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post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 


I have an eight month old hen that is acting lethargic and has respiratory distress. Here are her symptoms:

  • She has trouble eating and drinking

  • She is slightly lethargic

  • She scratches at her throat area a lot (she had a beard but she scratched so much now she does not have one)

  • She wipes her head on the ground a lot

  • She opens her mouth to breath and makes a little rattly noise

  • She sneezes when she gets up or moves around

  • She has bad breath

  • The rest of the flock seems to be fine 



  • The place where she scratched her beak out is the place where the lesions in her esophagus are 


I think she has canker! Diagnosis and help/treatment would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

I have her seperated right now and am giving her electrolytes, probiotics and oxytetracycline.


I did start a different thread about this, but the diagnosis has changed so much.........Here is the link to the thread

Edited by LittleBoPeep1 - 2/7/16 at 6:50pm
post #2 of 19

Are you in a warm climate where mosquitoes are out now, and are you seeing any dry pox scabs on any chickens? Pox wouldn't be possible without recent mosquito activity. Also, sneezing and some of the respiratory symptoms don't fit with pox, so there may be more than one thing happening.Canker can be something that can look like wet pox with lesions in the beak and throat, and a bad odor. I haven't treated it, but it may be a possibility. Metronidazole is used to treat canker. Pictures of her throat if you have any would really be good. Casportpony has a good thread about "wet and dry fowl pox."

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

We are in a very cold climate right now (it's the middle of winter:) Actually, one of our Silkie roosters has stuff on his comb that looks like little splats of powdered sugar, but he is not in the same coop as our hen and he has had the same spots (they have never changed) for over six months. No, our hen does not have any symptoms of dry pox. I know wet pox and canker are very hard to tell apart, but since there are absolutely no mosquitoes out, I do think this is canker. Does canker involve respiratory distress? How would I treat canker? Is canker contagious? Will she live? Sorry for all the question and thank you for all your help so far!!!

Thank you

post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

Also, she has a hard lump the size of a quarter in her crop. It is off the right side a little. She even has this at night. The lump feels rubbery.

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

Good news, she has stopped breathing through her mouth, she has stopped sneezing as much, and she has stopped scratching at her throat! Should I be concerned about the lump in her crop? It is still there today and is bigger. Also, I am just giving her oxytetraline, electrolytes and probiotics in her water and they seem to be helping her, should I change what I am doing or should I give her Metronidazole?

post #6 of 19

Casportpony is very knowledgeable about canker and hopefully will see this thread. Do you have any picture of the lesions in her throat? I'm not experienced with canker, only have read about it. If it is canker, then metronidazole 250 mg orally for 5 days is the usual treatment. Fish zole is the same medicine, and available online. I still think that she may have both a respiratory disease as well as this other problem. I suppose their could be some lesions in the crop as well. Do you have a local vet available? Many times with sick chickens, crops can get sluggish. I would massage it a few times daily to see if the lump goes down, and really push the fluids.


I just looked up canker, and it can cause yellow cheese-like lesions in the crop and proventriculus, as well as the mouth, throat, and esophagus.

Edited by Eggcessive - 2/7/16 at 4:41pm
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you for replying and being so helpful! I will get her the medication and take her into the vet. Our hen is eating the shavings in her coop! She also tried to poop but nothing came out.
Edited by LittleBoPeep1 - 2/12/16 at 7:23pm
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 

Ps.... I changed the name of the thread so that maybe the person you were talking about would see it:)

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Our hen is now eating,drinking, and pooping fine, but I looked down it and it looks really weird. Her throat seems to be closing off! The hole that is going down to the back of her throat is just a tiny little hole. There is also some yellow "fuzzy" looking stuff on the side of her throat. The tip of her tongue looks like there is mold on it! Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!!!!

I ordered the medication online, but I won't get it until next week.

Edited by LittleBoPeep1 - 2/12/16 at 7:29pm
post #10 of 19

Casportpony is on here a lot, and she doesn't mind if someone PM's her about a problem. I would be tempted to remove any patches inside the beak if they will come out. Dry gauze 2x2's might work, or tweezers. I have never treated canker, so it's best that you get advice from someone who has. Some use acidified copper sulfate in the water 1/4 teaspoonful per gallon for 3 days a month to help prevent it, since it can spread to other birds. Make sure all water source are clean with fresh water. Here are some articles to read:


Oral Canker

Canker is a condition mostly associated with pigeons and is caused by a tiny parasite called trichomonas. This parasite is often spread through contaminated drinking water. The parasite causes a ‘yellow button’ of pus to form in your bird’s mouth. This can stop your bird from eating normally leading to weight loss.

What to look for

  • Weight loss
  • Birds picking up food then dropping it
  • A cheese-like plaque in your birds mouth (see photo)
  • A reluctance to eat


Treating canker or suspected canker is a job for a vet who will likely prescribe an anti-parasitic medication.


Ensure that your birds' drinking water is changed daily. Try to keep the drinkers in the chicken house to discourage wild birds from sharing your birds’ water.

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