Sick chick, new at this, please help!


6 Years
Apr 3, 2013
Dallas, TX
A few weeks ago I started a backyard flock of five from local chicken breeders around Dallas TX;

From farm A, a silkie a few months old vaccinated for FP
From farm B, a speckled sussex and a splash wyandotte about 5 weeks old both Marek's vaccinated
From farm C, a buff orpington and black laced wyandotte about a month old both Marek's vaccinated

All birds are housed at night in a coop I made from a doghouse by adding ventilation and hardware cloth and a heat lamp, and shredded paper bedding changed weekly, and in the day they have the run of my small backyard about the size of a 2 car garage. I feed them medicated starter and kitchen scraps, and they forage for bugs and whatnot in my yard. A few days ago I noticed the sussex acting oddly- she went from the most energetic and dominant to lethargic with fluffed feathers and a periodic cough/hiccup and gaping, would mostly just follow the big silkie around trying to snuggle with her, still eating and drinking but not as heartily as before, never observed what her poop looked like, she wasn't vocal. Yesterday I noticed the black wyandotte starting to do the same, and this morning I found the sussex dead in the coop and the black wyandotte looking much worse than the sussex ever did- she was doing all the stuff the sussex did and has swollen runny crusted-shut eyes. I disposed of the sussex, cleaned/sunned out the coop and isolated the black wyandotte, who'se in a cat carrier alone and peeping a lot when I'm not handling her, she doesn't seem to be doing the cough as much now as earlier. I've been periodically washing her eyes and bottle feeding her kitten formula, and I have a couple antibiotics onhand if that would help, (ciproflaxin and amoxicillin) and also apple cider vinegar if that would be good in the water? Please help! What does this sound like, and what else can I do to try and help her through and protect the other chickens from whatever's going on here?
Although it's unlikely, I would first rule out gapeworm, since it's simple to diagnose and can be deadly. Simply swab the mouth and throat with a Q tip. If they are present, you will see them when you remove the Q tip. They are very thin, rather long (maybe 1",) and reddish.

It really sounds like one or some of them had one of the viral respiratory diseases that chickens get. Antibiotics will not cure them. You may never know for sure unless you test them. You might want to contact your state vet's office and see what having a necropsy done involves in your state, or whether you can get them tested.

I'll also give you a link that outlines the major respiratory diseases, with a chart near the end which breaks them down by smptoms. (or you vet's office should know how to contact their office)

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