4 Bacteria that Make Chickens Sick

bacteria that make chickens sick

Bacteria that make chickens sick can come from many sources. Bringing in new flock members, wearing shoes to another poultry farm and then into your coop, are some of the ways bacterial infections can enter your flock. Many of the bacterial infections can result in loss of members of the flock. Prevention and cleanliness would be the key to naturally avoiding bacterial infections. Once a bacterial infection is present, proceed carefully in eradicating it. In many cases, bacteria that make chickens sick, can also make people sick. Wearing gloves, and practicing good handwashing after caring for the chicken are good precautions. 

Four Bacteria that Make Chickens Sick

Infectious Choryza

Infectious Choryza looks like severe cold symptoms. Unfortunately, the disease is caused by a bacteria. Any age chickens can become ill from it. The usual course is 2 to 3 weeks. In many instances mycoplasmosis complicates the healing. Antibiotic treatment is effective on this highly contagious bacteria. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, difficulty breathing and swollen eyelids. Antibiotics are successful in controlling the outbreak and there are preventive vaccines available in areas where outbreaks are common. This is a serious illness, and commercial poultry business has largely eradicated it by using the all in – all out approach. Searching the internet for instances of natural treatment of Infectious Choryza, I came across this rather involved and detailed treatment of a flock using many extracts and herbs.  

Staphylococcus Aureus

Staph infections can be a big problem in a chicken coop or any poultry flock. The bacteria can cause a range of problems but the most common for ducks and chickens would  be the condition commonly referred to as bumblefoot. This is an infection on the bottom of the foot that abscesses. It makes walking on the foot painful for the bird. Cleaning and soaking the foot in an antibacterial solution may help the abscess to clear up. More stubborn cases may require surgery to eliminate the core in the abscess and allow the infection to  heal. Prevent bumblefoot by managing the coop flooring and with regular cleaning. In addition, make  sure that the roost bars do not have splinters or rough patches. If you would like more information on treating Staph infections in chicken and duck feet, read this post.

bacteria that make chickens sick


Escherichia Coli is present in the environment. E.Coli is also present in the intestinal tract of all living birds and animals. Foods that can lead to an unhealthy digestive tract, such as fatty foods, sweets, and too many baked goods can throw off the balance of your chickens’ digestive tract. If the digestive tract gets out of balance, then E.Coli can take over and become a big problem. 

Stress and unsanitary conditions can lead to an outbreak of E.Coli. I believe that probiotics given regularly will help the digestive tract stay healthy. We add homemade apple cider vinegar to the chickens water a few times a week. People often ask me how much ACV to add. My usual answer is about a tablespoon to a gallon of fresh water. However, when I change out the water every day, I estimate the tablespoon amount. Just don’t add too much. You want it in the water but not to change the taste of the water completely. Cleaning water bowls and feed pans regularly, keeping droppings cleaned up and not allowing the poultry area to stay wet and damp will also help prevent an outbreak.

Salmonella Pullorum

 I hope you never have a case of Salmonella Pullorum. Salmonella can affect any species of fowl but is usually limited to turkeys and chickens. The bacteria is then transmitted through the egg to the chick from infected hens, and from chick to chick in the incubator. It is deadly in young chicks, with many dying early with no symptoms shown. There can be carriers of the bacteria too. The recommendation is to not keep a flock that has experienced an out break as the recovered flock members will be carriers. I realize that this is a very painful decision to make. If you get a confirmed diagnosis of Salmonella, it is very dire. 

bacteria that make chickens sick

Some tips for reducing stress include:

  • On a happier note, when feeding a good quality ration, adding herbs and natural probiotics to the diet, and reducing stress in the flock will keep them more resistant to bacteria that make chickens sick.
  • Wearing different shoes when visiting anyone with a flock of poultry
  • You keep a strict quarantine of at least 30 days for any new chickens being added to the flock
  • Utilizing a routine
  • Making sure the coop is well ventilated and fresh smelling
  • Removing and quarantining any chickens who appear ill
  • Providing  a safe place from predators

As we head into the colder months in many parts of our country, I hope you have a safe and healthy winter. Please add any suggestions you have for keeping your flock free from bacteria that make chickens sick.

bacteria that make chickens sick