Help - Hen laboured, open mouth breathing, falling over - sudden onset


6 Years
Jan 25, 2013
Southern Ontario
1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.)
Ameraucana hen @ 3 years old, about 5lb. One of my first hens! Her name is Eastwood.
No apparent weight loss, not bony - not visibly ruffled, hunched or disheveled
2) What is the behavior, exactly.
I went in to check coop tonight and I heard a hen with hard breathing. She was up on perch with other hens but beak fully open - breathing heavily like she has asthma. not really wheezing, but no neck stretching or head shaking to suggest gapeworms. Also no rales or gurgling or liquidy coughing that I have observed. I lifted her off her perch and brought her to isolation coop. When set down, she was toppling over and could not seem to uncurl her feet.
3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
Tonight is the first night I have seen her display symptoms - please see Youtube link (I hope I dud that correctly)
4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?
A new Ameraucana rooster that arrived a week ago, started to display similar symptoms 2 days ago. Again very quick onset. The first 5 nights he was fine, then 2 nights ago he was opening and closing his mouth rhythmically, with occasional coughing and some rales. He was segregated immediately. He is on Tylan and seems to be improving - walking and eating well. Fingers crossed!! I should have segregated him, but he came from a very small backyard flock with big open barn & free-range so assumed health & low possibility of virus or bacteria
5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
Eastwood has no visible trauma or wound of any kind.
6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
She appears to have caught the same bug as the rooster but has reacted worse or has been hiding symptoms better. I check the coop every night and listen for abnormal sounds or movement. I did not see her exhibiting these symptoms last night
7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
I have not seen any unusual behavior from her around food or water.
8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
I have not seen her poop yet
9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
She is now in the isolation coop and I gave her some 1/4 cup kernel corn&water laced with a dose of Tylan. She ate it all, even though she could barely stand. She is now sitting in a straw bed with a heat lamp.
10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
I have already been looking for a vet to examine the new rooster, but have not located one yet. Though I have a lead from another vet in the area. Eastwood seems to be in much worse shape than the rooster so my intent is to continue to try and find a vet that treats poultry. My worry is transporting her to a vet will be too stressful in her condition.
11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
there are no wounds
12) Describe the housing/bedding in use
The coops are cleaned every other week and doused with diatomaceous earth and filled with wood shavings and straw. The dirt run gets new straw laid every week and is raked out occasionally. (Spring summer and fall) all the chickens free range 3 to 4 hours a day after the snow melted.

Also of note: I had my first run-in with what looked like CRD a few months ago. I have a flock of about 2 dozen mixed chickens The 2 coughing hens were isolated for 4 weeks and treated with antibiotics - also the whole flock treated. After symptoms abated the 2 hens were returned to the flock, but succumbed about 3 weeks later. Unfortunately I was away on holiday - and flock was being looked after by neighbour. SO SAD! Flock otherwise ok.

The symptoms displayed by the rooster and now hen are different from what I observed with alleged CRD a few months back. No sneezing or coughing but asthma like breathing and wet sounding rales (rooster only)
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I'm sorry you are going through this. This is a very good post on the subject

You might consider looking into having a necropsy done on the next one you lose. In many cases this is available through your state vet for a small fee or even free. It's a good idea to check it out ahead, though, as they vary on the condition they want the bird in. This might help:

In the meantime, you need to keep a closed flock, that is, not let any live birds or hatching eggs leave your property.
Thank you FW - I have read everything I can on CRD and MG over the last few months.
The affected hen was up and walking around this morning as was the rooster who appears to be improving.

I have never quarantined new birds before - it's clearly the smartest thing to do.
Have read the thread you recommended - it seems even a decent amount of quarantine cannot always guard against intruding pathogens.
And yes I am definitely NOT going to be bringing in any new birds, and I don't have hatching eggs.
A necropsy is a good idea if one of these fellows dies :( - still searching for a poultry vet (I'm in southern Ontario Canada)...
Thanks so much.
We all learn when we recognize our ignorance -. I just wish my hens didn't pay the price.
Unfortunately, it's not unusual to learn about chickens' respiratory diseases the way you did. I'm very sorry this happened to you. If I hadn't become addicted to reading BYC a few years ago, I'd never have heard of them, and I've had chickens off and on for some 60 years.

Have you checked out the Canadian thread? I'm sorry that I have no idea whether Canada has anything comparable to a state vet in the US. Perhaps someone on the Canadian thread will know, or perhaps your regular vet can tell you this, even though he may not treat chickens.
Thank you for your suggestions!
Both afflicted rooster and hen seem to be holding their own, eating drinking and walking.
Eastwood laid an egg yesterday. They will continue with Tylan and heat and isolation for a while I guess until symptom free and the warm weather arrives for good. I have to assume the entire flock has been exposed and wait for new patients. I just hope they recover and one way or another figure out what to do with a flock that most likely has recovered CRD carriers.
Good news is that both rooster and hen appear to have recovered completely.
They are back in general population. Now that the warm weather is here hopefully they will continue to be strong and stay healthy. And will have to wait and see what happens next winter...
Thanks all who responded to this thread!!
Great to know there are so many helpful chicken people out there
I'm not sure what is wrong with my hen. She has been breathing with her mouth open for the last 3 days. She is eating and drinking and active. Her comb is bright but, when she breaths with her mouth open it seems to be less red. Anyone have any answers????
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