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Help! My chickens are sick!

Chicken Eye Infection |

My poor girls. They’re just not well. A few weeks back we noticed that one of our grey marans had started to develop a bit of a cough. None of the other birds seemed to be affected so I wasn’t overly worried. Not wanting to rush to the vet with every little sneeze I googled to see if there was a natural remedy I could administer.

I found that cinnamon is a great all-round booster for hens, particularly at this time of year, so I emptied a full packet into their seed, ensuring they’d get a little each day for a few weeks. I also found that garlic and apple cider vinegar added to their water are highly effective against worms and are good general tonics, much as they are for humans. I put a few cloves of garlic into their water feeder to slowly diffuse into their water. I didn’t want to go overboard with what I reckoned was the equivalent of a common cold, so I left it at that.

Chicken Eye Infection |

Today I went out to find that one of my little beauties has a swollen, pussy eye. The poor thing. Her eye is completely sealed close and the whole area surrounding the eye is swollen. I went into a bit of a panic. Arūnas wasn’t home and wasn’t due back until lunchtime. Our mobile (cell) service is completely crap and I couldn’t get him on the phone. By the time he got home our local vet was closed for the weekend, so it now looks like we might need to wait until Monday before we can get a professional opinion.

So I turn to you, trusty hen keepers, for assistance. Can you offer a diagnosis and recommend any temporary solutions? Is this a sign of a respiratory infection spreading through our flock? Should I separate the two girls (including the one with the cough) from the rest? Should I bring them to the vet or just ask for advice in a vet pharmacy? Any and all suggestions are most welcome as I’m still an absolute newbie and this is the first time my hens have been sick.

Chicken Eye Infection |

I also discovered today that the cock has a sore and bleeding leg again. The girls are driving him demented pecking at it so he’s taken to standing on one leg. Between that and the fact that he’s molting, he’s quite a sorry sight at the moment. This is about the fourth time he’s had a bleeding leg. At this stage we’re pretty sure there isn’t an intruder and we’ve also checked for nails or sharp edges in the coop, so I just can’t understand what’s causing the problem. Any and all suggestions are again most welcome.

Thanks folks!

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Injured cock |

32 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nick Coe #

    I’m having the same issue right now with a week old newly hatched chicken, I worried for my little baby? Is there anything I can do is it fatal thanks from a worried chook lover

    Liked by 1 person

    July 19, 2017
    • Hi Nick. Sorry to hear about your chooks. I know we got medicine for our flock (12) and didn’t eat their eggs while they were on it and for about 1 week afterwards. I can’t remember what the medicine was, though. That one chook went missing about a week later. We never found her. I’m not sure if she was just vulnerable and was taken by a dog or other animal, or if she wandered off. The rest of the flock were fine. I’d suggest taking to a vet (or vet pharmacist, if such a thing exists where you live) for advice. I’m not a big fan of medicine for animals, especially those who provide food, but you don’t want to risk loosing your whole flock. Hope they all recover soon!


      July 20, 2017
  2. Anita #

    My chicken also had this condition – it was caused by an eye worm. I treated her with VetRX by applying it to the roof of her mouth for 3 days. The medication works quickly and she has recovered well. Also a vet can easily remove the worms. See Utube for “chicken worm eye – How to remove.mpg”

    Liked by 1 person

    March 18, 2015
  3. Beth #

    I wish I knew more about diseases in chickens that I could help, but my childhood experience does not include that information. I married a city boy and have not been back to the farm in years. However, we have one daughter who has space for animals and she and her children love to take care of them. They recently went through a series of diseases in their chickens, and if I am not mistaken, they used Merck Manual for Vets online to check the symptoms and found their own treatments. You would not believe the tears and trauma when the first chicken died. One granddaughter was especially overwhelmed.


    November 24, 2014
  4. So sorry to read about your weekend and your sick hens and rooster. I do hope all is on the upswing and that all are healing well and quickly. I don’t know the first thing about chickens so I’m absolutely no help there. Please keep us posted.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 13, 2014
  5. Thanks so much to everyone for taking the time to comment. I still haven’t been able to get to a vet or vet pharmacy as all were closed but I’ve been following as much of your advice as possible. I found a green antibacterial spray that we’d bought for an injured cat a while back and sprayed the cock’s leg with that. It seems to have done the trick – I haven’t seen any of the girls at it since. The eye looks a little better today. We bought a (human) eyewash at the pharmacy at have used that a few times. We also used a cold, used teabag as a compress. She’s able to open the eye and she’s quite perky – she even laid an egg! (I discarded the egg to be on the safe side.) Arūnas wasn’t in favour of segregating them as we don’t really have anywhere suitable. It seemed cruel to put one of two in a shed by themselves without access to the outdoors. Hopefully that’s a decision that won’t come back to bite us. We’ll get to the vet first thing tomorrow for a professional opinion and any recommended meds. In the meantime we upped the dosage of ACV and garlic and changed out all the bedding – they can do no harm! Thanks again for all the suggestions. I’ll let you know how they are in a few days.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 12, 2014
    • joy trimboli #

      sounds like you might be making headway. i just wanted to respond to not separating the sick one. i have gone thru the same feelings and have come to this conclusion. its like raising kids. we are here to protect them so sometime the right decision does not make them happy at the time but its what we have to do to protect them or in this case to protect the rest of your flock. its easier to do if you look at it that way. it does not hurt them to be separated til you either cure the bird or know what you are dealing with. they don’t stay forever emotionally scarred or anything! and anyway you look at it they have better lives even being separated for short times than they ever would on some giant mass egg laying place…. a few treats and they forgive!

      Liked by 1 person

      October 12, 2014
    • longchaps2 #

      Glad your chickens are on the mend. Poor babies. You’re coming to be quite the weekend vet! Good work.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 13, 2014
  6. So sorry to hear about your hens and rooster. I haven’t had any of these problems thank goodness. Sounds like you have lots of good advice and I have learned a few health tips for my chickens as well. I hope yours are better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 12, 2014
  7. poor thing, doesn’t look at all happy. Eye problems can be linked to a respiratory condition such as Coryza, which will hopefully be sorted with antibiotics. Keep the ark clean as high ammonia levels in the coop can cause breathing difficulties and even blindness in extreme cases. Hopefully the vet will let you know asap. Re bullying. Buggers arn’t they. You may find the bullying is done by just one of the hens. Are they kept in a coop all day? If so could you let them out to forage. This may distract the culprit and give the cockerel a chance to recover, Use antip pecking spray in the mean time.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 12, 2014
  8. Annette #

    Hi ,Margaret asked me to look at your blog …. it sounds and looks as if your girls have mycoplasma ,it is spread from bird to bird by sneezing and through their drinking water , don’t breed from infected stock as it also pass’s through the egg ,Tylan200 injected into the breast gives the best results . you need to wash their eyes to keep them clean and so they can see their food otherwise they will starve as well . You also need to separate the infected birds , make sure that you see to the sick birds after you have seen to the main flock wear gloves when you handle them and change your clothes before you see to the main flock again ,if you smell all of your birds nose’s and they smell awful then they are infected , have you bought new birds recently they may not have been quarantined for long enough , if they are overcrowded or bullied or stressed or run down from moult they can pick this up .

    Your boy should be housed on his own to let his leg clear up , is he younger than the girls ? and how many girls does he have ? ,perhaps they just don’t like him !
    Hope this helps
    If you are going to breed from your boy make sure the girls have poultry saddles

    Liked by 1 person

    October 12, 2014
    • Jenni Haan #

      Is this disease deadly? I have lost a couple chickens over the last few months. It seems that when it is noticeable it us too late.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 17, 2016
      • Hi Jenni. I’m not sure about the mycoplasma that Annette has mentioned but the eye infection my girl got did clear up. I got medicine from the vet pharmacy that I put in their water for a week, then left another two weeks before we started eating the eggs again. All was fine. I’m afraid I can’t remember what the drug was, though.


        October 18, 2016
  9. I’m so sorry you’re having issues – been there, done that.

    A couple of things come to mind – what’s the bedding in their coop? Could it be a bit extra dusty right now? I’d give a good cleaning. Certain times of the year, I have to leave my coop floor plain old dirt. I don’t know what the difference is, but the hay (what they kick out of the nest boxes) gets pretty dusty and they start to sneeze and cough. I remove it for a while, then when everyone gets back to normal, I start leaving it.

    I also put ACV in their water every couple of weeks as a general conditioner/tonic. When someone starts sneezing/coughing, I up the “dosage”. Usually, I use about a tablespoon per gallon – in times of need, I use 2 – 3 tablespoons. They don’t notice and issues go away. Also, I’ve been known to crush cloves of garlic and mix it with crumbled bread (I do all my own baking) soaked in raw milk or yogurt.

    The swollen eye is likely from something getting in it or someone else has pecked it. I’d use a warm compress to soften the ick to get it to open. Then, use a small dab of neosporin (this was recommended to me by a vet on the Backyard Chicken’s Forum and another site (I’ve since lost that address – sorry) so I tried it and it worked) twice a day for a couple of days. For the issue I had it worked.

    The leg – I’d definitely separate your rooster. Chickens are like this – they see blood (or a weak bird) and they peck. Period. There’s really no way to prevent it, it’s their nature. So, separate him, If you can find it, get some Vetricyn. It’s a slight bit pricy, but it’s amazing stuff, so for me, it’s cheap in the long run. I use the spray – it’s gel like so it sticks. It doesn’t smell or sting either – plus I say! Apply this twice a day. Don’t return him to the flock until his leg is healed. Also – check for scaly leg mites. He may be initiating the injury on his own if his legs are itchy and he’s pecking at them.

    I hope you don’t need any of this info by now, but if you do, I truly hope I’ve been able to help. I’m no vet, just a girl who’s owned chickens for a few years and dealt with a few of the same issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 12, 2014
  10. Oh, I hope it’s not one of those things that gets passed around.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 12, 2014
  11. Leetha Wilson #

    Unless the bird simply poked it’s eye, there is something that gets in there eye. A worm I think? I’m sorry I’m not much help there.This picture looks just like what I’ve seen also. I have never had it in my chickens. You just need to separate the rooster until he gets more feathers in and heals.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 11, 2014
  12. I am not sure about your chicken eye issue. But the pecking issue, my girls were all pecking at one hens feet. To the bleeding point. They were unhappy and mean. My husband read that they might need more protein. So I started feeding them handfuls of mealworms. Within 2 days the grouchy went away and the pecked on hen just slept in the nest box until she felt good enough to join the rest on the roost.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 11, 2014
  13. Sabrina #

    You should keep vetricin on hand at all times. Its a miracle worker on any sore. I even saw a baby chick that an adult pecked on the back, ripped it open and exposed spine! Vetricin spritzed on 2-3 times a day and in a couple days it was covered with new skin, completely healed in less than 2 weeks. A dog got hold of one of my hens, ripped her breast open from near her crop to the back of her wing and vetricin healed that! It is like $30 bucks a bottle but worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 11, 2014
  14. Not sure at all I’m afraid but Fiona Dillon of Fiona Dillon Writes teaches lessons in keeping hens, she might know.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 11, 2014
  15. Darlene Nocek #

    I had almost the same problem, tried all the natural remedies I could find and nothing was helping. I gave up and went in to my local tack and feed store and the young man was very helpful. I didn’t want to give them and antibiotics but I did it is called “Tetroxy HCA-280” he named off a couple of other ones but I cant remember the names they’ll have a list of symptoms on the back. It’s been a couple of weeks and I think they are all on the mend. Good luck

    Liked by 1 person

    October 11, 2014
  16. Gary Luce #

    Separate the rooster from the hens. And the sick
    Hens from the others. Get some antibiotic cream
    For his leg. Put it on a few times a day for
    About 3-4 days. As for the sick hens. They have
    Meds at the feed stores. Try that. Let me no how
    There doing. Gary

    Liked by 1 person

    October 11, 2014
    • Thanks for all the advice, Gary. We live in the back of beyonds and our feed store is not great but I’ll see what I can find. Hopefully I can at least get some antibac for the leg.


      October 11, 2014
  17. Angie #

    Get some BlueKote/No Peck from your tractor supply store and put it on the leg. This will keep the others from bothering it because it masks the blood and tastes awful. Try to separate the roo for a day or two to give him time to heal. It costs about $5 for a bottle and I always keep some on hand. It has really helped my chicks. Not sure about the other problem. I hope you get it sorted out soon! Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    October 11, 2014
    • Thanks Angie. Now that you mention it I think I have an anti-bac spray that is bright green and might keep the girls away from the leg. I’ll see if I can find that No Peck as it seems to be a recurring problem.


      October 11, 2014
    • debandsteve #

      The Bluekote works well BUT wear gloves.The coloring does NOT wash off for a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 12, 2014
  18. Aw… poor chooks… hope you’ll get it sorted. I’m sure they can hang in there till the vet gets back on Monday.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 11, 2014
  19. June, I’m sorry I cannot offer any solution or remedy…. have shared it out on twitter though, tagging FarmerBertie in UK who I was only talking to yesterday about hen health. Hope you get an answer soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    October 11, 2014
    • Thanks Margaret. I saw that on Twitter – cheers for that. Hopefully someone will come up with a solution, at least until I can get to the vet.


      October 11, 2014
      • joy trimboli #

        i am a believer in overkill…..i would not be so sure they will survive til monday….here in california we can get antibiotics at feed stores for livestock. i would go there and get some ASAP and start them. also an antibiotic spray for the eyes as mentioned. mine had started on a cough last spring and i dosed them right away…they got better which is not often the case with these fragile sweet beings…good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

        October 12, 2014
    • Hi June, I’m really sorry to hear your birds aren’t feeling very well!

      Garlic and Apple Cider vinegar are great but won’t always prevent your Hens from illness, you should use a multi vitamin too!

      Unfortunately I can’t recommend any home remedies to help between now and your trip to the Vet.

      I’m really sorry 😦

      However, below I have listed a few products that I would recommend for future use.

      Respite – It helps with coughs, colds and alleviate respiratory problems. It should be used at the first sight of a cough, cold, sneeze or rattle. You simply add it to your birds drinking water.

      I would also advise using multi vitamin product to help boost immune systems and general wellbeing. (We have plenty in stock to choose from)

      As for the pecking, the girls could simply be bored, try a grits block or maybe try Nettex Anti Feather Pecking spray.

      For a full list of Health Care products and Poultry equipment please visit us at

      We can arrange delivery outside the UK but would be an additional cost.

      I hope your birds get well soon 🙂 If I find anything that could help sooner I will be in touch.

      Farmer Bertie

      P.S Thank you Margaret for mentioning us 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      October 11, 2014

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