As with humans, chickens do sneeze –normally to clear the nasal passage.
If it is a regular thing then it could also signal a temporary cold.
Hens can suffer from colds during the wet and cold months, it’s not uncommon. Using Citricidal drops and Apple Cider Vinegar, added to their water, can be helpful in keeping the auto immune system healthy.
Keep an eye on them and if it persists or gets worse, the vet might be necessary.
If they have other symptoms like coughing, gasping for air, bubbly or mucousy eyes with a rattly chest then this could be Mycoplasma. Treatment for this is normally with antibiotics and a visit to your vet is recommended.
Birds suffering with respiratory disease should always be isolated from the other healthy hens, given lots of TLC and be given veterinary attention where necessary.
Well mine certainly do!
Generally you will find once your chickens have initially settled in to their surroundings, they will certainly take themselves off to the safety of their coop as soon as it starts to get dark – providing, of course, they have easy access to it.
You obviously need to ensure that they are securely locked in once it gets dark to make sure Mr. Fox or any other nasty predators are kept out.
What you will discover once you start to keep chickens is that they are actually very undemanding creatures, and just get on with things. Initially as with all things new you may well be a little nervous and unsure, but after a few weeks you will fast become an expert in the subject and realise it not much different to keeping a pet dog, cat or rabbit, but with added benefits!
Typically you will need to let your hens out first thing every morning, regardless of how you are feeling, put out their feeder with feed, and fill their water dispensers with fresh, clean water.
Chickens will typically lay in the morning. So if you see them come out to eat and then disappear back into the housing area it’s usually to lay an egg.
Ideally you should check and remove any eggs from the nesting boxes as soon as they have laid. This is to prevent accidental damage or one of your hens actually eating the egg. It also lessens the chances of the egg getting muck on it – chickens produce waste as and where they need, which can be in the nesting box too.
That being said many people who keep chickens work and only get back in the evening which is when they collect their eggs and report that they never have a problem with collecting their eggs at this time.
Your chickens will happily scratch about until sundown, when you should return to collect any new eggs. Make a quick check for any wet or soiled bedding, which should be removed, and then shut your hens away, safe from predators.
Your chicken coop should be cleaned once a week, or twice a month if you only have a few hens. However, I always ‘poo pick’ in the mornings which simply involves carefully scooping up the poop in the hen house and throwing it on the compost heap – chickens produce a surprising large amount of waste during both the day and night.
I’ll tell you which bedding I use that makes this job an absolute breeze and why a little later on.
When it comes to the colder weather you need to make a few basic checks of your coop to make sure your poultry are being kept in dry, draught-free conditions. Make sure ventilation is above head height and that there are no draughts coming through the coop.
The waterproofing needs to be checked and any areas that are dripping water into the housing need to be sealed quickly. Chickens don’t mind the cold but they do mind draughts and the rain at night so this is a priority for them. Please note, however, that it really is important that there is adequate ventilation in the coop at all times. Put in extra dry bedding material on the coop floor and nest box area.
You can usually tell if there are problems in your coop or housing if usually well behaved birds suddenly refuse to go in at night — this could mean there is a cold draught, water leaking, or more likely, the dreaded redmite in there.
Most chickens will be fine through winter but those that have moulted late or are ex battery hens who are not yet fully feathered need extra checks to make sure they are warm. Although they hold body temperature well with their feathers keeping them warm in freezing weather they do need shelter together as this allows them to share their body heat. Most poultry are creatures of habit so once you break the bad habits and get them going in at night they will continue doing so.