Avian Pathology Cases: 28

This series is a partnership between Bitchin’ Chickens and Dr Vicki Bowes, vet/avian pathologist. We get together to chat about interesting chicken health issues and attempt to come up with a diagnosis or treatment options based on the information we have, which often isn’t much.

Recently we worked through 50 cases and I’ve grouped some of them according to location (i.e. head, legs and feet) and issues related to injuries. This one is all about the conditions that are visible on the skin.

Impacted Uropygial Gland

Dr Bowes: Treat with a hot compress, poultice and topical antibiotic cream.

Abdominal Lump

My neighbours noticed this hard lump on their one-year-old hen about one week ago. What can they do? – Dana Mize

Dr Bowes: I would need to examine it to see how it feels, if it was skin based or on a stalk. My first impression is it’s a hernia and the white area might be mesentery, maybe it’s a skin lump. If it’s the latter, a vet could remove it. My concern is that it will get abraded and infected.


Dr Bowes: Although it appears to be an issue with a broken feather I’m more concerned by the proliferation of skin on the leg. I think this is folliculitis, a form of Marek’s Disease.


My rooster was lethargic and the area around his vent is covered in yellow stuff. Our avian vet didn’t have a diagnosis but prescribed Tribrissen twice daily (antibiotic) and Meloxicam twice daily (pain) and crate rest.

Dr Bowes: It might be urine scald due to conformation issues. I would treat as dermatitis with a topical antibiotic like Polysporin and Hibitaine.  Do what you can to keep the area clean.


One of my eight-week-old chicks is developed this blister like thing on her back. Any suggestions on what I should do? – Dan Ladd

Dr Bowes: It appears to be an impacted feather follicle. Monitor for any changes; it may not cause a problem.

Chronic Dermatitis

Dr Bowes: My first instinct is to think these are cases of chronic dermatitis like favus. Clean the area with Hibitaine three times/day and topical antibiotics. You can also use Tinactin, an over-the-counter product for athlete’s foot. Treat for external parasites (i.e. lice and mites) that might be the source of the skin irritation.


Dr Bowes: This is a mild case compared to the ones above, but treat in the same way.

Well that wraps up another edition of Show & Tell With Bitchin’ Chickens and Dr Bowes. I hope that it’s been a learning experience for you.

If you’d like help with a case drop me a line using the ‘contact’ button on my home page. Remember to wear gloves, take good close up photos from several angles and supply us with plenty of information (e.g. timelines, symptoms, medications, general flock health, etc) so we’re able to more accurately pinpoint what’s going on.

Thanks again to Dr Vicki Bowes for her willingness to share her wealth of knowledge and experience to build capacity and skills in small flock keepers.

Featured photo: Chicken Whisperer Magazine

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