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Common Chicken Diseases and Symptoms in Backyard Flocks

When it comes to backyard flocks, there are many common chicken diseases that you should become familiar with. It is essential to learn chicken diseases symptoms and even the signs of diseases respiratory based in these animals if you are seeking to raise healthy chickens. Most medical conditions that affect backyard flock poultry affect the respiratory system of the animal. This particular system includes the air sacs of the body, the passages that permit the intake and outtake of air, as well as the lungs. If you keep chickens for your personal use, or for commercial purposes, it is important to understand that diseases respiratory based in the poultry are capable of spreading rapidly within a flock. Here, you will learn about five of the most common diseases, as well as chicken diseases symptoms so that you may appropriately identify health issues before they affect your entire backyard flock.

Infectious Bronchitis

Infectious Bronchitis is a diseases respiratory based in backyard flock chickens that is relatively common. This condition is also known as "Bronchitis" and a "Cold". This disease is specific to chickens in particular when it comes to types of poultry. The infection may be mild to severe, depending on several circumstances such as the strength of the immunity of the bird, and other conditions present in the environment in which the chicken is located. Chicken diseases symptoms that are present when it comes to this particular illness include, but are not limited to:

  • Indulging in less water and food consumption
  • Liquid discharge will be present in the eyes, as well as the nostrils
  • Breathing complications will be evident, with signs of gasping
  • The chicken may make distinguishable chirping sounds
  • The production rate when it comes to laying eggs will be reduced dramatically

When it comes to this particular diseases respiratory, there is no "cure". There are methods of treatment that many who raise chickens in backyard flocks have found to be productive. First of all, individuals may have their chickens vaccinated against this condition as a preventive measure. If vaccinations are not acquired, once the poultry acquires the chicken disease, antibiotics may be administered in order to address the bacterial based infection that may be present, therefore reducing some of the chicken diseases symptoms. One may also increase the temperature of the room in which the sick chicken is kept by an average of 5°F.

Avian Influenza

Many chicken owners have discovered that the chickens in their flocks come down with a condition which is called "Avian Influenza". This is also known as the "Fowl Plague", and the "Flu". While any type of bird may acquire this illness, chicken owners should be concerned because of the fact that it can spread rapidly through flocks. There are many ways that this condition can be transmitted from one chicken to another, making it a large concern when it comes to diseases respiratory in home flocks. These methods include contamination by shoes that can carry it from one location to another, insects, rodents, and even equipment used in chicken coops and the basic care of chickens. Chicken diseases symptoms may include any or all of the following:

  • Distress when it comes to respiratory function
  • Noticeable change in eating habits
  • Mild to severe diarrhea
  • Decrease in egg production rates
  • Spots that are red and/or white on the legs of the chicken affected
  • Discharge may be noticed around the nose and may include droplets of blood

There are preventive vaccines available, but chicken owners must acquire a special permit in order for their backyard flock to qualify. Otherwise, there is no basic treatment for Avian Influenza. It may be possible to administer antibiotics that are considered to be "Broad Spectrum" in order to contend with some of the symptoms that may be present in the animal, but this is not guaranteed to work. Simply ensuring nutrition, that the animal is properly hydrated, and rests is about the best treatment available for this chicken diseases respiratory.

Mycoplasma Gallisepticum

Mycoplasma Gallisepticum or "Chronic Respiratory Disease" is a diseases respiratory that many chickens may be affected by. Many may also refer to this illness as "Mycoplasmosis" or "Infectious Sinusitis". While poultry such as turkeys and ducks may be affected by this condition, backyard flock chickens are commonly affected as well. Chicken diseases symptoms present with this diseases respiratory include:

  • Chickens that are adults may show no symptoms at all
  • The sinuses may become swollen
  • An obvious sneeze may become apparent
  • Discharge may be emitted through the nasal cavity
  • A foamy based discharge may be evident in the eyes

When it comes to treatment for this common chicken disease, there are antibiotics available that have proven to be highly successful. These may be administered by mixing with the chicken feed, the water that the chickens drink, or by injection. Examples of antibiotics for this condition include Lincomycin and Erthromycin.

Fowl Pox

Fowl Pox is another common chicken disease found in backyard flocks. This is known by many names, such as "Chicken Pox" (Not the same as the human version), "Bird Pox", and "Avian Diphtheria". When poultry suffers from this diseases respiratory, there are many chicken diseases symptoms present, such as:

  • Lesions that reflect that of "warts" often appear on the areas of the body where there are no feathers
  • Egg production rate is typically hindered
  • The skin may appear raw, and this may be accompanied by bleeding
  • Noticeable distress in respiratory function
  • Congestion in the respiratory system may be experienced

At this time, there is no treatment for this diseases respiratory in chickens. However, owners should not be alarmed as this condition is relatively slow spreading overall. Many owners take the preventative measure of vaccination against this condition.

Infectious Coryza

Infectious Coryza is often called "Cold" or "Roup". Many refer to this diseases respiratory as "Coryza". This is extremely common among backyard flocks of chickens. Chicken diseases symptoms include many of the following:

  • Distinguishable smell that is relatively "foul" based
  • Discharge from the nasal cavity and the eyes
  • Challenges in breathing
  • Mild to severe diarrhea
  • Unusual sounds emitted when taking breaths
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The treatment for this diseases respiratory include antibacterial medications. In addition to this, antibiotics that are considered to be soluble in water may also be used for treating this respiratory condition.


As you can see, there are many common diseases that affect chickens kept in backyard flocks. All of the diseases here are considered to be diseases respiratory. If you want to ensure the health of your backyard flock, it is important to learn about the conditions as well as chicken diseases symptoms. Here, you have been introduced to the five most common diseases. For further information, you may research your local library or ask your vet.

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Aubrey on February 15, 2017:

My rooster is almost a year old. When I first noticed something was wrong his wing was down and he couldn't walk. I took him in the house for maybe about a week . I made him a chicken sling thinking his wing was broke or sprained . He wasn't eating so I fed him myself . About 2 days ago he started opening his mouth . I thought maybe he was a hungry so I fed him more . I just watched a youtube video about the crop thingy. I emptied his and he threw up but he's still like opening his beak and moving his head . He still can't walk or get up from the floor. Please help

kandace on April 26, 2015:

I have a 4wk old rhode island red chick along with 4 other chicks about 6wks old.. Ive just notice the Red has a large lump on its chest and is losing its fur faster than its feathers are coming in so i can clearly see its skin where the lump is. Any ideas what's up? No change in behavior except rocking its neck to the same side its on as if it irritates it.

RB on April 07, 2015:

Give teramicin capsols to ur chicken if he is having repiratory issues one is fine for a day however, it depends on the size of bird i gave two capsol a day for three days in a day (morning and evening) and he is much much better..

Chicken help on August 23, 2014:

One of my chicks raise their neck a lot what does it have and how can I help her.

chicken help on December 30, 2013:

one of my chickens has a patch of feather on her neck that looks like it has been burned. The feathers are gray and look a little singed. is this a kind of disease or could it have been ashes dropped on her?

DeAnna on July 23, 2013:

i have lost 4 chickens in about a week, they were breathing from their mouths and it sounded like they were rattling, it was weird...they all passed, i had 2 more that sounded like that so i seperated them from the rest of the flock, so far none of the others are acting like that and the 2 i seperated seem to be doing better what could it be?

Rita on March 24, 2013:

my baby chick is almost three weeks old and i noticed today that her bottom is larger than the rest of her. its squishy when you touch it. also she sleeps a lot. this little chick has been a small chick since hatching. i'm worried that see'll not see her fourth week. HELP!!!

Martha on February 25, 2013:

I have a young leghorn hen that was laying well and recently may have stopped. She's got the signs of diarrhea (brown dirty feathers) and a very raw looking butt. Otherwise she looks ok! Any suggestions for what I might do for her?

Also, I'm collecting pinkish/ flesh colored eggs that are very rough looking a with a folded quality to shell. Have two new varieties of hen: leghorn, Sicilian butter cup and older Americaunas that laid green eggs before their molt. where could these eggs be coming from?

jennifer matthias jenny on January 30, 2013:

i have a white rooster and a hen. the rooster is 9 months old now in a few days (date- 19.1.13) my rooster cannot walk and he has a saliva yellowish-white foamy substance in his mouth. it itches him a lot , so when he itch it the foam removed from the both sides and a whitey substance get into his left eye and stuck with a yellowish thing and he cannot open his eyes. he cannot walk and eat anything even cannot breath easily. his wings get crooked and opened he cannot fold it , and sounds like an owl slowly. same as my hen has some yellow little feathers in her back, but she can eat and drink easily and both of them sneezing continually. i also gave my rooster an medicine but did not works it is his infection medicine named renamycin and cannot find other medicine named piper vet bol. do u all have any idea to make both of them better? plz find and tell me.

john4400 on January 08, 2013:

I have a chicken, a brown leghorn, that has had bouts of being lethargic and vertigo. She's is hungry but has trouble eating. I have to pick her up so she can stand. Also her comb has been crusty white and pale red. She got better with diatomaceous earth and vinegar in her water but that isn't working this time. I have looked at several chicken disease sites and books but didn't see these symptom mentioned.

Kailyn on October 31, 2012:

I have nine chickens 2 Golden comets 1 australorp and 6 barred rock 1 of my golden comets feet is red on bottom she makes weird noises and she has a bald spot on her neck and the feathers around it are brittle WHAT DO I DO????

Mel on October 27, 2012:

My rooster has wart lumpy looking legs? does anyone know what this is?

ESofVA on October 24, 2012:

After letting my chickens out a few minutes later I went back outside to find one of my Cornish hens laying on the ground. She can move her legs fine but she cannot stand up. If I stand her up she just falls over. She has now quit eating and drinking and I expect she will be dead when I go out this am. I have a number of other chickens that live in the same pen and am worried about them maybe catching it if it is contagious. She may have been under the gazebo that night and just rolled out from under it that am. No visible injuries, no discharges, she is not laying yet...she is 5 months old. They eat Southern States layer and broiler crumbles. I did have a problem with IB but traeted them with Tylan and it seems to be gone. She doesn't gasp for air. No swollen areas.


eliza on August 21, 2012:


Samatha on July 27, 2012:

my rooster is not walking he cant move his legs and he is pooping green and white out.Recently our neighbors dogs killed two of our u think he got hurt?

Tammy on June 13, 2012:

I have a white leghorn rooster alittle over 8 weeks . When he lays down he keeps one leg way out to the sid and when he walks his legs are very wide spread. He is still eating and drinking. I can't find any ijuries on him. Any ideas?

Sharon on June 12, 2012:

One of my chickens keeps wondering around with either one or both eyes closed. She will suddenly stop and take a nap frequently. Other than that she seems fine. Is there something wrong with her? I have noticed this going on for the past 3 days (I have only had the chickens for just over a week. She is 20 weeks only.

Richard on May 30, 2012:

This is helping me in my homework

jd on May 27, 2012:

i found out my chicken died of a prolapse, i figured it out on an hsus video of tysons meat animal abuse.

Maggie on May 17, 2012:

Some of our chickens have died but they were old so we thought it was old age. I noticed the feathers on their backs seem to be a lot lighter than usual now the rooster is suck but he is not old he stretches his leg out the back of his body as if he is stretching and turns his head to the side all the time he also just stands in one place for a long time. Help please

ChickenHouses (author) from North Central Florida on May 14, 2012:

did you worm them? Chickens get worms all the time, I worm my chickens 3 times a year.

knowlymnenke on May 10, 2012:

Ihave my chickens which are now 7 weeks but when I sloughter one I see some worms in it's intestines. what might be the cause?

Becky on April 28, 2012:

I have a game hen that showed up last night with warts all over her face, eyes swollen shut. I never seen this before and am wondering did he get stung or is it a disease and what can i do for her?

tracy on April 24, 2012:

have had a few chicks/chickens with lumps on breasts some still alive others have died unexpectantly act normal one day the next found dead with no other symptoms

jd on April 10, 2012:


ChickenHouses (author) from North Central Florida on April 05, 2012:

i'm not a vet, but i would say she was properly egg bound and couldn't get the egg out. don't know what you would do for that

jd on March 31, 2012:

the condition looks rare, in the end, she died, and an organ hung out of her butt, well what looks like an organ, but please answer the question, you never know if you are goin to save another poor chickens life.

jd on March 31, 2012:

i have a chicken which she got a bloody butt, made weird "hehhh"noises, and she thinks she may be laying eggs. it looks like organs are gonna spill out of her own butt.

ChickenHouses (author) from North Central Florida on March 31, 2012:

read the instructions on the package and give bird as directed.

naveed on March 30, 2012:

i use terramycin syrup may be 4 drops using a dropper :) that roo dint make it.. but suddenly another roo hav same problem.. the oly difference,ths roo eats well.. but the oly prob is he makes a lot of sound... lik kinda wheezing :) yet i find this roo much active ... but this respiratory prob makes me cry wenever i see it.. i lost 2 roo of this prob :) i use oxyterramycin... hw much i have to drop it and huch times per day... ? plz reply back soon :) hope ur comments can save a bird...

ChickenHouses (author) from North Central Florida on March 28, 2012:

sounds like respiratory problem , treat all your birds for 5 days with Agrimycin really sick birds isolate them from the others.

ChickenHouses (author) from North Central Florida on March 28, 2012:

I use Agrimycin for my flock. I use it for 5 days and it always seems to clear up the problem. I would treat every bird you have with the antibiotic, and the really sick birds isolate them from the others. You can find Agrimycin

Naveed on March 27, 2012:

My roo hav respiratory probs.... i used some antibiotics like terramycin .... everytime i drop some liquid food into his mouth(he stopped eating ) ,he s having respiratory probs like kinda veezing.... any help????

ChickenHouses (author) from North Central Florida on March 12, 2012:

they have fleas, you need to clean out their brooder box and go to the feed store in your area and ask for the dust that you can use on baby chicks to get rid of fleas or mites. Dust there box and the chicks, and do this a few times a week until you don't see the fleas again

angel :c on March 11, 2012:

my baby broilers are about a week old and they have bald spots on their skin they itch a lot and have little either black or brown tiny spots please help!!!

hamza on February 19, 2012:


chibuike on January 30, 2012:

please what could be the cuase of greenish dropings from a 4 weeks broiler

Sade on January 25, 2012:

At what age do I deworm pullets? And wot is their feed formula

ChickenHouses (author) from North Central Florida on November 13, 2011:

have you wormed them? is there chest bones narrow like a knife blade?

jen on November 12, 2011:

I have had a few chickens deaths over the past 8 months. Two of them were older chickens and they could have been natural. Birds have purplish combs, lethargy and inappetance. Any ideas?

Faithy-may on September 22, 2011:

please help me we just got home and noticed one of my male chickens outside of his pen. he cannot stand and he cannot move his head what should i do?

Jade on April 03, 2011:

I have a chicken that has a lump on her toe. Any idea what it is?

Cherie on January 30, 2011:

I have a 3 year old barred rock that is listless and appears to have diarrhea and loss of appetite. When I first noticed it 3 days ago, I picked her up and a clear yellowish liquid spilled from her beak. I segregated her from the flock, gave her food and water and nothing changed. I put her back with the rest last night and this a.m. she's back under the coop, alone. What could be wrong and what can I do?

jess on January 22, 2011:

i have a two month old chicken that all of a sudden cannot walk he falls forward and his toes curl in what is wrong with the poor fella ??

lopez on December 29, 2010:

roosters digestive system has shut down. think its the wheat in the wheat straw i put in their pens. may have pesticide that is causing this. eventually they get crop bound. omni mycin has been suggested but i believe it is for respiratory ailments.

Diana on December 27, 2010:

I aquired 2 2week old bantam chicks for our family to be pets. A week and a half ago I noticed one was holding its leg behind it almost like it was stretching it. I haven't noticed any obvious fractures or injuries and it is still eating and drinking. It definitely cant move around very well. Now I notice that the toes on both of its feet are turning into almost a fist. I cant imagine how this would be due to injury because they are actually in the house in a large cage with a smooth bottom and no perches.It is housed with one other chick and that one is perfectly fine. They are about 6 weeks old now. Please help! The poor thing is so pathetic and we are making sure it is getting plenty of food and water but if we are prolonging the poor thing's pain I want to know. We have no problem keeping it even if it will be "different" as it is going to be a pet. Thank you I look forward to hearing from you.

john on December 11, 2010:

my chicken

mike on November 19, 2010:

I had a chicken that died, it's head just rolled back as if it had a broken neck , it would stumble in circles if it tried to walk, comb turned grayish red. any idea on what didease it may have had and what to do to prevent future illness ? thank you

judy mulford on October 24, 2010:

I have 4 banty chickens 2 of which have a terible smelling browmish loose stools.

ChickenHouses (author) from North Central Florida on August 20, 2010:


your chickens have eyeworm. you need to separate them from your flock and go to the farm store and buy Vet Rx follow the instructions that should work for you. research eye worm in chickens on the internet

steve on August 20, 2010:

I have two chi kens eyes r swolen and liquid comino out

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