Ask the Expert: Oct/Nov 2022

Ask the Expert: Oct/Nov 2022

Honey Bees in Chicken Feed 

Honey bees are taking over the chicken feed. What can I do to keep them away? 

ElmaLinda Ware 


Hi ElmaLinda, 

It can be confusing when honey bees populate around chicken food. But the bees are looking for a protein source when protein (pollen) is scarce during a time of year. Don’t worry; the bees and chickens can coexist, though your chickens might try to eat a bee or two. But you can help the bees by providing a water source and a protein source in an area away from the chicken feed. The water can be a pie plate with rocks or marbles in the water, so the bees have a place to stand while drinking. Protein sources include pollen substitutes or pollen patties, which you can find at apiary supply websites. As for human interaction with bees, keep in mind that they don’t want to sting you and will only do so if they feel immediately threatened. So, if you’re allergic, time your feedings, so you put the chicken feed out early in the morning, before the bees come out, then again in the evening, after the bees have gone to bed. 

Good luck! 



Fertilizer Conundrums 

New chicken owners! We let them free range in our yard. My husband not thinking put a weed killing fertilizer on our lawn. After he was done, he realized what he had just done. The 8-week-old chickens got grounded to the run. I feel like I took them out of the garden of Eden and sent them to the desert. It’s a great coop and run but they loved roaming my yard. How long do I need to keep them off the lawn before it is safe again? He used a pellet and watered well. 
Jill Jacobson  

 Hello Jill, 
Welcome to being a chicken mum!!! 
Most contemporary spray fertilizers are designed to evaporate within 48-72 hours. You can increase the evaporation by watering the fertilized area again and letting it dry thoroughly.  
For pellets with ingredients such as glyphostate, current laws mandate that they break-down within 14 days of application.   
To stay safe, keep your chickens off the fertilized area for three weeks, and then let those young birds run wild and enjoy tons of bugs and tasty greens.  


Crop Surgery – Again 

Do you know if crop surgery can be performed more than once? We have a chicken who has already had the surgery. It has been about two months and we believe it’s impacted again. Is it okay to perform the surgery again or will this cause too much damage to her crop? 
Chelsea Seiman 


Yes, you can repeat crop surgery, and in some cases, you will have to repeat surgery to clear an impaction.  
We always recommend that you consult a vet to be on the safe side. That said, if a needle is being used to extract fluid, choose a different area than a previous needle insertion.  If the crop is being incised to remove solids (long-bladed grass is a particular offender), you’ll need to do wound care afterwards. The bird will develop some scar tissue as it heals, but if the wound is kept clean and the bird is isolated, they usually heal quite well.  
If you know that your bird is prone to crop impaction, you may want to be sure to keep them strictly on chicken feed and restrict their injection of grasses, leaves, and other things they find while ranging.  
Let us know what happens! 
Carla Tilghman 


Cochin Rooster 

My 3yr old Giant Cochin rooster is ill. Went out today and found him sitting by himself. I picked him up (he felt light) and looked at his vent. Good Lord! It was all impacted. I held him under a faucet and diligently worked at getting all of the gook off of him. Some of it was pure white. Anyway, 3 hours later I went back out. He again was sitting. I picked him up and looked at his vent. He is secreting a white liquid in a very thin line from his vent. He doesn’t look well at all. Please help! 

Cynthia Larson 


Hello Cynthia, 
So sorry about your roo!!! 
This sounds like vent gleet, which is a symptom of several possible issues: pH imbalance, fungal infection, bacterial infection, or internal parasites irritating the cloaca. We always recommend that you touch base with a vet, but also realize that there isn’t always a vet available who deals with chickens. So here are treatment steps that you can take: 
– Quarantine your rooster so that other birds won’t pick on him, and in case of parasites, so he doesn’t transmit them. 
– Lots of fresh water. And consider adding in a probiotic or anti-fungal (such as RopaPoultry Oregano). 
– Offer him grit to help digest food better.   
– Gently clean the vent area every day just as you are doing with clean, warm water. 
– You might also carefully trim the feathers around the vent to help keep everything cleaner. 
– Finally, you can try using an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream.  Gently rub some on the vent after the daily cleaning.  
For the future, you can prevent vent gleet in several ways: 
– Limit “treats”.  Especially scratch grains with a lot of corn, which is high in sugars, and can accelerate a bacterial infection, and give yeasts extra food to grow.  
-Always provide grit separate from their food.  Your birds will eat it when they need it. 
– Lots of fresh water.  
I know that it’s super stressful when our birds are ill. I hope this helps and your rooster recovers quickly. Let me know how he’s doing.  


Chicken Livers for Chickens 

Hi Marissa, 

This is Ann from San Francisco again. That big, heavy Orpington  with the pale comb has lost a lot of feathers from her lower “breast.” I noticed her sneeze 3 times today when I was feeding her some cooked chicken liver. They all love it! Big Olive became interested after the others greedily snatched it up. My husband and I have noticed that she sits down on the deck or cement a lot (even though I put down cardboard and a soft rag for her) 

 In addition to the Lay Crumbles I give her dry meal worms and cabbage. She has a good appetite. I was hoping that the pale comb was anemia. I suppose that I will have to bring her in for testing. Any other suggestions as to what this might be?  Or tests to run? I hate to spend hundreds of dollars on a chicken I was given, but I also don’t want to infect my existing flock. (She is so   heavy I thought she might be filled with tumors.) 

 Thanks again for your help, 



Hi Ann, 

 Do you have an avian veterinarian near you? It sounds like it’s time to get a diagnosis from someone who can prescribe antibiotics if necessary. The feather loss, the heaviness, and the tendency to sit down a lot could be indications of ascites (water belly), fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome, or salpingitis (infection of the oviduct). Fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome is when the livers of overweight hens will hemorrhage (hence the pale combs) and the hens die shortly thereafter, and it occurs most often in the spring and summer. Salpingitis is often curable if caught early enough, and some cases of ascites are due to bacterial infection. Unfortunately, many ascites cases are because of organ failure, and there’s not much that we can do other than keeping them comfortable. So, your next step would be to get that diagnosis so you know which direction to take next. 

 Good luck, and I hope it’s something that is curable and/or doesn’t affect your existing flock. 

Hi Marissa, 

I wanted to let you know that All the chickens LOVED the cooked chicken liver. Big Olive’s comb started getting darker red. But I took her to the vet. He checked her over and gave her a vitamin (B?) shot, said that it would last a month. Also I gave her antibiotics twice a day for 2 weeks. She seems fine and has joined the flock. I can’t eat her eggs for 8 weeks! but I will feed them back to the chickens. 

 I didn’t need to worry about something awful, thanks for your advice. 




Duck’s Neck 


 I am a first-time duck mom, with four ducklings (two Rouens and two Khaki Campbells) who are 1 month old. Just this morning, I noticed one of the Rouens will not stretch her neck all the way out – it is not sideways, as you might expect with wry neck. She turns it side to side, tries to preen a little, she is walking normally, etc. She will eat and drink a little, but just is not as active as normal (or as the other ducklings). I have seen her stretch it out a bit, but she is just keeping it retracted closer to her body most of the time. Her poop looks pretty normal. I am hoping her neck is just sore, possibly from one of my kids trying to pick her up or something. But I just want to make sure I am not missing anything. Thank you! 
Jessica Martin 


Dear Jessica, 
Sorry to hear about your duck’s neck!  If she’s walking okay and the neck isn’t twisted, I’m assuming it’s just sore. However wry neck happens in ducks, so it wouldn’t hurt for you to provide a poultry vitamin just in case, since ducks need so much niacin and thiamine. 
Thiamine is B1 vitamin, so look at foods that contain thuaminases such as milled rice, clams, shrimp, and fresh fish. Adult ducks should be getting a daily dose of 5 mg.  Most commercial feeds include around this amount, but check your feed to be sure. And supplement judiciously if you need to.  
Good luck, and let us know how it turns out. 


Small Chick 

My baby chicken is smaller than the rest and acts really weird like just standing there when the other chicks are running around. Can I help her? 
Charlotte Moses 

Dear Charlotte, 
There are a couple things you can check, but unfortunately, some chicks just don’t thrive.  Make sure that the chick’s butt is clear of all poop.  “Pasty butt” can be treated by holding the chick’s bum in warm water and gently soaking off any stuck poop. Is the chick drinking?  



Something broke into our cage and drug-ff three chickens. All we found were feathers across the road.  Which predator can it be? 



Hello Lori, 
I’m so sorry to hear about predators taking your chickens.  Below is a link to an article about predators that may be helpful in identifying exactly what’s getting your birds.  But when chickens are taken like that, with only some feathers left, the answer is usually “raccoons.” Possums like to chew the heads off where they kill the birds, foxes also often gut the bird where they kill it.   
Look around your coop for even tiny openings; raccoons can slip through surprisingly small openings. Check all the way around the base, look at the top for openings between boards, or anything that can be pried open.  



Swollen leg 

Hi, my chicken started sitting too much, and I noticed her leg was swollen.  She’s a Brahma. I don’t see any scratches or cuts so I started giving her epsom salt baths to see if it would help. She stands, but not for a long period of time.  I’ve been keeping her separate from the flock.  Can you help? 



Hello Frank, 
There are several possibilities to check out.  Is it swollen above the hock (thigh) or down in the foot? If the thigh area is swollen, she most likely injured it and is just trying to rest so the leg can heal. Isolation is best, until that leg rests, so she doesn’t have to fight off other chickens. But she will soon get lonely, so she will want to go back into the coop with the others.  
If the foot is swollen, it can be one of two things. Check the bottom of the foot for a sore or scab, because this indicates bumblefoot: a staph infection caused by bacteria entering a small cut within the foot. This happens easily if the chicken jumps down from a high perch or walks on rough surfaces. Bumblefoot can often be resolved by soaking the foot – as you did – then removing the scab so you can remove the infection. Be sure to wear gloves, because staph bacteria can cause nasty infections in humans, too. If your chicken doesn’t have a sore that indicates bumblefoot, then she might have gout. This is because of kidney damage, and it can be genetic or occur from urates accumulating in the body from too much protein in the diet. Maintaining that protein balance can be tricky. Once a chicken has gout, there is no cure, but you can install perches that are more comfortable and encourage the chicken to drink more water to flush the urates out of her body. Gout usually affects both feet, so if only one foot is swollen, it’s usually because of bumblefoot. 

Here is a great story on leg and foot problems and what you can do about them: 

We hope this helps! 



Spots on Eggs 

All of a sudden, I’m seeing white spots and rings on egg yolks in my chicken’s eggs.  What are they? 
Cathy Yosburg 

Hi Cathy, 

This could be one of several things. For instance, a tiny white spot is the blastodisc, a normal part of the egg. If the egg has been fertilized, it turns into a ring called a blastoderm. This egg, if incubated, would develop a chick. 

 Here’s a photo (from Meyer Hatchery Blog): 

Sometimes, you will see a much larger spot or ring. That’s because of the weather. When an egg sits too long in one spot, the yolk settles and can congeal a little bit as the heat causes more evaporation within the shell. This happens even with the freshest eggs, if your weather is hot and the egg isn’t brought into the house soon enough. If this egg sat too much longer, that yolk might stick to the site of the shell then break when the shell breaks. If you crack an egg that sat in the summer heat, and the yolk has ruptured, that’s usually why. The best way to avoid this is simply to collect eggs longer. 

We hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any further questions. 



Turkey Poults 

Our turkey babies are sick. One baby acts drunk, not steady on legs and not gaining weight. The one that died, labor in breath and just laying on ground. The ones that got to 3 months, perfect, then labor breath and then die. We need help. 


Your poults are likely suffering from Avian Rhinotracheitis (ART), which is highly survivable over all, but you should check with your local vet or Ag extension to see if they can test for Mycoplasma bacteria. The Avian virus will simply run its course, but the Mycoplasma bacteria will require antibiotics and strong biosecurity measures.  At a minimum, you need to isolate the poults from any other animals (particularly birds, including wild birds.) Any poults with symptoms should be put down immediately, and realistically, any birds with which they’ve had contact.  
Let me know how it goes. 


Ambient Temperature 

I am getting chicks and plan on keeping them in my garage which is 90 degrees. Do I still need a heater for them? 



Hello Dania, 

The recommendations for temperature control are based on the basal temperatures of the chicks themselves, and the need to replication the temperature of the mother hen.  Typically, chicks should be kept at 95 degrees F at hatch, and then the temperature dropped 5 degrees each week down to 80 degrees.  
However, if the ambient temperature is the same as the brooder temperature, then yes, the chicks should do fine without needing a heat lamp.  
Thanks for writing to us, and let me know if I can answer any other questions.  Happy chicks!! 



Pecking Poultry 

I have a chicken that we believe is being pecked at. What can I apply to the spots to have the others stop doing that? I have seen two pecking at her and have taken them from the flock and separated them. 

Lori Burnett 


Dear Lori, 
I recommend Rooster Booster’s Pick-No-More on the pecked spots, and then dab with some cornstarch. The cornstarch keeps the wounds looking dry and less enticing, while the ingredients will help the wounds seal and heal (aloe vera gel, coal tar distillate, and tea tree oil, in particular.) 
Hens generally peck each other when they are stressed, or bored, one of them is sick, or there is overcrowding.  It’s worth evaluating your flock to see if any of these conditions apply.   
If you can, keep the birds separate until the wounds are fully healed. 


Introducing New Birds 

We have been trying to introduce two adult Brahma chickens to our Buff Orpington and Plymouth Rock. They refuse to allow the Brahma’s into the coop the first year. The second year, they peck them all the time. Is this normal? 

Denise Horan 


Hello Denise, 
About the pecking. Yeah, chickens aren’t so good at the “be excellent to each other” motto. Pecking is all about dominance, and older chickens will pick on newer ones introduced to the flock. I thought that our huge Brahmas would dominate everyone, but the Golden Comets rule the roost, and we have several feisty Bantams.  
When you introduce new birds, sometimes it’s useful to put them in a separate pen first, and let them all sniff each other out for a week or so before they have to occupy the same space. This doesn’t work every time, but it’s pretty effective. If you get new birds, you might try this to see if the older birds are more accepting. 




I’m new to raising chickens, just over one year now. I have two roosters and 25 hens. Only the hens seem to have mites?? I’ve used diatomaceous earth in their dust bath, in their coop and rub it into the worst infected. I feel like I’m hitting my head against a wall. Can you help?? 

Page Break 

Dear Carla, 
Mites are a pain to treat.  Here are several suggestions for a multi-layered approach.  
First off, have you cleaned out the whole coop?  Get rid of old hay or bedding. Wash down surfaces with a 4% bleach solution.  Sprinkle diatomaceous earth before you put down new bedding.  
Chemical treatments: 
Don’t use all at once, but pick one based on what’s available in your area.  
Ivermectin will kill mites and lice. Draw up some of the solution in an eyedropper and squeeze several drops onto the back of the neck for each bird.  
Sevin dust: dust the birds once a week until no mites are visible. 

Permethrin: make sure it is labeled for poultry.  Permethrin is usually an ingredient in products for mites and lice such as Adam’s spray. You may be able to find a 10% concentrate from places like Tractor Supply Co.  Create a diluted solution (with water) according to the label on the bottle. If you add some soap (a surfactant) to the fluid, it will mix better, and will stick your birds better.  
For all of these treatments, wear gloves and a mask 

Nature treatments: 

These treatments can be used together.  
Dab some diluted neem oil onto your birds’ necks. 
Keep using the diatomaceous earth. 

Add some fresh garlic to their feed.  
Good luck and let me know what works for you! 
The other Carla  


Chicken Lungs 

Would you please advise if it is true that hens held on their backs are unable to breathe? 

 Many thanks 

Lynn Yamas 


Hi Lynn, 
I got your question about chickens on their backs and breathing.  
The short answer is no, they won’t really suffocate unless they have underlying respiratory issues. 
The longer answer is that hens don’t breathe as well on their backs, and might eventually struggle if kept on their back for a long time.  Chickens don’t have a rib cage and intercostal muscles like humans do.  Those intercostal muscles, along with the diaphragm, open our lungs from more than one direction to pull air into our lungs.   
Chickens, on the other hand, “inhale” passively. Air moves from the lungs (which are not shaped like human lungs at all) into four major air sacs and the pneumatic bones, that distribute air to the rest of the body, cooling, oxygenating, and providing buoyancy.  
If a chicken is on its back, it’s harder for air to move into the lungs to begin with.  


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