Herbal Rx: 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.

Herbal Rx: Natural Remedies for Respiratory Issues in Chickens

Normally, antibiotics are recommended for respiratory issues if you visit a vet, 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.

Natural Remedies to Try

  • 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 or rinsing out debris.
    • 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.
    • 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.

    **Note: If you suspect respiratory issues, increase the ACV ratio to 2-4 Tablespoons/gallon of water instead of the normal 1 Tablespoon.


    VetRx for Natural Respiratory Relief

    Another option which is even more convenient, and super effective 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 VetR prior to the show as a preventative against them catching anything as they are exposed to other birds.

    How to Adminster VetRx

    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.

    VetRx and the Goodwinol Products Corporation sells 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.)

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    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.

    Treat your flock to Fresh Eggs Daily® feed supplements! 

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