5 Most Common Chicken Health Problems

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 21 July 2020

the chook coop blog - summer

Hello chicken keepers,

Having a flock of beautiful backyard chickens that seem out of sorts is one of the most worrying things for a fervent feather fan. When they are not feeling well, chooks can display symptoms that could hint at a myriad of different health issues, leaving the concerned chook lady or lad scratching their head, trying to diagnose what is wrong with their winged companions.

We tackle a LOT of poultry health problems in our Learning Centre and every day we get hundreds of chicken keepers visiting our site and chatting to us about their hen health mysteries. There are 5 common chicken health issues that we always get asked about. Have a peck at our resources for those peeving problems here....

It mite be lice

The most common health problem a chicken keeper will face is a pesky visit from poultry parasites. Chicken mites and lice can affect your chickens in different ways depending on the parasite type, the level of infestation and the health of your chicken flock. Our Quick Fire Guide to Treating Mites and Lice here will help you figure out what’s buggin’ your birds.  

Wiggle it, just a little bit

The second most common chook health problem we encounter is worms. Parasitic poultry worms are fairly common and easy to prevent and treat, but they are wily little buggers and can show up in hens even if you do everything right. So don't feel like a bad feather mum or dad if they wriggle their way into your flock! Give yourself the upper wing in the worm war and follow our Chicken Lover’s Guide to Defeating Worms here.     

backyard chicken flock

Breathe easy, bird

“My chicken is making a weird noise when they breathe” is the 3rd most common problem keepers approach us with. Respiratory issues can stem from a few different illnesses so if your chicken is wheezing or having trouble breathing it can be hard to determine what the underlying issue may be. Our guide to respiratory diseases in chickens helps keepers narrow down the symptoms and get their birds breathing easy again.

… Diarrhoea

Chook poop is a fascinating subject. Gross, yes, but a hen’s droppings can tell a keeper a lot about a chicken’s health. When your fair feathered flock is suffering from the runs it can be hard to decipher what the hen health issue might be. Our guide to diarrhoea will help you determine why your poultry has the poops. Have a read of it here.    

A sour taste in their beak

The fifth most common hen health issue we are asked about is sour crop. The chicken digestive tract is an intriguingly complex system that has very little resemblance to our own. Your happy hen has a “crop”, which is a little pouch at the end of their esophagus that stores and moistens their food before it gets sent to their stomach or their gizzard. Sour crop occurs when this pouch fails to empty completely, creating the perfect environment for Candida, commonly known as thrush, to grow. Have a peck at our guide to sour crop symptoms, prevention and treatment here

Most chook health problems can be easily prevented but if your hens start to present symptoms we haven’t chatted about here you might find help in this guide to spotting a sick chicken. Healthy flock of hens? Keep ‘em that way with preventative measures like the ones in our Hen Health Kit.   

Prevention is always better than a cure and we all want to do an eggcellent job when caring for our feathered friends. It's essential that you've got the right knowledge you need to raise happy, healthy chooks. Did you know 67% of chicken keepers surveyed experienced a chicken health or behaviour issue in the first 12 months that they didn’t know how to handle?

But don’t worry! Our feathered friends over at Chickenpedia have created a Chicken Healthcare Course. It is a comprehensive online course that shares everything you need, including what to look for in an unhealthy chicken and how to support your egg-laying hens to optimal health. All of their courses are really well structured and filled with vital information, which is why I highly recommend them to all of my readers! From raising baby chicks to feeding to behavior, you’ll find valuable expertise that’ll give you the knowledge and confidence to successfully look after your chickens.

Check out Chickenpedia today. As a member, you will also get access to the ALL of their chicken courses!

After some more cheeky chook action? Of course you are! Join the flock on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!

Feathers Forever,

Kassandra X