Chick with raspy, labored breathing; not sure if I have a problem...


10 Years
Dec 21, 2009
The smallest of our five chooks is standing inside the coop in the light from the brooder lamp while everyone else is outside in the run. -5 is sullen, eyes half closed, and is rasping when she breathes in and out. I picked her up and checked her closely, and there is no sign of any wound, no discharges from her nostrils or vent. Nobody else shows any symptoms.

This chick has always been smaller than the others and is lagging slightly behind the others in size. It was our understanding that she was the last to hatch in that clutch, and was always the smallest of the bunch.

Should I be overly concerned about the raspy breathing? Should I be isolating her and treating her with something, or do I let whatever this is run it's course? What other symptoms should I be on the lookout for? She's been out eating and drinking earlier today, but she is not out running around with the others now.

What to do??

I just checked her, and there is nothing hanging out of her mouth. She is out in the run now, is at the feeder eating, and was standing in the sun. She isn't coughing either, just a raspy noise breathing; if they have something stuck, won't they cough??

We have a lot of wild birds through here and I would not be surprised if they picked something up; it's probably inevitable. I realize they are vulnerable to a lot of respiratory diseases, some worse than others, and not all are life threatening...

Just for the record: they are on Purina Start and Grow, (medicated) and have been eating it with no difficulty from the beginning. I did check her this afternoon and I can't feel an impacted crop or any other swelling. She's been pecking away at cornmeal and chick scratch along with sand from the run along with the others. The scratch mix is red millet, white millet, cracked corn, sunflower seeds and mineral oil, ground to a size the small ones can handle. Everybody has been drinking plenty of water and I clean the water dispensers every day. No signs of any bloody poop either.

If you are sure there is nothing stuck I would probably quarantine personally and give her some antibiotic if she appears to be getting worse. The raspy breathing has to be something..maybe she did get something from the wild birds. I dunno, I've not had respiratory issues in mine so far. I hope she gets better and it's something simple!! Maybe someone else will have a clue
Poor chicky
It's ambient temp in the coop right now, with the windows and the door open. The temp is 56 degrees and the relative humidity is 51%. I have a remote sensor out there and keep a close eye on the conditions in the coop. I stepped the light in the brooder down 2 days ago from 100 to 75 watts, and the air temperature inside stays about 11 degrees above ambient at night when I close things down. The brooder light illuminates one corner of my 20 sq ft coop, and they all regularly migrate in and out of the light ring as they need to. I checked the temp under light and it read about 80 in the very brightest part of the light ring.

Everything sounds good. Temperature Wise.
You Probably have them on mash. One possibility is shes eating after she drinks, and the food is sticking to her throat, compared to eating and then drinking to wash it down. For the heck of it you could separate her and moisten up the mash to see if it makes a difference.

Other than that i have no ideas, i figure you would definitely notice if it were dusty in there ...At her level.
I have an undersized BO pullet who came from a pretty bad environment and has had a couple of bouts with respiratory problems. I took her to the vet and he put her on antibiotics and said she wasn't contagious. The antibiotic didn't help. After it ran out, I just used good nursing techniques (warmth, yogurt, protein supplements). She's healthy now but fragile. She can't take too much cold or wind or stress and she still has the raspy breathing. As long as she's comfortable, she lays an egg almost every day. For your bird, absolutely quarantine. Then maybe try things like yogurt and boiled egg and make sure she's warm. Hope she feels better.
Thanks! I'll get her back into the brooder tub and keep a close eye on her. I haven't tried yogurt yet, and I will try and get some in her today.

OK....she's in the brooder tub on the dining room table, with food and water and a 60 watt brooder hood back over it. The raspy breathing seems to be gone, but the bird is listless, is not moving around at all, and is standing (not laying down) and sleeping on her feet. When I pick her up she cuddles a bit, but makes a cheeping noise every time she exhales. She does not feel particularly warm and in fact her feet feel cold as well. She isn't raising her head up like the others do either.

Still no sign of any discharges from eyes, nostrils, mouth or vent.

I'll continue to keep an eye on her, and would appreciate any ideas or suggestions about where to go from here.


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