Goopy eyed chicken

Hi All,

I'm new to chickens and I have stalked this forum for some time, and recently decided to become a member! :) I have a chicken health related question.


We bought a house this summer complete with a gorgeous coop and run area and 4 bright happy pullets. They all came into lay around the beginning to mid august, so I estimate their age now at around 27 weeks. They are healthy and vibrant. For our family, who eat A LOT, we wanted some more hens to make sure that we always had enough eggs, even when some hens were moulting or because of heat, so we trekked it down to Pratts and bought 5 baby chicks. They are doing great! We also came home from Pratts  that day with 2 Ameraucana hens (or maybe they are EE's) that were in the middle of their first hard moult, so that would put them about 18 months old (or so said the 17 year old kid that was working that day.) I paid $20 a piece for them. I thought I would give them a good home, and soon would have 2 more layers while we wait for the babies to grow up.


I put them into quarantine in a separate area of my coop where they can see the others but not get to each other. They were subdued (I thought because of the change.) But they ate, drank and did everything you would expect a chiken to do. I didn't notice any symptoms of illness, so after 2 weeks I let them out of quarantine. There was no major bullying once everyone knew their place in the pecking order...and everything seemed peachy. Of course they look horendous because they are moulting, and maybe that masked some of the symptoms that slowly began to progress from there. They were showing signs of gape worms, so I treated them both with safeguard. A week later I saw lice on one of them, went out and got DE and dusted the whole flock, coop, nesting boxes, run. Then after that I noticed rattly breathing, a strange chirping from one of them at night (almost like a hiccup) and some drainage from eyes and nose. I got tetracyclene powder and mixed up a daily ration for them, which I syringed directly into the affected chickens mouths 3 times a day to use up the ration. Did that for 5 days. They improved, but not seemed worse then the other. So I began researching a next step. Learned about injecting Tylan antibiotic, but after calling for a week couldn't find a local source, so I decided to try some injectible penicillin instead. So, for the last 4 days I have given them each.5 ml of penicillin subcutaniously under the skin of their necks because they don't seem to have any breast tissue in which to inject..skinny laying hens.


One chicken (I'm still not sure who is who, they look exactly alike) seems almost completely well...a little wateryness to the eyes, but almost completely clear. The other seems to be acting like she feels better, but one of her eyes is swelled almost completely shut with lots of goop. Today along with her shot, I irrigated her eye with saline and put some triple antibiotic ointment in each eye.


Just wanted to ask the experts...Am I missing something that I should be doing? Is this a reasonable course of treatment? If you had to guess (because without lab tests, its really hard to be sure) what do you think they have? So far all the other chickens are healthy and everyone has been together more than a month. Sorry this is so long...I have no good excuse other than that I am trying to be a good chicken mom, and I don't want to lose these girls!

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  • Rachel,

    Thanks for your straitforward response. It is hard news, but I needed that honesty. I called Pratts, and they said they would buy the hens back from me at half what I paid, so $10 each. They said if I wanted to bring them back in they would keep them there and treat and monitor them.

    I explained to the manager Katrina that I had treated and monitored them, and that keeping them there was going to endager all their other birds. It seemed clear to me that they might try to resell them to someone else, or that they would continue to keep them there and perpetuate this problem. I told her that they needed to be humanely euthanized, either by me or by them. She told me I could take care of that and that she would put a store credit on my account. She also said they had never had a problem with sick hens before, which is in contradiction with what Rachel has indicated her experience has been, so I don't feel that the manager was being completely straiforward with me.

    I care less about the issue of getting all my money back, and more that Pratts seems to be taking this problem lightly and is therefore perpetuating it.

    I must cull the birds today. I am not sure if I will decapitate or wring their necks. I don't own an axe, so I am leaning toward wringing. This is an aweful thing to have to ask (or google) but I just want it to be swift and humane. I would love advise and input. Thanks again Rachel.

    • I re read that last paragraph and it sounds very cold. I want everyone to know that I am agonizing over doing this. After some research, I feel the best, surest way to cull the birds since I haven't done this before is to sever the head. That way I know for sure, even though they flap, that they are gone swiftly and painlessly. I am scared...If you pray, say one fore me.


    • The deed is done. That was one of the harder things ive had to do. I'm sad. But i know it was the right thing.


    • I know that was a very hard thing to do, it's an important reminder that sometimes chicken raising isn't all eggs and giggles; it makes me heavy-hearted just to read about it. I hope your experience will save future chickens. Again, thank you for sharing.
    • Thanks Rachel. I knew in my heart that this is what I needed to do before I posted this question...I was just desparate not to have to do it. It was your response that helped me see that I had done everything I could, probably too much already, and that if I didn't cull the 2 sick birds it would be for selfish reasons. A farmer's got to face her fears. I went in today and scrubbed out all the feeders, waterers, roost and nest boxes with straight white vinegar. Removed all the bedding and replaced it with new bedding. None of the other chickens or chicks are showing any sign of illness. Is there anything else I should do to sanitize the coop? How long before I know if the rest of the flock is in the clear?


      I'm not pleased with Pratts. Everyone should be suspect of any adult chickens being sold there. I've also had a few of the chicks that I bought from there die. 2 lived, I replaced the other two and another from Pratts died. Pet Food Depot finally got their shipment in, so I bought 2 more chicks from them and they have been vibrant and wonderful. The remaining 5 chickies are doing great. Just wanted to issue a buyer beware for Pratts.


    • Hi Karis,

      I'm sorry you had to go through that. I went through the same thing just recently with a few beautiful Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Pullets my son had saved up all of his money for.  I watched these birds at the breeders ranch for at least an hour and there was no sign of anything. Sure enough 2 hours into the drive home, I heard a sneeze in the back of the van.  I kept them at my neighbors and within 2 days we had more sneezes, rales and sticky noses. I treated them for 3 days with Tylan trying to ignore what I knew I had to do. It was so hard to put down such beautiful birds that my son was already so enamored with,  but too many respiratory illnesses leave the recovered birds unthrifty and carriers. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. We had chosen pullets for my son beacuse he had lost all but one of his shipped chicks last year(none of my other children lost chicks in that order) and I felt I could trust this breeder.  There are just too many variables you are unaware of with pullets or hens and it's not just Pratt's :)  I will only hatch my own or order day olds from an NPIP certified farm or hatchery from now on and I am going to try an "all in, all out" approach with my newest flock.  There are still no guarantees, but I will have done all I can :)  This was a miserable experience, I'm sorry you had to go through it too.  You were being very responsible and merciful by dealing with the situation yourself, who knows how it would have been dealt with had you taken them back.  By the way, I disinfect with a bleach mixture or Oxine. I realize this isn't the most popular route to take, but as a vet tech in a previous life, I am most comfortable with it :) Also, the sun kills many things (like coccidia) that no disinfectant can touch. I leave all of my disinfected items out in the sun for a couple of days and also give my roost bar a sanding. Best of luck with your flock. Carrie

    • I would use this nice weather to clean the entire coop with a strong cleaner (orange-based etc) be sure to get the nest boxes, walls, roosting bars and any other surfaces in there.

      I honestly don't know the answer to how long it could be to know if the other birds picked up anything, but it's a really good sign that none are currently showing symptoms. Check them once a week for lice until you are sure that's under control, lice can sometimes be persistent.


      I would use your Pratt's credit to pick up extra feeders/waterers things like that. I wouldn't even use it for food. I have personally seen sick birds outside at Pratt's so for Katrina to say they've never had that issue is irritating, I'm fairly certain that's part of the reason they switched systems to keep track of who's selling them what. I've dealt with her plenty of times (I used to sell extra quail from my hatches to Pratt's) how disappointing.


      One place I have been happy with is the Stock shop, it's not that far from Pratt's.

  • I don't mean this to sound harsh, but I want to clearly outline some things so lots of people can learn from this.


    First off, this very clearly illustrates why you should (IMHO) NEVER buy hens (as opposed to chicks) from stores, people have gotten rid of them because they weren't performing, were old or sick. Sometimes all of the above. Then those birds are mixed in pens with all other hens, so even if someone sold Pratts a "good" hen, it's now been exposed to illness/lice/mites etc. Secondly, the people at Pratt's have no idea how old those birds are, this could be their first molt or their fifth.


    Secondly quarantining. Quarantining is different than introducing. You want quarantined birds to be physically separated from original birds so they cannot contaminate each other (in completely different parts of the yard). Birds should be quarantined for a minimum of one month, no matter what. This means not even wearing the same shoes to visit the two sets of birds. Quarantining should always be done when bringing new birds home. Generally people buy chicks so they are in the brooder for this period of time. If you're buying day old birds from different feed stores, it's usually okay to mix them immediately with each other; each stores chicks don't need individual brooders.


    The fact that they have little to no breast muscle tells me that there is a bigger problem going on. Some birds (like leghorns) have a slighter build, but an easter egger is generally a medium to heavy weight bird and should have good breast muscle tone. Lack of muscle tone points to illness or parasites (which you have already observed). Look up Infectious coryza as a possibility (the main clue that sets it apart from other illnesses is the distinct odor of the discharge). Otherwise your most likely bet is infectious bronchitis (coughing, sneezing, rattling sounds in the throat). Birds that survive this can have permanent ovary damage and may not lay as well as other birds. Secondly, this is a virus that can spread through the air and infect your flock, your neighbors' flocks etc. Survivors of Infectious bronchitis and coryza remain carriers.


    I would call Pratt's immediately and return these birds. They should have never sold them to you. I know you feel a sense of responsibility now that they're at your house and want to help these birds, but think of all of the other people they are going to do this to if they get away with selling sick/infested birds. Pratt's has had a reputation for doing this, but I thought they had been getting better after making some changes a year or two ago, I'm sorry to see that they haven't. If your birds have coryza or IB and get better, they can still infect your flock, for the sake of the rest of your flock I would not keep these birds.


    I sincerely hope that things go well for your flock in the future, this has no doubt been a hard learning experience and I thank you for posting it so others can learn and you can prevent this kind of stress and heartache for them.

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