Ask Our Experts

Ask Our Experts

I have mites in my coop. An ancient Frenchman neighbor has recommended spraying with paraffin. Is this a good idea?
Jeanne, Toulouse, France

Hello Jeanne,
Paraffin oil is often recommended as an anti-mite coop spray. The point is to spray in areas of the coop where mites burrow in (cracks and corners), and essentially suffocate the mites.
Paraffin oil is also known as refined mineral oil. In North America, it’s often called kerosene. All of which mean it’s pretty dang flammable. Don’t spray in the coop if you are using any kind of heat lamp. And make sure that the coop is very well-ventilated. Let the chickens out of the coop and do a light spray (don’t saturate any part of the coop). Then let the coop air out and put in fresh bedding. You can repeat this a couple of times a week for a couple of weeks to catch all the stages of the mite life cycle.
Let us know what happens.

About waterglassing … can I add eggs to my existing jar daily? Or does it need to be done all at once?
J. Kultgen

We recommend that if you are going to add eggs, you only do it for a limited time range so that all the eggs in a single jar can be labeled for age. Choose a jar that will hold a week’s worth of eggs. You can add eggs for a week, but we
don’t recommend that you continue to add eggs to that jar beyond one week.

My chicken puts her head between her legs and walks backward, really fast. When her head is up, she walks forward. Why does she do this?

Hello Suzy,
Thanks so much for your question. This sounds like “wry neck,” which has several causes, from a genetic disorder to ingested toxins. The condition isn’t fatal in and of itself but can make it difficult for birds to eat and drink. The best way to address wry neck is with vitamins, especially vitamin E and selenium (which helps your bird absorb vitamins). You can use either a supplement (pill) and/or vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, and dandelion greens.
Let us know how your bird is doing.

My rooster is aggressive to me when I’m close to my chickens. He has spurs and he knows how to use them. I’m not going to cull him. He is protective
and his hens love him. But I’d like to get close to my chickens and be able to pick them up once in a while. Any advice to keep him from flogging me?
Julie Owens

Hello Julie,
We do love our roos, especially when they take good care of our hens. I have two thoughts, one for now, one for the future.
For now, protect yourself with gloves, long sleeves, and high boots when you approach him. Spend some time just sitting near the coop, so he gets used to you. Court him with treats. Squat down a bit, but carefully so he won’t fly at your face. Offer him meal worms and other tasty bits along with the hens. That may help you get close to your girls and still
appease his protective instincts.
For the future, if you have roosters that take good care of the girls, but aren’t as aggressive toward you, breed those roosters. They’ll still take care of their flock, but be easier for you to handle.


I made your recipe for chicken cookies with a hole to string them up for chicken fun! They’re great and the dogs like them. What do you think of of adding grated carrots?
Lynn van Eick

Hi Lynn,
Oh, carrots would be a great addition. They will add quite a bit of moisture to the recipe, so you will need to bake longer, as much as 20 to 30 minutes. Test as you bake, until the center is firm. What a tasty treat for your birds!

My laying hens will not roost in the chicken coop. They prefer to roost on top of the chain link fence that surrounds the coop area. I am concerned that they may get too cold during the night in the winter. I live in the middle of Georgia.

Hi Joan,
Hens like to find the highest place they can to roost. There are a couple of things you can do. Can you raise the roosting bar in the coop? If not, you might try keeping them in the coop for several days (and nights) in a row to see if you can retrain them. If some of them still insist on trying to roost on top of the chain link, then just pick ’em up and put them in the coop, and close them in. In Georgia, they are probably fine on the chain link over winter, but they are more vulnerable to predators.
Let us know how they’re doing.

blood in egg white
Blood in the egg white. Not pretty, but ok to eat. Photo by Betty Ditmar.

Today one of my hens laid an egg where the white part was an amber/bloody color. This has never happened before in my small flock of six hens. Egg was two days old. Is that safe to eat? What is the cause? Thank you.
Betty Ditmar

Hi Betty,
Typically, this happens when a blood vessel in the hen’s oviduct ruptures during the process of making the egg. This sometimes appears as just a blood spot on the egg, or as blood in the egg white. Maybe not the most appetizing to look at, but perfectly safe to consume.

How often can you feed oatmeal to your poultry?

Hi Betta,
Great question about oatmeal for chickens! It’s a fantastic supplement and snack for your birds, especially in the cold months. Treating your birds with some oatmeal several times a week to supplement their normal feed is a great idea. We do recommend that they don’t just get oatmeal, because nutritious as it is (vitamins, minerals, good antioxidants), they do need other nutrients and protein.
Here’s a link to an article about oatmeal for chickens.

Chicken with odd gate. Photo by Nancy Essid.

I’ve learned so much over the years from reading your advice to others. Today I have a question for you. I have an older hen who is walking like a cowboy.
I know she isn’t egg-bound and I don’t think she has water belly. She’s been this way for over a month, and I’ve run out of ideas. She doesn’t seem to be in pain.
She swaggers everywhere over her 10-square-foot run. She eats, drinks, and holds her place in the pecking order. I’d love some ideas of how I can help her. I’ve included a picture of her standing.
Nancy Essid

Hi Nancy,
Like you, my first thought would be an egg-bound bird. But after a month, you should consider a case of advanced vent gleet that may have progressed into salpingitis, which is an inflammation of the oviduct. This is often characterized by the “penguin” stance or walk … or in your case, perhaps a cowboy swagger. Are you seeing any discharge or caseous exudate? Is she still laying eggs? What do they look like?
Salpingitis can be viral or bacterial in origin. Viruses you treat symptomatically and wait them out. With bacterial salpingitis, you’ll be more likely to see lash eggs. Either way, it never hurts to bathe the vent in povidone-iodine, just in case.
You might also ask a local vet if antibiotics seem appropriate.
Let us know how your hen is getting along.

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