Chickens coughing

mikeclough

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We have four ex-battery chickens. Three of them have developed a cough over the last week. None of them has any sort of discharge from nose or eyes and they are breathing normally. They are all feeding well and are very active, but egg production has decreased from 2-3 eggs per day to 1-2 per day. They aren't showing any signs of ill-health that I can see other than the cough. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what could be causing this and what I should do?
 

Marigold

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Hi Mike. A bit of a mystery, isn’t it? As exbatts, they’ll all have been fully vaccinated against the usual chicken diseases, and as 3 of them have suddenly started coughing it might be an environmental cause such as dust. Has there been any change to their bedding or dustbath, or have you been using a lot of diatomaceous earth against redmite?
How long have you had them, and have they ever been wormed with Flubenvet? Again, as exbatts the farmer wouldn’t have wasted money on worming hens he was going to dispose of, so worming would have been necessary when they arrived and again six months later.
They will be the age to be coming up to moult, so a decrease in egg production is to be expected, and they will stop for a while once moult gets under way - another two reasons why the farmer got rid of them!
 

mikeclough

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Hi Marigold, thanks for your reply. Actually the coughing started with one hen early last week and had spread to the others. As of this morning they're all coughing. I spoke to a vet this morning and she thinks it could be Infectious Bronchitis. She has prescribed Pharmasin, which is an antibiotic, to help against any secondary bacterial infections, but IB is viral so vaccinations may be necessary. She asked if I knew how to give a chicken an injection! I said I didn't feel confident that I could do that. So for now we're just going to see how they get on with the Pharmasin. I will take them in to the vets if necessary but right now don't have the means to do that.
We've had the chickens for two months and they are currently 3 days into being wormed with Flubenvet because when the coughing started last week I thought, wrongly, they had gapeworm.
 

Icemaiden

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Kent
Hi Mike.
Do continue with their week of Flubenvet; it's well worth finishing the course.

You might also like to try the British Hen Welfare Trust's free "Hen Healthline", https://www.bhwt.org.uk/hen-health/hen-helpline/
It was set up primarily to help new adoptors of hens with any issues that might crop up, & it's free.
 

chrismahon

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Gascony, France
They would have been immunised against IB so the most likely reason is dust in the feed or coop, or perhaps a respiratory infection due to mould spores from a damp coop. We did have a condensation problem years back which caused mould growth on the roof panel and led to a chronic respiratory infection, which was successfully treated with Baytril. The air circulation was improved simply by leaving the pop-hole open (inside a very secure run of course).
 

mikeclough

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We have a very well ventilated coop and I've never ever closed the 'pop-hole'. There is no sign of any mould and as far as I can tell there isn't a dust problem.
As of this afternoon there are strong signs of improvement - only one chicken coughing and not frequently.
 

Marigold

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That’s good news. Looks as if the antibiotic may be working. Did the vet warn you not to eat the eggs until some time after finishing the course?
 
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