Many people keep hens, both for their eggs and as family pets. Hens are usually pretty healthy birds, but if you discover one of your chooks has developed vent gleet, it's time for a trip to the vet. But what is vent gleet, what causes the condition, and what can your vet do to help? Read on to find out more.
Vent gleet symptoms and causes
If your hen is showing any of the following symptoms, it's likely that she has developed vent gleet:
- smelly, yellowish discharge around the vent
- feathers around the vent crusted and coated with faeces
- feathers around the vent missing
- reddened, irritated skin around the vent
Fortunately, vent gleet is not contagious among hens, although it can affect birds of all ages, and cockerels are at risk of cross-infection if they are allowed to mate with infected hens. For this reason, it's a good idea to separate your cockerel from his harem until you have the vent gleet under control.
Vent gleet is caused by the yeast infection, candida albicans and is brought about by the following:
- eating mouldy corn
- drinking contaminated water
- living in unsanitary conditions
- imbalance in the digestive bacteria in the hen's gut
Treatment and prevention
Your vet will provide you with an oral treatment and an anti-fungal cream for your hen that will help to rebalance the internal bacteria whilst alleviating the external symptoms.
You can also make your chook more comfortable by bathing the vent area and keeping it clean. A good way to do this is by placing some warm water in a large bowl, mixing it with a handful of Epsom salts, and sitting your hen in this 'bath'. Most pet hens actually enjoy this treatment and it will help to clean and soothe the vent area. Dry the hen thoroughly using a clean towel before applying the anti-fungal cream.
There are some steps you can take to prevent vent gleet.
- Clean out the hen's waterers weekly with distilled vinegar.
- Control yeast cultures by adding plain, unsweetened, live yoghurt to the hen's diet once a week. This will help to balance the normal flora in the digestive system.
- Keep the hen run and coop scrupulously clean and dry.
- Never feed mouldy corn and stale food.
- Keep feed safely away from rodents and dampness in sealed, metal bins.
You can help to keep vent gleet away from your chooks by following the simple guidelines above and practicing good management techniques. For further information on vent gleet, and for general advice on keeping your hens healthy, have a chat with your vet.