This week I adopted 4 young layers (two Aracaunas and two Iowa Blues) from a woman in town who is moving out of state. She had A LOT of chickens. The Fella and I had been talking about getting a few more layers, and figured we’d get some chicks once the Freedom Rangers were out of the brooder. That kept getting postponed for one reason or another, so when I saw the post on our local ag listserve about lots of laying hens up for adoption, I decided to go for it!
I noticed something funky about the way they smelled right away, but they had been in a pretty crowded and muddy run, so I figured they were just poopier than my girls ever get. The previous owner said she’d consolidated them into the space to make them easier to catch, and given that there were several other big runs that were empty, I’m inclined to believe her. She also said that the naked butts on some of the girls was because they’d been in with a rooster and he’d been having his way with them.
Fine. I drove home with my 4 stinky new chickens in the back of my tiny car. And then carted them in transport cage in a wheelbarrow up the hill to the henhouse. It was evening and they were pretty freaked out, so I didn’t do much in the way of inspecting them. I waited until it was totally dark before putting them in with my other girls. In the morning all but the two new Aracaunas came right out for breakfast. When I opened the coop to check on those two, I was greeted with a smell so nauseating I truly almost threw up. And that’s when I noticed their butts.
Gross gross gross gross beyond words GROSS! White cheesy pasty nastiness dripping out of their vents (aka buttholes). You don’t get a picture, and you can thank me for it. I’m actually gagging as I write this. Poor girls, they have vent gleet.
Vent gleet is basically a yeast infection. It can be caused by stress, filthy conditions, antibiotics, wormer, etc. There are many remedies out there, from monistat (just like people use) to epsom salts and apple cider vinegar to betadine washes. I’m going to use a multi-pronged approach: 1) add raw apple cider vinegar to their water supply (requires getting a new plastic waterer as mine are galvanized) which will help the sick girls and hopefully keep everyone else healthy; 2) give the sickies an epsom salt soak to clean up their bottoms and help clear up any secondary infections (can’t use antibiotics! for all I know that’s how they got it in the first place); 3) apply betadine and Gentian Violet to the area, which will hopefully suppress the yeast/fungus overgrowth; 4) feed them yogurt to help get their gut flora back into balance. Oh, and definitely give the coop a good scrub down. All the while trying as hard as I can not to puke from the putrid stench.
I don’t know what to say about the woman who I adopted them from. She seemed a nice enough lady, but I mean really? How can you let animals get so sick and not do anything about it? And how can you give them away to other people without telling them about it? It’s super messed up. Luckily it’s not really contagious (although if I don’t treat them then secondary infections, some of which may be contagious, could spread to my healthy hens). But that’s not really the point, is it? If you have animals in your care, you should CARE for them. End of story. I am just really disappointed, although maybe it’s a good thing I got these poor girls out of those awful conditions where they can get treatment and hopefully get better. Anyone who’s had a bad yeast infection or case of athlete’s foot knows what I’m talking about. Ouchie! Poor little chicken butts.
p.s. The hens are otherwise healthy, active, eating, and even laying eggs already, so I am optimistic that they’ll get better with treatment.
p.p.s Here are a few links re: vent gleet that I found very helpful: