Monday, April 29, 2013

Natural Remedies for Respiratory Issues in Chickens


Chickens have extremely complex lung and respiratory systems. That can unfortunately lead to problems affecting their breathing that can be difficult to diagnose and treat.  Some signs of respiratory distress are labored breathing, wheezing, watery eyes or nostrils, shaking the head, squeaking noises, sneezing or coughing.



Normally, antibiotics are recommended but I prefer to try the holistic route first (naturally!) and have never had to administer antibiotics to my flock for any respiratory issues.  I am able to treat respiratory problems quickly and effectively and head them off before they become a real problem using just some herbs, natural remedies and a wonderful all-natural product.

So don't be too quick to reach for antibiotics. Often times these symptoms turn out to be nothing more serious than dust or debris in the eyes or sinus cavities, something lodged in the throat, or even the result of rough mating.  If you notice a hen coughing, sneezing or breathing heavy, first try massaging her throat and giving her a drink of water mixed with some olive oil.  A squirt of saline solution in each eye several times a day can help ease the symptoms simply by clearing out the sinuses. 

Adding a fresh garlic clove (you can squash it between your fingers first to break it up a bit) and some apple cider vinegar to their water is also beneficial. If you suspect respiratory issues, increase the acv ratio to 2-4 Tablespoons/gallon of water instead of the normal 1 Tablespoon.


Basil, clover, dill and thyme all also have positive effects on the respiratory system.  Try chopping up the fresh herbs (or using dried if fresh is not available) and sprinkling a bit of ground cinnamon on top, then offering it to your hens free-choice or mixed into their feed.


Another option which is even more convenient, and which I use in conjunction with the herbs, is to administer VetRx. VetRx is a commercially available product that I highly recommend and use with my own flock.  It is an all-natural remedy for not only respiratory problems, but also scaly leg mites and eyeworm.  And if you show your chickens, it is beneficial to treat them with VetRx prior to the show as a preventative against them catching anything as they are exposed to other birds.

~photo courtesy Yvette and Chanel~
A squirt in each nostril (or apply to the nostrils using a q-tip), or a few drops under each wing before bedtime so when your hen tucks her head to sleep she breathes in the vapors, is a very safe and effective way to treat sinus problems and respiratory infection.  VetRx can also be added directly to the drinking water.

I keep a bottle of VetRx in our Chicken First Aid Kit at all times.  At even a hint of labored breathing or blinking eyes, I add some VetRx to the drinking water for several days. I have never had to do more than that and have never had a hen develop a serious respiratory illness.  It's safe to use on chickens, ducks, chicks and ducklings.


That's why we are so excited to introduce VetRx and the Goodwinol Products Corporation as our newest sponsor. This is a product that we trust and stand behind 100%, having used it not only with our chickens and ducks for the past several years, but also on our dogs.  (They also sell similar products for cats, goats, horses, sheep and other animals.)



Note: Symptoms that don’t clear up in a week or two, or continue to get worse despite your treatment could signal a potentially serious illness and the advice of a veterinarian should be sought.






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29 comments:

  1. My chickens appear to have respitory issues going on..hoarseness, wheezing, head twitching...but otherwise fine. Egg production has decreased some. I got some VET Rx but have not seen any directions relative to frequency of applications.

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    1. Mine is down at the barn and its dark and pouring out - but I believe the exp date is like at least two years from now.

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  3. how much in the water? I just found out about Vet Rx and applied with a Q tip on my silkie Sidney and believe it helped him immensely. Now Wynonna, a silver laced wynadotte, is in the house, wheezing like crazy but other wise acting totally normal. The vet prescribed 1.5 ml of Tribrissin 2x daily, which I've been doing for a week with no change. started the Vet Rx this AM in addition to the Tribrissin. She's eating like a champ, laying eggs, and is feisty as all get out. I don't really think she is sick but just has this pesky wheezing. would love to get her back in the coop and stop throwing away her lovely eggs! Love all your extremely informative and helpful chicken tips!!

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    1. I just add a few drops. If you know who your patient is, I think a bit on the nostrils with a q-tip is alot more effective, but a few drops in the water can help head off any problems with the others.

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  4. thanks! I do know and she's in the house and I put some on her nares and will do so 2x daily

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  5. Good info to know! Thanks for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again tomorrow!
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/05/the-homeacre-hop-18.html

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  6. ? Can you use vegetable oil instead of olive oil? Can you use regular vinegar instead of ACV? Can you use dried/powdered garlic instead of fresh? Thanks.

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    1. You can for sure use vegetable oil instead of olive oil. But only Apple Cider Vinegar has the benefits - not regular white vinegar. I only use white vinegar for cleaning. You can use garlic powder instead - I do add that to our flock's daily feed, but to treat something that you're seeing symptoms of, I would use the fresh - its more potent and will give you a better result.

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  7. If you are giving ACV and increase to 2 to 4 tabs a gallon... Do you do it every day or still twice a week? I have a Leghorn that is wheezing but eating and acting fine... Giving her yogurt with the herbs in them, along with food with molasses... Is there anything else I can do for her? I Thank you in advance for your help!! I love your site... Just found out it and I am reading EVERYTHING!!!! Thank you for the great site!! It is very helpful.

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    1. Hi Mary. Welcome! There is a tab at the top name The Ultimate Chicken Care Guide that organizes everything that you will love! If you are treating wheezing, I would do the acv every day until the symptoms abate. The rest sounds good. Give her a few days and I'm sure she will be fine.

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    2. Thank you so much!!! Thank you for getting back to me so quick!!! Really it is a wonderful site and I am learning sooo much for your site!! I am thrilled that I found it!!!

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    3. You just happened to catch me before I started dinner! Respiratory issues are fairly common and usually easy to cure. Keep me posted. And don't forget to check out my new book Fresh Eggs Daily on amazon.com or at Barnes & Noble.

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  8. I shall check out your books! I am sure they are worth it with all the information! I now think I have another with a respiratory issue going on... So I am going to get the Vet RX tomorrow and treat the whole flock... I am treating them with herbs, garlic, molasses and acv... But it seems one more is getting sick every couple of days... So I figure better safe than sorry! I appreciate your help with this matter greatly!

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  9. Hi. Any alternatives for VetRX? It doesn't seem to be available in the UK :(. One of my Pekins is squeaking!

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    1. Yes just use the garlic, ACV and herbs. They should do the trick.

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  10. Hii. Just to say thanks for the herbal remedies. My Pekin bantam, Periwinkle is now fine and squeak free! x Thanks sooo much xx

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    1. Oh that's wonderful! The natural remedies DO work and the best part is you don't need to worry about misdiagnosing or treating them all because its all natural and won't hurt if you treat someone who's not sick - it just helps boos their immune system! That's great! Happy dance for you!

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  11. Great article. I pinned it! I did want to double check on one thing. When treating the flock with VetRX...is it ok to still eat the eggs seeing as it is all natural? Thanks for your time.

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    1. Correct. No withdrawal period which is why I LOVE using natural remedies. In fact, I keep VetRX on hand all the time and at the first sign of a sniffle or sneeze, I add it to the water so nothing ever develops worse than that!

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  12. Would you treat a 5 day old chick the same way?

    One of our chicks is sneezing and it's breathing seems labored. It is my daughter's favorite chick. I have caught her taking the chick out of the brooder several times. I am concerned it has caught a bug or gotten too cold.

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    1. Hi Heather,I would.Lots of fresh herbs plus garlic and oregano for overall immune system boosts. I've never given a chick VetRX but I dont see why you couldn't.

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  13. Thanks for sharing.This helps a lot to know just what to do and what not to do!! essential oils, baby

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  14. How much garlic clove do you add? Do you give it daily?

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  15. Thanks for sharing on Homestead Blog Hop. We usually add apple cider vinegar to their water every Sunday. We will be sure to add a garlic clove next time. I love natural remedies for our home and farm.

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Lisa of Fresh Eggs Daily
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