FEATHER, SKIN AND
FEATHER, SKIN AND LEG CONDITIONS
- Loss of feathers can be caused by mite
infestations. These cause irritation and result in scratching and loss
- Deficiency of certain nutrients and stress
factors such as overcrowding can also result in pecking among chickens
(cannibalism), leading to the loss of feathers.
This condition is the result of failure of the
feathers to rupture from their sheaths. The underlying cause is vitamin B2
Different parasites can be seen on the head and
body of chickens. These parasites appear as black, brown or red "spots" on
chickens. These are mites, fleas, lice and ticks.
Pox is a viral disease that is transmitted by
mosquitoes. Pox sores are seen on the unfeathered areas such as the head,
neck, feet and legs. The sores begin as red pimples which develop into
pimples filled with fluid (vesicles) and then pus (pustules). Finally, as
the pustules burst open, crusts or scabs form.
- Any stress-related factor such as
overcrowding or bringing new birds into the flock will cause
- Salt deficiency can also be a cause.
- Chickens can also be seen with bite wounds
- Chicken mites survive by sucking chickens'
blood. With excessive mite infestation a lot of blood will be lost,
resulting in an anaemic chicken with a pale skin, wattles and
- Yellow skin can be normal or abnormal.
Chickens that are fed yellow maize as part of their diet have a yellow
- Abnormally yellow skin is mostly seen in the
case of the disease called
- Aegyptionellosis, which is caused by a blood
parasite that infects the red blood cells.
- This is seen in any severe condition of the
bloodstream when bacteria (septicaemia) or viruses (viraemia) are
circulating. In diseases such as Newcastle disease, wattles may
sometimes show a bluish discoloration.
This condition is caused by mites and
is frequently seen in backyard chickens. The legs are rough and scaly.
The mites burrow under the skin of the legs and cause thickening and
roughening of the scales.
This condition can be treated by dipping the
legs in an acaricide. Fractures
Swollen joints (arthritis)
The germ that usually causes swollen
joints in chickens is Mycoplasma synoviae and Staphylococcus
aureus. The most commonly affected joints are the hocks.
- Broken bones are often seen as a result of
- Deficiency or imbalance of calcium and
phosphate causes bones to break easily.
Curled toe paralysis
condition may be seen in chicks if their feed has been low in vitamin
B2. The toes frequently curl inward and they may be unable to
Rickets is caused by a relative or
absolute deficiency in calcium, phosphorus and/or vitamin D3 or
imbalances in the ratio of these nutrients.
Chickens with rickets walk with difficulty
and have soft bones and beaks.
- This disease can be seen in two forms. The
one affects the internal organs whereas the other affects the nerves.
When the thigh and leg nerves areaffected, chickens lie on the ground
with one leg backwards and the other turned forwards. Skin lesions are
sometimes seen with Marek's disease.
PREVENTION OF FEATHER,
SKIN AND LEG CONDITIONS
- Parasites such as mites and fleas can be
killed and controlled by using powder chemicals, e.g. carbadust. Chicken
houses can also be sprayed with a chemical such as 10 % malasol to kill
the parasites living in cracks and crevices.
- Feed a good-quality diet or give mineral
supplements where indicated.
For further information contact
your nearest animal health technician or state/private veterinarian
Animal Health for Developing
Private Bag X05, Onderstepoort 0110
Tel (012) 529
Resource Centre, Department of
Tel (012) 319 7141/7085
Directorate Communication, Department
in cooperation with ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary
Printed and published by Department of
and obtainable from Resource Centre, Directorate
Private Bag X144, Pretoria, 0001 South Africa
publication is available on the web:
Animal Health for Developing Farmers
Private Bag X05, Onderstepoort 0110