Two weeks ago, I woke to a strange barking sound. One of my hens (Patrick, the Ameraucana in my profile pic) was in the coop gasping for air, looking very stressed. Periodically she would raise her head up and bark. Her breathing was audible and wheezy. It reminded me of when my baby had croup.
I removed her from the flock and after holding and calming her for a long time, she seemed to improve. I isolated her from the flock for 2-3 days, gave her electrolytes, her usual organic lay crumble, and she also had some green grass. She seemed to improve very quickly so I put her back in with her friends. After that first morning she regained all her sass, was preening, had bright eyes, an egg every 3 days or so, and appeared 90% fine, except for some lingering congestion/sneezing and occasional coughing. When I put her back in I also thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the coop.
Today I heard another strange sound and when I checked I found Patrick nearly unable to make a sound. She sounds very congested and has occasional wet sneezes. But again, there is no lethargy, she was a pain as usual, puffing her feathers and giving me side eye, and when I picked her up she behaved normally.
Also, another of my hens, beloved naked neck Cleo, seems to have a "different" sounding voice this morning as if she might be a little congested too. No sneezing or wheezing or other unusual behavior though so maybe I'm hyper sensitive.
To top it off, my family is going camping for two nights leaving this Sunday and returning Tuesday. I'm concerned I won't be here to closely monitor them.
Should I give antibiotics?
Should I isolate one or both?
Wait and see?
Go to the vet? I have a great vet but she's pretty hands off with backyard chickens and is constrained by law from prescribing or even suggesting antibiotics. I suspect she would recommend a costly test.
Thank you for your advice!!!