Not an emergency but a question


13 Years
Jun 21, 2009
I was advised to post this over here from Managing your flock:

For over a month now, I have had different chickens making funny breathing noises. Some have black dirt around thier nostrils but nothing runny nor are there eyes runny. They eat layena and some scratch, freerange and eat some bugs and poop is all normal. other than the few molting - they look fine and happy and healthy.

My next door neighbors birds had these symtoms first. None have died from either flock( with the exception of a few her husband killed) She has treated hers numerous times with different antibiotics and was told to cull her flock by people who don't necessarily keep chickens or have any veteranary training.
When I went to the local feed store, I was told this was a seasonal thing and a lot of chickens in the area have had similar symptoms. I tried to get some duramyicin when my medicated chick feed ran out for the biddies. The feed store was out both times I went. All of my chickens now are just at the point of lay and many are molting. My older chickens are now a year old. the youngest are august 2 hatching. We noticed the symtoms starting with a lone leghorn that she thought was one of mine that got out and I thought it was mine until the next morning when I let them out of the coop and counted 1 extra. That chicken is laying and fine.

I would prefer not to kill all of my 39 chickens now that they are grown and about to start laying. Only 6 are showing any symptoms.

My neighbor has a vet friend who has offered to test her birds at cost. I guess if mine also test positive with something bad, I will abide by the vets opinion, I just don't want a bunch of people telling her or me we have to kill all these birds after we spent time raising them and getting them to this point of lay especially now that I am so attached to them. If I have to do it I will.

We both live on acerage and our coops are very far apart although I have two birds that are bent on wandering over to her house no matter how hard I try to keep them in the run.

How would we know for sure what this is?
What is involved in the testing?
All of the birds have been exposed.
Do all of the birds have to be culled if it is something bad?
If I am not selling birds or eggs? Do I really have to kill them?
I will if I have to do it but I really don't want to do it.

Just looking for some opinions - you can disagree with me or tell me to cull - it is okay. I guess I am looking for a consensus.

I am mostly frustrated because the chicks I got back in June, were a fight to get them to survive and now this not to mention my daughter is absolutely in love with her frizzle chick and I really don't want to kill her frizzle especially.

and okay really wierd question. If this is some kind of bad respitory viral thing - do I have to waste all of that meat. I just can't bear the thought of culling all those chickens and then chucking the meat. Then they would have served no purpose
I think your best bet is to take one to the vet and get it diagnosed and go by the vets recommendation. The respiratory issue could be something not as major as others might think and could be treatable and/or non treatable without having to cull. for example; infectious bronchitis. You might end up having a closed flock because of it. On the otherhand, it could be the onset of something worse, like coryza...only a vet can identify for sure what is running through your flock. IMHO, it doesnt sound like anything major because they are eating, drinking normal, acting normal etc...but I'm not a vet neither.
The thought of killing your whole flock I personally find ridiculous. If all they are having is light wheezy breathing noises and arent really suffering, and you arent introducing them to other birds or selling them, I feel like if this is the worse it ever gets are you and the birds willing to live with it? Do they seem to be suffering? Black dirt can be normal especially in dry dusty conditions. Keep trying to get your duramycin, you can also order it off the web. You can also use tetracycline to treat as well. In the mean time you can treat the flock with 1 tblsp of ACV = Apple cider vinegar per 1 gal of water. This will help to boost their immune system. You will want to make this fresh daily as it will spoil. If they arent suffering, I would give them some time to try and fight this off and give you time to find the right solution, before you do anything drastic. If they are in a drafty area you may wanna try to cut out the draft while they are trying to recover. Good Luck!
If both flocks are showing the same symptoms - - - then take just one of the worst in and have it tested. The vet will then tell you what to treat them with. In the long run, this will be much cheaper than trying one thing and then another and then another.

How aggressive the cure is, Depends on what is wrong with them. Maybe they just need antibotics. Most likely, you will need to treat your flock and your neighbors. The birds do visit each other PLUS there are wild birds that will visit both flocks.

Good luck
Thanks - We do plan to get some tested. I will continue with the apple cidar vinagar. If they were acting sick, that would be one thing but I just didn't want to do anything extreme if it isn't necessary. They are happy, eating pooping all normally. I change the water daily and clean the waterers weekly along with the coops., Which I disinfect before adding new pine shavings. I don't plan on reducing my flock or selling any chickens. My poor neighbor is so freaked out. I keep reminding her that we can get a bird or two tested and see from someone who can do a quality test but the rest is sort of hearsay from her sister and others who don't keep chickens at all and know how attached she is to her flock and really they have been super mean spirited in the past so I just feel like she was being given some bad advice from uninformed people who just made a snap decision and then it was repeated to me to do likewise and I am thinking - Uh - don't know you and unless you have some real poultry experience I have no intention of killing my babies unless I have to do it.

<<<Do all of the birds have to be culled if it is something bad?>>>

Just focusing on this one question. That would depend on what they had. There are some illnesses that "must" by law be reported to your state agricultural authorities. Reportable illnesses vary from state to state. Here is a link to a list of]reportable diseases[/url] in Florida. This is from Florida's Department of Agriculture.

Diseases are put on this list because they are either 1) dangerous to humans or 2) extremely contagious with potentially DEVASTATING consequences to other animals of the same (or different) types.
Get the duramycin and add to the water, you might add some vitamins also. Your flock may have picked up a seasonal "bug" Change in season my be your cure. In a pinch, I have added some medicated starter along with my laying mesh to my flocks diet. If your flock is eating, pooping and appears otherwise healthy, I could not even consider culling.

I would test the worst ones, just to know what you are dealing with.

Another thought: Are your young ones molting? That seems very early to me, you could be dealing with parasites. Put out some Diatomaceous Earth. I put mine in an old feed tub about 2-3 inches deep. They bathe in it and love it.

Good Luck and let us know what you find out.
Two of my birds suffer from the same thing and a few of my friends...I treated with antibiotics to no avail. (except we couldn't eat the eggs!) I really have decided that it is the dry weather, we haven't had rain here for months. They have no symptoms except a sneeze every once and awhile.

It always seems worse after they bath in the garden and was especially worse after the fields being harvested. There were clouds of dust everywhere. So I am waiting to see what happens, treating with antibiotics too much can hurt more than help.
I would strongly suggest that both you and your neighbor call the county extension office and have someone out to test your birds. They may do swabs or bloodwork but chatting about it here or at the feed store is not going to get you answers. The right medication can be advised, or no medication at all. Sometimes these things run the course, sometimes they are for life. Culling the whole flock and repopulating may not work either without the correct clean up or getting more chicks from the same infected source. Bottom line you need to know what your dealing with to avoid having it again.

I hope you two can work together to resolve this.

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