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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 23753
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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I have a small chicken farm. 36 chickens. I just added 15 of

Customer Question

I have a small chicken farm. 36 chickens. I just added 15 of them. On the way home from picking up the newest 15 we noticed one had a swollen eye and was leaking stuff from his eye. We figured he got in a fight or something but now 90% of my chickens have swollen eyes. And dripping stuff from eyes and nose. They are lethargic and fall asleep walking. The first one developed a bad respiratory rasp and we had to kill it as it was suffering. Any idea what this could be? If the other chickens can survive this? And are the eggs edible?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 5 months ago.
i believe that you're dealing with either chicken coryza (Haemophilus paragallinarum) or avian mycoplasmosis. The symptoms of one are indistiguishable from the other. Chicken coryza is a common bacteria in poultry flocks. Infection is passed from age group to age group as replacement stock is introduced to the farm. A percentage of birds become asymptomatic carriers. Symptoms of both are foamy, watery eyes, discharge from the nostrils, and sometimes swollen sinuses. Deaths rarely occur. Affects chicks don't grow well and flock appears uneven in size. It's not wise to eat the eggs of infected chickens. It's important to buy replacement birds from flocks that are known to be mycoplasma and chicken coryza free. Estalish a quarantine procedure for the flock where birds are purchased to add to the flock are kept in a separate area to ensure that they are free of disease. Quarantine procedures work to prevent not only mycoplasmas but many other diseases (coryza, Marek's) as well. Many small flock owners inadvertently cause their flocks to become infected with these bacteria when they put new birds in their flock immediately after buying birds at sales and swap meets, or someone gives them some "free birds". In retrospect, upon seeing that initial "swollen eye and leaking stuff from the eye", it would have been best to turn around and return all of the birds to the seller.Now you have a difficult decision. You can depopulate and repopulate with vaccinated and disease free birds or keep survivors and understand that they are likely to remain carriers and can infect any new birds introduced to your flock. Antibiotics (tetracycline, tylosin) can help these birds recover but the infectious agent(s) are never totally eliminated. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
So in order to eat eggs again safely and have a truly healthy flock I need to retire my chickens and start over? Will the cage be contaminated? If I start over Competly will new chickens get it from being on the same grounds, feeders, boxes etc? This makes me so sad as I love my chickens. But I need healthy chickens that I can eat eggs from.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Also I have 2 turkeys that don't seem to be effected. Can they be carriers?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 5 months ago.
You can eat the eggs of asymptomatic carriers. These infectious agents are so common that if we prohibited the eating of eggs of every bird that harbored one of these bacteria, we'd never be able to eat eggs. I believe you should avoid the eggs of actively symptomatic birds...who aren't likely to lay regularly (or at all) when they're actively ill in any event. If you decide to depopulate, you'll need to decontaminate as per this excellent site from Cornell University: In that manner you can avoid new chicks contracting infectious agents from fomites - inorganic objects such as feeders and boxes. It's not practical to disinfect the grounds of free-ranging chickens. An attempt to do so would better be turning over the soil to a depth of 6" rather than spraying disinfectant on the dirt. Turkeys can contract avian mycoplasmosis but not chicken coryza. They have their own coryza but it's caused by Bordetella avium not Haemophilus paragallinarum. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

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