by Pam Johnson
(Cooma NSW)


I have a small chicken maybe 4-6 weeks old. Was sick yesterday with blocked backside. Washed it down and cleared it. Today it is very weak and has a thick red discharge about the size of a small garden worm. I have been away and the pen was not cleaned. Have been home a week and cleaned the pen up immediately. I do have overcrowding and varied breeds but have been doing my best to find homes for some. I love my chickens and do constantly clean their beds etc when not away.
I also wormed the chickens before I went away as one hen had very loose bowel. That fixed the problem at the time.
I am worried this problem will spread to my other chickens. I also have a Silkie hen sitting on 4 babies.
Can you help please!!
Kind Regards
Pam Johnson


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by: Sharon

The more chicks and chickens you have, generally the more problems you will eventually see. I have not seen what you are describing in a chick or an adult, but usually red in droppings is a sign of intestinal irritation. Could be from a parasite or something else irritating the lining of the intestines.

The weakness of this chick will probably require constant doctoring to pull it through, if possible. Your concern for something spreading through your flock is realistic, especially in over crowded conditions. But I couldn't say if the problem with this chick is something that could spread.

When raising chickens & allowing broody hens to hatch clutches, it's important to consider how many you can house and care for well. One of the main problems with overcrowded conditions is stress. Overcrowding is very unnatural for any animal, even if the environment is kept very clean. Stress can lead to weakened immune systems and illnesses, as well as bullying, which can lead to feather pulling, wounds & cannibalism.

The instincts of chickens can lead to some serious problems when you add overcrowded conditions to their lives, no matter their age. The more dominant chicks or chickens in a group want to drive the weaker ones away. In a closed environment, the weaker ones can leave, so may be harmed, or become weak or ill.

I can't tell if you have mixed sizes and ages of chicks & chickens together, but in over crowded coops and pens, the strong will survive and the weakest, maybe youngest or smallest ones will suffer.

I would suggest that you remove this chick from the group to give it a better chance of survival, if it's not too late. I would also recommend that you not add more chicks or chickens unless you can create more space for them.

When I have allowed my hens to hatch babies, I make sure that the chicks can eat & drink & be safe & happy in their environment, and that I can keep them in a large enough area for that group as they grow.

Even with plenty of food, water & clean shavings, overcrowding chickens will lead to problems every time. This one chick may just be the warning sign that you need to change how you are raising & keeping your chickens. But when you have a lot of chickens and are raising chicks, it's very likely you will see different health issues along the way - even in the most ideal conditions.

I would say that if you're having trouble finding new homes for your extra chickens, you should stop allowing hens to hatch eggs for a while.

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