Croupy loud breathing from 3 1/2 year old RIR hen


Jul 4, 2018
Greater Bay Area, Vallejo, California
My Rhode Island Red started loud wheezy exhaling this afternoon. She's 3 1/2 years, just finished going through a hard moult, and today she laid the first egg she's laid since late July. I know the egg was stressful since she was in the nesting box forever. Even with the noisy exhaling, she is eating, hanging out with the others, and doesn't seem distressed. Should I consider antibiotics, and if so which one? I have had no disease problems with my flock so this is new to me. Is there something I should watch for in the morning? Thanks in advance!
Yes. Your first task in the morning is to check her crop before she has access to food and water. You want to check the status of her crop to make sure it's completely empty and flat against her chest.

The most common cause of wheezing in a chicken is a crop disorder. The second is a respiratory disease. By morning, if this second is the cause, she may be exhibiting further symptoms - puffy face, drippy eyes and nares.

The third is breathing issues caused by organ failure from an avian virus. This is least likely while a crop issue is most likely.

A fourth possibility is a foreign object lodged somewhere in her larynx. You can check for this now. If you have a helper, have them hold her and pry open her beak while you take a good look deep into the center of her throat just behind the tongue. Use a flashlight. You may see a grass stem in there that you can fish out with tweezers or you may even see something wrapped around her tongue.
#azygous, thanks again for your prompt response to my panic yesterday. This morning her crop was empty and normal. No more coughing or crouping or whatever that horrible noise was yesterday. Maybe she just was choked on something temporarily. She seems totally fine and back to normal today! Appreciate the help!
That's good to hear. Very often, something will get caught in the larynx and it resolves overnight like that. Your situation seems to have followed that pattern.

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