Prevention of respiratory disease involves ensuring good air quality in the coop. Whilst we
ourselves tend to want to wrap up and keep warm in the winter, this
does not
apply to our
birds (unless moulting). Poultry have excellent feather cover to insulate them against the
cold. The only part of them that can suffer is their combs and wattles, and putting Vaseline
on their comb and wattles on frosty nights can prevent frost bite. Always ensure in the
winter that your birds have good air flow but not draughts in their coops. If you have
ongoing respiratory infections in your birds, it may be worth discussing vaccination with
your nearest chicken-friendly vet practice. Please remember however that vaccines alone
will not work if the air is stuffy in your coop.
Should the worst happen and your birds get a respiratory infection, do not panic. Just as
with you and me, seeing a Doctor/Vet is not always necessary and many colds will get
better on their own without antibiotics. Whilst we typically reach for eucalyptus and
peppermint oils, there is a version for your birds too called Mintamix (a blend of pepper-
mint and eucalyptus). This liquid can be either added to your bird’s drinking water or
added to a bowl of hot water to form a vapour to assist their breathing.
However, if any of your birds appear dull/depressed or have had respiratory symptoms for
more than 7-10 days then consult your vet.
Ideally, your chooks should be wormed either every three months or they should be tested
every three months for worms using a droppings sample. At a very minimum, your birds
should be wormed every six months, in spring and autumn.
Worms can reduce your birds’ ability to absorb nutrients thus leading to weight loss and
The easiest wormer to use in backyard flocks is Flubenvet which can be purchased and
mixed in the food for seven days or alternatively some feed suppliers can provide you with
feed that has Flubenvet already mixed in; this should also be fed for seven days.
For keepers with larger flocks, there is now an in-water licensed wormer for backyard
chickens called Flimabo. This unfortunately only comes in large packs and, as such, is
only suitable for owners with over 50 chickens.
The eggs from birds being medicated with either Flubenvet or Flimabo can be safely
Preparing for winter