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Guinea fowl produce eggs for the table and make excellent watch dogs, vocalizing loudly when a strange human or animal approaches. The alert birds have been known to attack rodents, eat venomous insects and even kill snakes approaching their nesting areas. Any change in their vigilant behavior or decrease in egg production can be early warning signs of impending illness. Check for additional symptoms that may indicate the onset of serious disease.
Check-Up from the Neck Up
A look at your guinea hen's head can tip you off to common poultry diseases. Discharge from the eyes or nostrils can indicate respiratory infections, while distinct swelling of the face, helmet or wattles can indicate a serious condition known as swollen head syndrome. A sick hen frequently has a diminished appetite and might stop drinking water as well. Dull eyes, red tear ducts, and sneezing are other symptoms of illness you may notice when examining your guinea hen's head.
Body of Evidence
Listen to your guinea hen's breathing, especially when she is roosting at night. If her breathing sounds rattly or labored, she will need to see a veterinarian. Feel her body carefully with your fingers. Sickness may cause her to become emaciated quickly, especially if she becomes dehydrated from not drinking water. Some diseases, such as lymphoid leukosis, cause an enlarged abdomen. A sick hen will many times puff up her feathers and sit in a hunched position.
The Other End
Look at your hen's vent area beneath her tail. If you see mites, redness or swelling she may have parasites or another condition that is making her sick. Soiled feathers around her vent can indicate explosive diarrhea or a pasty vent. A sick bird will sometimes peck at the feathers around her vent, which can lead to open sores that other birds will pick at. Take a look at her eggs. If they have a rough texture, runny whites or thin or missing shells, your bird is sick.
Weak in the Knees
Other indicators of a sick guinea hen can include unwillingness or inability to stand. Her legs may turn pale, swell or look inflamed and she may lay with them straight out instead of tucked underneath her. A sick guinea hen may also have an unpleasant smell. Guinea hens may succumb quickly to illness without medical intervention. If you suspect your bird is sick, place her in a warm area away from drafts and contact your veterinarian.
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