wheezing, gasping, lethargic chicken with a purple comb


5 Years
Mar 14, 2014
Dunbar, Scotland
Hello all just wanted to share a chicken emergency I have just got through as i spent last night reading threads searching for help and learned alot and so wanted to share in case this helps anyone else.

My two and a half year old Pied Suffolk 'Io' is normally a fiesty chicken, full of personality, top of the pecking order, steady egg layer.
on Sunday night my husband asked me to come and look at her comb, he thought it was a strange colour. It was a really dusky purple colour as was her face and her wattles. She was sneezing and breathing with her mouth open but still eating and quite active, bright eyes, no discharge, poo normal, laid on Sunday, belly feels normal, crop full, no smelly breath, nothing visible stuck in her mouth/gullet. On Monday she was much the same but more lethargic, wheezing now and trying to eat but then loosing interest. Most worryingly she let me pick her up and hold her with no protest. I began searching for answers on BYC and found suggestions of heart failure, respiratory infection or gapeworm (didn't seem to be this). Mainly I didn't want to see her suffer and decided to get her to the vet, it opens on a Tuesday afternoon in my small town so in the meantime I became ridiculously sentimental and went about making her a tasty last meal in case she didn't last the night (she normally gets layers pellets, corn and garden greens) but I know her favourite things are greek yoghurt and grapes. She tucked into the greek yoghurt and grapes but was still really struggling and gasping between mouthfulls. I checked she had made it into the coop at night, sang her a wee farewell lament, burst out crying which nearly made husband cry as well, drank alot of rum and went to bed.

Well Io made it to the morning but still looking really unwell, gave her more grapes and yoghurt. Called the vet and they made an appointment for me at veterinary hospital one town away. At this point my husband called me to come check on Io and behold there she was back to her normal self, eating like mad, shoving the other chickens out the way, drinking loads of water and polishing off the yoghurt. Comb back to bright red, wont let me pick her up, no breathing with mouth open, no wheezing, fixed! So I suspect she did have something lodged in her throat or she had a wasp or bee sting and the cool yoghurt has helped to sooth her throat either lubricating it or helping with swelling.

So there we are, yoghurt, a farewell lament, crying and rum. Worth a try - really just the yoghurt :)

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