Avian Pox: Chicken pox for Chickens

Monday we vaccinated 44 chicks for the Avian Pox. It went rather well we thought, took us about 35 minutes start to finish. We put all the 6 week old chicks into the West Wing, set up a saw horse with supplies, put the perch rack, weeds, grit bowl and water bowls into the East Wing which was “recovery”.  I grabbed  a chick, after a short chase, turned her upside down holding her head in my left hand and feet in my right. Our son-in-law Tony held onto the vaccine so we wouldn’t knock it over and spill it. Ken’s job was the actual vaccination, he cleared the wing web area of feathers if needed, then inserted the double prong applicator in the webbing. When that was done I uprighted the chick and called to my Grand-daughter Gabriella who was manning the East wing door, Open! or Recovery! It was her job to watch and make sure they were all normal and doing well. She loves playing Vet so she was in heaven.

East and West wings adjoining Coop

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West Wing



We decided to vaccinate our new chicks because around the end of March on our original hens, I noticed some marks on the wattles and combs of a few hens, especially the buff orpington, a few days later it was worse and I noticed marks on the other hens as well. After research and confirmation from our vet, we had an outbreak of “chicken pox for chickens” or “Avian pox”.  There is no cure and the information we gathered indicated they’d be lethargic, off their food as well as slowing down the egg laying. It was too late for vaccinations at this point. We cleaned the coop, run and nests to get rid of as much infected rubbish as we could, then just let nature run it’s course. It looked like the dry type vs. the wet more dangerous type. We stopped the communal snacks like yogurt and cold water bowls and waited. Fortunately, chicken pox is not contagious to humans and visa versa.

They seemed normal, not really any tiredness apparent. The egg laying was as usual. The worst part of this whole experience was how ugly the poor things looked. I thought they would be scared for life. But they are finally beginning to recover and heal.  For our flock it was about a three month window from infection to noticeable healing. We are very happy that they were strong and healthy to begin with and managed to recover quite nicely. We plan to spare our new chicken this ugliness, luckily they look better these days, barely some lightening where the scabs were.

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