A healthy chicken should have a bright red crown if it is laying. Their feet should be pale if laying, they will be very yellow if not, their eyes should always be bright and beady and the smooth scales on their legs should not be lifted. Their bodies should feel plump and firm and their eyes and nostrils clean.
Like any other animal, chickens are prone to certain ailments and diseases and some of the main things to look out for are:
Red Mite: Red mite is difficult to spot as it only really comes out at night. A sign of red mite is a reduction in egg production and an increase in chicken pecking at the infestation which will be at the base of the bird’s tail feathers. Treatment for red mite should be done on a regular basis.
Lice: Lice eggs will be found around the vent when you check a chicken. The best thing to do is brush them off and rub petroleum jelly around the area. Regular dusting of louse powder in the nest boxes should prevent lice.
Worms: Chickens can get either round or tape worm. You may notice a reduction in egg laying combined with an increase in appetite. Worming regularly using appropriate wormers is a necessity.
Infectious bronchitis: Although rare, it is still possible your chickens may catch this and like many other diseases a drop in egg production could be your first sign. The chickens will sneeze and may gasp along with displaying discharge from their nose. Health should improve over a couple of weeks although your egg production may always be lower than before.