Respiratory symptoms


In the Brooder
Jan 30, 2018
I have a hen about 5 years old. She has been exhibiting respiratory symptoms for the past year. I’ve treated her before and seemed to improve however Ever since then she’s lost her voice, she shakes her head occasionally and wheezes. Her comb for the most part is bright red but occasionally becomes deep red. It doesn’t seem to affect her. She acts normal. None of my other hens in the flock have these symptoms.

I’m curious what it could be and how to treat it?!
From what litle experience I have with respiratory problems in my own chickens, wheezings of any sort is cause for sharp attention from the owner, as it often hides a cropful of problems.

Does your hen have lameness, looks ruffled, lethargic, sleepy? Do her eyes look downright sick, puffed out, swollen? Is she having watery wheezes, or dried wheezes? Cuz depending on symptoms your hen can have anything from a cold to a pneumonia, or worse, the rhyno-trachiartis (I hope I spelled this right, having only heard it aloud), a virus which isn't treatable in my country. Vets form other countries seem to have a vaccine against it though, so if your hen has symptoms of it then it would be a good idea to seek a vet for help. My own hen (a 5 months-old Plymouth Rock) who had advanced rhyno-trachiartis had to be put down, as she could barely breathe, had eyes swollen with pus, diarrhea and almost didn't eat anymore on top of being a bag of bones more than anything else to touch. I also had to put down one of her flockmates who kept pecking curiously at her eyes and slipping herself under the other's soiled belly in search of maternal warmth, and contamined herself before I could properly separate her.

A hen's comb shouldn't be anything other than bright red, if she is laying, or pink, if she is on her pause or molting. If you have other colors than that on your hen, then her respiratory wheezes are not just for show. I don't know what deep red means, but dark red/purple-ish means a lack of air in the lungs, and that's never a good sign. If the bird can't breathe properly, it could eventually die.

The main suspect in my case is the gape worm for my current rooster, as when he stresses out or gets vocal, he ends up sneezing - and playing flute through his nostrils. I've seen him more than once sneeze, cough and shake his head, beak open wide and neck extended as he gasped for air. The gaping worm settles in the windpipe of the bird, which makes it difficult for the chicken to breathe and get rid of the parasite.

I'm awaiting answers from the vet for some fecal tests about my rooster, and crossing my fingers it's not gaping worms. He was vaccinated against it a week ago upon inspection, and if he's still struggling, his chances of making it out alive decrease with each passing day. There's nothing else the vet can do for him since he was already treated, so after posting this I'm gonna go post my own emergency disease entry, as gaping worms are unfortunately not the only deadly parasite my flock has ended up with this time around. Hopefully BYC has tips and ideas on how to treat several types of vermins at once, because I'm out of ideas for how to deal with my coop at this point. Every chicken I bring home in an attempt to build a flock and get chicks just keeps getting sick on me.

To have clear answers, take poop samples from your wheezing hen and demand a fecal (float) test at your veterinarian; ask them to check for parasites and bacteria. They should be able to do that without a consultation; if they demand one, specify you don't need one, just the test, and if they refuse, change vets until you find one who agrees. Wait for the test results, then go from there - ask questions to BYC on how to treat the parasite or bacteria that's ailing your hen if her poop turns up positive. I haven't had any luck so far in treatments though, so I'll abstain from giving any tips as they haven't proved effective on my own flock. (RIP chickens.)

I wish you good luck with your hen, and whatever happens to you both, I'll be cheering for the two of you to find a cause behind the possible problem, and a way to solve it successfully. May your hen be a healthy, happy girl that'll give you lots of eggs! ^^b
There are respiratory diseases that are caused by viruses (infectious bronchitis, ILT,) some caused by bacteria and mycoplasma (coryza, MG,) and one caused by mold spores (aspergillosis.) Each one has symptoms, and all but aspergillosis, can be spread by carriers and wild birds. They are chronic and can come back again and again whenever there is stress, such as during a molt or during cold winter weather. Only MG and coryza will respond to antibiotics, such as Tylan 50 (tylosin) or others. I would Google common poultry diseases, and look for an exceelent link from University of Florida—PS44/PS047.
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Wow thank you so much for your responses!

She is acting completely normal, eating, scratching, she’s still in the top of the pecking order. It’s weird!

I am considering taking in a stool sample. My vet seems to be laid back with my cats and doesn’t require to see them.

Thank you again so much for both responses!!

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