Chicken With Runny Nose

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Chicken with runny nose – is a very interesting story, but even more than that, something really deserves great attention, as this story sheds light on the shocking drug business.

That time of the year when it is chilly and a Chicken has runny nose and sneezes. Pepe le Pew style, a lot. This can be a problem for other chickens and even cause infection in humans who might eat that chicken. Such is the story of a Tijuana Mexico resident who is suing Foster Farms…

How To Treat A Chicken With A Cold

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How To Treat A Chicken With A Cold

Chickens caught a cold? Here’s what might be the cause.

It’s not just the cold weather when you might see your hens showing signs of sniffles and runny noses. Fortunately, chickens don’t get “colds” like us humans but are quite susceptible to viral respiratory diseases with two being the most prevalent.

Symptoms that you might see in your hens may include:

  • A clear discharge from their nostrils
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • A raspiness or rattling sound to their breathing
  • Stretching-out their necks
  • Gasping for breath
  • Reduction in egg laying
  • Drop in eggs size, irregularly shaped eggs or soft egg shells

The most common causes of these symptoms:

  1. Avian infectious bronchitis (IBV)
  2. Infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT)

Avian infectious bronchitis doesn’t normally harm older hens but mortality can be relatively high for young hens under about 5-weeks of age. Most layer hens, such as our Hy-Line Browns, have been vaccinated for local forms of IBV but there are many different strains of the virus so it does not guarantee immunity from less common strains.

Hens will normally recover from the virus within 3 to 4 weeks but if one of your hens catches it, they will normally all get it. There are no treatments available for infected hens but they will benefit from good nutrition and added vitamins and minerals in their diet. Vitality Booster and Mother Hen‘s Remedy are two relevant nutritional boosters that will support fighting-off and recovery from viruses. Keep an eye out for any secondary, bacterial infections that are common in hens affected by IBV as these infections may require an antibiotic to treat.

Infectious laryngotracheitis shares many similarities with the IBV virus but tends to have a higher mortality rate. Our Hy-Line Browns are also vaccinated for the common strains of ILT but again, due to the range of different strains in circulation, problems can still be caused if hens become infected by any of them.

Hens that recover from ILT will be carriers for life so be aware of this when thinking of introducing new hens into your flock. Similarly to IBV, the virus is quite fragile and can be killed by disinfectants, heat, and direct sunlight when present in your hen‘s environment. However, ILT can survive for up to 2 months in bedding and nesting materials so a good clean-out of bedding and litter is essential.

 Signs Your Chickens Might Have The Flu

Is your chicken showing signs normally associated with a cold or the flu? Well, the closest thing to a ‘chicken cold’ is Chronic Respiratory Disease (CRD), which has all the typical flu-like symptoms.

CRD is not often fatal, but like Glandular Fever for humans, the disease will remain in the chickens system for life. Don’t be alarmed – one sneeze doesn’t mean an instant diagnosis of CRD, but if the sneezing is regular and combined with other symptoms like nasal discharge and coughing, then a trip to the vets might be on the cards.

CRD can cause re-occurring health problems in the future, and makes your chickens more susceptible to disease. Therefore it’s important to identify potential causes early, and to take precautions to prevent it before your flocks health is compromised.

Backyard chicken sneezing and showing signs of respiratory disease
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1. What can cause respiratory diseases?

  • Extreme temperatures

If there’s a sudden change in temperature, this can take a toll on your chickens’ health – especially if its bitterly cold. Chickens need time to acclimatise to changing temperatures, and don’t do well with sudden shocks! Read our articles on keeping chickens warm and cool to find out how to keep your flock comfortable and help them cope with the elements.

  • New animals being introduced to an existing flock

Introducing new chickens to a pre-existing flock is a very stressful experience for all, and a stressful environment does make chickens more susceptible to disease. There are definitely things you can do to make this process less of an upheaval for all flocks – check out our How To Keep Your Hens Stress Free for a great guide.

  • Dust/fine residue

A dusty coop environment can cause respiratory disease, as they irritate the chickens’ airways. Always make sure the coop is clean and bedding is changed regularly. Also, be careful when pouring feed out of the sack – sometimes this can stir up small pieces of residue into the air.

  • Moist litter

Moist litter and bedding is a breeding ground for disease, and can allow mould to grow – therefore replacing it regularly is very important.

  • Poor coop ventilation

A poorly ventilated coop that allows cold, sneaky drafts to infiltrate is a sure fire way to get sick chicks! The best way to prevent drafts is to have a well ventilated coop, such as the Taj Mahal, Penthouse or Mansion.

2. What are the symptoms?

There are certain behaviours and symptoms that can indicate a respiratory problem in your chickens.

  • Coughing

If your chicken sounds like its got a nasty cough then it may be a symptom of CRD. It’ll sound like a raspy crow.

  • Nasal discharge

If there is a sticky, clear nasal discharge emerging from the chickens’ nose, then this may be a symptom of CRD.

  • Sneezing

A chickens’ sneeze is easy to identify – it pretty much sounds like a sneeze from any other animal! Generally this means something is interfering with their respiratory system – just as it is for humans!

  • Loss of appetite

Sick chickens are not likely to eat as much as normal. This can also cause slow growth, as they aren’t getting the nutrients that they need.

  • Reduced egg production

If you’ve noticed that egg production is not what it once was (unless your flock are moulting, or you’re experiencing the winter season), this can be an indicator that something is wrong with their health.

3. Treatment of respiratory disease

Generally, respiratory diseases are treated by administering antibiotics. If the symptoms aren’t severe and are mainly a result of environmental factors, i.e. a dusty coop, then once this has been rectified, the symptoms should clear up. These symptoms will manifest more in cold weather, so don’t freak out by the sign of a sneeze!

Having a well ventilated coop is one of the best ways to ensure your chickens aren’t exposed to cold drafts that can be damaging to your flock’s health. All of our coops are designed to prevent drafts, and to keep your flock as comfortable and healthy as possible.

Respiratory Illness in Chickens

Chicken Health For Dummies

Explore BookBuy On AmazonTypical signs of respiratory illness in chickens include sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and runny nose and eyes. The miserable patient also suffers fatigue and loss of appetite. With the exception of a few strains of avian influenza, you can’t catch a cold from your chicken, and vice versa.

DiseaseOccurrence in Backyard FlocksDistinctive Signs of IllnessAverage Mortality Rate
MycoplasmosisCommonFoamy eye discharge, more common in winter, roosters usually show more severe signsUsually none
Infectious coryzaCommonSwollen face or wattles, gunky eyes, foul odor, more common summer and fall5–20 percent
Infectious bronchitisCommonDecreased egg productionUsually none
Newcastle diseaseMild strains are common. Highly deadly strains are absent from chickens in the United States.May also cause diarrhea, staggering, paralysis, sudden death5–99 percent
Fowl cholera (chronic form)Not so commonSwollen face, gunky eyes, rattling or difficulty breathing, more common in late summer0–20 percent
Infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT)Not so commonGasping, coughing up bloody mucous, dried blood around nostrils and lower beak10–20 percent
Avian influenzaRare (Deadly strains are absent from chickens in the United States)Droopy birds, rattling breathing sounds, diarrhea, sudden death5–99 percent
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Chicken respiratory infections can be so mild they’re unnoticeable, or so severe that most of the flock dies in a short period of time. In severe cases, affected chickens may make rattling breathing sounds, gasp for air, or sling mucous from the mouth while shaking their heads.

Sometimes a chicken’s face will swell, especially around the eyes, cheeks, or wattles. The comb may turn a bluish color. The disease’s severity depends on the organism strain and on the flock’s overall health at the time the disease strikes.

Chicken respiratory infections are usually spread by direct contact between infected and uninfected chickens, but stuff that infected chickens have sneezed or coughed on, such as transport coops or clothing, can carry the infectious organisms from place to place, too. An infected hen can transmit mycoplasmosis through her eggs to her chicks.

Preventing respiratory illness from invading your flock and having a major impact is a matter of good biosecurity and flock management. Attention to biosecurity (things you do routinely to keep infectious diseases out of your flock) can help you avoid bringing respiratory infections home to your chickens. If an infection should happen to get through your defenses, a clean, comfortable, and well-fed flock is less likely to experience severe disease.

Diagnose chicken respiratory illness

You can guess, but you won’t be able to tell for certain which disease is causing your chickens’ woes, unless you have laboratory tests performed. Veterinary diagnostic laboratories and veterinarians who treat poultry can help you.

Although diagnostic tests will cost you some money, getting to the bottom of the problem may be worth the expense, because a diagnosis allows you to

  • Know whether your birds are likely to be contagious and spread the infection to other birds. This concern is especially important if you breed and sell birds or take birds to shows. Chickens can recover from infections and appear healthy, but carry and spread the disease to other chickens, possibly for the rest of their lives.
  • Choose a medication that is likely to work. Antibiotics are helpful to control the signs of some infections, but not others. Certain antibiotics kill certain organisms, but have no effect on others. If you get a diagnosis, you’ll be able to use the appropriate drug; if not, you may have to play antibiotic roulette and hope you’ve picked the right one — or spin again.
  • Know whether a vaccine can help you control the problem. Vaccines are available that help control several respiratory infections, including infectious coryza, mycoplasmosis, and infectious laryngotracheitis.

Getting a diagnosis may bring more attention to your flock than you expected. In the United States, some or all the diseases listed in the preceding table are reportable in most states, meaning that laboratories and veterinarians are required by law to report the presence of the disease in your flock to the state veterinarian’s office.What officials do with the report varies from state to state. In some places, your flock may be placed under quarantine, and you’ll be required to prove that the infection has been cleaned up before birds can leave your place alive.

Give supportive care for chicken respiratory illness

The four possible outcomes to chicken respiratory illness are as follows:

  • Complete recovery, typically within two to four weeks
  • The chicken recovers, but becomes a long-term carrier of the infection
  • Chronic (long-term) illness
  • Death

The chicken cold that never goes away (or comes back again and again) is probably chronic respiratory disease (CRD), caused by mycoplasmosis.

Chicken respiratory diseases are highly contagious. They cause a lot of trouble year after year in infected flocks, which are constant threats to uninfected flocks. You can’t tell which recovered birds are carriers of infection without testing. Antibiotics make affected chickens feel better and may save a few that would have died without treatment, but antibiotics don’t cure the infection in carrier birds or eliminate the disease from the flock.If you discover respiratory illness in your flock, you’re faced with a very difficult decision: culling, depopulating,or controlling. Your three choices aren’t easy:

  • Cull (another word for euthanize) affected birds to prevent spread of the disease in the flock.
  • Depopulate the flock (euthanize all birds) to eliminate the infection. Then, clean up and start over.
  • Live with the infection, using vaccination or medication to control illness.

If you decide to live with the problem, here are the do-it-yourself steps for treating mild respiratory illness affecting a small proportion of the flock:

  1. Self-impose a quarantine on your flock.Don’t move birds in or out.
  2. Isolate affected birds in a hospital pen and provide TLC.Keep the hospital pen super-clean. Avoid dust and dirty bedding, which irritate sore lungs and sinuses.
  3. Use an antibiotic that is labeled for chicken respiratory illness, according to label directions.Products with erythromycin, tetracycline, or tylosin are good first-line antibiotic choices that are available at many feed stores.

Consult your veterinarian if you want to treat laying hens, because no antibiotic is approved for use by U.S. flock keepers for laying hens.

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