Flock with Phlemy noises


9 Years
Sep 8, 2010
I bought quite a few new birds over the last month, and am now dealing with some poor sounding birds. That is the only symptom I can find. Everyone is eating, laying, drinking, and Doofus the rooster continues to crow, but he sounds deeper and well, like he has pnemonia or something. His breathing is a terrible sound. There were in fact 2 of 5 hens that I bought 2 weeks ago that already had this noise I noticed when I got them home, but the other 3 have no change. Only the rooster in my original flock has this same symptom. I did cull a bird last week, but she did not display the same symptoms. Her comb went purple for several days and she was gaspy, something I have seen before and now attribute to old age. It's happened 3 times in the last year with my older flock. Doofus the Rooster is looking good, bright comb, eating well, but sounds terrible. He may be losing a little weight as well, but it's too early to tell. I just picked up on his breathing noise last night, and this morning it's quite worse. If it might be of help, my cow did have a cough and runny nose as well as some diarrea, and they share the same barn areas. I know they are different species, but flus are flus. People flus come from pigs or chickens, so well, it got me wondering about the cows.
I did add ACV to one waterer and molasses to the other. Anything else I can try? Off to work for a few hours, hopeful for lots of insight. Thank you for your help.
Sorry, not the most expereinced, but unfortunately do have experience with this. You have a respiratory infection. You may have brought sick birds home and gave it to the rest, but it sounds like you might have already had illness in your flock as well. It did not come from the cow, it came from other sick birds. There are at least six possibilities CRD/MG, laryngotracheitis, coryza, and some others. The best thing you can do is get a bird to your state veterinarian for a necropsy and they can find out exactly what is going on. In the meantime, you can start antibiotics like Sulmet or Tylan. Might help if there is secondary infection. Some are a virus and these medications won't really help. Also, the birds may likely continue to carry the disease even if they seem to get better. Did you quarantine the new birds? Bringing in adult birds to your flock is the most likely way you brought the infection in. Sorry you are dealing with this, it is pretty confusing. Get a dead bird to the state vet ASAP. Many States will do it free or low cost. At least you will know what you are up against.
Oh, the purple comb and gasping in the hen is not old age. She can't breathe well and she is not getting enough oxygen to stay pink. It is the last stages of a bad respiratory infection. Rarely, it could be heart failure, but it is not likely with all the other birds unwell too. A general rule of thumb is to keep birds separate for at least 30 days and observe for illness before adding to your flock. Sounds like a few were really sick when you bought them. Really Sorry.
Ok, so if these new birds brought a new virus, or the older flock had something already, is it likely to pass without antibiotics? I would have to treat the entire flock with antibiotics in the water, Tetracycline or something Oxy... the only 2 to choose from at the Co-op. I do not have a bird vet in my area, so you all are my best best! Does this mean all birds I bring home are likely to get ill? I have chicks in an incubator and would they wind up with the virus once they go out in the flock?
Yes. Your safest bet? Cull all sick birds, send a few bodies to your state university veterinary college - they usually have labs to test for these things, find out exactly what it is. Because MG/MS can pass into eggs, your chicks may already have it, but for now, keep them quarantined from the area the adult birds were in and change your clothes when you go from one place to the other. A necropsy will let you know exactly what you're up against so you'll know if you can clean the coop and move on, or if you need to wait many weeks or whatnot.

Treating the sick birds will not cure this infection. You will be dealing with it forever, and the recovered birds tend to be less thrifty and more prone to return infections if it's MG/MS.
Yes, that is the awful thing. This would likely pass to your new chicks. Man, I feel your pain on this one. Still working through it ourselves. What state are you in? You can give them antibiotics and keep your fingers crossed, but no way to be sure what you are treating. They might even get a bit better but still carry the disease. If at all possible getting a real diagnosis from a necropsy is your best bet. Keep a dead bird cold somehow and get it to them. Virginia did it for free.

We found out we had laryngotracheitis, a virus, so not treatable with an antibiotic. We will be vaccinating our birds to stop the disease and giving it to all birds at 4 weeks of age before they go outside around the others. Some things can even pass through the egg like mycoplasma infection. So, you can see that without testing you are kinda in the dark. Good luck with all this.
I live in Canada, and am not familiar with any of the diseases you speak of. I did look closer at a few of the birds, and am seeing blackened areas on combs and wattles of the roosters (one that doesn't have breathing problems, and Doofus that does). I had initially thought it was frostbite, but it's not on the tips, it's just random areas and look like scabs I guess, but black. If we move the sick birds to an outdoor coop, will the fact all of them having been together not mean that they are exposed anyway? What is likely to happen to the rest of the flock? I currently have 3 out of 18 with breathing symptoms, and one rooster with the black spots only. Maybe they aren't related. Thank you for your help. I'm kind of at a loss now. I didn't think this could be such a serious problem. Are the ones with symptoms only infectious in close contact, or the same room, or their poop or sharing water? Oh dear indeed.
What is the nearest university or veterinary college to you? Call them. They will be able to give you better answers than anyone on this forum, and they will let you know how much they would charge for a necropsy, or alternatively you could draw blood and send it in. Either option should let you know exactly what you have - and then you'll know what to do.

Depending on what disease it is, it can be contagious only by direct contact or sharing food/water, or it could be airborn. Unfortunately most respiratory diseases do get airborn and spread quickly.

I don't know all the signs of these diseases, but search for thread on here "my chicken has a cold".
I would certainly separate the sick birds from the others. There is a chance that they haven't spread it. Not sure about the black spots. Some of my birds have that but I was pretty sure that it was from getting pecked. I think you are correct, that frostbite would be on the edges. I really haven't had that problem here.

Walltenter is right about calling your closest veterinary university. They should be able to get you headed in the right direction. Hang in there.

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