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I have a wheezing chicken!

 
Christine Blankenship
Posts: 5
Location: East Tennessee Mountains
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We just acquired a flock of 30 chickens about a month ago. They were in horrible shape when they arrived. Bald patches, poop caked on them, skinny...poor girls...they were only being fed scratch. I have been nursing them back to health and letting them free range. I thought all was good. Then about 2 weeks ago we found one dead. Today I noticed one is wheezing with each breath in and out. She is also doing something like sneezing/coughing every so often. She stands around all puffed up alot lately too. I have seen her eating things and walking around. I have been all over the web today looking for answers. We live in the Tennessee mountains where worms and slugs especially are very prevelant. I am wondering if she might have gapeworms. These chickens are so skittish, I can't imagine catching one much less looking down her throat. Is there another way (besides dissection) to tell if she has them? Is there a natural way to treat for these worms? If my chickens are free ranging, will they always have worm issues? Any suggestions would be most appreciated!
 
Jay Green
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They say you can swab the throat with a q-tip and it will have red strands on it if they have gape worm. Your chickens don't get worm infestations from simply free ranging unless the soils are horribly out of balance and their immune systems are very declined...which it sounds like these birds are.

I'd start fermenting your feeds and placing mother vinegar in their water for general overall health. Grandma used to use turpentine for coughs in her chickens...I've never had to try that.

Catch them off the roost at night...makes things very simple.

Here's a great thread about natural methods towards regaining health for poorly flocks. http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/709707/the-road-less-traveled-back-to-good-health-they-have-lice-mites-scale-mites-worms-anemia-gleet-feather-loss-and-other-horrors-anyone-want-to-follow-their-progress
 
Christine Blankenship
Posts: 5
Location: East Tennessee Mountains
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Hi Jay..Thank you for your reply. My soils can't be horribly out of balance as it is pasture that is grazed by cows and horses. It is lush and beautiful all on it's own. I do believe their poor immune systems were horribly declined. We do have earthworms and slugs like crazy up here...I guess that's why I thought gape worm could be an issue. The chicken has stopped wheezing but is still sneezing/coughing...someone else said it could be a "kennel cough" type situation which I am thinking could be correct since they were in such bad shape, their living conditions must have been horrible.

I am feeding them layer crumbles along with Thorvin Kelp meal, a little DE here and there and fruits that fall from the trees above their coop. How would I ferment their feeds? I am a regular fermenter of foods, I just don't know how to ferment their foods. I have been putting a smashed garlic clove in their water for a few days now. I will try the vinegar with mother....ACV right?

Catching them on the roost at night....of course! I can't believe that thought didn't cross my mind. Duh!

Thank you for the thread and your suggestions. I am trying everything I can to get these birds healthy and happy! Out of 30 chickens I am only getting 1-4 eggs a day. I wonder how long their recovery will last before they are laying again. I know they need more light...working on getting power to the old coop.

Again, Thanks so much for your input! It's very comforting to know there are such fine folks out there willing to help out a very worried chicken-mama like me!
 
Jay Green
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Christine Blankenship wrote:Hi Jay..Thank you for your reply. My soils can't be horribly out of balance as it is pasture that is grazed by cows and horses. It is lush and beautiful all on it's own. I do believe their poor immune systems were horribly declined. We do have earthworms and slugs like crazy up here...I guess that's why I thought gape worm could be an issue. The chicken has stopped wheezing but is still sneezing/coughing...someone else said it could be a "kennel cough" type situation which I am thinking could be correct since they were in such bad shape, their living conditions must have been horrible.

I am feeding them layer crumbles along with Thorvin Kelp meal, a little DE here and there and fruits that fall from the trees above their coop. How would I ferment their feeds? I am a regular fermenter of foods, I just don't know how to ferment their foods. I have been putting a smashed garlic clove in their water for a few days now. I will try the vinegar with mother....ACV right?

Catching them on the roost at night....of course! I can't believe that thought didn't cross my mind. Duh!

Thank you for the thread and your suggestions. I am trying everything I can to get these birds healthy and happy! Out of 30 chickens I am only getting 1-4 eggs a day. I wonder how long their recovery will last before they are laying again. I know they need more light...working on getting power to the old coop.

Again, Thanks so much for your input! It's very comforting to know there are such fine folks out there willing to help out a very worried chicken-mama like me!


This thread on BYC is a great place to start on FF info: Fermented Feeds for Chickens

Right now they are unhealthy, probably in full molt and going into their winter slow down. Don't expect high egg production from this flock until Feb/Mar. You may see a gradual increase but they won't get into full swing until next laying season. Because they need to divert nutrition to feather growth, keeping warm and regaining health, I wouldn't push this flock into anything...which leads me to the next suggestion...

If you truly want a healthy flock, you won't light your coop for the winter to increase egg production. Melatonin uptake is important for all creatures and this cannot be done with constant lighting. It's important for immune system health and, ultimately, reproductive health. This is why commercial egg battery operations have high rate of reproductive cancers in their birds....high production breed that is forced with scheduled lighting to produce more and more quickly.

I wouldn't place DE anywhere in your coop or even in your chickens. DE is not selective as to what organisms it kills..it will kill the beneficial bugs the same as the bad ones and you are left with a much quicker recovery of the population on the baddies...they just grow quicker. How much more natural and effective in the long term to nurture a coop and soil environment that promotes beneficial bugs and microorganisms that prey on the larvae of the bad bugs and pathogens.

You could try dusting them with wood ashes and place some in the nest boxes and in their dusting areas, start a good deep litter system in the coop Deep litter info , make sure you have plenty of ventilation in said coop and try to lay your hands on some NuStock...it is just sulfur, pine oil and mineral oil. That thread link I gave you in the first reply has a recipe for it somewhere in the thread. It will help with a number of issues for your birds but right now, I'd massage some into their feet real well. Good chance they have mites and scale mites...are their scales raised up on their legs at all?

For a natural dewormer you are using the garlic and the lactic acid from the FF and ACV will start to create a healthy bowel that will be more hostile to internal parasites. You can also feed pumpkin seeds...they are great, have a chemical in the seeds that paralyzes the worms and causes them to detach and be flushed out.
 
Jay Green
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Was wondering how the chickens were doing?

I had a wheezing chicken the other day....I'm in the process of also reconditioning a sick flock that was receiving poor care at another place of residence. Mine were much like yours...lice, mite and who knows what else infested. Here's a link to the thread and their progress on BYC. The before and after pics are amazing and the flock was pretty much brought back from the brink in 3 wks. time.

Sick Flock Treatment and Recovery using all natural means

The wheezing chicken had developed an allergic reaction to the fresh cut lavender I had placed in the nest boxes....removed that and the wheezing and sneezing stopped. I'd look around for sources of mold or other allergens to see if your chicken could be experiencing just a temporary allergic reaction.
 
Christine Blankenship
Posts: 5
Location: East Tennessee Mountains
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Hi Jay..or Bee..? I have been reading your threads all morning! My goodness, our situation sounds so much the same. I couldn't even get to the end of the threads...I had to jump up and do something more for my chicky babes! I make water kefir regularly and had a jar sitting on the counter for what has been a longer than normal time. I tasted it and absolutely no sweetness left...just that pleasant sour fermented smell. I also had a half loaf of bread I had baked...home milled organic wheat. So, I crumbled up the bread and soaked it in the kefir until real mushy. They took to the mushy stuff right away. I'm sure it's all gone now...has been about 10 minutes. The horses we share this property with had knocked over the chicken water at some point since last night so I took the opportunity to add the ACV to fresh water. I had been using a crushed garlic clove in the water, hoping to boost their immune systems and help them fight this....cold?

The chickens seem stuffed up to me. There is some gurglingish noises, some definite sneezing/coughing. However, my chickens were like your rescued flock at first, dazed, listless, quiet, and very scared of me. It has been about 6 weeks and the change is remarkable! Their feathers are grown in on their behinds, they are all perky and have been free ranging all day for the last 5 1/2 weeks. Like you, I couldn't keep them cooped up for nearly as long as hubby thought I should. I just felt strongly they needed to be in the sunshine eating grass and bugs! Hubby was scared they would go roost wherever they wanted to. My gut said they were so used to being in a coop all the time, they would know where to sleep. We did have one rogue who took to the pear tree for a few nights...a big rain storm in the middle of the night cured her of that! Anyhoo, I digress....feathers are growing in, although they are still losing big wing feathers (primaries?), they run to me when I walk outside, still won't let me touch them though. They eat every scrap of everything I put out for them..fruit, melons, a pumpkin, veggie scraps, ect. I see so much improvement...after reading your threads I see more improvement is necessary. They are white leghorns and their combs are in various colors...some really bright red and pretty...some very dull, almost pink with scabby looking things on them. Their feet look fine and normal. I have raised chickens before..from day olds...and have never had to deal with sickness or poor health at all. This is my first chicken rescue and rehab. I include kelp meal (icelandic) with their layer crumbles but I think fermented food would do much more to further thier recovery. I would love to be able to supplement them with the kefir water, since I make it for us anyway. Are you familiar with kefir water?

I do have a question for you...you have mentioned in other posts about the soil health in the coop. This is where my experience is limited. This coop they are in is very old. I mean VERY OLD. Many, many generations of birds have lived in it. When we decided to clean it up and get birds I was skeptical. We had always started with fresh built in the past on chicken virgin land. We raked out old *stuff*, put in new roosts and some newly built nestboxes in addition to the old nestboxes. I dusted the whole place with DE to kill mites. We laid fresh straw in the floor and have kept adding a fresh thin layer daily. The girls dig in all this to dust bathe and just for general chicken purposes. We only close the coop at night, they are free to do what they please. They spend a good portion of time in the coop, in spurts. What can I do to either asses the health of my coop soil or just get on to the improving of it? I, like you, want to depend on only natural methods to keep the critters healthy and happy...I have 3 boys too...only they have waggin' tails! yet another digression...I believe the fermented foods would help with smelly poop...and possibly soil health? Do you think the chickens could be stuffed up from old chicken poop dust in the coop? I can't honestly think we got it all out of there. What would be your advice on my next best course of action?

I appreciate you sending me those threads. I have gotten a big education today from your experience and willingness to share those experiences. Thank You and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
 
Jay Green
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Thank you! We do have similar circumstances! I have never reconditioned a flock either...particularly not one of my own, so this has been a learning experience for me. I am really loving the challenge, though, I would not have wished this on the birds to get the chance to change them for the better.

I'm wondering if you might have overdone it on the DE...it can be really tough on the respiratory tract and, if the coop is dusty anyway, it could contribute~particularly when they scratch around in it and raise the dust. The diatoms could sure do a number on delicate lung tissue. I never use DE due to it's nonselective nature...kills the beneficial insects along with the not so beneficial. I strive to create a balance in the coop environment so that the bad parasites, bacteria and molds have natural enemies....so I cultivate the coop like one would a garden, and provide a place to attract the good microbial life that feeds on the larvae of the bad and the good yeasts that hold in check the bad molds, the good bacteria that will eat the bad.

Maybe you could post some before and after pics of your flock over on the thread? When it comes to all natural husbandry, most folks won't believe it unless they see the pics...hard to argue with the pictures! LOL

 
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