Diagnosing /treating a "mild" respiratory disease (unknown?)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by bleuquila, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. bleuquila

    bleuquila In the Brooder

    Jul 20, 2009
    Help! I've been reading all the threads I can find about chicken respiratory diseases, but I don't have any standout symptoms - they're just kinda... blah!

    The story is: I had 4 adult hens, anywhere between 1.5 and 3.5 years old, doing fine. Never been sick. I bought 4 pullets from a local lady who was basically just hatching out 100's of chicks .. there were pullets running around everywhere! I pointed out the 4 I wanted and a guy caught them with nets ... interesting experience. The 4 young birds displayed no signs of sickness.

    ADMISSION THAT I'M TERRIBLE: I've had good luck in the past and I didn't quarantine. Nor did I understand at the time what my husband and I could be tracking home on our boots/clothes/etc. So, lesson learned :( I'll definitely build a separate pen next time and scrub outselves and -burn- wash the clothes.

    So, all 8 birds are socializing, they're mixing it up. This is in early August.

    Not long after that, my favorite bird Dora starts acting weird. Essentially she just grows more and more listless - I notice when she doesn't come sprinting for scratch. After a day of being down in the dumps I find her sitting in a next box just wheezing. Her beak is snotty and her comb is totally drooping down (normally tall and proud).

    So I bring her inside and set her up in a wire crate kept for such occasions, not that I've really used it (previous sick bird experience was a fainting Polish). She's not eating, and hardly drinking. Sneezing/coughing a bit. I get some water into her with rooster booster (not medicated) but she's so glazed over I'm not convinced she'll live the night. But she does! So, slowly but surely she recovers back to eating some mash and scrambled eggs, and crumbles, and the enhanced water. Probably about a week I let her back out, and she's sort of weak, but quickly recovers her strength outside running around. Yay! Saved hen!

    ... cut to september and a lot of the flock seems to have a very mild version of what she did. A few of the 4 young pullets are .... well, it's more like a hiccup than a sneeze. They randomly CHERP and look a little surprised. It doesn't seem like a sneeze, but I don't know what it is. And my matron hen Abigail has some rales. She is also molting, so she just looks miserable right now.

    There are no signs of : extreme lethargy or lameness. No sores or spots.
    Sometimes someone's eye seems squinty or swollen but the next day it's fine and bright and clear. I don't see much snot, if any. I don't see the open-mouth choking or gagging, or head shaking.
    Zero egg production from anyone (but with one molting, and 3 juveniles, it would be low anyhow). Also a predator attack took out Dora after I brought her back to health :( :( so everyone is shook up about that.

    So the lack of any show-stopper symptoms, I'm not sure what's going on. The table/checklist for diagnosing is just like ??? I'm not sure how to treat (antibiotics in the water? medicated crumbles?) and since I don't know what's going on, I don't know if this is one of those "will always be sick and will infect any new birds coming in" kind of things. Obviously I don't want to cull if I don't have to, because this seems so inconclusive, but I will if I know it something bad.

  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging 7 Years

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Medicated crumbles is for coccidia - not a respiratory disease so that isn't the answer.

    Many respiratory disease either start or are exacerbated by too little ventilation.

    There's a good book you can get used on Amazon or read online. The 'Chicken Health Handbook' by Gail Damerow. It is indispensable.
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Free Ranging Premium Member 7 Years

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Your chickens sound like they are getting either infectious bronchitis (IB) or mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG or CRD,) or another respiratory disease. IB is a virus and MG is similar to a bacteria. IB will have carriers up to 1 year, and MG will be carriers for life, and may get sick again when stressed. This is why people need to use good biosecurity and quarentine new birds for at least a month before mixing a flock. Tylan 50 injectable 1/2 to 1 ml given as a shot in the breast muscle or under the skin in the back of the neck for 3-5 days may help prevent secondary infections. It is normal for egg production to go down, especially with IB. It would be good for you to have your local county extention agent or call your state vet on how to test one of your sick birds to know what you are dealing with. Some people will cull sick birds and start over. Click here for info on those diseases: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ps044
  4. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    It may be a viral disease, or a bacterial one. I'd try treating the sick birds with some Tylan50. It is a good strong antibiotic that should be relatively easy to find at a livestock supply store. The dosage for large fowl is 1cc, and for bantams it is .5ccs. Inject it into the breast muscle once daily for five days. Here is a link to information on injecting: http://shilala.homestead.com/injection.html Antibiotics will not work if it is a viral disease. If antibiotics have no effect, just give the birds electrolytes and probiotics, and they should get better eventually.

    The disease is probably causing the egg production to drop, though there are other factors that could be causing it too (decreasing daylight, molting, etc). Some respiratory diseases cause drops in egg productions, especially Infectious Bronchitis.

    Most respiratory diseases cause birds to always remain carriers. They will sometimes show the symptoms again in times of stress. Or, they might never show the symptoms again.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2013

  5. bleuquila

    bleuquila In the Brooder

    Jul 20, 2009
    Thank you for a starting place! Ventilation shouldn't be a problem, the coop which is 4 x 9 and ~5 feet tall has a slanted roof and the top foot or so on the 3 sides is open air with metal woven wire, and they all choose to roost at the very top so it's essentially open air.

    I was sort of leaning towards IB, just in terms of matching symptoms and behavior with likely culprits. Thanks again!
  6. jsides1979

    jsides1979 Hatching

    Oct 8, 2013
    Tylan 50 works great and also try tetracycline in their water. I am having the same issues out of my flock, so I went ahead and treated all of them
  7. bleuquila

    bleuquila In the Brooder

    Jul 20, 2009
    In terms of the birds possibly being carriers - is there anything I can do when adding to the flock in the future to protect new birds?

    A friend was wondering if I would "board" her 2 hens for the winter, as they don't have a good shelter (and we're up in the mountains) .. I've told her it would be a risk I'm uncomfortable with, but I can't really give her any facts about what might happen to her 2.

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