Friday, March 30, 2012

Polish Eyes

I have found that the worst part of owning chickens so far is that there is nowhere to bring them when they are sick and nowhere to call when you have questions.  I have quite the reputation for diagnosing myself with various diseases thanks to my dear friend Google and FINALLY it seems as though all of my 2:00am searches are paying off.  The internet seems to be a great companion when your chickens are sick, sick children and husbands, not so much.  Anyway, for the past week we have been noticing that Janis, one of our silver laced Polish chicks,  seems to be blind.  Her eyes squint and appear to be hallow and watery  We've been joking around that she looks stoned (hence the name), but brushed it off thinking she was fine as she had been eating, drinking and acting as though she was perfectly healthy.  None of the other birds were picking on her and we figured if she was blind, so be it!  Janis the blind, stoned, Polish chicken....I mean how much more ridiculous can one chicken be?!

This, is Janice

Silver Laced Polish Chick Eye Worm Conjunctivitis

Within the next few days we began to notice that Janis was spending most of her time with her face pressed into the corner of the brooder or laying around under the heat lamp.  On more than one occasion I have walked in to check on everyone and have found her laying flat as a pancake under the heat lamp and have thought she was dead,  but as soon as she heard me she would pop up. To make a long story short Autumn and I decided to do a photo shoot of the birds now that they are a bit bigger and when we put our other silver laced polish chick up on the chair I noticed that its eye was.....swollen.

This is Willie

silver laced polish chick conjunctivitis eye worm

For how long, I am not sure.  Even now knowing that he is having issues with his eye I would never know. Like Janis, he acts totally normal and he turns himself so that he is only looking with his good eye making it almost impossible to see the other.  So now we have a problem and I have no idea what to do.  I started my research and came across a thread in Back Yard Chickens that led me to my first diagnosis: conjunctivitis.  Best treatment I seemed to have found: saline spray to clean the eye and an application of Neosporin three times a day, separate sick chicks immediately from healthy chicks and keep the brooder clean.  Method of treatment: FAIL. Absolutely no signs of improvement.  Next diagnosis: infectious coryza.  After posting some pictures of the birds on Back Yard Chickens,  some people offered up the advice that this is what it looked like. Commonly considered a "cold" this diagnosis almost put me over the edge and led me to a bottle of Xanax.  Why?  From what I've read, once your chickens have coryza and should they make a full recovery (which by the way can take up to TWELVE WEEKS) they are carriers for life. Meaning that every chicken you bring into your flock will potentially get a "cold" and will either live or die, but nonetheless be sick.  The one thing that made me think twice about this diagnosis was that there is supposedly a very foul smelling odor that comes from a bird infected with coryza.  Sounds like fun! Nervously I ventured out to the garage, picked up Janis and....I can't believe I'm about to do this....smelled her face.  Nothing.  I stuck my nose in the brooder, nothing.  With some feeling of relief I came inside and decided to email Farmer Travis(the guy we bought them from) some of the pictures,  ask for his thoughts.  I figured that if it was in fact coryza, not only would it be running ramped through his flock, but he would know what to do. While waiting for his response, my aunt suggested we go right away to the Tractor Supply and buy some antibiotic to put in the sick and healthy chicks drinking water to keep whatever it was at bay.  This makes me uneasy because while I don't know much about poultry, I do have to small children and I avoid antibiotics at all costs.  This is the moment I really wish I knew more about what I was doing.  When I buy eggs at the store I make sure they have no hormones, antibiotics, etc. and now I'm administering antibiotics for something I don't even know if they have.  What am I doing?! In the meantime I receive an email from farmer Travis and he says he hasn't the slightest idea of what is going on.  He said that he hasn't have any outbreaks in his flock and suggested to treat with antibiotics, separate and cull if the issue doesn't resolve.  Hearing the news about his chickens makes me feel better about ours but I'm still left with not knowing what is going on.   Diagnosis: who the hell knows?  Treatment: antibiotics.  The next day I receive a response to a picture I posted of Janice on Facebook.  The responder suggests that it looks like eye worm.  Researching pictures it sure does! Research shows that it is caused by a small white worm that lodges itself into the corner of the chicken's eye resulting in swollen, inflamed and watery eyes.  Lovely! Possible diagnosis at this point: eye worm.  Treatment: seems as tough the most widely used treatment is VetRx.  According to the instructions, the treatment of eye worm involves dipping a qtip in a a warm bottle of VetRx and applying it into the cleft inside of the birds mouth until the liquid comes from the nose holes.  Easy enough and hoping this will do the trick.  Back to Tractor Supply we go.

I gave the chicks a treatment of the VetRx last night and couldn't see much of a difference this morning, but if anything it isn't getting worse.  Gave them another treatment this morning, so we will see how they are tomorrow. Both are still eating, drinking and alert and at this point I am just feeling puzzled and frustrated.  Good news is that none of the other birds seem to be affected by anything.  And we still have one Polish from the four that appears to be healthy and is still in with the other birds.  I am giving this until next Friday at which point we are going to discuss other options.  Here's to hoping!

This is what Janis thinks of the entire fiasco 



  1. Hi there,

    I think my hen has it too. What happened after you applied the VetRx? Any improvement? Did you have to physically pop out the worm?

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