Flock with a cold that doesn't seem to bother them - treat it?


In the Brooder
11 Years
May 1, 2008
Redmond, WA
We have 14 five month old mixed standard size breeds (13 hens and a rooster). They've acted like they have a people cold going through them - occasional goopy eyes in a few of them that lasts a day or two, sneezing, gaping (is that where they open their mouths wide and stretch their necks up? if so, that's what some of them do), wheezing, etc. This started going through them about 2 weeks ago. Some had it and are now better - others seeming to get it now. None of them have acted lethargic or sick other than these kind of sinus symptoms. They are all eating, drinking, playing, etc. normally. We thought it was due to cleaning the coop/allergies/ or something environmental, but my wife's worried about the one buff orpington who is doing this gaping thing pretty consistently for 36 hours or so now. I looked down her throat with a flashlight and didn't see anything in there (other than bread she was trying to eat). Off she went to continue her free-range this afternoon. It obviously bothers my wife more than the chickens, but if we should be treating them with something we probably should start before it gets worse, right? I say wait it out, but if I'm wrong.....

What could it be? Do we try to treat it with something? I increased the amount of apple cider vinegar in their water this morning to see if that will help. It has been hot here (compared to the weeks before) the last 4-5 days. We had one black australorp that had just started laying (got 3 eggs over 4 or 5 days and now nothing for 3-4 days). I think that might be due to the change in weather or just cause she's a new layer. None of the others are laying yet (flock includes ameraucanas, wyandottes, sex-link, RIR, the buff orpingtons, and the australorp).

So, what to do?
It could be the first symptoms of something nastier... I would put VetRx in the water (available from McMurray?) and keep a sharp eye out.
Vet Rx is only to relieve symptoms, not to treat anything. Chickens do not get colds, they get diseases. People who treat respiratory illnesses would use antibiotics ASAP (not Terramycin-that's useless). Tylan would be the drug of choice or Gallimycin. Could be Chronic Respiratory Disease/mycoplasma and those make the birds carriers for life, generally. If there is a terrible odor, it's Coryza. You can spread it to other birds on your shoes and clothes, so be very cautious when going to the feedstore, etc. My personal decision is to cull for all respiratory illnesses (if we ever get any here; haven't so far) due to the carrier part of it.
Here is a link to some wonderful articles that will help you decide what to do:


Read Infectious Coryza, Infectious Bronchitis, etc. Respiratory illness in chickens is not the same as in people. Colds dont make people carriers for life and able to give others the disease when they are stressed, even when the carrier isn't showing symptoms. It calls for a different approach entirely.
Thanks -I'll check the links provided. We know it's not the same as people colds. I'm just describing it that way because that is what it looks like.

Our chickens seem to be lacking any key symptoms (like lethargy or wing problems or strange behavior) that would lead one to a specific poultry virus or infection. I doubt it's a bacterial infection because they would act like they didn't feel good if that was the case.

The only strange thing about it is that they don't act like they are bothered by their symptoms.

There is no odor.

We have been to the state fair and feed stores and another chicken yard, so I suppose they could have gotten something that way - after all I think that's why hatcheries don't allow outside visitors. Did not cross my mind until you mentioned it though. It doesn't help with the diagnosis unfortunately.

Also, we have a ton of birds and squirrels around their coop. We have caught squirrels eating the chicken food. The coop is under a number of large trees (which shields them somewhat from the hawks and eagles which are super abundant here). Still waiting for our owls to catch on. Also lots of bunnies and other wild critters they come in contact with that could have delivered them something I suppose.
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With the birds showing symptoms for two or three days and getting better Its either a natural vaccination going on, probably Newcastle.. Or Infectious Bronchitis is going through your flock..With Coryza,CRD or Laryngo 99% of the time they get worse before they get better......
It sounds like we have the same problem!

I have a GLW, SLW, Sex-link, Black star or comet, cant remember which, 2 RIR, BR, RIR/BO cross and a Cuckoo Morans.

It started with fetid odor of the poo, and lots of coughing. Then there was sneezing, and snot from the BR. For about a day, one of the RIR hens face was swollen....havent seen that again. The odor went away.......but now just about everyone is sneezing!

I used some Blue Ribbon electrolite formula with microbodies. I wouldnt reccomend it, it didnt seem to help, and it just game thme diarreah. If you find out something that helps, PLEASE pm/email me......

Wish i could help, but i cant even help myself. lol.
Thanks for weighing in, William. I always feel like I'm the voice of doom and gloom when I answer posts like these and I appreciate your input. At least it's not Coryza or you'd smell it, so that's good.
So, based on this website http://www.shagbarkbantams.com/contents.htm I think it is LTV (Infectious Laryngotracheitis) or Upper Respiratory Fungal Infection. Since the later sounds more prevalent in ducks and younger birds, I vote for LTV, but at this point I don't know how to tell the difference. I'm pretty sure it is not any of the other dire things listed, by process of elimination.

A curious and probably useless bit of info is that of the few hens that got the goop in the eye, it was only the right eye for some reason.

It sounds like a vaccine is the only thing you can do for LTV (other than let it run its course) and I don't think vaccine is wise since you can end up with carriers then. Oxine is the treatment for the fungal infection (but it is likely to run its course and go away without it) and of course I don't have any on hand. If not seeming better tomorrow, I'll see if I can locate some I guess.

Chicken Whisperer - we haven't seen swollen faces on anyone. Stinky poo, yes, but they are allowed to free-range and who knows what they ate. I didn't consider that a symptom, but maybe you're right.

Quoted from shagbarkbantams.com on LTV "The primary target of LTV (much like Infectious Bronchitis) is the trachea, with the primary symptoms being moist tracheal rales, nasal discharge, and most notably (in severe cases), a bloody discharge from the nose and/or mouth. This element is significant since the presence of blood from mucous discharges and coughing/sneezing, can be a defining symptom when attempting to diagnose LTV in a flock that exhibits upper respiratory symptoms. In other words, when diagnosing specific upper respiratory infections, which are sometimes difficult to differentiate, LTV should be ruled out first when blood is present. Other similar differentiating symptoms include face swelling and/or odor to Infectious Coryza, and a rapid rate of spread with Infectious Bronchitis. (There are always exceptions to these guidelines when diagnosing, but they represent a good starting point for the process of elimination.) Other symptoms for LTV are coughing, gasping, reduction in production, watery eyes and conjunctivitis, and swollen sinuses."

We have all of these symptoms except the blood (it's not that bad is my guess) which is why I am guessing it is LTV. We also have the gaping in one bird which is a symptom of the fungal disease though.

Hurry up and wait another day I guess...
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