I am very new to keeping chickens. I just started about 3 weeks ago. I bought 4 layer hens from a local seller and two 5 month old barred rocks from another. The 2 barred rocks were supposed to be a little hen and a cockerel but the rooster certainly doesn't act like a rooster and my neighbor swears he is a hen (an entirely different issue). All 6 birds have been getting along great and seemed happy and healthy. I enclosed my entire yard with poultry fencing and allow them to free range out there during the day while I am home. Yesterday I noticed that my "cockerel," who is usually one of my more outgoing birds, was standing off by himself under the coop and didn't seem interested in water or free ranging. Upon closer inspection, he seemed to be opening his beak a little bit and making a gasp/sneeze/hiccup type of sound. I caught him kind of easily and put him in a transport carrier by himself and took him to the front yard away from the other birds until I could figure out what is wrong or what to do with him. I immediately removed all of the bedding from the coop and completely disinfected it and added new bedding just in case. After a little research I thought it might be a crop issue at first but then when I got home last night he had a really runny/snotty nose and was foaming at the mouth. I syringe fed him some water just to help hydrate him since he hadn't had any all day and a little bit of plain yogurt. He is emitting a terribly foul odor. When I woke up this morning my entire garage smelled like someone had died in there just from this little bird. I began reading through the posts here and although I did not want to consider the option, it seems like culling is the best bet at keeping the rest of the flock safe. Part of me thinks that it is too late for my asymptomatic birds and they will begin to show symptoms soon too. I guess my questions are should I cull this bird? And if so, how? Is there a place you can take chickens to have someone else do the dirty work?
Culling a Sick bird
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How to do it? A sharpt hatchet, or maybe a machete to the back of the neck is probably the quickest way. If the bird is young, some say to put a bar over its neck and stand on it, but that to me seems almost more traumatic than a hatchet. Make sure the head comes completely off if doing the hatchet, because they are tougher than you might think to kill.
So sorry. Good luck. Read up on Coryza.
Edited by Toddrick - 11/30/15 at 8:17am
- Monkey Lookout
Thank you for your response I have been reading a great deal about Coryza and I agree that it is what he must have. I have a friend more familiar with chickens coming over to help me cull him in the morning. I have been getting mixed messages about what to do with the rest of the flock as far as antibiotics go. I have heard that I should give the rest of the birds Tylon 50 now in order to prevent them from getting sick before they even start showing symptoms. While this seems like a great idea to keep my birds from having to be culled, I am hesitant for two reasons. 1) If they have already been exposed and just haven't started showing symptoms and I start them on antibiotics, they may never show symptoms. Then I will not know for sure whether or not they have been infected or are carriers. I am in the military and when I move again in a year I would hate to risk passing on birds that are carriers to another person. 2) isn't it a bad thing to give antibiotics to birds that aren't sick? So if they haven't been infected and I give them antibiotics, I could be adversely affecti them, right? I also assume that any eggs laid while a chicken is on antibiotics need to be discarded for a certain period of time?
I'm no expert, but in my experience, i'd suggest it's quite likely that the rest of the flock may have the same issue - by the time we humans know that a chicken is unwell, chances are they have been that way for a short time already.
I agree that treating birds not showing symptoms with antibiotics may mask the symptoms, but giving antibiotics to birds that are not sick is unlikely to affect them. Yep, there is usually a given period after treatment where eggs should not be consumed - this is likely to differ with each specific antibiotic, but 10 days is probably a general time period.
I think that your plan not to give antibiotics is a sound and responsible one.