Chicken Wheezing: Identify Chicken Respiratory Disease.
If your chicken has a respiratory illness it is vital to treat it early as recovery is rare without intervention. In addition to this, if you do not treat quickly the illness may spread to the rest of the birds in your flock.
Diagnose Chicken Respiratory Disease
A sneezing chicken may indicate a serious health problem with your bird. Cold like symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, sneezing and also trouble breathing should not be taken lightly.
In actual fact, unlike humans - chickens do not suffer from colds or flus. In poultry, symptoms of sneezing or wheezing are the result of a bacterial infection, known as Chicken Respiratory Disease (CRD). A healthy chicken can fight the bacteria when it is exposed to Mycoplasma gallisepticum (CRD bacteria) however if it is facing one or more environmental triggers this will lower its immune system and the disease will take hold. The most common Environmental Triggers include:
- Extreme temperatures
- Lack of space / overcrowded conditions
- Poor Living Conditions
Symptoms of Chicken Respiratory Illness
Chicken Respiratory Illnesses, and CRD, in particular, tend to develop fairly slowly. Catching the infection early can be key to a good recovery. So it is vital to be on the lookout for ill-health in your flock.
Signs that your chickens might be suffering from a Respiratory Illness include:
- Wheezing or laboured breathing
- Discharge from the nostrils and/or eyes
- Swelling around the eyes and/or beak
- Poor comb or wattle colour
- Decreased appetite
- Loss of condition
- Reduced egg production
If you think that your chicken may have a respiratory illness, listen to its chest. It is quite likely that you will hear a rattling, congested (phlegmy) sound when they breathe.
If chickens are having difficulty breathing (stretching their neck and coughing, or panting) but do not display other symptoms they may be suffering from gapeworm. For help diagnosing or treating gapeworm, click here.
How to treat chicken respiratory infections
Because respiratory illness in chickens is an infection it requires medical treatment. If untreated, CRD will eventually cause the death of otherwise healthy birds. In order to treat chicken respiratory infection, follow these steps:
1. Isolate the Disease
Chickens are social animals, as such infectious diseases can spread at a rapid rate throughout your flock. It is vital to isolate sick birds at the first sign of illness to protect the rest of the flock. This includes supplying the infected birds with their own supply of drinking water and feed.
2. Care for sick birds
The key elements that will contribute to a chickens recovery are hydration, nutrition and also warmth. Pay particular importance to hydration. If the CRD is severe, it may be necessary to use a spoon or dropper to give the sick bird water. This care may be necessary until the bird fully recovers enough to drink on their own.
For severe cases, it is advisable to use an electrolyte solution such as AviLYTE
3. Treat the Infection
The most widespread respiratory illness in chickens is CRD, caused by the bacteria Micro plasma gallisepticum. However, laryngitis, bronchitis, tracheitis and even pneumonia, are also common and require similar treatment.
We recommend treatment with a broad-spectrum antibiotic suitable for chickens - there are antibiotics available over-the-counter for poultry or you may wish to consult a veterinarian. For best results, follow the antibiotics with a course of probiotics such as 2 Pak Avian Probiotic.
It may also be possible to treat CRD using natural methods, in particular where the infection is not very advanced. VetRx Poultry Remedy is often recommended for effective relief of respiratory illnesses in chickens.
4. Reduce the risk of reinfection
Proper coop management is essential to prevent the spread of disease. After any illness, thoroughly clean the coop to reduce the risk of reinfection.
Ensuring that chickens are healthy will also prevent reinfection. Using a good probiotic such as 2 Pak Liquid Probiotic or BVM Pink Powder may help to boost chicken immunity.
As well as helping to treat CRD and other infections, VetRx Poultry Remedy can be used as a preventative to reduce the risk of bacterial illnesses.
Another essential for chicken keepers is Chicken Health For Dummies, a great resource on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness and disease in the chicken coop.