We have 3 hens. Two young ones were just introduced, and apparently introduced some disease.

The youngest (doesn't have adult feathers yet) has always been slow, wanting to be held, eyes closed (some gunk in them, they seem tiny, and some bumps around edge), and is slow to wake in morning. She moves around free-range yard the least, always cuddling her older 'sister' when they rest. I suspect this is the first bird to be sick. Recently, I went to my local dairy because I was concerned the littlest one wasn't eating. Hubby had only been serving up Scratch. I bought some Quick Grow and some Laying Mash. They suggested I add water to some laying mash for the littlest one. I've been feeding that to the smaller birds, making up a pan twice a day, and cleaning the pan each time. She seems to be doing a bit better; but not all well. It's been about 5 days. At least, I don't feel she's slowly dying of starvation now. I am babying her, and walking out to the yard (as momma hen might do) to remind them to go eat. She does seem to remember where I keep the grool and the water. She does enjoy sunning herself too. But her eyes still seem so small, either she cannot open them or they're swollen or they're genetically off?

Uh-oh. It's spreading! My two year old hen, today does not want to wake up. Her eyes are also closed. I talked to her on her roost in the (walk-in size) coop, and some snot drooled out of her nose or mouth. Alot. Poor baby. I've never seen her not eager to greet the day. I feel bad. I was going to pet her, but it just grossed me out.

The second new baby hen, which just has some of it's adult feathers, is out running around like a normal chicken. It keeps going back into the coop to see why they don't want to come out too. Since we got the two new babies, this one is very protective of the littlest one. Sometimes the little one seems blind, and she protectively runs in front of her... like, hey sister, wrong way, turn around.

If there is any chance for less than perfect birds to survive, our yard is it. Good size, well ventilated coop. Fresh water in 3 places. Bugs. Some grass. Dirt and straw in vegetable garden to scratch. Large trees and bushes for shade and security.

If disease was not brought on site by the baby hen, then I'd have to consider that the possible carriers might be mosquitos, flies, skunk, possum, cat, blue belly lizard, and lots of wild birds in trees. We are in a drought here in California. I am in a low desert. Alot of wild life is attracted to my garden; but until my hens became ill, it was never a problem. There was a balance. I have not found dead birds in my yard; so I'm guessing it needs close contact to spread.

Oh, hubby has been working on the coop. It was reasonably clean, but he did go through and sweep it. Perhaps, some germ was kicked up then; though I'm thinking it's the least likely cause. He also put in better wire to keep critters out. Something had been going in there; but had not done any harm. He is still modifying the coop a bit. There will still be excellent ventilation.

At first, we thought the old hen was just mad about the changes in the coop. But the drooling grossed me out, and I am sure it's more than being upset with us. This is the second day she has seemed 'off'.

contagion spread horizontally across flock within 3 weeks
wanting to sleep
drooling from mouth or nose (not sure)
closed eyes, looks kind of crusty in baby chick
earlier symptom - sneezing, coughing (not uncommon here, normally doesn't last long)

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Sick Chickens

It's always best to confine new chickens away from the flock for a week or two to make sure they are healthy. Unfortunately many diseases spread quickly. For some there is no cure. I hope your chickens made it through. Often if they come down with a disease and get through it they are immune for life. Some chickens can be "silent carriers" meaning they can spread a disease, even though they have no symptoms themselves.

Chicken scratch is not a balanced food for chickens. It's more of a treat. It usually contains low grade nutrients, full of pesticides. You would do best to feed an organic feed as pesticides from feed do end up in the eggs.

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