Ammonia = Respiratory Problems and Digestion Tract Problems


8 Years
Jul 13, 2013
Augusta, GA
My chickens were temporary in a wooded shed temp coop. Despite it being insulated, having an A/C window unit and constant litter changes it became filthy and I believe in hindsight it may have had an ammonia build up.

Anyway one of my broiler chickens died suddenly and had labored breathing (but not panting) and lameness. That chicken had a history of difficulty breathing and I thought it was just the breed. Meat chickens aren't really meant to last and be healthy. It is not the first time I had one suddenly die and the person I bought my first meat chickens from warned me of their usually short lifespan.

Anyway then 2 of my other broiler chickens started acting weird. At this point I realized it might be related to the shed coop and an ammonia build up. I immediately removed them from the situation and when they didn't improve I took them to a vet. I usually don't take birds to the vet but I believe their illness is my fault. My question is what should I do now?

Meat Chicken 1- Jazzy II is having difficulty breathing and her crown is dark red. Her crown turns purple and she has more labored breathing when I handle her or stress her out. She had an X-Ray done that revealed a fluid buildup. About 90% of her lungs are filled with fluid.

Meat Chicken 2- I was giving all the meat chickens a bath and as I was bathing my chicken Blues she extended her butt and it looked like she had a hemorrhoid. After a little bit of it still looking red and swollen I looked up chicken hemorrhoids and ran into an article on collapsed vents which said to gently push it back into place which is what I did. I took her to the vet with Jazzy II just to make sure she was okay but she was not. X-ray revealed a digestion tract problem of too much food in the crop.

So the vet prescribed both chickens with Doxycycline. He also knows I think an ammonia build up caused it. He said it is unlikely they will pull through and they could die any day.

Anyway my question is do you think I am on the right path or is their something more I can do? I wonder if anything can be done to drain the fluid from Jazzy like diuretics (lasix, furosemide) or just draining it with a needle or something. Vet said no to lasix but I am not sure why. Blues (Chicken 2) was given no food restrictions, should food be restricted if she is not properly passing it? Any help/suggestions is appreciated. I feel so so bad about this.
Did you vet mention Marek's disease or do any type of respiratory disease testing?

Unfortunately it sounds like your birds are already dying.
Did you vet mention Marek's disease or do any type of respiratory disease testing?

Unfortunately it sounds like your birds are already dying.
No mention of Marek's disease or any type of respiratory disease testing. I probably don't want to do additional testing due to costs unless it will help cure them.

Yeah unfortunately I think they are goners, but they are still up, walking, and eating so I feel bad not trying. Blues is eating a lot and that worries me if she can't pass it.
How old are they exactly?

Meat chicken often suffer from heart issues leading to ascites and fluid build up in their lungs.
The older they get, the sicker they will usually be.
They are probably a year old.
Meat chickens are deffinitly not meant to live as long as that. Unfortunately it sounds like what LaFleche said, is probably what happened. You may find that culling/butchering the rest of these meat chickens will be the best idea, because it will save you from having to go through this again.
They are probably a year old.
At one year old they are well beyond their usual life expectancy as meat birds are designed to be butchered at about 7-12 weeks depending on the breed and method (i.e. organic meat birds will usually be butchered at a later age).
The vet was very cheap I think it was roughly $75 per bird the first time. The second time was more expensive as I took Jazzy II back with an another bird (Poison Ivy II) and they did some sort of shot. In hindsight I should have only had them give Jazzy the shot. Blues seems fine and is just finishing her antibiotics.
I think Blues and Poison Ivy II will do fine with the vets antibotics. They were not responding to the tractor supply antibotics.
As for Jazzy II she is still alive but not doing well. Her crown turns purple and her breathing becomes labored every time she is a little stressed. I really want the vet to put her on diuretics but they won't.

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