chicken struggling to breathe and choking on food

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by BelValleyDaisy, Jul 12, 2019 at 7:50 AM.

  1. BelValleyDaisy

    BelValleyDaisy Chirping

    Oct 10, 2015
    Hi All,
    Hope this is the right place to post but just wanted to share some advice on what to do if your chicken seems to be struggling to breathe as it took me a while personally to diagnose.

    Our chicken, Ethel, is a nutcase! She runs everywhere, is very cuddly but also CRAZY for food... and eats it all incredibly quickly despite being a spoilt chick and never starved.
    Over the past month she keeps choking on her food, and turns blue from oxygen deprivation. When she chokes we massage the crop, rub her back and tip her forwards in hope that the food will fall back to gravity .... thankfully it has worked. We have nearly lost her quite a few times and now when we feed them sweetcorn or pasta to get them back into the aviary, Ethel doesn't get any because i'm so petrified she is going to have another near death experience.

    WE noticed 2 days ago that her breathing was very heavy and she was clearly struggling to breathe... none of the other hens had this. This was Ethels only sympton and still she continued to leg it round the garden finding worms etc like her nutty self.
    I looked up multiple illnesses and the only one truly linked was GAPEWORM


    It says the symptoms include coughing, shaking the head and difficulty breathing in severe cases.

    In the US I believe you can buy 'Avenir?' but this is not available in the UK. However PANACUR is.
    PANACUR is a worming treatment for dogs/cats/kittens/puppies and isn't licensed on poultry however through reading forums it has worked for many.
    You can only get it by vet prescription, but can buy it in pet stores such as pets at home if you give details and know what you are talking about. They won't sell it to you for a chicken however, but if you go in there and buy it for say your dog and give the details of your dog (breed, age, last time treated (3 months).
    You can treat dogs with the wormer too but for our chickens and ducks, we bought the panacur worming syrup 10% bottle. It is 1ml per kg of animal. You can double up the dosage, but even for Ethel's severe case we stuck to the minimum since it isn't licensed. Ethel is a large hen (3KG) so we gave her 3ml of it.
    It can be difficult getting them to eat it, but for the chickens your best bet is to buy some layers mash or chick crumb (they LOVE it) and mix in the worming syrup. This will make it like a gloopy mash and they will scoff it up. If your hen is particularly picky, add in some sunflower seeds or sweetcorn or bread. (I know they shouldn't have bread but seeing as its a life or death situation, it mops it up really well).
    For the ducks, we just mopped it up with bread and they scoffed it. And for our spoilt brat ducks who refuse bread, we mopped it with sweetcorn and hand fed them.

    Although Ethel was the only one with symptoms, we did give panacur to all our girls and they all had gapeworms in their poop. Ethel was RIDDLED with it though - meanwhile the others had some, Ethel has huge clumps of them coming out with worm eggs sacs too!

    They has one dosage yesterday, and will have another dosage in 7 days time to kill off any remaining eggs.

    We had previously been giving the Verm-X worming, but it obviously had no effect on the gapeworms.

    Already today we can see improvement in Ethel and she isn't breathing as heavily.

    Gapeworms can be picked up by the birds eating worms, slugs, snails, flies and grasshoppers. It then quickly spreads around the flock. After being treated with Panacur worming syrup we found that only an hour after, there were clumps of red worms in the poop. They are bright pink (although vanish when dried up) and 0.5-3cm in length. They wrap around eachother in big clumps and live in the birds throat (hence why it stops them breathing). The panacur will kill them and they pass out in the poop dead

    Hope this helps somebody :)
    sylviethecochin likes this.
  2. MomJones

    MomJones Songster

    Feb 22, 2019
    South Carolina
    Thank you for posting about this. I'm glad Ethel is improving. Good job!
    BelValleyDaisy likes this.

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