Chicken help needed! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 02-09-2020, 12:36 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Oct 2016
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Exclamation Chicken help needed!

Daughter added a new group of Cinnamon Queen hens to the flock recently. All are supposed to be 1 year old and little older. One wasn't doing so well when they got home, but after resting overnight in a heated laying box, seemed to feel better. She was drinking and eating.

Today I found her standing in the drizzling rain, soaked to the skin and weak. Comb is very pale, almost pale pink, not a healthy scarlet color. She gurgles when she clucks. Comb and waddle feel a little too warm to the touch to not be fever, but IDK. I've never noticed our other hens feeling this warm to the touch and they get loved on a lot by me. So.

Brought her in, fluffed her dry with a towel, used a second towel to wrap her up and parked her on the heating pad to warm her up. Made a thick liquid out of peeled red apple, some baby carrots, a handful of red grapes, some greek honey yogurt (No artificial ingredients, I checked before I added it) and two generous dollops of a nurti-paste we have for puppies that need additional calories, protein and fat. Had to force feed her at first, by the fourth syringe she was lapping it up fast as I could get it out, but accidentally squirted her and she was done with that - so I force fed her the last syringe.

She's soaking up the warmth of a heating pad on the floor of the laundry room and loosely wrapped in the towel. She's sleeping now. I've made her a box with pine shavings to move her into when she's good and dry and warmed up.

I looked up symptoms, seems to be a chicken respiratory illness that can be brought on by sudden temp changes and we've had a LOT of those lately - 80 one day, ice and snow the next, then 65 three days later, then back into the 40s at night.

Antibiotics are indicated but we have no antibiotics here in town that say CHICKENS in the list of what to treat with it. I have, bad me, some prescription cipro and possibly some amoxicillin hoarded up. We also have a general large animal antibiotic in the horse meds/beer fridge in my tack room from when Red had her incident with the gate, but it's injectable... don't know if I can just squirt some into her liquid feed or not. Getting the dose right is going to be a problem as well.

Anyone have any idea what else I can do for her? We've got: Dry, out of drafts, warm, liquids, proteins, fats, and fruits/veggies going down the gullet. Chicken vets aren't a thing here. You will get sent home with a sick chicken - they're just chickens to the local vets and not worth treating and I don't know if they'd know how anyway.

PS. I don't know a thing about the guy that sold them, and he is not local... and I don't want to judge but all those hens looked pretty shabby. I would not have bought them, tbh. I'd have gotten more chicks and raised them myself before I got these hens. They're all molting, but they weigh half what our ISA Bowns, Sussex, and Orphingtons do. They're kinda bony under all those feathers. They COULD be much much older and were sold because they're laying is in decline. Daughter said they were never allowed to free range and to her eye, he had WAY too many hens in too small a run/pen area for them to be happy hens. These poor girls ate, and ate, and ate, and ate when they were unloaded, and you can't overfeed a chicken - they will stop when they get full and walk away. They also ran right to the decomposed/crushed granite outside my tack room and started shoveling in grit. They scarfed down food and grit like an animal that's done without for a while and were even mugging our roos for coming over to eat as well... Handsome Jack and Roofus tried to handle their bullying like gentlemen, but eventually a couple had to get spurred to get them to quit harassing the boys.

All the rest seem healthy, just under fed/under weight and possibly low on grit in their craw.

"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
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post #2 of 37 Old 02-09-2020, 12:57 PM
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I would suggest going to They will definitely help, a lot!
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post #3 of 37 Old 02-09-2020, 01:04 PM
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Sounds like a viral respiratory issue, and I don't think antibiotics will help. Keep doing what you are doing. I have heard that V8 juice(the original) is good for rehydration of small animals, might help chickens too...

Personally, I would place those new birds in a separate pen as far from your current flock as possible until you are sure they are healthy.
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post #4 of 37 Old 02-09-2020, 02:07 PM
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Agree with @AnitaAnne on QT in a pen that's far from your original flock, and add biosecurity steps like changing boots/clothes between pens. Maybe too late for that now though? Just know that respiratory issues travel fast, and are very common when you bring new adults in to your flock, particularly if they weren't that healthy to start. Something about stress seems to bring out the respiratory issues. A nasty bacterial infection like mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) can be something that birds contract and fight off, but then live and serve as carriers-so when you introduce them to your clean flock, they spread it.

Is there any vet you're close to who would be sympathetic and prescribe you antibiotics even if they think you're nuts for caring about a chicken enough to do that? With respiratory infection you really want something like Tylan for them. With a prescription you can order from any of the online vet pharmacies. Pretty much no antibiotic for resp. issues is approved for egg-laying hens or hens for consumption, so there's that added complication. Of course that's just because no one thinks it's worthwhile to do the testing required to get FDA approval by establishing dosage, so make your own judgement there.

For sneezy, wheezy behavior, there's a product called VetRx which gives them some relief from the symptoms. It's sort of like Vicks VapoRub for humans. It's an oily sort of liquid that comes in a tiny bottle, and you just need a few drops that you add to their water that helps soothe them a bit (like Vicks, you can warm it up a little to release the vapors that help them feel better). They should have it at farm stores, Tractor Supply, or definitely any online vet store.

You're doing all the right supportive care moves though- keeping warm, quiet and hydrated are pretty much the universal "chicken first aid" steps. Just watch all the other newbies closely so you don't have this sweep through your whole flock.

Ditto the recommendation to find It's a wealth of info, particularly when you find the more knowledgeable people on there. The health/first aid section is very useful though and there are long, info rich threads on common problems like respiratory infection.

Hope she gets through it and you don't see more come down with it.
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post #5 of 37 Old 02-09-2020, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: SE Oklahoma
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Thanks for the replies! I am a member of backyardchickens, so may hit them up next.

I felt the others should be quarantined, just like horses, but by the time I realized she was just letting them loose in the yard with everyone else, it was too late. I noticed today the new girls have nice red combs - they were quite pale and dry looking the first day or two. So far no one seems sick. Warned daughter to be more careful in the future. Her first flock of hens were raised from chicks in the den and are healthy, happy, fat chickens that have started gifting us a dozen or so eggs a day. She's selling them faster than the girls can lay. She wanted some mature hens to help up production.

I understand her thinking, but these poor girls... He's blunted/clipped their beaks, clipped their wings (Why clip the wings? It's not like chickens migrate), and like I said, they just look shabby compared to the other chickens on the place.

Sick chicken is perking up now that she's dry and warm. Far more alert... and of all things, my cat Squishy (Her front paws are paralyzed, so she lives in the house 97% of the time) has taken up the mantel of Clinic Cat and has been sitting bed side with her. Weirdo.

Daughter is asking people she knows has chickens and are coming in to TSC today what else we can do. So far, hydrohen and probiotics to get her strength up has been recommended. We are out of both of thouse, haven't had either since the chicks grew up. She's bringing some home when she gets off work at 7.

I told her if this girl lives I'm banding her leg and calling her mine.
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"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
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post #6 of 37 Old 02-09-2020, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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@egrogan , you were typing as I was replying.

TSC has VetRx and it too was recommended. No vets will give us diddly, I don't think. They won't even answer their emergency lines on the weekends, so we'll see how she does through the night then call the vet tomorrow.
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"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us."
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post #7 of 37 Old 02-09-2020, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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this is what I think she has:

“Mycoplasma” is a bacteria and a major cause of Chronic Respiratory Disease (CRD) in poultry. The most common symptoms of CRD seen during "chicken vet" visits are head shaking, clear weeping eyes and swelling around the head and sinuses. In more advanced cases of C.R.D poultry vets see open mouth breathing, gurgling and a smelly pus build up in the oral cavity and eyes. We also see open mouth gasping, and open mouth breathing, at the chicken vets in Melbourne.

CRD is one of the most common causes of disease in backyard hens seen by chicken vets at Bird Vet Melbourne

Mycoplasma gallisepticum is the infectious and can spreads through a flock. M. ; Gallisepticum can reside in a flock until birds are stressed resulting in poor immunity and birds get CRD disease.

Signs of CRD - Chicken Vet Melbourne

The signs of CRD are weepy eyes, head shaking, gurgling.

Other diseases that have similar clinical signs are Infectious Coryza, Infectious bronchitis, Infectious laryngotracheitis and Fowl cholera.

Treatments of CRD used at Chicken Vet Melbourne
The Poultry vets will prescribe antibiotics that can help to control the disease. Most chicken antibiotics are not registered for egg laying hens – and are used off label!

Firstly Antibiotics - Pet Chicken vet

Doxycycline – is a great antibiotic against Mycoplasma.
Tylosin can also be used alone but is usually use it with Doxycycline.
Lincomycin combined with Spectinomycin, is water antibiotic works well and has no withholding period for egg layers – a bonus.
Chortetracycline – works okay not as good as Doxycycline but has no withholding period for egg layers – a bonus.
Enrofloxacin - is a great antibiotic against Mycoplasma, and other secondary bacteria.
Amoxicillin and Clavulonic acid is often used in conjunction to treat secondary bacterial infections.
The poultry vets also use antibiotic eye drops and Antibiotic nose drops. This route of medication is brilliant as the drugs get right to the place of infection.
Secondly – Chicken vet – Nursing Care

A very important part of the therapy is reducing stress in the flock. Often discouraging egg production, improving diet, good aeration, added warmth, reducing aggression – separating out the sick birds and reducing stress. Housing that is difficult to clean that accumulates manure, dust and vermin is not ideal.

Thirdly – in advanced cases – with pus in the Sinus and choanal slit.

These sick chickens need the sinuses repeated flushed, with sterile fluids and cleaned. Sometimes the “abscess” may need to be cleaned and material removed under general anesthesia. Advanced case need relatively expensive, ongoing veterinary therapy – Usually with good results after about 5 days in a chicken vet hospital. The birds go home on medications and therapy for the owners to continue doing – usually for a further 2 -3 weeks.

Fourthly treat concurrent parasitic disease - Poultry vets

May be recomended to perform a fecal wet preparation, crop wash and fecal flotation to check for concurrent parasitic disease, in particular parasitism. External parasites , worms and coccidial infections become more significant in sick birds. Occasionally flagellate infections are also seen.
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Last edited by boots; 02-09-2020 at 06:34 PM. Reason: Added citation
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post #8 of 37 Old 02-09-2020, 02:41 PM
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Aww, she's a sweety. Definitely looks tired and a little raggedy but hopefully you'll turn her around! I had never heard of clipping wings until I started reading online chicken sites, but I guess some people who are trying to prevent "fence hoppers" will do that to keep them contained. Can be a problem if you're more suburban and have chickens escaping into a neighbor's yard. And the trimmed beaks is done to prevent cannibalism from close confinement

I don't know, Atoka, you may just need to buy yourself some chicken diapers as it looks like you and kitty may be heading towards adding a house chicken to your family!
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post #9 of 37 Old 02-09-2020, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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LOL I may have to get some. She is definitely already looking forward to seeing me, since I'm carrying a syringe full of yummy stuff and offering lovings and checking her heating pad.

Honestly, I want to take the seller at his word, but I feel he off loaded his older laying hens and less than desirable ones on someone eager to expand a flock. Feeding them won't be a problem... they have the whole country side to free range, and we get broken bags of feed at TSC for hardly nothing, so there's almost a whole pallet of laying pellets and cracked corn and scratch out there... I just don't want to risk the healthy ones we already have getting sick too. One to care for is fine... a whole flock of sick hens? Holy cow.
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post #10 of 37 Old 02-09-2020, 04:16 PM
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Sounds like older birds. Even when there was a mix up and we had and over abundance they still looked good and were a healthy weight. Though if he wasn't feeding them they would get poor and not lay.
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