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5-6 wk old Buff Orpington chick with "red eyes"

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by madornato, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. madornato

    madornato In the Brooder

    Sep 2, 2009
    Newnan, GA
    Hi. I posted this information on Friday, but I did not get a response. Therefore, I am going to try again. Please--any information or suggestions would be a big help. I have a 5-6wk old BO that started to have an eye problem about 1-2 weeks ago--I'm not exactly sure when. She and her brooder mates are currently on corrid for coccidiosis, but I only started them on that Thursday. These same birds had to be treated for mites about the same time that the eye problem showed up. I'm not sure if that's coincidental or not. The other birds' eyes are fine. I tried to take a pic, but it would no focus in close enough to see the problem. It seems as if her eyes are not quite centered in the eye opening--the front part of the eye opening is really red. Her actual eye itself is a normal color and shape--it's just not centered in the eye opening, and in front of the actual eye is a really red area in the corner of the eye opening (towards the beak). There is no puss coming from the eye, and neither the eye nor the surrounding area is swollen. The first couple of days she had this she kept one of her eyes shut most of the time, and I also noticed some bubbles (they looked like bubbles) in the corner of her eyes. I think I noticed that before the eyes turned red. At the beginning she acted like her eyes bothered her. Now she just sort of sits hunched over like she doesn't feel well. She is still eating and drinking and growing, though. I bought some Vet Rx and treated the eye Thursday night (putting the Vet Rx on a swab and putting it in the cleft of the mouth did not work out as good as the directions indicated--I could never get the Vet Rx to come out of the nostrils). I did read somewhere on the internet to put the Vet Rx directly into and around the eye and let the chick/chicken drink some of it. So, I did that. There seems to be no improvement. I'm not sure how long it takes if it will work. Should I do that 3x per week for a few weeks or should I do something else? Can chickens get pink eye like us? Could that be it? I have looked all over the internet and cannot figure out what this is.

    Thanks so much.

  2. Chickenmaven

    Chickenmaven Songster

    Feb 6, 2009
    Has she been vaccinated for Mareks? I have read that there are eye problems associated with it.
  3. madornato

    madornato In the Brooder

    Sep 2, 2009
    Newnan, GA
    No, she has not been vaccinated for Marek's. Do you know what the treatment for Marek's is? I thought I had looked that disease up--it seeems like I had ruled it out for one reason or the other. Maybe I shouldn't have. Thanks.
  4. Please understand that without photos and actually seeing the bird in person AND having LOTS of experience over LOTS of years and LOTS of poultry.. it may be hard for anyone to help you figure this out.

    There is a TO DO list I think in this forum, probably a Sticky.. one of the first posts on how to deal with an emergency..

    Now.. if you have a vet, it might be a good idea to ask them to take a look just for a real second opinion.. or first in your case.

    Has she been injured? Bitten by mites? Exposed to potentially toxic powders (flea/mite powders or DE), perhaps even run into the wall or a piece of wire that might be exposed, or pecked by another chicken?

    Ok.. knowing that I haven't seen her, and have little experience myself with this sort of thing, I can offer you the following advice.

    Seperate her into a clean environment and watch her constantly to observe behavior.. like with a baby.. check off the list: eating, drinking & pooping
    See if she's active or not...
    Observe any additional symptoms... runny eyes, sneezing etc and then report back here with your findings.

    Has she or anyone in the group been vaccinated for any poultry disease? I understand that if one is vaccinated then they become carriers potentially of that disease... if exposed to others who have NOT been vaccinated, the non vaccinated birds could become infected. But I don't know enough about that to be certain... but this is something to ask your VET or other BYC'ers to respond about.

    Here is info from the UFL: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/PS031
    Disorders of Poultry 1

    J.P. Jacob, G.D. Butcher and F.B. Mather2
    Eye disorders are not generally prevalent in poultry on a flock basis. However, as birds rely heavily on their sense of sight to carry on their daily activities, an increased incidence of eye problems can result in decreased flock performance. A visually impaired bird is at a major disadvantage in competing for food, water, and social position in a population of birds.

    Ammonia Toxicity

    The most common eye irritant in intensive animal production systems is ammonia gas (NH 3 ). Ammonia gas is extremely irritating to the membranes that line the eyelids, eyes, sinuses and trachea. Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva (membranes that line the eyelids) and the exposed sclera (white part of the eye). Affected birds have reddened, swollen eyelids, and are sensitive to and avoid light. If high ammonia levels persist, the cornea, the outermost part of the front of the eyeball, becomes ulcerated and blindness may occur.

    Ammonia gas is a bacterial breakdown product produced when uric acid from poultry manure combines with water forming a suitable environment for bacterial growth. Bacterial growth, and the resulting NH 3 production, is also dependent upon litter or manure pH and temperature.

    In intensive production systems, high levels of ammonia gas buildup are associated with inadequate ventilation. Ammonia is not typically a problem for birds raised in extensive or semi-extensive systems.

    Marek's Disease

    Marek's disease is a viral disease of chickens resulting in a type of cancer. Tumors developing in nerves cause lameness and paralysis. Tumors can also occur in the iris (segmented membrane behind the cornea perforated by the pupil) and cause irregular shaped pupils and blindness.

    Chicks can be vaccinated at the hatchery. While the vaccination is effective in preventing formation of tumors, it does not prevent infection by the virus. Recent studies have shown that conventional Marek's disease vaccines may not prevent formation of tumors in the eye.

    Avian Pox

    Avian pox is a viral disease that affects many types of birds. Fowl pox primarily affects chickens and turkeys. Pigeon pox affects pigeons, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese. Canary pox infects canaries, chickens, sparrows, and probably other species.

    Pox is characterized by raised, blister-like lesions that develop on unfeathered areas (head, legs, vent, etc.) of the bird. If the lesions are around the eyes, then swelling may occur with impairment of eyesight and possibly blindness in severe cases. Ordinarily, the eyeball itself remains unaffected and, once lesions are resolved, eyesight should return to normal.

    Bacterial Infections

    A number of bacterial infections can lead to damage of the eye. Salmonella bacteria, particularly Salmonella typhimurium and Salmonella arizona , are known to cause severe purulent conjunctivitis and ophthalmitis (inflammation of the eyeball and conjunctiva with pus) and blindness. Often young birds acquire the infections from the hen or through navel or yolk sac infections.

    Fungal Infections

    Molds readily grow on a number of different materials, including poultry feed and litter. A common mold is Aspergillus . Birds can be exposed to Aspergillus or other fungi in the hatchery, or more commonly in poorly dried litter. While Aspergillus is usually considered a respiratory tract pathogen, it can also invade the brain and eye. Yellow plaques develop and can be found under the eyelid. The eye becomes inflamed and severe damage can occur.

    Respiratory Infections

    A number of respiratory diseases can cause conjunctivitis, including Newcastle disease, laryngotracheitis, infectious bronchitis, chlamydia, and mycoplasma. These infections do not damage the eye itself, but cause the bird discomfort, leading to rubbing and scratching of the eyelids. Permanent eye injury with these conditions is rare. However, sinusitis can develop, causing swelling of the sinus under the eyelid and adding to bird discomfort.

    Nervous System Disorders

    Avian encephalomyelitis virus normally causes disease in chickens 1-6 weeks of age. The virus primarily affects the nervous system. Affected chicks show a dull expression of the eyes, followed by progressive incoordination, sitting on hocks, tremors of the head and neck, and finally paralysis or prostration. In adult birds previously infected as chicks, the virus can cause cataracts and general eye enlargement. The lens of the eye becomes fragmented and can no longer function properly to focus images.

    Nutrional Deficiencies

    Certain vitamin deficiencies, such as vitamin A and vitamin E, can result in damage to the eye. Vitamin A is necessary for the production of visual pigment of the retina and for maintenance of the lining of the tear ducts. Vitamin E is necessary for maintenance of the lens protein in the developing embryo. Vitamin E is passed from the breeder hen to the egg. If the breeder is receiving inadequate vitamin E in the diet, the embryo will suffer from a vitamin E deficiency and possible blindness. Vitamin deficiencies are rare when commercial poultry feeds are used.

    Developmental Disorders

    Congenital abnormalities in the formation and placement of the eye and eye socket occur, but the incidence is low. Abnormalities seen include one or both eyes missing, eyes reduced in size or placed forward on the head. These abnormalities may be hereditary or may be due to improper pre-incubation or incubation conditions. Affected chicks are usually culled at the hatchery.


    A high incidence of cataracts can occur in flocks with vitamin E deficiency, avian encephalomyelitis infection, or continuous exposure to some types of artificial lighting.


    Injury to the eye and surrounding structures can occur in the hatchery, during transportation to the farm, or on the farm by poorly maintained equipment. Bright, shiny eyes can be an attractive target for picking by flock mates. Most chicks, however, are very adept at protecting their heads so that eye injury due to picking is rarely a problem.



    This document is PS37, one of a series of the Animal Science Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date April 1998. Reviewed April 2009. Visit the EDIS Web Site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.


    J. P. Jacob, poultry extension coordinator, G.D. Butcher, extension poultry veterinarian, and F.B. Mather, poultry extension specialist, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.
  5. lildinkem

    lildinkem Songster

    Feb 4, 2009
    This time of year is notorious for birds getting sick. Some birds will handle it and come back and thrive some won't. Last year was my first year raising chickens. And not knowing the history of this property, I believe I moved my tractor over a spot in the yard that had something like what you have. I lost about 10% of my flock ( 5 birds ). And had another 10% get it and then comeback. One of those birds that had it last year, was my better quality Australorp Roo (Mertyl). I wrote him off to die. I let him out of the tractor to have his last day or two to live free. He didn't die. Both his eyes were swollen like ping pong balls. So I brought him in and raised him in my breezeway thru the winter. This year, he is rock solid. You never know that was the same bird that I thought would die.
    I then did some research. To find out that old time farmers would take a bird that was sick like that, and bring them in their brooder rooms. Some of the little chicks would get it, and those who live are the birds you want. So, this year I tried that. I have a gazillian Orp chicks to see what will happen with. A few died, a few got it and fully recovered and are now juveniles, some 5 months later. They are horses, haven't heard even a sniffle. Time will tell.
    I find over medicating is more often as harmful as the bug your fighting. Let the little guy fight it off. He'll be fine. Lots of fresh water. Remember, I had to tap my bird on the chest to let him know there is water and food in front of him. Or he won't drink and eat as well.
  6. madornato

    madornato In the Brooder

    Sep 2, 2009
    Newnan, GA
    Hi, all. Thanks for the information. I will try again later to take a picture. To answer one of Dawnsuiter's questions/items, I did originally think that this particular bird had a pecking injury because of it keeping its eye(s) closed. I did not remove it from the other four birds--I probably should have. I don't think that whatever this is is contagious because I think that one or more of the other ones would have caught it.

    What lildinkem said is quite spot on--I think I would like to have hardy birds--ones that don't keep requiring all this medication to survive. (I did, however, HAVE to get rid of the mites and give medication for coccidiosis). I think, based on what you and dawnsuiter said, I will put this bird in a separate box and bring it upstairs (they're in the basement right now). I'll watch for eating, drinking, and pooping. I won't try any medicines unless someone can tell me what this is. I'll just monitor for now and update on here later. Hopefully, she'll bounce back on her own.

    If any of you guys know a lot about natural remedies and preventatives, i.e. things you can feed your chickens to ward off worms, mites, respiratory illnesses, etc., please let me know where I can find this information. One of the reasons I got chickens is to have organic eggs. I don't want to have to medicate my birds unless I have to.

    Thanks so much.
  7. lildinkem

    lildinkem Songster

    Feb 4, 2009
    If your bird makes it thru another day or two, and you make sure you every now and then remind him where the water is and food is, and he wants to eat. Then I think he'll make it.

    Hope some of these help.

    - Cod liver oil (for vitamin D deficiency)
    - Oyster shell grit (for dig estion)
    - Dried crushed pumpkin seeds (Worms)
    - Garlic (Worms, chest infection)
    - Apple Cider vinegar (Worm and tonic, better calcium and Vit.D absorption)
    - Cat food (protein)
    - Tuna (protein)
    - Egg yolk (protein)
    - Honey (energy)
    - Yoghurt (digestive tract)
    - Grated apple (mineral and vitamin; coccidiosis)
    - Baby rice/oats (Bulking in food mix)
    - Back rescue remedy (Trauma)
    - Orange, Rosemary, clove oils (fleas)
    - Wormwood, tansy (immune booster)
    - Olive oil (Sour crop, crop binding)
    - Probiotics (harmful microbes)
    - Baking soda (Crop flush - mix 1/2 cup in a pint of water and syringe it 3 x)
    - Nettle (tonic)
    - Vaseline (Scaly legs, frostbite, cut)
    - Cayenne pepper (worm, coccidiosis)
    - Colloidal silver (Anti fungal/viral/microbial)
    - Sulphur dust (lice)
    - Whey powder (Coccidiosis)
    - Chickweed (Immune booster)
    - Oregano oil (Immune booster)
    - Peppermint, catnip, marigold oil (mite repellent)
    - Diatamacious Earth or DE (Calcium, wormer, mite, prevent fly from hatching)
    - Vitamin E oil (Molting stress, fertility problems)
    - Hypericum (pain relief, nerve damage, stress and Marek)
    - Cornstarch (cut)
    - Pine tar (cannibalism)
    - Black sunflower seeds (Worm)

    Or per ailments, this gives us:
    *Vit. D deficiency: Cod liver oil, ACV
    *Tonic: ACV, grated apple, nettle
    * Calcium defi ciency: AVC, Oyster shel l, DE, Crushed eggshell
    * Protein deficiency: Cat food, tuna, egg yolk
    * Energy boost: honey
    *Immune boost: Wormwood, Tansy, probiotics, colloidal silver, chickweed, oregano oil
    *Digestion problem: Oyster grit, yoghurt
    *Bulk for medicine: Baby rice, baby oat
    *Sour crop: Olive oil
    *Crop binding: Olive oil
    *Crop flush: Baking soda
    *Worm: Pumpkin Seeds, garlic, ACV, cayenne pepper, DE, Black sunflower seeds
    *Fleas: Orange/Rosemary/Clove oils
    *Lice: Sulphur powder
    *Mites: Peppermint, catnip, marigold oil, DE as repellent
    *Fly: DE
    *Chest infection: garlic water
    *Coccidios is: Grated apple, cayenne pepper, whey powder
    * Marek: Hypericum (I think it is the same as St John's wort)
    *Trauma: Bach Flower Rescue Remedy
    *Cut: Vaseline, cornstarch, pine tar
    *Frostbite: Vaseline
    *Scaly leg: Vaseline
    *Molting stress: All protein stuff, Vit. E
    *Fertility: Vitamin E
    *Pain relief: Hypericum
    *Nerve damage: Hypericum
    *Stress: Hypericum
    *Cannibalism: All protein stuff

  8. Wild Bill.. that's some list! Awesome!
  9. lildinkem

    lildinkem Songster

    Feb 4, 2009
    Thanks Dawn,
    Hope your babies are well and happy for the winter.
  10. madornato

    madornato In the Brooder

    Sep 2, 2009
    Newnan, GA
    Wow, thanks, lildinkem for the list. That is so awesome. I printed it out, and I'm sure I will refer to it quite often.

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