Dear Sharon,

I have a gold sex link hen who 2 days ago began keeping her right eye closed. She is lethargic, but seems to be eating/drinking/pooping and laying normally. Her eye is still shut, and the lid is soft, swollen and moist. The eye itself has gone from very red (iris) to white, but seems a bit clouded.

I have given her electrolytes 1-2 times daily. She has not gotten worse or better.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions.

All the best,

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by: Sharon

This sounds more like an injury than an infection. You didn't mention if there is much discharge from the eye. An infection would usually cause whitish to greenish goo in the eye, often sealing the eye shut. The swelling of the lid also would suggest injury.

I'm thinking of the possibility of an insect bite or sting? But if you believe this is an infection of some kind an anti biotic eye ointment would be good to use. Even if not an infection, it can help lubricate the eye. Human eye drops that contain boric acid will help, too.

On the chance that this is possibly an allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting, you could try Benedryl and see if the swelling reduces. I've never needed to use Benedryl with chickens, so this is untested by me. Found this on line:

"You can dose a chicken with 1/2ml children's Benedryl only. Wait 24 hours before redosing if necessary. Do not overdose a chicken with the children's Benedryl."

This doesn't sound like a bad infection, if it is one. Her lethargy is a concern. She may be responding to pain. I would thoroughly check the eye area for a bee stinger or other sign of injury. Check where there is the most swelling, check under the eye lid, tissue around the eye ball and the eye ball its self. Look for a foreign particle like a seed or other irritant.

You can also give aspirin to chickens. Check on line for dosing. Might help her feel better.

If you haven't you might consider isolating her so she can eat, drink and rest peacefully. If you give the Benedryl it might make her groggy, so would be good for her to be in a safe place.

Healthy chickens usually heal quickly, especially if not being bothered by other flock members. Using anti biotic eye ointment can help prevent a worse eye infection, if this is the beginnings of one. Swelling of the lid and white color on the eye ball can have several causes, and you may never know how or why this happened to her.

Best thing to do is try to treat any symptoms you see & keep her safe and comfortable while she heals. Chickens are notorious for going after "bugs" and some bugs bite back. Even a mosquito bite near the eye can cause quite a reaction in delicate tissues.

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