Handling Respiratory Illness in Chickens

Oh boy. You just heard it. The dreaded “chicken sneeze”. Then you hear another and another. This isn’t just a one-time thing. Your chicken is sick. Sad face.

Hold Back Sneezing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Like any good chicken parent, you immediately go onto Facebook and create a panicked post about your chicken being sick. What you receive back is NOT HELPING.

“They are all infected now. It’s probably Marek’s.”

“Have you read that article about bird flu?” *posts article*

“You need to treat your whole flock with antibiotics, then bleach your yard.”

“When that happened to me, I culled my whole flock and started over!”

Just so we’re clear, I’m not a veterinarian, and nothing I’m about to say is meant to take the place of solid medical advice from a licensed professional. In fact, that’s always the best route to take if you can afford it. But there’s also something to be said for good old-fashioned common sense. Learning about at-home supportive care is really important, even if you seek veterinary care at some point.

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Poor Guy!

Remain Calm

The first thing I do when my chickens come down with something respiratory in nature is follow my Sick Chicken Action Plan, which is a quick and memorable guide to follow when you have a chicken that is under the weather. Check it out here:

For respiratory illness, I’ve added a few immune-boosting strategies to the action plan. They are for both your actively sick chickens and the rest of your flock. This podcast gives the most detailed instructions for what I do when my flock is hit with a respiratory bug. Here’s Season 1 Episode 17 of Bawk Tawk or find it on all your major podcast apps.

You might be wondering why I don’t immediately suggest antibiotics as part of my supportive care plan. Well, I actually DO think there’s a time and place for antibiotics, and I do have a bottle in my chicken medicine cabinet. But it’s not the first thing I reach for. Many chicken illnesses present with similar symptoms, and some of them cannot be treated with antibiotics. In my opinion, it’s wise not to use them unless you know for sure what you are dealing with. The overuse of antibiotics has had a negative impact on not only backyard chickens in general but humans and other animals as well. Unless I have been advised to do so by a veterinary professional, I am very hesitant to treat my chickens with antibiotics much less my whole flock (which you will see suggested often in chicken forums and social groups).

Prevention is Best

Dealing with illness in our flock is never easy, but it helps when it’s not made harder by unnecessary panic. Even better, let’s prevent illness by boosting wellness! To learn more about how you can boost your chickens’ immune systems naturally, click below!

What about you? Have you dealt with sneezing chickens before? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer Notice: The content of the Welcome to Chickenlandia YouTube Channel, website, blog, vlog, and all social media is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Dependence on any information appearing on the Welcome to Chickenlandia YouTube Channel, website, blog, vlog, and social media sites is entirely at your own risk. Please do your own research and make your own informed decisions regarding the health of your chickens.

3 comments on “Handling Respiratory Illness in Chickens”

  1. Vanessa here😄John Smith on your YouTube comments🤣 I’m so happy I found you🥰 its been 20yrs since I’ve had chickens and everything has changed. I recently saved 9 chickens. Some were over “worked” They all look pretty sad. I’ve had them for about a month and I’m already hitting a respiratory illness. These poor girls have been through enough. I’ve been doing the ACV, garlic,and oregano and haven’t seen big results yet. I’m going to get started with all your tips and tricks. Thank you🥰🐔 💘

  2. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I’m very glad to see such great info being shared freely out there.

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