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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28526
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My 6 1/2 week old chick has been sleepier than all other (7)

Customer Question

My 6 1/2 week old chick has been sleepier than all other (7) chicks. She doesn't open her eyes, only to eat and peck around the crate. She eats & drinks well, is growing well, feathering out beautifully (speckled Sussex), her eyes seem irritated maybe, no swelling, no drainage, no beak or mouth drainage. Now 3 other chicks eyes are looking droopy. Again no other symptoms. Only eyes that appear sickly. They all eat and run around full speed.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. It's necessarily conjecture but when more than one chick is showing evidence of ocular disease, an infectious respiratory agent is most likely. In any case of respiratory illness, it's important to know if you're dealing with a viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic disease. The treatment for one disease may be ineffective or even harmful for others. Outward signs may appear similar to the flock owner. To make a diagnosis, your avian-oriented vet (please see here: or county-extension poultry personnel can perform several tests including bacterial cultures of the airways, blood tests, and necropsies (post-mortem exams) of dead birds if they are available (refrigerate - not freeze - their bodies until they can be brought to the vet or your county health officer).

Presumptive therapy with Duramycin-10 (tetracycline) available in feed/agriculture merchant stores is appropriate for affected flocks. I would initiate such therapy to these chicks and I would continue it for 10 consecutive days. A single bird is better addressed with an antibiotic prescribed by your vet that you could administer directly into the beak or by injection into a breast muscle.

Small poultry flocks are susceptible to a number of respiratory infections. Some of these produce extremely mild illness while others may result in a high number of deaths. Common bacterial diseases include fowl cholera (Pasteurellosis), chicken coryza (Haemophilus paragallinarum) and avian mycoplasmosis (Mycoplasma gallisepticum); infectious bronchitis is a common corona viral infection. I conjecture that the chicks are exhibiting mild avian mycoplasmosis symptoms but I can't confirm this without testing them.

It's best to approach the diagnostic process with a clear sense of a bird's financial value to your operation. Although some services might be available free of charge through a county agency or land-grant extension office, the expense of some diagnostic tests and treatments can add up quickly. While it’s always worth your time and money to identify a bacterial or viral infection that could potentially impact more than one member of the flock, this might not be the case with a condition that only affects one bird. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. I was able to research your answer and was already administering the tetracycline. I started 24 hours ago. I was hoping to get my real question answered… If ONLY their eyes are showing symptoms then is it really a respiratory infection? Five of the chicks have this "droopy eye" look and I can send you a picture of it if that would help. I contacted the lady I purchased the chicks from and she said it sounded like coccidiosis. So I treated them for the past six days with Corri I contacted the lady I purchased the chicks from and she said it sounded like coccidiosis. So I treated them for the past six days with Corid. I did not see any improvement with the use of CorI'd. So I began to treat just the eyes by washing them with an eyewash of distilled water and then applying tetracycline ophthalmic ointment to both eyes. I have seen great improvement since starting that two days ago (twice a day application). I will continue with the antibiotic in their water for 10 days. However the Corid is to be given again after 6 days off. Can I give them both drugs in their water at the same time? I only have 8 young chicks, for eggs not for production. This is my first time raising birds. Perhaps I am over reacting? I am keeping them inside in my basement, could it be too dusty and causing eye irritation? Again, no drainage, no nasal drainage or sneezing, or coughing/wheezing. Nothing but droopy eyes. Thank you so much.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Yes, it usually is although Marek's disease (herpesvirus) can cause a uveitis (inflammation of the iris and its attachments). Take a look at this site and the eyes of an affected chicken:!mareks-disease/c1qzk Coccidiosis? No, diarrhea is seen in that case - often bloody droppings. Yes, amprolium (Corid) is compatible with tetracycline and I have no objection to your giving them a second round of it. It sounds as is the Terramycin (oxytetracycline) ophthalmic ointment and systemic tetracycline is helping. That's certainly consistent with Mycoplasmosis but not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of it. Thank you for the photo! Droopy eye, indeed...actually, a conjunctivitis! You're quite welcome. Please continue our conversation if you wish.