Posts Tagged ‘sick’

UPDATES for Home to Roost Class Dates


Here is the list of classes so far for 2015. We have NEW classes in the works, including a bilingual (Eng/Span) class and a summer care class.  Check out the complete list of offerings below or download the pdf: Home to Roost 2015 Class Offerings and Events

Appearance at Magic Tree Bookstore

Sun., April 12, 1 PM at the Magic Tree, Oak Park,for the launch of Sandy De Lisle’s new book, Hens for Friends! http://site.booksite.com/7326/events/?&list=EVC1&group=current&preview=1

**NOTE – DATE CHANGED TO JULY  11: Sat., July 11, 10 AM-1 PM with Angelic Organics Learning Center, Location TBD, http://www.learngrowconnect.org/event/basic-backyard-chicken-care-chicago

Sat., April 18, 10 AM-12 PM at Garfield Park Conservatory, http://www.garfieldconservatory.org

Sat., September 26, 10 AM-12 PM at Garfield Park Conservatory, http://www.garfieldconservatory.org

Coop Building 

Sat., March 28, 1 PM-3 PM at Chicago Botanic Garden, http://www.chicagobotanic.org/

Sat., April 18, 1 PM-3 PM at Garfield Park Conservatory, http://www.garfieldconservatory.org

The Charm of Chickens: Reasons for Raising Backyard Hens 

Thurs., April 23, 7 PM-8:30 PM at Grayslake Public Library, http://www.grayslake.info/

Chicken Health 

Sat., April 25, 1 PM-4 PM at Chicago Botanic Garden, http://www.chicagobotanic.org/

**NOTE – DATE CHANGED TO MAY 2: Sat., May 2, 10 AM-12 PM at Garfield Park Conservatory, http://www.garfieldconservatory.org

NEW!! Summer Care for Chickens 

Sat., June 20, 10 AM-12 PM at Garfield Park Conservatory, http://www.garfieldconservatory.org

Harvest Day Expo 

Sun., September 20 at Garfield Park Conservatory, http://www.garfieldconservatory.org

NEW!! SPANISH -Basic Backyard Chicken Care 

Sat., October 3 or 10, or November 7 with Angelic Organics Learning Center, Location TBD, http://www.learngrowconnect.org/event/basic-backyard-chicken-care-chicago

Snow Birds: Winter Care for Chickens 

Sat., October 24, 10 AM-12 PM at Garfield Park Conservatory, http://www.garfieldconservatory.org

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Salmonella Linked to Hatchery Chicks


In response to the recent article in the Chicago Tribune’s  Health section on the dangers of raising chickens, here is a blog post that I wrote earlier this year.

An article on Yahoo News documented over 300 cases of Salmonella illness, linked to one hatchery, between 2004 and 2012. Alarming? I’d say not – that is just under 40 cases per year. However, the CDC advises that children under 5 not be allowed to touch chickens at all. There is also a risk of salmonella with reptiles.

As one member of a discussion group I’m part of pointed out, kids have a greater chance of being injured by an automobile. While the symptoms of Salmonella include bloody diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain, the illness is rarely fatal.

As with other pets, practice good hygiene by washing hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water after touching animals and especially after coming into contact with poop.

Salmonella Linked to Hatchery Chicks


An article on Yahoo News yesterday documented over 300 cases of Salmonella illness, linked to one hatchery, between 2004 and 2012. Alarming? I’d say not – that is just under 40 cases per year. However, the CDC advises that children under 5 not be allowed to touch chickens at all.

As one member of a discussion group I’m part of pointed out, kids have a greater chance of being injured by an automobile. Symptoms of Salmonella include bloody diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain, and the illness is rarely fatal. As with other pets, practice good hygiene, washing hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water after touching animals and especially after coming into contact with poop.

Subclinical Illness


A few months ago, I posted about subclinical illness in birds. I feel this topic is very important for anyone who has fowl, not just chickens, so I’m going to address this again.

Subclinical illness refers to sickness that goes undetected because the animal (or person) does not display symptoms. I was diagnosed with subclinical appendicitis only after the surgeon removed my diseased appendix. Until that point, my symptoms were not consistent with those of classic appendicitis, and the doctors were not sure what was going on. So exploratory surgery was needed.

Many bird owners say “My parakeet caught a draft and died” or “The bird just died suddenly. He must have been frightened to death.” Many times, the bird has been sick for a while and subtle symptoms are present, but because birds hide the signs of illness so well, the owners fail to realize the bird is sick. This is called subclinical illness.

In order to understand why subclinical illness is prevalent in birds, it’s necessary to understand their psychology. Birds are flock animals. They live together, fly together, eat together, and sleep together. A sick bird draws predators to the flock. Therefore the flock, to prevent danger to itself, will exclude sick birds. Individuals who are sick need the protection of the flock to survive, so they have become adept at hiding signs of illness.

So what can you, the chicken owner, do about this?

For starters, you should know your birds’ behavior:

  • How much do they eat?
  • How much do they vocalize?
  • What kinds of things do they do during the day?
  • How active are they?
  • Who is on top in the pecking order?

Also get to know their bodies. Pick them up from time to time. Check the following:

  • Crop
  • Eyes
  • Nares (nose)
  • Keel (breastbone)
  • Vent

Know what is normal for your birds. If anything looks unusual, keep an eye on it. If it gets worse or has not changed in a day or two, seek medical attention. Once you have noticed something, the bird may not have much time.

If you notice the following symptoms, the bird is in distress and needs help immediately:

  • Listlessness, not moving
  • Gasping for breath
  • Tissues protruding from the vent
  • Lying on one side

You know your birds best, so know get to know what’s normal for each bird. You may be able to prevent a problem from becoming deadly!

Salmonella outbreak linked to chicks and ducklings


An outbreak of 25 cases of  Salomonella Altona has been linked to chicks and ducklings in the eastern United States, including NC, PA, OH, and IN.

Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. The disease can be diagnosed with a stool sample. Onset takes 2-3 weeks, and symptoms usually last 4-7 days.

For more information and tips to protect yourself from Salmonella Altona, read the full post on the Center for Disease Control’s website.

The Scoop on Salmonella in Eggs


For those of you who have chickens, you may be asking, “How safe are MY eggs from Salmonella contamination?”

The good news is, they are likely VERY safe.

Salmonella are bacteria that live in human and animal intestinal tracts. The bacteria can pass in fecal matter and so may be found in soil, water, and other matter that has come into contact with fecal matter.

So how do the bacteria get into eggs? There are two ways this might happen:

1) Chicken poop gets on the shell of the egg. The bacteria pass through the pores and proliferate inside the egg.

2) An industrial egg-laying hen whose ovaries are contaminated with salmonella bacteria passes the bacteria along in the egg-formation process.

Solutions are fairly simple.

1) Give your hens adequate space and good living conditions. This includes clean food and water daily. Hens in poor living conditions, like battery-caged layers, are more susceptible to illness (like salmonella) due to overcrowded, stressful living conditions. In your backyard coop, one nest for every four hens is adequate.

2) Keep your nest boxes free of fecal matter. Wood shavings are good for this, because the poop can easily be scooped out in clumps, much like clumping kitty litter.

3) Collect your eggs daily and refrigerate them right away. Industrial eggs have many stops: candling, sizing, packaging, shipping, shipping again, shelf stocking. Along the way temperatures can fluctuate, leading to bacterial growth. Keeping your eggs refrigerated will prevent this.

4) Wash your eggs only when you are ready to use them. When a hen lays an egg, she secretes a wet covering that seals off the pores from pathogens. If you see a freshly laid egg, you will notice that it looks wet and then quickly dries. This is called the cuticle or bloom. Keep this coating intact until you are ready to use the egg. Brush or sand off any foreign material that is on the eggshell.

5) Cook eggs completely. Cooking eggs to 160 degrees will prevent illness.

If your hens are contaminated with salmonella, you will most likely have built up immunity to the particular strain they carry.

Enjoy your fresh eggs!

(Sources: Damerow, Gail. “Backyard Chicken Eggs Are Safe,” and Jansen Matthews, Lisa. “Safe Egg Handling,” both in Backyard Poultry, October/November 2010, 6.)

Penny the Quail: The Final Chapter


Penny the quail passed away suddenly, though not unexpectedly, on August 18, 2010.  I was in PA with my family, when Kat of My Paws and Claws petsitting called with the sad news. She had died suddenly between 7:00 and 7:30 AM.

Penny enjoys her dirt and sprouted seeds.

Sickness

Penny had a rough July. She developed watery diarrhea and stopped eating. The vet found she was anemic, and I hand fed her for over three weeks, syringefuls of food mixed with meds. She was a sick little bird.

When she finally got back to her normal self, we’d go for walks. I’d carry her to a nice grassy spot. We’d sit outside, and she’d dust, eat grass, and do other quail stuff while I kept a close eye on her. We’d find ants on the sidewalk, and she had great fun chasing them, in a very ADD fashion. She’d see one ant and go running after it. Another ant would come from another direction, and she’d head off after that one!

In August we (Penny, the parakeets, and I) took a road trip to Michigan to see an old high school friend and her family. The girls enjoyed Penny.

Penny and the Frost family

Penny was a cheerful little bird, and I miss her early-morning progressive alarm clock noises and her energetic, cheerful, and sometimes goofy personality.

Life Lessons from Penny the Quail

Penny was patient and gracious with children. She was very easy to handle and never really put up much of a fuss about anything, unless it was getting more romaine lettuce. She ate her vegetables without complaining. In fact, the first time I gave her chopped veggies, she started scratching happily in them, and they went all over the floor! (She later cleaned them up!)

Penny and her new friend Kara

Penny was unapologetically quail. She was always herself, even though that meant being goofy and offbeat sometimes. She was always very clear about what she wanted: greens, dirt, ants, a little more time in the grass. She gave back in big ways: 16 eggs to make an omelette. And she was always willing to snuggle. There is much to be learned there.

Penny and her eggs

RIP

Because Penny was a Japanese quail and because she greatly enjoyed hanging out under the ferns in the backyard of the folks who sold me her cage, I bought a Japanese fern for her grave at the Oak Park farmers market.  The purchase was also fitting because the guy who sold me the fern keeps quail. A coincidence? I think not. She is buried under the fern in a lovely garden plot. She is greatly missed.

Penny is buried under a Japanese fern.