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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29687
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My rooster is 10 months old and quite suddenly a few days

Customer Question

My rooster is 10 months old and quite suddenly a few days ago he appeared to be trying to crow with no success. As I studied him I realised he was having trouble breathing and his comb was very dark in colour. I made some phone calls and the consensus was he had a virus.
I removed him from the other poultry and initially gave him water (via a syringe).
I then hypo-saturated water with glucose and dosed him with that. I then decided I could mash up some Banana and try to give him some food. It has been easy for him to swallow and it has worked very well and enabled me to add vitamin E and C to his food.
Three + days later he is still with us but his breathing is still as it was initially. I have noticed times, however, where his breathing has settled and his comb has lightened in colour (usually after what appeared to be a big "sneeze")?
I have since added "greens" to the banana mix to get more nutrition into him and help boost his immunity.
However I am wondering if it is a virus. His stools have always been a good colour (although somewhat watery the first day), and I have not noticed any nasal excretion.
Could he have something stuck in his wind pipe that is causing his distress?
If so, what can I do to help him?
Thank you for your time.
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, Heather. We don't have many avian vets on this site. To answer you directly, it's important to recognize that in any case of respiratory illness, you need 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. To make a diagnosis, an avian vet (please see here: or will perform several tests including bacterial cultures of the airways, blood tests, and necropsies of dead birds if they're available. Dead birds should be refrigerated - not frozen – until they can be necropsied. Microscopic evaluation of affected tissues is helpful and can be performed at a diagnostic laboratory such as a county animal disease diagnostic laboratory. A fecal test for parasites also should be done. Attempts to isolate virus may be required. Respiratory infections in poultry have several causes but outward signs may appear similar to the flock owner.

I understand, however, that it's best to approach the diagnostic process with a clear sense of this rooster's financial value to your operation. Although some services such as your county animal disease diagnostic laboratory 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. Pragmatically speaking, treating a bacterial respiratory infection is your best bet at this time. I would have no objection to your initiating tylosin therapy in the form of Tylan-50 injected intramuscularly or given orally at a dose of 20-30 mg/lb once daily for 3 days or 2.5 grams/5L of drinking water for 3 days. Alternatively, tetracycline in the form of Duramycin-10 as per the label's instructions for 10 consecutive days would be appropriate. The products are available in most agricultural merchant stores.

I don't believe that his windpipe is obstructed by a foreign body but certainly could be constricted due to inflammation and the accumulation of mucus and pus. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.