Hens are really good at disguising the fact that they are unwell. This is a natural defense mechanism, because hens don’t want to appear vulnerable to predators.
Because of this diarrhoea or a discharge from her vent and soiled feathers may go unnoticed. Your hen may also stop preening and grooming and be more reluctant to move around. All of this makes a perfect storm for a fly to land on your hen and lay its eggs in the soiled feathering. This is known as fly strike.
If this is not spotted quickly the eggs will very quickly hatch and the tiny maggots will burrow into the skin.
This is a very serious situation and if not quickly addressed the hen can die.
Immediately you see any sign of maggots bath the affected area in warm water with a mild antiseptic such as Savlon. This will remove the obvious maggots, but there may well be damage to the skin and microscopic maggots that are difficult to remove. Make an appointment urgently for a vet to see her. She may need more aggressive treatment to kill off the remaining infestation.
Here is a picture of Jezebel Powell. Jezebel’s mum acted quickly when she found fly strike and saved the day with a lovely warm bath.
If you would like to ask Gaynor a hen health question please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Hen Central on 01884 860084.