I have a few sick chickens, should I give antibiotics to EVERYBODY?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Six Chickies, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. Six Chickies

    Six Chickies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 23, 2012
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    I have a flock of about 35 birds, ranging in ages 3 weeks to a year and a half. On Sept 23, I was at a poultry show showing my birds (it was a cold and windy day at the fall fair) and we bought a blue cochin hen. We brought her and my birds home, and set them up in the basement for quarantine time. My mother got impatient (it was our first time quarantining birds) and lobbed them in with everyone else after just 3 days. :rolleyes: My birds were fine, but the cochin started to sneeze. I researched sneezing in chickens, and tried to listen for gurgly or wheezing breathes - i could hear none, so i left her, and a couple of weeks later, she was wheezing BAD. So she came back inside and was immediately given some antibiotic powder dissolved in water. I believe we are using Tetracycline. About 4 days later, two of my nice cockerels developed gurgly breathing. They joined her and the date marked on the calendar.

    Because my chickens free range, and can drink water from any waterer in the barn, an the cochin was wandering around sick for so long, should I give the antibiotics to the whole flock to make sure they don't develop this? I know I would lose 2 weeks of eggs but that is better than losing 2 good hens. I also know that it may mean they can develop a disabled immune system. I have 2 young chicks, 3 and 5 weeks, with a broody - will the antibiotics do something horrible that could affect them and other birds that come in contact with my birds (ie creating non-symptomatic carriers, or weakening immune systems)?
    I'm stressed, my birds are stressed, and I'm wondering if it might be good to use antibiotics on the whole flock to make it easier and have faster recovery?

    Thank you for any and all replies.
    Six Chickies
     
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Antibiotics should not be used casually. Diseases will build up resistance to them, and when you need them most, they may not work. I would medicate sick birds only and keep them away from everyone else for a couple of weeks after they have stopped showing symptoms. New birds or birds that have been to shows should never be placed back into a flock for at least a month, or you will be asking for trouble. You might want your mom to read about biosecurity and poultry.
     
  3. Six Chickies

    Six Chickies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 23, 2012
    Ontario, Canada
    How close do birds have to be before they catch it if they don't share food, water or equipment?
    I am not planning on using antibiotics casually. Usually I look for natural remedies, but when she started wheezing, I resorted to antibiotics. I do not have the space to quarantine for a month if any more get sick.
    Disease resistance is also what I meant by disabled immune systems.
    Thank you Eggsessive.
     
  4. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    They do not have to be in very close proximity at all, depending on exactly what it is they've caught. Poultry respiratory diseases are many, some bacterial some viral. The viral ones especially spread amazingly easy so if that's what it is you need to consider that all birds on your property are likely exposed. So at this point quarantining birds as they show symptoms is a little like closing the barn door after the horse runs off. They are contagious before we can see that they are sick so the others have already been exposed. All you can do is treat them as they come down with it. Most of them probably will in time.

    The only way to know what disease they have is to have one tested, labs/cultures can be done on a live bird or you can have a necropsy done on one that dies. It would be very helpful to you to know what you are dealing with. Some of these diseases can remain on your property for a very long time, or indefinitely as long as you have chickens. That means that any birds you take to shows are going to carry this disease along with them. Even if they have come down with it, been treated and recovered, they still remain carriers with the potential to infect other birds. Once you have this stuff in your flock it's almost impossible to get rid of short of depopulating, disinfecting and starting over. That's the reason for very strict, extended quarantine of new birds.

    As far as antibiotic's, I would not treat any bird that is not showing symptoms. If this disease is viral in nature the only good antibiotics will do is to prevent secondary bacterial infections which are very common. It does not cure the disease. So it does no good to treat birds that are not showing signs of illness. Once they do pop up with symptoms I would treat immediately to help prevent pneumonia from setting in.

    Good luck with your birds, we've been down that road here, it's not fun. I managed to save my small flock when we had an outbreak of infectious bronchitis two years ago but I now maintain a closed flock. No live birds or eggs leave this property and no new adult birds come in.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
  5. theartsypaul

    theartsypaul Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 18, 2014
    What if other birds are not showing symptoms. Would that be bacterial infection? How long does a hen live if it has pneumonia? Wouldn't other hens have it after a week or so? One of my birds has a gurgling sound when I stroke her neck. She sneezes, don't think it's a caugh. IT is too late and pointless to quarantine at this point. The other chickens are bound to have been infected. Thinking all the hens would catch "it" I treated the whole flock, 5 birds, with antibiotics Tetracycline. I had the water out for 2 days then replaced it with a probiotic water. The one hen still seems to sneeze and has a runny nose. The others seem fine. The sneezing hen eats poops drinks is normal except her sneeze. Any suggestions on what to do now?
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2015
  6. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Since it could be a viral disease, it will have to run it's course. Infectious bronchitis may last 3-4 weeks with sneezing and runny nose. Bacterial disease may respond to antibiotics. Some diseases are caused by mold spores, and there is no cure. Here is a good link about the common diseases such as IB, MG, ILT, coryza, and aspergillosis to read about symptoms: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ps044
     

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