Spreading Cough! Has anyone ever been successful at treating?


9 Years
10 Years
Feb 28, 2013
I had two hens that were coughing last week so I treated the whole flock to lots and lots of garlic and oregano every other day. My shipment of Vetrx finally came in so last night everyone got a dose but the cough is spreading and now I have five hens coughing regularly. It seems to be worse in the morning. The coop is very dry and dusty, despite open windows and doors.

One hen, the second one to catch the cough, has mucus in her mouth when I open it. All hens are eating and drinking and running around normally. No one has swollen or bubbly eyes or nostrils. No one is lethargic and everyone who is supposed to be laying is producing normal eggs (I have 3, 4 and 5 yr old ladies who have stopped laying and are pets).

I don't have a farm vet nearby who can diagnose this issue and from what I've read, antibiotics are useless anyway. Do I just let my girls die? What can I do to save them? Are they going to die? I want to spend every minute out there with them, but as a full time working mom, I can't. Is there anything anyone has done for this sort of thing that has actually worked?
I'm sorry to hear they are not improving.

Have you added any new chickens to your flock within the last 30days?

Since the symptoms are getting worse, you can try treating them with Tylan50. You should be able to find this at Tractor Supply, online or your local feed store. Injectable Tylan 50 dosage is 1 cc or ml per 5 pounds of weight. You can give it orally 2x a day for 5 days or as an injection into the breast muscle 1/4 inch deep.

It could be something like Infectious Bronchitis since it's spreading. It is a virus, so antibiotics won't cure it, but can help with secondary infections and give them some relief. IB symptoms can last a month or more, and make your flock carriers for up to a year. This is just a guess, without testing, there's no way to know for sure what the cause is. If you do have one that passes, then it would be a good idea to send the body to your state lab or send a mucous sample to an independent lab for testing.

Dry, dusty conditions will contribute to the respiratory irritation. You may need to shop vac your coop walls or perhaps change out the bedding to something different to see if that helps too. Chickens are so dusty to begin with, it's hard to keep the dust down. I usually vac mine about every 3months (probably should do it bi-monthly:oops: ). In warm weather I run a fan that helps draw fresh air and some dust out of the coop which helps some.

Necropsy and State labs

Independent lab testing:
I would guess that your chickens have a case of infectious bronchitis, a virus that is the most common respiratory disease of chickens. It can be spread by contact with a sick chicken or from wild birds. Most grown chickens tolerate it okay, but might experience a drop in laying for a few weeks. Symptoms are mostly sneezing or snicking, and they can last for a month or so. Unless they suffer complications, grown chickens recover well. Chicks and young pullets can become much sicker and can die from IB. Without testing it is sometimes hard to tell IB from a mild case of MG. IB can make carriers of a flock for 5 months up to a year according to most sources, so I would hold off adding new birds or hatching chicks for a year after all birds have recovered. Antibiotics should not be necessary, unless a particular bird got very sick, possibly from a secondary bacterial infection.
I do have new birds. I have 6, 12wk old EEs that are in a separate, but attached coop. They were raised from a day old on the property in the same brooder/environment as every chicken I have. They've been in the attached coop for 6 weeks now. None of them are coughing or exhibiting any health issues.

I did have a bird die two weeks ago. She was one of my older Amber Rocks. She wasn't coughing or showing signs of respiratory illness at all. Just slowed down over the past 6 mos or so and started sitting in the sun alot, and finally didn't leave the coop for two days and passed. She was over 4 years old. I figured it was old age for a hybrid bird. The coughing started a few days later.
It is good that your young birds are bigger, and may not be affcted too badly if they get the virus, if that is what is going on. IB is easily spread in the air and by direct contact with secretions. If you should ever lose a sick bird, and hopefully that won't happen, I would contact your state vet for a necropsy or get testing done through a poultry lab.

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