

Providing a Good Home for Chickens includes information about food, water, housing, space, temperatures, interests, needs, and activities. Click on www.upc-online.org/home.html

In addition:

1) VETERINARY CARE: People who keep chickens should provide them with the same level of responsible care as a companion cat or dog. Every effort should be made to locate and retain a good veterinarian. An increasing number of vets do birds as well as cats and dogs.

2) ANTIBIOTICS: People with chickens should keep a supply of antibiotics in case of upper respiratory or other bacterial infection symptoms. We recommend two prescription antibiotics:

a) BAYTRIL. Give one 22.7 mg (milligram) tablet per five pounds of bodyweight twice a day, morning and evening, for 10 to 14 days. DO NOT STOP GIVING AN ANTIBIOTIC AFTER A FEW DAYS WHEN SYMPTOMS SEEM TO DISAPPEAR. THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO IS TO STOP THE ANTIBIOTOC TREATMENT BEFORE 7 - 10 DAYS: THE INFECTION WILL MOST LIKELY COME BACK STRONGER THAN EVER AND MAY THEN BE UNTREATABLE. (In our experience 10 – 14 days is best.)

b) METRONIDAZOLE. Each tablet 250 mg. Give smaller birds tablet by mouth once daily for 5 days for respiratory infections. Give tablet once daily for other infections. If the bird is 8 pounds or heavier, try one whole tablet once a day for 5 days.

3) LIQUID WORMING MEDICINE: IVERMECTIN (Ivermec). Give 0.1 ml (0.1 cc) per ten pounds of body weight. Or give 1 DILUTED ml (1 cc) per ten pounds of body weight. The diluted dosage must be prepared by a veterinarian. It is easier to measure accurately in the syringe than the tiny marks for 0.1 ml (0.1 cc) pure dosage. But do not confuse these dosages! Ivermectin takes care of all kinds of worms: round worms in the intestines (they look like very thin spaghetti in the droppings) and gapeworms. Gapeworms lodge in the trachea and sound like a respiratory infection (audible phlegm). Without treatment for gapeworms, birds can suffocate to death.

Birds should be wormed twice a year: Spring and Fall. In addition, UPC gives individual chickens Ivermectin if the chicken comes down with a cold, gets thin along the breast bone, etc. You need a syringe and you need to hold the chicken in your lap, perhaps covered with a bath towel, facing the same direction you are facing. Open the mouth and put the syringe far enough down, above the tongue, that the bird won’t choke or cough the medicine back up. Stretch the bird’s neck a little to make sure the medicine goes down. If symptoms persist, repeat the procedure ten days later, and probably make a veterinary appointment. (Hold a chicken as described here to give tablets as well as oral medicine.)

4) DUSTING POWDER FOR EXTERNAL PARASITES: lice and mites including leg mites: legs have a white, dry, flaky appearance. We use GARDEN & POULTRY DUST, an insecticidal dust. Purchase at your local pet store or feed store or order directly from Loveland Industries, PO Box 1289, Greeley, CO 80632. Phone: (970) 356-8929. Be sure to dust the birds underneath their wings and on the inside of their thighs, as well as the vent area and other parts of the body; EXCEPT THE FACE AND EYES. Fluff the powder gently into the bird’s feathers. In the case of dry scaly legs, antibiotic ointment, or even Vaseline, is soothing and can kill the leg mites.

5) FOOD AND WATER: Birds should have fresh clean accessible water at all times, and fresh food. Food and water bowls should be cleaned (not just refilled) every day and refilled. Birds NEED GREENS: greenleaf lettuce is especially favored! Any dark green leafy. Chickens like (and need) greens, tomatoes, grains and seeds. They also like treats like cooked spaghetti. They also like to peck at whole green cabbages. They also love ripe melons and bananas and grapes.

6) BUY A CHICKEN HANDBOOK: A few books are listed at www.upc-online.org/home.html

7) STRAW or other bedding should always be fresh, clean and fluffy. Droppings should be scooped up with a spackling knife every day and thrown outside the yard into a designated compost area.

8) KEEP BIRDS SAFE: Birds should always be counted and locked up safe from predators at night. They should be fenced in the yard during the day.

9) PLEASE NOTE: The advice about medicines (antibiotics and worming medicine) is the advice of a layperson. UPC President Karen Davis is NOT a veterinarian. This information refers to our practice at UPC’s sanctuary, based on 15 years of caring for rescued chickens and consulting our regular veterinarian. Remember that your birds need TLC translated into responsible care and attention including, when necessary, veterinary treatment including, when a chicken is in clear distress and unlikely to recover, euthanasia (a humanitarian, merciful death).


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