Chicken With Swollen Eye

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Have you ever had Chicken With Swollen Eye? I’m sure you have! I never had, thought about what it could be like. That is going to change today. Don’t worry. You won’t have to go through this alone. Today, I’m here to tell you all about my chicken with swollen eye experience.

Chicken Eye Problems


Chicken eye problems do seem to occur in backyard flocks frequently. There are many different types of eye problems.

In healthy chickens, vision is excellent during day light hours and extremely poor at night. The average chicken is able to see the smallest seeds and bugs, including mites, during the day, but as the sun begins setting, their vision becomes unreliable, causing them to head to the safety of their roost for the night.

Problems can come from injuries or disease including:ViralBacterial infectionsFungal infectionsRespiratory infectionsNutritional deficienciesNervous system disordersDevelopmental disordersGenetic problems

Chickens rarely attack each other in such a way to cause chicken eye problems, but roosters jabbing at each other with their sharp spurs or pecking with sharp beaks may do serious damage to any body part. 

Hens are less likely to fight, but it happens. In a chicken flock, when a member becomes sick, weak or injured, other flock members out of curiosity or survival instincts may peck mercilessly at it, causing more damage, and possible death.  Unsuccessful predator attacks may result in eye damage.

Chicken eye

These infections and diseases can cause:
CataractsConjunctivitisDull expression of the eyesYellow plaques under the eye lidsInflamed eyesRunny dischargesLesions on or around the eyesCancerous tumors

An example of on one chicken eye problem is Avian Pox. It is a viral disease that affects many chickens and can affect and be spread by wild bird populations. Blistery lesions are often around the eyes causing swelling with impairment of sight and blindness in severe cases.

Marek’s Disease is a viral disease (a form of herpes virus) resulting in a type of cancer. Tumors can grow in the iris causing blindness as well as affecting major organs.

When you first notice an eye problem you should wash the eyes out. Keeping an eye wash on hand is a good idea; something that can easily be squirted into the eye to remove any foreign particles and reveal any damage.

Another good product to have on hand for chicken eye problems is an antibiotic eye ointment, available at many feed stores. If there is injury to the eyeball, the ointment can prevent infection while assisting in a quick healing of the injury. If not damaged too badly, eye injuries heal quickly.

A chicken with impaired vision due to injury or disease should be immediately removed from the flock to protect it and possibly prevent the spread of disease.

Chickens know that the sick and weak draw attention to predators, so they try to drive the weaker members away from the flock. In the process they do more damage, exposing themselves to a possibly contagious disease.

If you aren’t familiar with chicken diseases or find a chicken eye problem with an unknown cause, you might want the help of a good avian vet.

In the country, where chickens are much more popular, you may be able to find a good farm vet through neighbors or friends. Finding one before you have a problem is always a good plan.

The reality is that many sick chickens will never see a vet as their monetary value makes spending $50 to $100 or more unreasonable. But the fact is, even with a small flock, you could lose all due to a contagious disease, plus have a coop and yard that may need months of being empty to make sure disease is gone.

Some chicken eye problems are simple to fix and heal quickly while others are caused by serious disease. Making sure which one you have may save the lives of all your current and future chickens. 

If you do have a major disease there may be a vaccination against it. You may need to purchase pre-vaccinated replacement stock to survive in a yard and coop possibly contaminated with disease. Learning what disease it is, from a vet able to test will be a good step in getting rid of it for good.

The eye is a delicate and vital part of a chicken’s ability to remain healthy and active. Their sense of smell is poor, as with most avian species. 

Once vision is lost or severely impaired a chicken has little hope for survival; eating, finding water and roosting will be impossible. It’s unrealistic to expect one with serious chicken eye problems to do well in a flock setting, though chickens with one good eye seem to adapt. 

Even still, such a handicapped chicken could be expected to be picked on and bullied by other members of the flock. Being allowed access to enough food by the rest of the flock is not guaranteed, so making sure a partially blind chicken isn’t slowly starving to death is important. 

If you have questions that you would like to ask a vet, use the service below. Ask a Vet has qualified doctors that can answer questions about chicken health.

A Look at Chicken Eyes

Recognizing Marek’s Disease Symptoms and Other Common Ailments

A Look at Chicken Eyes

As we watch our flocks busily foraging in the backyard, the importance of chicken eye health becomes obvious. Whether chasing grasshoppers or courting the ladies, chickens use their eyes for every aspect of daily life. Consequently, problems with these vital organs are detrimental to the birds’ well-being, and it is crucial to recognize the symptoms of trouble so that illness can be proactively treated. 

Healthy chicken eyes are bright, wide open, and free of discharge or swelling. Normal chicken eye colors vary according to breed and age, but the eyes should always be clear with black pupils of a regular, round shape. 

Normal chicken eye colors vary according to breed and age, but the eyes should always be clear with black pupils of a regular, round shape.

In contrast, some of the first signs that a chicken isn’t feeling well are a dull or sleepy expression and squinty eyes. Discoloration, discharge, inflammation, and discomfort often characterize chicken eye maladies. Immediately isolate sick chickens from the rest of the flock to stop disease from spreading, and work to promptly diagnose and treat illness. 

Marek’s Disease in Chickens

One of the most dreaded of chicken illnesses is Marek’s, an incurable viral poultry disease spread by feather dander. It is highly contagious and typically affects young chickens that are three to30 weeks old. Symptoms of Marek’s disease in chickens include blindness, leg paralysis, and tumors. 

While birds with paralysis die quickly, those with ocular Marek’s, the form that affects chicken eyes, may survive for some time if the other symptoms aren’t present. Ocular Marek’s disease symptoms are irregularly shaped pupils, gray or cloudy eyes, difficulty seeing, and finally total blindness in one or both eyes. A chicken’s owner may realize something is wrong when the chicken doesn’t respond to human approach, or when it has trouble picking up small food items. It has more difficulty eating, drinking, and navigating as the disease progresses. Since chickens exhibiting symptoms of any form of Marek’s suffer and eventually die, the most merciful option is to humanely euthanize them as soon as the disease is diagnosed. 

mareks-disease-in-chickens
Left — Normal chicken eye. Right — Eye of a chicken with ocular Marek’s disease. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Practicing strict biosecurity and good animal husbandry is key to preventing Marek’s disease in chickens, as well as other infectious diseases. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service provides guidelines for an effective biosecurity plan. These resources are available at www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/2014/pub_bioguide_poultry_bird.pdf. 

Once Marek’s disease gains entrance to the flock, it is difficult to eradicate because chickens that develop immunity to it are permanent, asymptomatic carriers that shed the virus and can infect other chickens. But don’t panic if Marek’s turns up. Most flocks have been exposed to a strain of it, and there are several options to control the disease. 

  • Genetic Resistance: Chickens can develop hereditary resistance to mild strains of Marek’s within a few generations. This option is so effective in some situations that the flock experiences no losses to the disease after building resistance. Chicken breeders often choose this route to establish natural immunity in their birds. However, flocks infected with more virulent strains of Marek’s may need to be vaccinated. 
  • Marek’s Vaccination: Vaccinating for the disease is a widespread and generally reliable means of control. You can opt to have your chicks vaccinated when you purchase from most hatcheries, and you can purchase the Marek’s disease vaccine if you decide to vaccinate your own chicks (chicks are vaccinated as day-olds). Vaccinated birds can shed the virus for life, so any new chicks should be vaccinated before entering a vaccinated flock. The use of these chicken vaccines is controversial because they are believed to be responsible for the increasing virulence of Marek’s disease. Some flock owners avoid vaccination unless necessary. 
  • Complete Isolation: Chicken owners can control Marek’s by isolating vulnerable young chickens from all other poultry, including young poultry sourced from different producers. Since people and equipment easily convey feather dander between flocks, the quarantine must be extremely strict for this option to be successful. Thoroughly disinfect facilities between batches of chicks, as the Marek’s virus is infectious for at least a year after the birds leave the premises. 

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Eye Worm

The Manson’s eye worm is a species of roundworm found in tropical and subtropical regions. Chickens pick up eye worms by eating Surinam cockroaches (which host the worm’s infectious larval stage) or by exposure to wild birds. The worms live under chickens’ third eyelids, causing acute discomfort, cloudiness of the eyes, watering, and inflammation. Infected chickens scratch and rub their eyes in an effort to dislodge the worms, but they only make the problem worse by injuring their eyes. They can go blind if the parasites are not promptly removed. 

A 5% cresol solution is effective against eye worm. Several wormers and other products are also used off-label for treating eye worm. Ask your vet about their recommended treatment. 

To help prevent chicken eye worm, maintain good cleanliness of the chicken facilities, destroy the roaches, and minimize the chickens’ contact with wild birds. 

Chicken Eye Infections

Anything from injuries to debris to pathogens can cause chicken eye infections. Common signs of infection are otherwise healthy-acting chickens with sticky, swollen, or cloudy eyes. Additional symptoms such as sneezing, lethargy, or diarrhea indicate a more serious problem. 

chicken-eye-infections
This chicken’s inflamed eye is a sign of an eye infection. The chicken looked healthy otherwise. Photo courtesy of Joshua Krebs.
chicken-eye-infections
The eye of a healthy Rhode Island Red rooster. Copyright © 2020 Joshua Krebs. Used by permission.

You can treat most infections by gently washing away discharge with a damp cloth, rinsing the eye with saline solution, and applying an eye-approved antibiotic until the eye has healed. Although many chicken eye infections can be treated at home, contact a veterinarian if the problem is serious or worsens after treatment. Keeping poultry facilities clean and dust-free helps prevent infections. 

Defects

Birth defects involving chicken eyes are relatively common, but they are usually caused by incorrect artificial incubation, not genetics. Serious deformities can be debilitating or associated with other structural or mental disorders that result in poor quality of life for affected chickens. However, many chickens with minor eye defects live happy, productive lives, though as a precautionary measure they should never be allowed to breed. 

turkey-eye-problems
A baby turkey missing one eye. Incorrect artificial incubation causes this relatively common birth defect in poultry. Note the associated crossed beak. Photos courtesy of Joshua Krebs.
turkey-eye-problems

For chicken eye maladies, prevention is the best option. Instating good biosecurity and husbandry practices is the first step toward healthy, happy chickens. When a chicken does become ill — and, unfortunately, it happens despite our best efforts — taking quick action to treat the problem is essential to the chicken’s recovery. After all, we want our chickens to enjoy many years of excellent eyesight. 

Poultry Diseases: Infectious Coryza

Background

While “coryza” has traditionally referred to any respiratory disease of poultry, infectious coryza is a specific bacterial infection caused by the bacteria, Avibacterium paragallinarum. Other common names for infectious coryza include roup or contagious catarrh. Infectious coryza causes poor growth in young birds and a significant (10 to 40 percent) drop in egg laying.

Infectious coryza can occur in birds of any age and mature birds are generally more at risk. The disease is often seen during a flock’s peak egg laying phase. Cases can also occur following stressful events, like birds being relocated. The bacteria that causes infectious coryza is common in certain parts of the country, such as the Southwest, but can appear anywhere that chickens are raised.

Symptoms

The most distinguishing symptoms of infectious coryza are swelling of the face (as seen in image 1) and nasal and eye discharge, as seen in image 2 (photos courtesy of American Association of Avian Pathologists). Additionally, common respiratory signs like coughing and sneezing may be present and the wattles may be swollen (especially in male chickens). Coryza does not usually result in death but will cause a serious drop in egg laying and feed and water consumption may decrease.

bird with nasal discharge

Transmission

Birds can be carriers of the disease and still appear healthy, which makes infectious coryza very hard to control, especially on farms without an “all-in, all-out” flock practice. The disease can be spread directly from chicken to chicken and indirectly through aerosol or contaminated feed, water, equipment, and clothing.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Infectious coryza can be diagnosed through lab testing and treated with antibiotics administered through either feed or water.

Control

Several vaccines are available to help prevent coryza, however, they can cause production losses and mortality. Vaccination is usually only used in areas where the disease is commonly found or when an outbreak occurs. The management practice, in areas where this is common, is to remove the affected flock, clean and disinfect the premises, and not repopulate the flock until three weeks after disinfection. As with all diseases, the best prevention is practicing good biosecurity.

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