Wheezing and Snot in a closed flock


11 Years
Mar 11, 2010
Blount Co., TN
Ok, I've researching this for a couple of days and haven't found what I'm looking for.

I have a bout of respiratory infection going through my flock of nine hens and two roosters. I've seen several posts about these conditions, but here's the kicker....these aren't new birds. I've had everyone of them for at least 10 months. I've had all of the hens for over a year and I added both roosters in May. I quarantined the roosters for a month before gradually introducing them to the flock through June. I haven't had any problems through the winter. Over the last month, it got really warm here in East TN, like April-May warm, and then all of a sudden turned cold this week.

On Thursday, a couple of hens started sneezing; Friday, one of them had mucus in the feathers on her back and one eye was crusted over. I quarantined her immediately. Today, five of the hens are all wheezing and one of my roosters is craning his neck and gasping.

I haven't had any contact with other birds or even other bird owners since back in the fall. A few of the hens have clear mucus in their nostrils, but the roosters that's struggling isn't showing any signs of distress other than the gasping. Everyone is eating and drinking normally and my egg production is limited, but no worse than it's been all winter.

Other than the sudden weather change there have no other stressors on the flock, just business as usual. The whole group free-ranges over four acres from sunrise until they roost in the evening and their coop is 8'x16' and well ventilated. I haven't changed diet or feeding/watering schedule.....The more I type the more aggravating this gets because I've done everything I'm supposed to do to keep my flock from being exposed to these types of infections.

They could have been carriers since you got them but it didn't flare up until they became stressed. Also it's possible a wild bird could have infected them. I've read that even mice and rats can spread MS/MG.
So here's the next question. I've seen several posts talking about increasing resistance instead of just cull, cull, cull. But I haven't seen anyone discuss how to increase resistance to these diseases.
Thoughts or references??
The free-rangig over four acres is what would be my guess. That's a lot of area for them to come in contact with wild birds and wild bird droppings or,since chickens will eat darn near anything,diseased bird carcasses.

I wish you luck with your flock.

You can only make sure immune systems are strong through proper nutrition and management. You can't increase resistance by keeping birds that are not resistant, if you understand what I'm saying. Culling out birds that become ill is the only way to do it; you keep birds who have never had any symptoms. The ones that never become ill are the ones you must assume have strong immune systems. There is an excellent thread on breeding for resistance by kathyinmo where we had a big discussion, if you haven't already seen it.
The only way I know to increase resistance is the natural way. Cull(or let nature cull)the ones that get sick and do not recover. The ones that do recover will have increased resistance and would be the breed stock for your flock.
waterfowl carry/spread a lot of disease mostly AI, like someone else said you could have just had carriers until they got stressed

it kina depends on the strain of what ever they have some types only affect a few birds other types affect a lot all at once . have any of their combs darkened or turned purpleish ?
Isn't "increased resistance", in this sense, another term for "carrier"?

No. A carrier is not resistant at all. It just survived the last outbreak. It may die during the next one. A carrier will infect the rest of your flock eventually. That isn't what you want.
Isn't "increased resistance", in this sense, another term for "carrier"?

It would seem that way,although many of us had things like chicken pox when we were kids and carry some immunity to that now but I don't think I've ever infected anyone with it since then. I "assume" most chicken disease works the same way. If I'm wrong in this assumption please set me on the right track.


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