Eye health in chickens is vitally important. A swollen eye can be a source of discomfort and distress for your chicken, but don’t fret! I’m here to help. Let’s look into the causes, diagnosis, and treatments of chicken swollen eye and ensure our flocks remain healthy and happy.
But first, I’d like to mention that the eyes of a chicken are very complex, and I’d like to tell you all about them, but that’s another post, another time. I’ll surely link this post to that post when the time comes. Ahem… where were we?
Common Causes of Swollen Eyes in Chickens
Not all eye disorders are caused by disease. Can you imagine getting pecked in the eye by a chicken? Can you imagine how it feels as a chicken to get pecked in the eye? Woof! No thanks!
Other non-disease-caused eye problems can result from too much ammonia in the uncleaned coop, dust, debris kicked up by wind or chicken disputes, and loose down flying about to name a few.
While it’s not always easy to pinpoint the exact cause, infections often play a significant role in swollen eyes.
- Look out for symptoms such as discolored discharge or the presence of pus. Common culprits include the likes of Mycoplasma gallisepticum and Escherichia coli.
- Viruses like Infectious Bronchitis or Marek’s disease can affect our feathered friends. Besides eye swellings, respiratory distress is another red flag to watch out for.
An accidental peck from a fellow flock member or a scratch from a protruding nail in the coop can lead to a swollen eye.
Just like us humans, chickens aren’t immune to allergies. Seasonal shifts or new bedding might be the sneaky culprits causing those swollen eyes.
Mites or lice are pesky creatures; if your chicken’s eyes are their playground, it’s time for serious intervention.
Diagnosing the Cause
Before hitting the panic button, here’s what you can do:
- With a friend, gently restrain your chicken, ensuring she’s calm.
- Examine the eye for any visible debris, redness, or unusual discharge.
When to Consult a Vet
A vet visit is in order when home checks aren’t conclusive, or the swelling appears severe. Always better safe than sorry!
Home Remedies for Debris
- Mix 1 teaspoon of salt with a cup of lukewarm water.
- Have a friend hold the chickens head while you prepare to treat.
- Gently dab the solution onto the affected eye using a soft cloth or cotton swab
- Gentle flushing is also an option.
- Soak a clean cloth in warm water.
- Place it over the swollen eye for a few minutes, repeating 2-3 times daily.
For a chicken that will not cooperate, hypnotization is possible.
How to Hypnotize a Chicken
There are a few ways to do this. The first way is the easiest and, therefore, the least effective, but it’s a good place to start.
- Turn the chicken over on its back. If that doesn’t work, then…
- Gently stroke from between the chicken’s wattles, down its chest, and between the legs. Try this several times, and if it doesn’t work, then…
- Tuck the chicken’s head under one of its wings, hold it firmly, and swing it back and forth in a three-foot arc or whatever the natural arc of your swing is until the chicken stops fighting you. You are essentially rocking it to sleep.
Using these techniques can make your treatment efforts much easier.
Over-the-counter (OTC) Solutions
Eye drops made explicitly for poultry can work wonders. And for those pesky mites? Anti-parasitic sprays are your best bet.
If the swelling persists, prescribed antibiotics or antiviral medications from a vet might be necessary.
Let’s have a look at some problems, causes, and treatments.
|Black Eye||Trauma or infection||Consult a vet, isolate, and monitor|
|Blindness||Age, trauma, Marek’s disease, cataracts||Supportive care, safe environment, and vet consultation|
|Bloodshot||Infection, trauma||Identify cause, isolate, vet consult|
|Cheesy||Mycoplasma gallisepticum||Antibiotics, isolation, and cleaning|
|Cloudy||Cataracts, infection||Consult vet, might need supportive care or surgery for cataracts|
|Distorted||Genetic anomalies, trauma||Safe environment, consult vet if related to illness|
|Dull||Malnutrition, age||Balanced diet, vitamins, safe space|
|Foamy||Infectious bronchitis, Mycoplasma||Antibiotics or antiviral meds, vet consult|
|Gray||Aging, cataracts||Supportive care, possible surgery for cataracts|
|Irregular Shape||Trauma, genetic issues||Safe environment, consult vet if needed|
|Mucus Discharge||Respiratory infection, Mycoplasma||Clean eyes, vet consult, antibiotics or antiviral meds|
|Scabby||Avian pox, pecking injuries||Keep clean, avian pox vaccine, safe environment|
|Sticky||Infection, Mycoplasma||Clean eyes, vet consult, antibiotics|
|Sunken||Dehydration, malnutrition||Fluids, balanced diet, consult vet|
|Swollen||Trauma, sinusitis, infection||Identify cause, consult vet, isolate and monitor|
|Watery||Irritants, respiratory infections||Clean eye, identify cause, and if persistent, consult vet|
Prevention is Better than Cure
There are three things that I can think of that are harder to do than to hold a chicken’s head still for treatment. They are poking a hole in water, lassoing the wind, and resisting to buy more baby chicks.
To avoid having to catch and hold a chicken, prevention is definitely the easiest way to go.
Keeping the Coop Clean
Regular sweeps and ensuring a dry environment can prevent a multitude of issues. Keeping manure levels down saves a lot of headaches by reducing the ammonia threat.
Don’t throw the manure away, though. Chicken manure is great for composting.
Safe Free-Ranging Practices
When your birds are out and about, ensure they’re in a secure area free from hazards.
Regular Health Checks
Regular once-overs can catch potential problems before they become significant issues. Make it a habit to watch your chickens for unusual behaviors. Hiding from the light is a pretty good indicator of eye sensitivity.
Chicken eye health shouldn’t be taken lightly. By being observant and proactive, we can ensure our birds live comfortably. Here’s to clear eyes and happy hens!
Thanks for reading. Have a great day, and enjoy your flock.