Chicken Health

Northern Fowl Mites

Northern Fowl Mites are common external parasites that live on the body of chickens and feed on their blood. They are the most aggressive of all the mite species, feeding both day and night, never leaving the host, and therefore are the most detrimental to the chicken’s health. These mites can cause anemia and, if untreated, sometimes death. Northern Fowl Mites are most common in caged layer facilities; however all chickens are at risk in winter months when mites are most prevalent. 

 Image Credit:

Sanitation and cleanliness are the best ways to keep mite infestations under control. Mites can be dropped in by wild birds such as sparrows, or brought in by rodents who enter the coop in search of food. Humans can also act as carriers picking up mites on clothing from poultry shows, or transferring them from coop to coop.

Diatomaceous Earth is good to use as preventative maintenance. It can be used in a dust baths with sand, or as 12% weight in water as a spray. Other insecticides can also be added to dusting areas, nesting boxes, and bedding including Permethrin. 

Quarantining new birds is a good idea if they’re acquired from poultry shows or from non-reputable dealers. Always be sure to purchase from dealers who guarantee the health of their birds.

Most importantly, it is good to regularly inspect your birds for internal and external parasites. 

Life Cycle and Reproductive Cycle
The life cycle and reproductive cycle of the Northern Fowl Mite is very quick! Eggs hatch within 24 hours from the time they are laid, and full maturity is reached within four days of hatching; meaning that infestations can begin quickly and grow rapidly. They live on their host for 2-3 weeks. After 3 weeks with no host, Northern Fowl Mites cannot survive. 

Symptoms and Signs
Northern Fowl Mites are tiny red/brown insects that can be found on the body near the vent, tail, and throat during the day but are so small and microscopic that you may need a magnifying glass or microscope to see them. Other signs are scabby skin and discoloration on the feathers where they lay their eggs and leave their waste. Because they gather near the vent, roosters tend to experience a drop in fertility.

The blood sucking Northern Fowl Mite can exist in large enough numbers on chickens to cause anemia. Signs of anemia in your chickens can include the following:

  • Slowed growth
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Drop in egg production
  • Reduced immunity to other diseases
  • Weight loss
  • Pale combs
  • Death


If mites are detected, an insecticide must be used to eliminate the population. Mites are more resistant to insecticides than lice are, so the insecticide used may need to be changed or rotated depending on the results. Not only the birds need to be treated to eliminate the population of mites, but also the coop including the roosts, nesting boxes, and all the walls. Repetitive treatments are necessary approximately once a week for three weeks to kill all the life stages of mites. The following are appropriate insecticides:


  • Prozap Insectrin Dust
  • PoultryGuard
  • Ivermectin
  • Permethrin


Diatomaceous earth does significantly reduce the population of mites as a treatment, but cannot eliminate them. Other organic treatments can include products such as PyTGanic Pro which uses the active ingredient Pyrethrum: a botanical insecticide made from chrysanthemums.  Orange Guard can be used to clean the coop and roosts, but not directly on the birds. 


Clearing out the coop for three weeks of all poultry will also eradicate all Northern Fowl Mites existing in the coop. 



Damerow, Gail. Store’ys Guide to Raising Chickens. Third. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2010. Print.


Jacob, Jacquie, Tony Pescatore, and Austin Cantor. “Common continuous parasites of poultry.”University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. University of Kentucky, n.d. Web. 10 Oct 2012. <;.


John, Laura E.. “Controlling Mites in Your Poultry Flock.” Backyard Poultry. Backyard Poultry Magazine, n.d. Web. 10 Oct 2012. <;.


Pickworth, Carrie L., and Teresa Y. Morishita. “Common External Parasites in Poultry: Lice and Mites.” The Ohio State University FactSheet Extension. Ohio State University, n.d. Web. 10 Oct 2012. <;.


“Poultry Production in Mississippi.” MSUcares. Mississippi State University, 14 OCT 2010. Web. 10 Oct 2012. <;.


Fresh Eggs

Double Yolk Eggs

Although double yolk eggs are not rare (about 1/500 eggs), they are still really exciting to find and they have been throughout history. Some used to believe it was good luck in general while others believed it was a sign of an upcoming marriage or death. Whatever you choose to believe, it is still fun to crack open a large egg to see a double yolk plop in your pan! Consumers of store bought factory eggs hardly see these since they are usually separated from the eggs to make egg products instead. It makes finding them in your own coop even more special!

Double Yolk Egg in a Skillet = JOY


Reproductive Mistake


Double yolk eggs are a reproductive mistake that happen for a couple different reasons. The reproductive error can be hereditary, or it can be attributed to the age of the chicken. Chickens with a hereditary reproductive error will lay double yolk eggs occasionally or often through their entire life. Others may only lay them when they first start to lay eggs or at the end of their laying cycle. A young pullet that is just beginning to lay may have more trouble than others with synchronizing her reproductive cycle. Some may release eggs too quickly causing more than one to be enveloped in albumen (egg white), membrane, and shell. Some reproductive systems will actually lose track of egg yolks causing another to drop and connect to the first. Most girls will find a rhythm and begin to lay single yolk eggs regularly. At the end of a hen’s laying cycle, she may begin to sputter again and lay odd eggs including double yolk eggs.

A normal egg & a double yolk egg


Eating Double Yolk Eggs

There is nothing wrong with eating a double yolk egg! Its twice the nutrition in one shell! Great if you have hungry boys running around the house…

Hatching Double Yolk Eggs


Unfortunately, double yolk eggs will not hatch. There have been success stories with help from science and lady luck, but the chances are slim. First, there is not enough room in the egg for both chicks to develop. They will push against each other, and likely smother each other inside the shell. It would be more likely for one to pass, and one to live. Secondly, there is not enough air in the shell’s pocket for both. Lastly, even if there was enough air, it would be highly unlikely that both were positioned inside the shell to face the air sack due to a lack of space.

Egg Records


By account, the record for the most yolks in one egg is nine! The record for the world’s largest egg, however, is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records with 5 yolks and 9 inches in diameter! The record for the world’s heaviest egg is a double yolk egg with two shells and weighing in at 1 pound.  

Variations in size from ‘Extra Large’ to ‘Off the Charts’



Damerow, Gail. Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. Third. North Adams: Storey Publishing, 2010. 223-24. Print.

“Egg Food Safety Frequently Asked Questions.” Egg Safety Center. N.p., 2010. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <


“Egg Problems.” Avian Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <;.


Theer, Pete. “Odd Eggs, Double Yolks, No Yolks, etc.”PoultryHelp. N.p., 11 Feb 2011. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <>.


“What Causes Double Yolks?” Better Hens and Gardens. WordPress, 13 Apr 2011. Web. 1 Oct 2012. 

Chicken Health

Wrinkled Eggs

Fresh eggs are a great way to eat healthy. As an egg connoisseur or as a backyard chicken owner, it’s important to understand what your eggs are telling you by their shape, color, texture, and size. These varied and unique qualities can be an indication of the chicken’s age, chicken’s health, chicken’s breed, and the quality of the egg itself. This is the beginning of a series on dozens of egg qualities, so you’ll know what’s going on with your chickens and your eggs; although we still can’t tell you which came first.


Wrinkled Eggs


 Wrinkled eggs can make your jaw drop. Some can be shaped normally but look corrugated or wavy all over or sometimes just at the tip. Others might resemble a potato or a fluffed pillow with one flat side and a few wrinkles. 




Watery Albumen


 Watery albumen, or egg white, makes it harder for the hen’s reproductive organs to form an eggshell around it. Watery albumen occurs more often during hot weather, in flocks with poor water quality, and in older hens. If you have a young and healthy flock, and just an occasional misshapen egg, you might need to pay more attention to the flock’s water quality and/or its access to shade. This does not indicate that the egg is unsafe for consumption.



Reproductive Mistake


Occasionally a hen’s ovaries will drop two yolks at the same time. If eggshell forms around both yolks together, the hen will lay a single egg with two yolks. Other times, the eggshell forms over each yolk separately, creating two separate eggs in her reproductive system at the same time. This puts pressure on the side of the eggs. Sometimes one egg will look impacted, and sometimes both will. These mistakes are all a matter of timing, and tend to happen when a chicken in just beginning to lay or if she incurs some matter of stress. They are perfectly safe to eat. 




Infectious Bronchitis is a viral infection that is caused by the coronavirus. Symptoms of Infectious Bronchitis include coughing, sneezing, wheezing, or rattling. Eyes may become watery, breathing may become difficult, and the eyes or head may swell. Egg production will slow or stop, and wrinkled eggs may be formed for different reasons.


First, the virus makes the albumen water. Second, Infectious Bronchitis damages the reproductive organs in addition to the respiratory, urinary, and gastrointestinal organs. Although production may resume after the hen has recovered from the illness, it may never return to normal: misshapen eggs or low production will indicate the signs of lesions remaining from the infection.



Copper Deficiency


Copper deficiency has also been studied as a cause of misshapen eggs including abnormalities in size, shape, and egg shell texture. In shape, some eggs from copper deficient hens can appear to have two blunt sides of the egg. In texture, the eggs appeared wrinkled and/or calcified. Other eggs just become shell-less. Egg productivity drops in general. Although the exact purpose of copper is unknown, it has been found to be instrumental in forming the egg shell membrane. Without it, the membrane changes in physical consistency, as well as color and appearance, and changes the way the egg shell is formed over the membrane.


This effect is likely due to poor diet. Poor diet can result from feeding too much hen scratch or other fatty treats instead of formulated feed, or from feed that was not formulated properly. It should take 14-35 days for wrinkled eggs to appear that will indicate the copper deficient diet. 





Baumgartner, Sherill, D. Jeanette Brown, Edward Salevsky, Jr., and R.M. Leach, Jr. . “Copper Deficiency in the Laying Hen.” The Journal of Nutrition. The Journal of Nutrition, n.d. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <;.


“Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens.” Better Hens and Gardens. WordPress, 01 May 2010. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <;.


Grashorn, Michael A., and Saskia Simonovic. “Wholesome drinking water to prevent watery eggs.” Gateway to the global poultry industry. World Poultry, 01 Feb 2010. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <;.


The Merck Veterinary Manual. Tenth Ed. Whitehouse Station: Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., 2011. Web. <;.


Thear, Katie. “Problems with Eggs.” Broad Leys Publishing Poultry and Smallholding Books. Broad Leys Publishing Ltd., 2005. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <;.

Backyard Chickens, Feed Stores

Listing: Feed Stores In Your Area

In an effort to connect our customers with their local feed stores, this is a list of feed stores that carry quality poultry supplies from the Bay Area all the way down to San Diego. 


Agoura Feed
28327 Agoura Rd
Agoura Hills, CA 91301

Anaheim Feed
1730 N Lemon St
Anaheim, CA 92801

AnJan Feed
111 S. Main Street
Milpitas, CA 95035

AnJan Feed
433 Vineyard Town Center
Morgan Hill, CA 95037

AnJan Feed
1633 1st St. (Monterey Rd)
San Jose, CA 95112

AnJan Feed
1129 S. De Anza Blvd
San Jose, CA 95129

AnJan Feed
1109 Branham Lane
San Jose, CA 95118

AnJan Feed
7128 Santa Teresa Blvd
San Jose, CA 95139

AnJan Feed
1841 Pruneridge Ave
Santa Clara, CA 95050

Armstrong Feed & Supply
28520 Cole Grade Rd
Valley Center, CA 92082

Aromas Feed & Ranch
320 Carpenteria Rd
Aromas, CA 95004

Benwood Feed
294465 The Old Rd
Castaic, CA 91384

BioFuel Oasis
1441 Ashby Ave
Berkeley, CA 94702

Blacksmiths Corner
17647 Lakewood Blvd
Bellflower, CA 90706

Brentwood Feed &Pet
2500 Walnut Blvd
Brentwood, CA 94513

Byron Feed
3800 Holway Dr
Byron, CA 94514

Camarillo Feed
264 Dawson Dr
Camarillo, CA 93012

Canyon Feed & Tack
30555 Trabuco Canyon Rd
Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679

Carter’s Hay & Grain
10227 Palm Row Dr
Lakeside, CA 92040

Carter’s Hay & Grain
1985 Oliverhain Rd
Encinitas, CA 92024

Centinela Feed & Pet
2320 Harbor Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Centinela Feed & Pet
11055 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Centinela Feed & Pet
3120 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91107

Centinela Feed Inc
16571 Ventura Blvd
Encino, CA 91436

City Farmers Nursery
4832 Home Ave
San Diego, CA 92105

Collier Feed & Pet
101 W Laurel Dr
Salinas, CA 93906

Concord Feed
5288 Clayton Rd
Concord, CA 94520

Concord Feed
7100 Dublin Blvd
Dublin, CA 94568

Concord Feed
2401 Waterman Blvd
Fairfield, CA 94534

Concord Feed
3170 4th Street
Livermore, CA 94550

Concord Feed
228 Hookston Rd
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

Country Feed Store
2111 E Vista Way
Vista, CA 92084

Country Hills Feed
151 Casserly Rd
Watsonville, CA 95076

Da Moor’s Feed & Tack
1532 Riverside Dr
Glendale, CA 91201

Dave’s Haybarn
1325 E Julian St
San Jose, CA 95116

Descanso Hay & Feed
25077 Viejas Blvd
Descanso, CA 91916

Half Moon Bay Feed
331 Main St
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

Hansen’s Feed & Pet
2901 Freedom Blvd
Watsonville, CA 95076

Island Seed & Feed
29 S. Fairview Ave
Goleta, CA 93117

JC Feed & Supply
10027 Main Ave
Lakeside, CA 92040

Kahoots Feed & Pet
947 Main St
Ramona, CA 92065

Kruse Feed & Supply
2300 E Lambert Rd
La Habra, CA 90631

La Cumbre Feed
3652 Calle Real
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Larsen’s Feed & Pet Supply
7400 Gravenstein Hwy
Cotati, CA 94931

Lemos Feed & Pet
120 Traffic Way
Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

Lemos Feed & Pet
2527 Los Berros Way
Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

Lemos Feed & Pet
8405 El Camino Real
Atascadero, CA 93422

Lemos Feed & Pet
4945 Carpenteria Ave
Carpenteria, CA 93013

Lemos Feed & Pet
5880B Calle Real
Goleta, CA 93117

Lemos Feed & Pet
1620 F North H Street
Lompoc, CA 93436

Lemos Feed & Pet
2085 A 10th Street
Los Osos, CA 93402

Lemos Feed & Pet
600 Quintana Rd
Morro Bay, CA 93442

Lemos Feed & Pet
110 Mary Ave #H-9
Nipomo, CA 93444

Lemos Feed & Pet
1491 Creston Rd
Paso Robles, CA 93446

Lemos Feed & Pet
3210 Broad Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Lemos Feed & Pet
330 E. Gutierrez
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Lemos Feed & Pet
525 S. Broadway
Santa Maria, CA 93454

Lemos Feed & Pet
1511 C Mission Dr
Solvang, CA 93463

Lincoln Feed & Supply
1464 Lincoln Ave
Pasadena, CA 91103

Linda’s Feed & Supply
1234 6th Street
Norco, CA 92860

Livery Feed & Ranch
2537 Main Street
Ramona, CA 92065

Lomita Feed Store
24403 Narbonne Ave
Lomita, CA 90717

Marin Tack & Feed
6880 Sir Francis Drake Blvd
Forest Knolls, CA 94933

Mary’s Tack & Feed
3675 Via De La Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014

Mc Abee Feed
71 McCloskey Rd
Hollister, CA 95023

Midway City Feed Store
14941 Jackson St
Midway City, CA 92655

Mountain Feed & Farm
9550 State Route 9
Ben Lomond, CA 95005

Ostrander Grass Hay
1350 Partner Rd
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

Pan American Seed
400 Obospo St
Guadalupe, CA 93434

Ranch Feed & Supply
12868 Campo Rd
Spring Valley, CA 91979

Ranchers Feed Inc
354 1st Street
Hollister, CA 95023

Red Barn Feed
18601 Oxnard Street
Tarzana, CA 91356

Red Barn Feed
8393 Topanga Canyon Blvd
West Hills, CA 91304

Red Barn Feed
5160 Vineland Ave #103
North Hollywood, CA 91601

Red Barn Feed
10142 Balboa Blvd
Granada Hills, CA 91344

RiverTown Feed & Pet Country Store
200 1st Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

Rodie’s Feed & Pet
8863 Marsh Creek Rd
Clayton, CA 94517

Royal Oaks Feed & Tack
16500 Trapey Rd
Royal Oaks, CA 95076

Santa Margarita Feed
2423 El Camino Real
Santa Margarita, CA 93453

Santa Ynez Feed
3532 Sagunto St
Santa Ynez, CA 93460

So Cal Feed
308 Chamersberg Rd
Fillmore, CA 93015

Soutwest Feed
2671 Monument Rd
San Diego, CA 92154

Stephens Hay & Grain
1840 Riverside Drive
Glendale, CA 91201

Tecuya Feed & Animal
3105 Mt Pinos Way
Frazier Park, CA 93225

Templeton Feed & Grain
405 S Main St
Templeton, CA 93465

Western Feed & Pet Supply
407 G Street
Davis, CA 95616

Westside Farm & Feed
817 Swift St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Whittier Narrows Feed
2668 Pacific Park Dr
Whittier, CA 90601

Wilson’s Feed & Supply
1700 Yajome St
Napa, CA 94559

Yorba Linda Feed Store
3782 Rose Dr
Yorba Linda, CA 92886




Chicken Health

Chickens and Rickets – Nutritional Deficiencies Explained


Rickets is loosely translated to “poverty of the bones.” It is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D3, or by an imbalance of Calcium and Phosphorus in the diet. The result is weak or soft bones that are prone to bowing and inhibit mobility. Mycotoxins – toxins from mold or fungus – as well as some medication may also affect the absorption of Calcium and Phosphorus, and can lead to an onset of Rickets.

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For healthy bone calcification, Calcium and Phosphorus need to be in adequate supply, and also in a 2:1 ratio of each other. Vitamin D3 is critical to regulating the absorption and metabolism of calcium. A sufficient amount of Vitamin D3 can be produced with just 11-45 minutes of sunshine (not filtered by glass) each day.

Symptoms and Signs

Chickens appear to be crippled. The symptoms will start small – sitting down during the day rather than wandering around and scratching. They will stay in one place for a while, sometimes refusing to roost. If not treated quickly, they will begin to lie on their side and lose the ability to stand on their feet and maintain balance. Things to look for:

Droopy wings

Inhibited mobility

Inability to walk, or even stand

Problems with balance

Appetite loss

Weight loss

Slow growth


If caught early enough, Rickets is treatable by correcting, or overcorrecting, for dietary deficiencies or imbalances.

Because the cause can be attributed to an imbalance in the diet, it is important to switch to a different feed. A small bag of non-medicated chick starter is best as it is easy to digest (grit is not needed), and full of protein for weight gain. If more than one of your chickens is affected, or if other backyard chicken

owners using the same feed are sharing the problem, contact the feed company with the lot number and production date to find out if the food was improperly mixed.

Secondly, supplement with Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 supplements can be found in water soluble Vitamin packs by Durvet at local feed stores or online. Follow the instructions on the package for dosing, and mix a fresh solution daily. It is also advisable to make sure they have access to unfiltered sunlight to help them produce some of their own Vitamin D3.

Tips: We also recommend feeding a small amount of plain yogurt which has probiotics to help aid digestion. It may be necessary to help the affected chicken with eating. A small medicine dropper is helpful, or a straw. To get all of the food and water down at the same time, mix the vitamin water, chick starter, and yogurt to a solution that’s easy to drop down the chicken’s throat. The chicken will be most comfortable in a place that’s warm since she is most likely skinny, and not roosting with other chickens to help stay warm at night.


Dunkley, Claudia. “Important Nutritional Diseases that Affect Laying Hens.” ThePoultrySite.

5M Enterprises, Dec 2009. Web. 28 Nov 2011. .

“Rickets and cage layer fatigue.” – A poultry CRC initiative., 11 May 2009. Web. 27 Nov 2011. .

Ritchie, Branson W, Greg J Harrison, and Linda R Harrison. Avian Medicine:

Principle and Applications. Lakeworth: Wingers Publishing, Inc., 1994. eBook.