You know how it goes at home, one person starts sneezing, coughing and blowing their nose and then one by one the rest of the family goes down with it. That has been what it is like in our backyard this past week.
I will say first right, that it is very important to have an area where you can put an ill or injured Chicken to recover. Pet carriers will work or a homemade wooden crate with a mesh door on the front also work well (samples in pictures below). Pet bird dishes that have hooks work great to provide food and water. If you have a large number of birds, you will need several “sick beds”.
(You may think it a little over the top to isolate a chicken to a special area and provide it with care, but the fact is you have spent time and money acquiring that chicken. If you have unique heritage birds like myself, you have spent more money in acquiring that bird. You may have had to travel to aquire that bird, and most likely you had to raise straight run chicks. How many cockerels did you have to deal with to attain some pullets? Therefore you have money and time invested in each of your birds, to replace them you’d have to do it all over again. It is well worth the extra care to secure the vitality of your flock.)
It all started with one little Welsummer pullet, I could hear a rattling in her chest and a wheeze with each breath. I immediately put her in a sick bed in our garage and went into the house to mix up a batch of tetracycline, which is a general livestock antibiotic which can be found at your local farm store. Tetracycline will help with respiratory infections, so once you hear the rattling and wheezing within your chicken’s breathing, immediately put them on tetracycline. Chickens have incrediably vulnerable respiratory systems, so it is important that you react quickly to help protect that delicate system from infection.
The next day, then the next, more birds were getting sick. This is the first time I have experienced an onslot of several birds sick at once, and the fact was I only had so many sick crates available. What I found (by necessity), was that some birds managed their illness better then others. Just like in your family, some members can keep on trucking through an illness, while others take themselves to bed to recover. So my sickest birds got sick beds and the others went about their day with a few sneezes and hacks. Everybody went on antibiotics and the sickest ones were ensured delivery of that medicine with a syringe. If you have to administer medicine to your birds, you’ll need a towel to wrap your bird in (keeping wings secured), a stool to sit on, a jar to put medicated water in and a 10ml syringe, oh….. and a lot of patience! I find that gently pulling down on their waddle opens their mouth enough to gently get some medicated water in. I try to work in 20-30 ml several times a day. When you see them drinking themselves, you don’t need to help them.
The good news is that my birds are recovering, several of the ones that were isolated are back in the coop, a couple are still sneezing, but it looks like we’ll be ok. I have one hen left in the garage who is not recovering as quick as the others, I’m hoping that she’ll be ok, fingers crossed!
Remember to always have a bag of tetracycline available in your first aid kit, along with a 10ml syringe.