Common Poultry & Chicken Diseases

Sadly, This Chicken is Very Sick

Chicken Diseases Can and Sometimes Will Affect your Flock


Chickens are a part of the poultry family. Poultry can be loosely defined as any domesticated type of fowl that is kept or raised for meat production, egg production, breeding purposes, and/or as pets.

This includes, but isn’t limited to; chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese.

Poultry and chickens specifically are prone to certain diseases and illnesses just as people are and these diseases are often spread from chicken to chicken in much the same way. Chickens are social creatures that live together in flocks. The more chickens that are grouped together in close proximity, the greater the risk of disease spreading through the flock as well as an increase in stress for the birds..

This is especially true in large commercial operations although it can also occur in small backyard chicken flocks.

In addition to diseases, harm and damage can occur to members of the flock through uncontrolled pecking attacks. This occurs when one bird is singled out and multiple other birds attack her.

This can even lead to death in rare circumstances. For this reason, while pecking attacks aren't actually a disease, it is important to know some of the ways to avoid or stop pecking attacks.

Diseases can be transmitted and spread by feral (wild) birds and animals, parasites and other pests.

Because of this, the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is doubly true when it comes to pecking attacks as well as disease control and prevention.

There are 5 basic types of diseases based on how they affect the chicken.

They are:

Signs and Symptoms

Chickens like people, will show signs of not feeling well or illness.

The most common illnesses in chickens tend to be respiratory (breathing) in nature. Signs to watch for include; wheezing, coughing, or any type of trouble breathing (respiratory distress).

Other signs that your chicken may be ill include; change in appearance, weight loss, lack of energy, lack of appetite, change in behavior, open wounds, abscesses, swollen belly, swollen joints, nasal/oral discharge, change in stool (bloody or diarrhea), uncoordinated or unable to move on its own.



By taking a few simple precautions when managing your flock and keeping a close on your birds for any sign of sickness or illness during your daily rounds, you can prevent most wide spread occurrences of disease or illness.

Vaccinating your flock against common chicken diseases is an option that may help to eliminate viral diseases and may be worth considering if you have a veterinarian local to you that works with chickens (avian veterinarian).

Prices vary by region and vet so you’ll probably want to call a few vets just to get a range.

Always ensure that your chickens have clean, fresh water and fresh food. Make sure their feeders and waters are kept clean.

Always keep their litter clean and dry. Try not to use hay as litter since it is really susceptible to mold spores.

Some diseases like salmonella can be transmitted from chickens to humans so it’s a good idea to get in the habit of washing your hands after handling your chickens.

It’s also a good idea to wear a dust mask and wear gloves when cleaning out your flocks coop.

If you suspect that one of your chickens may be sick, immediately remove it and isolate it from the rest of the flock to prevent spreading the disease.

To learn more about flock care and maintenance, click here.

Sometimes chickens do get sick, but with proper care and maintenance along with the proper precautions you can minimize these events and enjoy a happy, healthy flock.

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