Hens making ratlley croaking noises, then dying, please help

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by alanhugs, Feb 12, 2014.

  1. Hi there,

    I had seven oldish (year and a half?) Lohman Brown hens. They were ex-commercial hens which I "rescued". I got them in very skinny, tatty condition in December and have since fed them up and given them a pleasant retirement home. They all fattened up and regrew their feathers, and were looking very healthy. Some started laying again (1-3 eggs a day). They have a spacious run and get let into the garden daily to forage.

    One of my chickens died a week ago. She seemed fine the Saturday, but by Monday evening she was standing quite hunched, in one sheltered place (not walking around at all), looking very unwell, not eating/drinking, and making a strange rattley croaking noise when she breathed in. She appeared to be struggling to breath, like she had something stuck in her throat, often opening her mouth to breath in. We gave her a cuddle, could not feel or see anything unusual, she relaxed and dosed as we held her, possibly breathing a little easier. Next morning (Tuesday) she was dead, in the same sheltered place we left her.

    I did some reading up on this site, chatted with local chicken farmers and a vet. I concluded it was probably some respiratory problem or bronchitis? Some of my chooks had been sneezing a bit, so possibly they had something which had affected one hen worse than the rest. I put the remaining 6 on a course of antibiotics (in the water) for 5 days.
    The sneezing might have eased a bit, but it hasn't stopped, and none of them have laid since the hen died and I started antibiotics. Otherwise they seem very healthy, running around happily. I am currently putting some "anti stress immune boosting stuff" in their water. Do chickens need probiotics after antibiotics? If so what is best form (yoghurt, or capsules added to the water)?

    On Monday another one got sick, wandering into a sheltered spot and refusing to come out for treats. Yesterday (Tuesday) she was moving around a bit, but not seeming to eat or drink, no unusual noises. This morning I checked on her and could hear she is starting to make the croaking sound! I suspect she is going the same way as her sister...

    The sound is quite strange, somewhere between a crow, a frog, creaky door and a death rattle... Hard to describe.

    If anyone has had similar experiences or has any advice I would appreciate your sharing.
    Wishing you well,

    PS: I did also consider Gapeworm, but none of those I spoke to thought Gape worm was likely, not even sure if we get it here in Cape Town? (while she was opening her mouth and struggling to breath, it did not seem as extreme as what I read on the site).

    PSS: It is summer in Cape Town, so warm, fairly dry weather. My chooks have shady shelter under palm trees. I live on a wine farm, so lots of other wild birds around (too many guinea fowl) which the hens may have come into contact with.
  2. Sarevan

    Sarevan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 30, 2013
    White Swan, WA
  3. Thank you Sarevan for your prompt response.
    I am not sure which antibiotic we used, packet is at home, I am at work. We got it form a specialist pet shop that only deals with birds, had a choice of 3 in powder form. Which ones do you recommend?

    I checked out the posts you highlighted. One of them led me to another post https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/831466/hen-breathing-very-heavily-advice-video-included which has a video of a hen in distress, possibly from Gape? My hen's breathing is much slower (more sedate), and the noise is very different, more of a rattley sound, less gasping, and much less/gentler head movements. Also I am fairly sure mine is only making noise on the in breath, not in and out like the one in the video.
    I am still doubting it is Gape, but will take your advice and examine her with cotton swab if she is still alive tonight. Presuming I hold her mouth open and wipe inside the throat?

    I may also try take video of her. Never occurred to me before, but film is probably the best way to present her condition.

    Thanks again,
  4. ten chicks

    ten chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2013
    Sounds like your birds have a respiratory infection,unfortunately most are contagious so watch all your other girls. I would suggest tylan 50,tylan comes in an injectable form or soluble powder,but the injections works faster. The dose for Tylan50 injections is : 1/2 cc for standard size birds and 1/4 cc for bantams,inject into breast muscle once a day alternating sides,administer for 3 days. Purchase a 22 gauge needle.

    Tylan soluble powder is 1 tsp per gallon of water for 3-7 days,depending on the severity.

    Note: toss eggs for 7 days using tylan 50 injectable. I believe you toss eggs for 2 days using tylan powder.

    Note: several are giving tylan 50 injectable in other areas besides the breast muscle as it will cause soreness. You can search forum for other injectable site options.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  5. Thanks Ten Chicks,
    Good news is she was a bit better this evening, actually came out the run and into the garden with her pals. I got home late, my girlfriend tells me she was still slow and listless, but not making the rasping noise and pecking unenthusiastically at food, so hopefully on the mend.
    I just managed to get Tylan, but only the powder, so will start them all on it tomorrow morning. Hopefully it will mend her and give the others some resistance to whatever ails her.
    Thanks again,

    PS: Vets around here seem to have no clue on chickens, they are reluctant to even talk about them. Managed to get Tylan from a pet shop that specializes in birds, and keeps it for pigeon enthusiasts.

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