Chicken Health Checker

Please do call us if you have any concerns over your birds , no matter what .As a guide please have a look at the  the questionnaire below before telephoning or emailing us for advice whilst we are very experienced with chickens we can’t help without any specific symptoms. Although even then we can not always be sure. Please call us before a trip to the vet as this can be expensive and sometimes avoidable. 
If you are taking your hen to the vets it will also be very helpful for them to have the answers to the questions.

Signs of a sick chicken
– Isolating herself from the flock or being chased away from the flock.
– Standing hunched up with her head pulled into her body looking ‘puffed up’ or with a ‘penguin’ stance.
– Not interested in food or water.
– Shrunken, pale or dis-coloured comb and wattles.

– Messy vent area.

If you can ~
Isolate the hen in a warm place (in cold weather) as she will be unable to regulate her body temperature if she is unwell – a dog crate with a blanket over it, or a large card box with air vents is ideal. Provide food and water. Line with newspaper.
Observe her for a while.
Read through the symptoms below as answers to these questions will really help us to help you and your chicken.  


  • Is there any eye damage/are pupils equal and reacting to light?
  • Are there swellings around the eye?
  • What colour are her comb and wattles?
  • Is there any discharge from nostrils?
  • Does the breath have any smell?
  • Does she have a discharge from her ears?
  • Is there any rattly breathing?
  • Is she sneezing/coughing?
  • In the morning (before she has had access to food or water), feel the crop at the base of her
    neck for hard or soft lumps.
  • Check her whole body for signs of injury/bruising/bite marks.
  • Feel her keel bone – does it feel sharp/is she thin/overweight? It is essential to feel the keel
    bone, she may be heavy yet emaciated. Check one of your other hens for comparison.
  • Feel the area below her vent/between her legs – is it swollen/are there any lumps in her body
  • Her posture – Is she huddled up/is her tail in a normal position?
  • Are there droppings stuck around the vent?
  • Are there any signs of broken egg coming from the vent?
  • Is there any bleeding/damage to the vent?
  • Does she appear to be straining or have her tail down?
  • Does she have body lice or a greasy looking area at the base of the feathers around the vent?
Legs and feet
  • Are the scales on her legs lying flat and smooth?
  • Are her claws overgrown?
  • If he’s a cockerel, are the spurs short?
  • Does she have any signs of injury/bruising/swellings/hot areas?
  • Are there any splinters or swellings in her foot pad?
  • Has she been wormed recently?
  • How old is she? 
  • Has she had constant access to dry, clean, layers feed that is in date?
  • Has she only been drinking clean water?
  • Could she have access to poisonous plants/poison?
  • Has she overheated or got chilled?
  • Have the other hens been bullying her (this is subtle, they will not allow her to eat or drink
    enough and she may feel very thin – they will usually eat well in your presence when its safe).
  • Have you had rats in/around the hens area?
  • Are wild birds able to gain access to their food/water?
  • Has she laid normal eggs recently?
  • What are her droppings like – watery/green etc.
  • Is the hen house clear of droppings and red mite