Why is my Chicken Wheezing?

Chickens can be challenging to keep when they suddenly display symptoms or worsening illness. It helps to be prepared with what to expect, paying attention to any slight change in their condition so you can act fast. If one of these changing conditions is that your chicken is wheezing, it will be vital for you to treat it immediately as it may be a respiratory illness. Neglecting to treat it means it likely won’t resolve itself but it may spread to the rest of the flock instead.

Symptoms of Chicken Respiratory Disease

Some chickens might display one symptom more than another and they won’t always display every symptom. Here are a list, however, of things to look out for in the event on Chicken Respiratory Disease (CRD) in your chicken:

  • Wheezing or heavy breathing
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Rattling
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced egg laying
  • Nostrils/Eye discharge
  • Eye/Beak area swelling
  • Poor coloring in wattle or comb
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Overall poor condition

Causes of Chicken Respiratory Disease

Noticing a chicken wheezing, sneezing, or rattling is a sure telling that something is pretty wrong. Chickens are unlike people in that they do not come down with a cold or contract influenza. Rather, any of these listed symptoms can be a sign of a bacterial infection called CRD. The chicken can become exposed to the CRD bacteria, known as Mycoplasma gallisepticum, and if it’s a healthy chicken then there may be no issues. The problem lies in when a chicken is also encountering a number of other triggers in the environment, causing its immune system to be less effective. Environmental triggers include poor living conditions, unusual stress, and extreme hot or cold temperatures.

Prevention is key

In looking at the causes, we can also look at methods to prevent respiratory illnesses in the flock. These include, quarantining new chickens for two weeks before adding them into the coop, and ensuring that conditions in the coop are clean and stress-free.

If a hen is stressed, her immune system will be compromised and infection will more than likely take over her body


If a chicken suffers from CRD, it will need to be medically treated to prevent death:

1. Isolate the Chicken
It’s vital to prevent the sick chicken from infecting the others in the flock. Isolating the chicken in a cage or other pen and providing it with its own food and water will be necessary during the treatment process.

2. Give Medical Care
Healing a sick chicken will work better if the chicken’s nutrition and hydration are maintained. Keeping it warm is also a trick. The chicken will especially need water and, if the chicken is to sick to drink on its own, you may need to administer the water yourself with a dropper or other utensil. An electrolyte solution for the sickest birds will also assist in recovery.

3. Administer Antibiotics
Because the chicken suffers from an infection, it will be necessary to treat it with an antibiotic. There are a variety of over-the-counter types of antibiotics that treat many infections and can work for chickens but you may also want to speak to a veterinarian. In less severe cases, some might opt in for a more natural remedy.

4. Address the Source
The coop will need to be thoroughly clean to reduce the chance other chickens will get sick or that the sick chicken will get reinfected. You can even give an immunity booster to the healthy chickens as a safeguard.

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