Sick chicken


I have a couple of chickens that this morning i noticed were almost coughing like making a sound as though there had a cold, has anyone heard of this?

Chickens do cough and the causes can be several. The most common is dust. It can be dry earth, dust from dried droppings, or even the dusty residue in a feed sack when you empty out the last of the feed.

Just the other day I filled my chicken feeder pouring out the rest of the contents of a feed sack.

The dust settled for a few minutes before the chickens came it, but in gobbling it up the feed dust irritated their air ways and a few were coughing. They stopped coughing quickly.

Chicken coughs can be in response to congestion, similar to human coughs, they can also be a sign of throat mites or worms.

If the cough sounded congested and it continues you may need to medicate but it’s also important to give vitamins. Vitamin deficiencies can lead chickens to fall prey to illnesses.

Sometimes vitamins alone will fix the problem and prevent others from becoming sick.

A good natural product to treat parasites is Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth. It can be sprinkled in the environment, placed in feed and in dust bath areas and even sprinkled on chickens.

The fine powder clogs the digestive tract of many parasites and kills them naturally. It can also suffocate insect like parasites that breath through their skin, but is harmless to chickens.

We couldn’t tell you for certain what is causing your chickens to cough. If they are still coughing you may have to quarantine the sick ones.

You should give a vitamin electrolyte product made for farm animals to the whole flock. I would give a generous vitamin dose for three days in water or feed making sure they consume the whole dose.

I like to mix it in warm water with chicken feed and remove all other food until they finish it.

There are broad spectrum wormers and parasite treatments, but most are chemical. Many products caution you about using eggs from chickens that have been treated with these chemicals for certain periods of time.

Depending on what is causing them you may need a veterinarian to physically examine one for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Return to Raising Chickens Home Page

Click here to post comments

Return to Sick Chicken Questions.

My Ex-Bat is Sick

by Victoria
(Maidstone Kent)

My Ex-Bat is Sick: I have an ex-Battery hen, who is clearly ill.

She not really eating or drinking unless it's by hand, her tail is down but not all the time, she's walking but not well- her balance seems to be off, and when she walks its with her feet turned in and she's trying to sleep all the time.

You haven’t said if you know her age. Sadly, the breeds of chickens used as battery hens, are short lived.

They are bred for early maturity and high egg production, then shipped off to be used as food when egg production is expected to decline.

There is really no reason for them to live beyond their intended “usefulness”, so genetically speaking, a long healthy life is not something you can expect from them.

Unfortunately. by about 2 years of age, many begin to decline in health and quit laying.

You may be able to help her get better, but this will probably require a lot of doctoring and care and may just prolong her suffering.

The best we can hope for when rescuing a battery hen, is to give her a good life for as long as she can make it.

Generally, when the egg factories are done with them, they have lived the healthiest part of their lives and have not been cared for in a way that would promote a long healthy life, even if they were genetically able.

Often these hens develop egg yolk peritonitis, an internal infection that causes them to retain fluids, walk funny and eventually become too weak to survive.

Antibiotics may help, but the fluids may need to be surgically drained. I’ve heard of someone having a chicken “spayed” to prevent this from happening again.

Return to Raising Chickens Home Page

Click here to post comments

Return to Sick Chicken Questions.

Sick Hen - Sleeping on ground in cold

by Mary
(Bothell, WA USA)

Sick Hen - Sleeping on ground in cold:
1. Breed of chicken - Rhode Island Red

2. How old is the chicken - She will be five this August

3. List all symptoms - Lethargic, sleeps on ground, seems depressed, comb seems pale, breathing hard

4. Is it a hen or rooster - Hen

5. How long has the bird had these symptoms - One Week

6. What type of feed are you using - Chicken layer crumble, scratch, and free-range

7. Types of medications - None

8. How many chickens are in the flock - six chickens, two turkeys

9. Have new chickens been introduced recently - No

10. Free range or kept in pen - Both

When ever a chicken seems this cold it’s time for a heat lamp. She may just have a fever and feel cold, as humans do, or her body temperature may be dropping, a sign that she is shutting down and dying.

Acting quickly may save her life. She may have worms, or an injury, or disease which can lead to her problems

It’s important to find out what caused this, but more important to treat her symptoms. Warming her up may return most of her bodily functions to normal, including appetite.

Giving a vitamin and electrolyte product may be enough to restore balance to her systems, once she is warm, and get her on her feet and feeling better.

A chicken that doesn’t want to eat or drink is very sick.

Getting a sample of her droppings to your vet may diagnose a specific parasite or bacteria that is robbing her of health and tell you the cure.

But continuing to support her with warmth and coaxing her to eat and drink is vital. If the vet can’t give you a specific diagnosis I would suspect her nutritional needs haven’t been met for one reason or another.

Possibly winter months have caused a higher need for vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats. Supplementing her with a conditioning feed would be a good idea.

She may be egg bound, which can be caused by mineral deficiencies. Due to being so cold, she may have a sour or blocked crop.

Feel her crop area at the right top of the breast and bottom of neck. If you find a hard mass I would encourage some warm fluids, like ½ cup water to 1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar.

Encourage her to drink and massage the crop. Giving her a probiotic product or live culture yogurt watered down can help her digestion return to normal.

Mash and crumbles will be easier for her to digest than scratch grains at this point, and a conditioning feed may give her the extra nutrition she needs.

If her crop is empty, warming her up and coaxing her to eat and drink is vital.

Return to Raising Chickens Home Page

Click here to post comments

Return to Sick Chicken Questions.

Sick One Year Old Hen

Sick One Year Old Hen: One of my year old hens became suddenly ill; lethargic, not eating & crusty eyes.

The other chickens are healthy. I have isolated her and have been giving her Sulmet, but she doesn't seem to be improving.

Often injected antibiotics are more effective with chickens, but you need the right one, or broad or different spectrum than you have used.

I would suggest offering her a vitamin and electrolyte mix, available at most feed stores and encouraging her to eat, even if just mushy feed offered with a dropper.

She must get solids and fluid into her, through out the day, to keep up her strength. Since this condition didn't respond to Sulmet, it may be the wrong antibiotic or she may just be too weak to pull through.

Often when a chicken becomes this obviously ill, they have been weakened over time and are now just too weak to continue. The vitamins and electrolytes might give her a boost.

Using a heat lamp may restore proper body temperature to boost her immune system, energy level and appetite. Dehydration and malnutrition, over the course of weeks, may be reversed.

She may have parasites, internal or external, draining her of vital nutrients, blood flow and energy.

Offering her probiotics after a course of oral antibiotics, may aid digestion making nutrients highly absorbable and fast acting in her systems.

Veterinary testing can tell you, which, if any of these problems exist in this hen and how to treat.

This can be much faster than trying various treatments, unsure what you are trying to treat. In her weakened state time may be limited, if she is to be saved.

Return to Raising Chickens Home Page

Click here to post comments

Return to Sick Chicken Questions.

Hen maybe sick

Hen maybe sick. Her comb is very cold and blue she is very sleepy and not eating much.

The first thing I would do is try to get her warmed up. Keep her from drafts and get her near a poultry heat lamp or some way of warming up her body.

I would offer her some warm fluids, either water, or fruit juice or an electrolyte product, like Gatorade (with sugar) or a poultry vitamin/electrolyte.

It sounds like her body is shutting down. Being that cold means her circulation is poor and she needs help fast. Often providing heat and some stimulating electrolyte fluids can perk-up a sick chicken, so she is alert, hungry and able to snap out of this.

If you don’t have access to electrolytes you can mix 1 tbsp of sugar or honey in ½ cup of warm water and add a pinch of salt.

If she hasn’t been eating or drinking enough she is probably dehydrated and her blood-sugar level is too low for her to function.

I couldn’t tell you why this has happened for sure; possibly the winter months have been hard on her and depleted her nutritionally. You may find that she is thin, with her keel breast bone protruding.

If you can get her alert and eating well I would offer her a conditioning feed daily, some fresh fruit and greens every day, and try to get the weight back on her.

Once she is alert there is no need to continue the electrolytes or juice or sugar water, but keeping her and your other chickens on a vitamin schedule and the best possible balanced diet, may help prevent this in the future.

This kind of shut down could point to something toxic in the environment. I would check everywhere the chickens can go and see if you find something they got into. Hope she pulls through.

Click here to read or post comments

Return to Sick Chicken Questions.

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.
Custom Search