Health of welfare of pet chickens

Always contact a vet if you are concerned about the health and welfare of your chickens and for health check-ups.

Healthy birds are 'bright-eyed', alert and interested. Signs of poor health include:

  • Hunched posture.
  • Erect feathers.
  • Head tucked under the wing. 
  • Reluctance to move. 
  • Hiding in corners.

Feather pecking

Feather pecking is where hens peck and pull at the feathers of other hens, sometimes leading to more serious injuries and even cannibalism. It can affect hens in any system, including commercial farming systems and hens kept as pets. Outbreaks can suddenly occur.

For more information please download the Laying hen feather cover advice guide (PDF: 572KB)


  • Chickens need regular worming, particularly if kept with the same outdoor area for more than one month.
  • Chickens should also be checked regularly for lice and red mites:
  • Lice are 2 to 3 millimetres in size and can be found all over the body with eggs around the shafts of the feathers. 
  • Red mites are smaller and can be found under the wings, or in crevices within the house.
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