Chicken with eye issues


In the Brooder
7 Years
Oct 20, 2012
Last Sunday (a week ago), I noticed one of my hens with a "foaming" eye. I immediately panicked, and when I looked it up online, all the information pointed toward a respiratory illness that would surely kill my entire little flock.

I joined another group asking for help, and everyone insisted that I get antibiotics for her and still gave me little hope. Half of my posts there never appeared, so several of my follow-up questions never appeared and never were answered. I decided to come back to this website, where I'd gotten lots of information before we got our chickens in April.

I grew up on a chicken farm, and two of my brothers own commercial chicken farms, so I consulted one of them about the eye issue. He advised me to put a small amount of Clorox in the water, separate the chicken, and then told me the real signs of the respiratory illness that would indicate I had to immediately destroy my precious chicken to prevent it from spreading.

I followed his advice after consulting the local vet, who charges $38 for an office visit to get the antibiotics (if that's what I needed). I decided to give my hen (Guinevere) a few days to respond to the Clorox and she never displayed any other symptoms. Within 4 days, her eye looked much better, and I let her rejoin the flock, since each time I let her out of her very small pen she ran right over to her friends in the big pen. I figured they were already exposed to her anyway.... The fifth day, her eye was completely well. No sign of anything every being wrong. Yay!

Then, on the sixth day (yesterday), I went to gather eggs, and ANOTHER chicken (a red rooster, Chocolate) was in one of the nesting boxes, huddled down, and I got him out only to notice BOTH of his eyes were "sealed" shut. He has lots of sores on his comb and around his beak, almost as if someone was pecking him or something, and his eyes won't open. I immediately separated him from the others, and am working on getting his eyes open. A blind chicken can't eat or drink, so I'm just thankful it's not hot weather! I just don't know what to do.

All of the other chickens (I have 12) are totally fine. This poor rooster, only 5 months old, looks awful! What could be the problem with HIS eyes? He doesn't sneeze, rattle, or shake his head as if he's congested - which all are signs of the dreaded respiratory illness I was convinced Guinevere had. He just can't open his eyes, and he has sores on his comb.

Help? Please?

I love my chickens!!

(Fiona, Adele, Buttercup, Guinevere, Giselle - all Araucaunas, Chiquita - the Tetra Tint, Chocolate, Fudge, Juanita, Henrietta - yard birds adopted from a friend when their mother was killed by a hawk, and Boo & Snowball - white Silkies given to us by a friend)
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add 1 level teaspoon of medicinal boric acid powder and stir until dissolved. Let the solution stand until it is lukewarm or at room temperature. Soak a wash rag in the solution and apply to eyes and comb. Repeat until eyes open. One drop of honey in a tablespoon of water makes a good antiseptic for eyes. It stings, but works and is natural. All water needs to be sterile and cooled.You have coop issues. You need to get to the problem and not treat just the symptoms.

What do you think the coop issues could be? I don't know what I could be doing wrong. They have plenty of room to run around inside the pen, and I let them out in the afternoons (but not if we're not going to be here to keep an eye out for them). I scrape the coop floor every day when I pick up eggs (because a couple of the chickens "roost" on the top edge of nesting box and the poop doesn't get to fall through the wire beneath the roosting pole). They get fresh water every day. I rake the dirt floor of the pen about once a week or more. I thought I was doing everything right! :(

The other chickens have not shown any signs of illness or anything at all. I actually had noticed the sores (actually scabs) on the rooster's comb for maybe a couple of weeks ago they started and have just gotten worse over the last week. I figured someone was giving him his due, since he's the mean one in the bunch. He chases my Silkies & pecks them, and runs at all the other chickens. His eye issue in no way resembles Guinevere's eye issue, too. I noticed Guinevere's eye running/foamy after she spent a day outside the pen, when I let them all forage the yard for a while. But the rooster's eyes aren't runny or anything. They're just "sealed" shut all of a sudden.

I really do need to get to the bottom of this because I don't want to lose any of them. They're all pets and not just egg producers. Any advice would be appreciated!!

Last edited:
Just wanted to update to say that my rooster (Chocolate) seems to be improving. Pretty sure he has fowl pox, based on the scabs all over his comb and the condition of his eyes. He couldn't eat because both of his eyes were "sealed" shut, so I've been getting him to drink by dipping his beak in the water. I also dipped his beak in some egg and he "drank" it, too. This afternoon, when I went out to tend to him, I took a warm bowl of water & wiped a cloth across his eyes. (He didn't like that.) We then noticed that he was actually opening one of his eyes. I took some olive oil and poured it on his comb where most of the awful scabs are, and then I noticed that his other eye was opening. He seemed to perk up when I did all of that. (Of course, I and two of my girls were praying as we put the olive oil on his head, so I guess "anointing" him helped! ;) lol)

Hopefully, I'll have positive reports from here out.... I sure hate to lose him to something like this.

I have over 200 free range chickens and as soon as the weather goes from one extreme to another (like it has today)I have some birds that will automatically get eye problems and its not the same birds each year. They have multiple sheds to get into so it is not a coup problem. It does this every year where I live. I have to catch all them up and medicate their water along with eye antibiotic which is a royal pain since these birds are in a 4 acre pen which consist of oak and pine trees along with pasture. My sheep and alpacas never have a problem with this.It takes weeks to get everybody cleaned up. I have had birds for 17 years and not until I moved to where I live now in South Alabama have I had this problem. I do have some birds that are in separate pens and kept mostly in a coup that is all covered and they never have this problem. Is anyone aware of what might grow here that would cause this when the temps go from 88 yesterday to 44 tonite and the winds are blowing at 30 mph. I have gone through over 50 poultry books and never a mention of allergies. All my birds are NPIP birds and even my 2 Vets have no idea...If anyone has a clue please let me know...I am planning on moving in January so maybe once I get away from here everything will be ok...Tired of an overnite problem each year. Thanks for any help.
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