Keeping chickens is not always effortless, and sometimes it requires you to be on your toes to help the fluffy flock when they get into trouble. Here are ten common problems and solutions that most chicken keepers eventually will experience.
You can run into many problems as a poultry farmer, but do not fret as this guide will not only give you the solution but also provide you with the tips to avoid these problems.
Most issues that arise when raising chickens can be summarized into three categories:
- Run or coop issues
- Health issues
- Behavioral problems.
Table of Contents
Run and Coop Issues
1. Why are my chickens laying eggs everywhere except in the nesting boxes that I provided?
Make sure that the nesting boxes are secure, enclosed, raised, and sturdy. Add bedding material in the boxes to makes them comfortable like straw, wood shavings, etc. Ideally, you should put the nesting boxes in a quiet corner of the coop. One fake egg will also teach them where to lay.
Chickens do not lay eggs in boxes that they find uncomfortable and unsafe. So, if you have made nesting boxes out of shoeboxes, there is a chance that your chickens will not use them.
Make sure that there are enough nesting boxes available for your chickens. One box for each three to five chickens may suffice. Collecting your eggs frequently will also incline your chickens to lay in the boxes.
Do not expect your hens to use nesting boxes as a resting place and for laying eggs simultaneously. Provide your hens with roosts to keep hens from making a home out of them.
If you find your hens laying eggs in a certain spot, place a stone or a board there to make that spot unattractive for them.
2. Why does my chicken coop smell so bad?
Coop smells because of ammonia present in chicken manure. If correct measures are not taken, it can get unbearable. The key to alleviating this gruesome smell is by keeping the bedding clean and dry.
First, make sure that there is no leakage in the coop from which water can seep through. If you have nipple waterers, your bedding has less chance of getting wet.
Change and turn your bedding on time. Pine shaving is preferred as bedding material as it does not trap moisture, unlike straw. You can also add food grade diatomaceous earth in the bedding. Some keepers also use sand to keep the moisture away.
Also, try to keep your roosts clean and use olive oil to keep them from stinking. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and change your bedding before it rains to keep the foul smell away.
3. Why is my chicken coop so dusty?
Chicken feed, dust from bedding material, droppings, dander, and chicken feathers make up dust that can cover the entire coop.
If chicken dust is becoming a nuisance, you can take a few steps to reduce it. You can cut down on the feed dust by using pellets instead of crumbles.
Try to scrape the chicken poop off the coop floor. Purchase low dust bedding or large flakes to keep the feed dust away.
You can’t eliminate chicken dander as chickens constantly naturally shed it, especially during molting. But good ventilation will help with excessive dust. Many keepers use leaf blowers to get the dust off the walls and ceiling. You can use a duster to dust the accessible surface but make sure you wear a face mask.
4. How do I get rid of chicken mites?
Chicken mites are parasites that suck your fluffy flocks’ blood and adversely affect their health. The best way to keep them away is to keep the chicken living space clean.
You also need to provide your chickens a space to take their daily dust baths. You can add wood-ash and food-grade diatomaceous earth in their dust-bath area to kill these pesky pests naturally.
Make a natural spray at home by adding some dish soap and oil in water or you can use garlic and lavender and mix them in water.
If things have gotten out of hand, then buy a chicken mite solution from a store, clean the coop, and follow the instruction on the solution for the best results.
5. How do I help an egg-bound hen?
Being egg-bound simply means that an egg is stuck between uterus and cloaca. The main symptoms of egg binging in chickens are a hen straining to lay an egg, frequenting the nesting box, not feeding, and having a hard abdomen.
If you notice these symptoms in your hen, give your hen a warm bath to relax the muscles so that she can pass the eggs. If this does not work, then you may need a trip to the vet.
6. How do I help a chicken with a blocked crop?
To treat a blocked crop make sure your chicken drinks water. You can also feed vegetable oil to your chicken to help with blockage. Massage the crop to help relax the muscles. In severe cases, you should visit your vet.
If food starts accumulating inside the crop and the crop does not empty again, that means your chicken has a blocked crop. The main symptoms of the blocked crop are chicken not feeding or drinking, having runny droppings, and looking unhealthy.
Mostly, long grass causes blockage in chickens so to avoid the problem altogether, make sure that chickens are grazing on short grass.
7. What should I do if my chickens lay soft-shelled eggs?
A major cause of chickens laying soft-shelled eggs is the lack of calcium in their diet. Laying chickens need an adequate amount of calcium to lay eggs, otherwise, the calcium is taken from their bones which makes them weak. Supplementing your chicken feed with extra calcium in the form of oyster shells will be of tremendous help.
Sometimes, it is not the lack of calcium but excess of treats that make the eggs soft. Make sure that you keep 90% feed to 10% treats ratio in mind and put your laying hens on layer feed.
If none of these solutions work, then your chickens may be laying soft-shelled eggs because of stress or other health issues. Monitor and examine your chicken for the signs of stress or parasites.
8. Why is my chicken eating its own eggs?
Make sure they have enough nesting boxes and that the coop is not overcrowded. Also, ensure that chickens are getting enough calcium and water. This will keep them from eating their eggs because of thirst and an unbalanced diet. Alleviating any stressors that may be leading to this behavior will also help.
Chickens may start eating their own eggs for a number of reasons. These reasons can range from insufficient calcium content in diet to plain boredom.
Chickens need enrichment and can get bored. Use creativity to give your flock things to do like pecking on a cabbage head or an apple garland. Sometimes, chickens break an egg and eat it by accident, and then it becomes a pattern.
You can also use ceramic eggs to fix this behavior. When a chicken will not be able to break the ceramic egg, it will learn to leave all other eggs alone.
9. How do I stop my chickens from pecking each other and bullying?
Chickens can start pecking or bullying when they have nothing better to do. Make sure you provide your flock with enough enrichment to keep them from pecking each other. Sometimes, the flock bullies a chicken that is already sick so make sure that is not the case.
Hens have a pecking order which means you may occasionally find chickens pecking each other to assert dominance but this behavior is short-lived. If you see chickens consistently bullying each other then it may be caused by overcrowding, stress, boredom, or sickness.
Introducing new chicken to the flock or change of housing can cause stress. The presence of a predator can also trigger stress in chickens. Once chickens get used to the new place or member, things will be calmer.
Lastly, ensure that the coop is not overcrowded because it can ruffle your chickens’ feathers.
10. How do I deal with an aggressive rooster?
To teach the rooster that you on top of the hierarchy, you have you dominate him. This does not mean you have to fight a rooster. Some keepers believe that putting on protective gear like some gloves and sturdy boots and letting rooster attack you is your best bet.
Once they attack or show signs of aggression, run towards them, and assert dominance. Once they understand that you are not a threat, end the whole duel with some treats.
Roosters are protective of the flock once they hit puberty. Chickens have a pecking order and you come off as a threat or trespasser to an overly protective roo.
Remember, that although you may not feel personally threatened, aggressive roosters can hurt smaller children and even adults who are not prepares. Many new chicken keepers are also unaware of the fact that they can get eggs without a rooster so if it is becoming a nuisance, you may consider keeping only the hens.