I remember a case of a hen with watery green/white scouring for which you recommended an antibiotic,but I can’t find the back number. My hen is about three years old. She’s been a little scoury for about a week and this is clogging her feathers at the vent. She is still eating and preening and usually has access to the garden and orchard.

She has two broody friends who seem fine so it must be something she’s picked up outside. They’re fed on mixed corn and have straw on the floor. Their accommodation is a well ventilated old stable. I’ve lost two other hens to the same thing over the past two years and my vets don’t know what the problem is.John Bakehouse, via emailI hope you’re feeding a proper commercial ration as well as the mixed corn, but as I’ve said before in this column, I don’t like maize in the warmer months as it’s very heating – good in a cold winter, but it can lead to feather pecking problems in summer. The commercial ration (either layer or breeder depending on what you want the hens to do) is to provide the correct balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins so that production is at its best and the health of the hens is maintained. Feeding them mixed corn and household scraps is a recipe for disaster, sooner or later. The scour could be caused by either coccidia (intestinal parasite) or by E coli (bacteria), so if you take a stool sample from the hen to your vet, they can look at it under the microscope and get better information. If it’s coccidiosis, either use Baycox in the water, or if they’re breeding birds, use Coxoid (not licensed for poultry), also in the water. If it’s a bacterial problem, the antibiotic Terramycin 5%, again in the water, is commonly used, so don’t eat eggs for seven days after the end of treatment. VR

Victoria Roberts BVSC MRCVSEmail the Vet’s forum at: vetsforum.csh@archant.co.uk

Disclaimer: The information and advice in this column is given in good faith. However, as the animals in question have not been examined by the author, no liability in respect of diagnosis or application of any treatments is accepted either by the author or by Country Smallholding

Image(s) provided by: