By Mark Klassen
Chickens are active creatures and always pecking around, exploring. Watch chickens for a short time and you'll observe that unless they're resting, they're usually actively scrounging and scratching for feed.
If your bird is lethargic and not active this is usually a sign something is not right. It will look like it's cold and not move around much and may stay off to itself. A sick bird will tend to hunch its shoulders and stand with its head pulled in towards the shoulders.
If you can hear wheezing this is not normal and a sign something is not right. You may see the bird walking around with it's beak open looking like it's struggling to breathe (except in hot weather as this is normal). They may look like they have a cold with a runny nose and swollen sinuses.
Chickens should not appear to be stumbling, limping or otherwise look unstable on their feet. Look at their joints to see if there is possibly swelling.
The eyes of a chicken should be bright, clear and alert. If they look cloudy or runny then something is amiss.
Healthy chicken droppings should have some substance to them, usually brown or greyish with white caps. If it is shooting out like water, greeny-yellow diarrhea, white or bloody diarrhea or is pasting to the rear end then consult a veterinarian.
Most of all look at the overall appearance. Its skin should be clean and soft - no sores, scabs or lumps. The legs should be clean and waxy-looking - legs should not look scaly. Chickens should look curious, alert and active. If it seems droopy, disinterested, lethargic or goes off by itself - This should a red flag that something is wrong.
Although this is not all the symptoms you might see, it does outline the most common that you may see and will give you a good idea of what to keep an eye out for when it comes to your flock's health.
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