Tag Archives: Animal

Essential kit for the chicken keeper

Boy feeding chickens

Having the right kit on hand means you won’t be caught out when one of your birds is off colour.

If you are new to keeping chickens, picking up any poultry magazine or visiting stockists of poultry equipment and feeds can prove a little daunting given the amount of kit on sale. You will want to do right by your birds and ensure the husbandry of the flock is spot on, but are what essentials should you invest in?

Every poultry keeper should have at hand a field kit: the sort of stuff you will need one or more items from at least once a week. I find it useful to put them all in a bag or box so they are to hand. (It’s also ideal if you are away from home and have someone else caring for the birds.)

Torch – it’s often easier to handle and treat chickens after they have gone to roost; they tend to be much calmer then and can be easily handled. It does mean you will be working in the dark, so you’ll need a torch. Investing in a good-quality head torch, particularly one that has adjustable beam strength, will mean you have both hands free to deal with the chickens.

Scissors – a strong, sharp pair of scissors for cutting string, bandages, plasters and most of all, flight feathers, if there is a flighty one who keeps jumping out the pen.

Toenail clippers and nail file – most chickens will keep their toenails worn down by scratching around, but birds kept indoors or on soft ground may require a bit of a pedicure. Plus you may need to attend to the spurs of some cockerels.

Leg rings – having a range of leg rings in different colours and sizes means you can quickly and easily mark an individual bird. This can be particularly useful if administering treatments to the flock and will help identify those who have been treated from those yet to be dealt with.

Pliers or wire cutters – these are not only useful for emergency fence repairs but are also ideal for quickly removing plastic leg rings.

Feeding syringes – a collection of different-sized feeding syringes are essential for administering fluids such as medicines down the chickens’ throat.

Latex disposable gloves – these are not a frequent requirement. but when it comes to vent-related problems such as a prolapse or vent gleetthey can make the task much easier for the keeper (and probably more comfortable for the chicken too).

Vet’s antiseptic spray – ideal for treating minor wounds to birds but can also double up as anti-feathering pecking spray in minor cases of plumage pulling.

Petroleum jelly – not only does this serve well as a lubricant for sticky catches and locks it can also be applied to the combs of birds during extremely cold weather to reduce the risk of frost bite and applied to dry patches of skin on the face or legs. It’s also handy when treating for scaly leg mite on the chickens should they become infested.

Cotton buds – for delicate tasks such as cleaning around the eye or nasal passages of the birds.

Purple spray – works in much the same way as the vet’s antiseptic spray, however it has the advantage of being visible. This means it can also be used to quickly and temporarily mark birds, either post-treatment or for further selection. Don’t use on chickens you intend to exhibit, though, as it can be difficult to remove fully.

Pet carrier or dog crate – you can never have too many pet carriers for transporting or quarantining chickens. Plastic dog or cat carriers are ideal for single or small numbers of chickens, but be sure to disinfect after each use to avoid any possible transferral of pests or diseases.

Vet’s telephone number – it may not be necessarily needed by you, but if you have friends or neighbours looking after your stock when you are away it could prove invaluable.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2013/jun/12/essential-kit-chicken-keeper


Poultry Diseases Up Close – Newcastle Disease

Newcastle Disease Virus is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting most species of birds. Clinical signs are extremely variable depending on the strain of virus, species and age of bird, concurrent disease, and preexisting immunity. Four broad clinical syndromes are recognized by scientists. They are Viscerotropic velogenic, Neurotropic velogenic, Mesogenic, and Lentogenic. NDV is so virulent that many birds die without showing any clinical signs. A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks. NDV can infect and cause death even in vaccinated poultry. Fortunately NDV has not infected domestic chicken flocks in the United States since the last outbreak was eradicated in 1974.

NDV is spread primarily through direct contact between healthy birds and the bodily discharges of infected birds. The disease is transmitted through infected birds’ droppings and secretions from the nose, mouth, and eyes. NDV spreads rapidly among birds kept in confinement, such as commercially raised chickens.

High concentrations of the NDV are found in birds’ bodily discharges; therefore, the disease can be spread easily by mechanical means. Virus-bearing material can be picked up on shoes and clothing and carried from an infected flock to a healthy one.

NDV can survive for several weeks in a warm and humid environment on birds’ feathers, manure, and other materials. It can survive indefinitely in frozen material. However, the virus is destroyed rapidly by dehydration and by the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.

NDV affects the respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems. Symptoms are very variable depending on the strain of virus, species of bird, concurrent disease and preexisting immunity. The incubation period for the disease ranges from 2 to 15 days. An infected bird may exhibit the following signs:

  • Respiratory: sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing 
  • Digestive: greenish, watery diarrhea 
  • Nervousness, depression, muscular tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete paralysis 
  • Partial to complete drop in egg production and thin-shelled eggs 
  • Swelling of the tissues around the eyes and in the neck
  • Sudden death

Any animals showing symptoms of Newcastle disease should be quarantined immediately. New birds should also be vaccinated before being introduced to a flock. An inactivated viral vaccine is available, as well as various combination vaccines.

Source: http://www.avianbiotech.com/diseases/newcastle.htm

Gapeworm a perennial problem for game bird producers

With gapeworm a perennial problem, most producers of game birds are well aware of the need to worm on a routine basis. But sometimes that routine is nowhere near frequent enough.

Gapeworm a perennial problem for game bird producers

With gapes one of the biggest threats to game bird rearing, the need to keep on top of gapeworms is a major priority. Unfortunately, gapeworm has the shortest pre-patent period of all the common poultry worms – able to reproduce and cause the bird to eliminate worm eggs in just 18-20 days from the point of infection. That means treating every three weeks to keep worm burdens down in both the birds and their environment, a tougher regime than is even needed in most commercial poultry units.

This year, the problem of parasitic worms may be even more acute: NADIS parasite forecasts have highlighted that rainfall has consistently been running well above average for the last quarter. This means it’s likely that worm eggs in the environment have been protected in mud and not destroyed by desiccation or exposure to sunlight, potentially allowing more infective worm eggs to survive into the spring this year. Being more strategic about worming is an essential, given this raised level of risk.

An infected bird can produce many infectious worm eggs that build up in the environment. After a few years, or months in some instances, the soil can become heavily contaminated, increasing infection pressure. So, if the same rearing pens are used every year and worms are not adequately controlled, then there’s a potential parasite time bomb ticking away.

Source: Elanco Animal Health

Gosling with broken leg rescued after children attack geese

Gosling with broken leg rescued after children attack geese in Burnaby park

A two-day-old gosling was left with a broken leg after being attacked by a group of kids in Barnet Marine Park in Burnaby.

A tiny gosling has been separated from its family and is nursing a broken leg after it was attacked by a group of children in Burnaby.

Early Monday evening the gosling, which was about two days old, was walking with its mother and siblings along the water’s edge at Barnet Marine Parkwhen a number of children ranging in age from three to eight started to chase and kick the geese.

Onlookers tried to stop the children, who were unsupervised, but they continued bothering the geese until the birds scattered.

A Burnaby woman later found the injured gosling in the parking lot. She tried to search for the other geese but was unsuccessful. She took the bird home overnight and then called the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C.

According to a news release from the association, the woman could not believe what she saw at the park.

“We were in shock as we witnessed this and my son was crying because he was so sad to see these kids were treating animals like that,” she said.

The gosling was stressed and in a lot of pain when it was brought to the Wildlife Rescue Association. Its fractured right leg has been splinted and the gosling is being kept in an incubator because of its limited mobility.

Yolanda Brooks, the association’s communications co-ordinator, said Wednesday the gosling is improving and has started putting weight on its leg and is trying to shuffle around.

When its leg is healed, Brooks said, the gosling will be kept with other orphaned goslings until they are old enough to be released back into the wild.

“If it were not for the actions of a concerned member of the public, the gosling would simply have died of its injuries,” said Brooks.

Brooks said generally the animals they see have been injured by accident, such as birds flying into windows or being hit by cars.

“To see an animal that has basically suffered deliberate cruelty is a horrible thing to see,” said Brooks. “Animals in the wild have a tough enough time without people going around making life harder for them.”

Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/technology/Gosling+with+broken+rescued+after+children+attack+geese+Burnaby+park/8421377/story.html#ixzz2UDbfpKAt

Raising Turkeys from Poults

If you’re starting your turkey flock with day-old poults, you are probably wondering how to make sure they grow into healthy, happy adult turkeys. With some preparation and care, your baby turkeys will thrive.

Set Everything Up

Just like for baby chicks, you’ll need to set up a brooder for your turkey poults. A turkey poult brooder is just the same as one for baby chickens, so you can use these resources to design your brooder. The key is to have everything set up and warmed to 95 to 98 degrees before your poults arrive. Also similar to baby chicks, the poults will huddle under the lap if they’re too cold, or stay at the edges of the heat source if they’re too hot. So while a thermometer can be a helpful guide to temperature, especially before the poults arrive, use their behavior as your guide.

You will raise the heat lamp a few inches each week (and roughly 5 degrees lower) until the temperature is the same as the outdoors or the poults are 6 weeks old. You’ll also want to have feeders and waterers filled and placed properly. You don’t want them right under the lamp, but you also don’t want them too far from the center. Place them so that the poults can get to them easily without getting either chilled or overheated. Hanging feeders can prevent poults from standing – and pooping – in the feed or knocking it over.

Use pine shavings – never cedar – for the bottom of the brooder. Once poults are three weeks old, some farmers like to use clean sand. It can be cleaned just like cat litter and keeps the brooder dry.

Finally, make sure you have their roosts and pen ready for them to move to after they outgrow the need for the heat lamp and are ready to move to pasture.

As Soon As They Get Home

Once your poults arrive home from the feed store or from the post office, inspect each one as you remove it from the transport box. Dip its beak in water as soon as you put them into the brooder, so they learn where the water is and how to drink. Remember that especially for shipped poults, they will be stressed from the transport process. Make sure they eat and drink well for the first two weeks.

Preventing Problems

Turkey poults are particularly prone to “starving out,” which means that some poults will get pushed away from the feeder or hang back, and will actually starve to death despite food being available. Keep a close eye on poults while they’re feeding to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Overcrowding can also contribute to starving out, so make sure you have plenty of room for your poults. You’ll want at least a 10×10 space for a dozen day-old poults, and as they get bigger they will need more room.

Add a Roost

By three weeks of age, you can add a roost to your brooder. Teaching turkeys to roost early helps when they’re eventually moved to roosts later. Plus, they will sleep warmer and more comfortably.

Feed Them Properly

There are many different feeds for poultry. Medicated, nonmedicated, starter, grower – what to pick? Turkeys need high protein, more so than chickens. A gamebird or poultry starter that has around 28 percent protein works for the first 12 weeks. Medicated or not is your choice; many small growers like to use nonmedicated feed. After 12 weeks, the feed can be lowered to 20 percent, but any lower and your turkeys won’t grow as big as they could.

Move Them Outside

As your poults grow, you will need to make the brooder bigger so they aren’t crowded. As mentioned above, each week you will raise the lamp and lower the temperature about five degrees. Or, you could switch to lower-wattage bulbs as they grow. Much like vegetables, you will need to “harden off” your turkey poults by gradually exposing them to outside temperatures. By three weeks, they can have access to an enclosed “sun porch” on nice days – but keep them inside on rainy or cold days.

Make sure they are fully feathered and at least eight weeks old before moving poults to their new outdoor housing. You can give them access to outdoors but still provide the lamp at night for a week or two, and then finally move them to their new, grown-up turkey roosts and pen. Check on them nightly for a few days after the transition. Make sure they don’t get damp or chilled.

The Chicken of Tomorrow

I love this documentary.  It’s a real eye opener into the progression of chicken farming in the 1940’s.

The Chicken of Tomorrow deals with poultry farming and egg farming in the mid-1940s in the USA. It was filmed to educate the public about how poultry and eggs are farmed, it also deals with how advances in genetic engineering and technology produces a larger chicken. Eggs are farmed and kept in industrial incubators, and an equal number of chickens are used for meat and other products. Altogether, this produces more food for less money, and allows people to support local poultry farms without breaking the bank. This is relatively similar to today’s poultry farming despite there now being technological differences.

Poultry Diseases Up Close – Gape Worm or Syngamus Trachea

The Gape Worm also called Syngamus Trachea mainly affects chickens, turkeys and game birds, especially pheasants but can affect other wild birds as well which makes eradication difficult.

Infestation often occurs when there are wild pheasants close to your birds. Gapeworm infestation can occur either directly by birds eating eggs that have been swallowed or coughed up by infested birds, or indirectly by intermediate hosts such as earthworms or snails. Young birds up to 8 weeks of age are particularly susceptible to gape worm. Gapeworms normally live in the trachea (windpipe) but are also found in the bronchi and lungs.

Typically, eggs are picked up from the ground or intermediate hosts such as worms or snails. The eggs hatch and the larvae penetrate the intestine walls and move to the lungs and bronchi. It is here they go through a larval moult, before travelling up to the trachea. Male and female gapeworms attach to one another once they arrive here. This process takes around 7 days. Gapeworm lay eggs that get coughed up onto the ground or swallowed and passed out in the faeces.

Signs and Symptoms

Infestation causes respiratory distress. Gasping for breath or ‘gaping’ as it is known is the biggest sign of gapeworm. Shaking of the head and neck stretching are common. When birds are held, gurgling or a ‘tracheal rattle’ can often be heard. This can often be confused with respiratory infection, if in doubt, check for other signs of respiratory disease. If a heavy infestation occurs, death by suffocation will occur. Fully grown gapeworms are ‘Y’ shaped and vary in size between 1 and 2cm long.


Chickens are particularly prone to respiratory diseases so it is important to ensure you have a good worming schedule to eliminate the possibility of a respiratory problem being confused with a gapeworm infestation. Gurgling noises that come from the throat of the bird can be caused by gapeworm and can be confused with a respiratory problem.

As with all internal parasites, there are many treatments that will kill these worms but rotating the grazing area will help to stop birds becoming re-infected. Worming Chickens provides some ideas for worming poultry.Flubenvet is licenced for use in chickens and will kill gape worms.

Source: http://poultrykeeper.com/digestive-system-problems/gape-worm-or-syngamus-trachea