Coughing chicken

Kateschooks

Hatching
Jun 10, 2021
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Help I have a small flock of 6 birds and brought a couple of new girls home a week ago. They're in isolation from my main flock but one of them is coughing and neither are eating or drinking much. They seem mostly OK in themselves, a little lethargic, but its very hot at the moment but one of them continues to be coughing and sneezing. It's my first time dealing with respiratory issue and my local vets are hopeless with chickens. I currently have them on pellets with flubnavet for worming as they'd only previously had verm-x. Any suggestions? Should I be exploring an antibiotic like tylan?
 

Pyxis

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So, first you need to know some basics about respiratory diseases in poultry.

The majority of them are incurable, meaning you cannot actually treat a bird and have the disease cured. You can alleviate the symptoms, but the bird is still carrying the disease, meaning it will have flare-ups of symptoms and need antibiotics again, and it will pass the disease to new birds it encounters and infect them also.

So if you want to give the hens antibiotics, you can, but they will very likely still be carrying the disease, so when you introduce them to your flock, your flock will then also be infected.

And once the disease is in your flock, the only way to get rid of it is to either let all the chickens die off naturally, then wait a bit before getting a new flock, or cull all the birds, and then wait a bit to get new birds. Those are the only ways.

It also means that to not infect others' flocks, you can never give away or sell birds. Not even hatching eggs without getting testing done, because some of the diseases can actually pass through the eggs and the chicks can hatch infected with them.

So, you have a few choices here.

Choice one is to either cull these new birds or sell if the seller will take them back. That way you don't infect your existing flock.

Choice two is to treat, add the birds to your flock, and be aware your flock is also going to get sick, most likely, or at least be carriers of the disease. You'll need to close your flock, and keep antibiotics on hand to treat with when needed. Which antibiotic is most effective will depend on which disease it is, so you may want to get testing done. Tylan for example will treat Mycoplasma and Coryza, BUT Sulmet is better for Coryza and Denagard is better for Mycoplasma. But you have to know which you're dealing with to be able to choose one of those.

Choice three, get the sick bird tested to see what the disease is and then decide between choice one and choice two. A couple of the diseases DO run their course and go away, like infectious bronchitis which is a virus and will pass from the flock within a year's time. If you are in the US, testing can be done through Zoologix Labs. Last I checked, they will charge $98 to run a Poultry Respiratory disease panel.
 

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