The mere mention of it sends shivers through the flock. Infectious bronchitis is the most contagious disease in chickens. 


There are a lot of diseases in chickens, and many are contagious, but this one is “King Contagion.”

Okay So???

What is Infectious Bronchitis in Chickens?

Chicken infectious bronchitis is a coronavirus that affects primarily chickens and a few other species. It is a respiratory illness.

Some symptoms include coughing, sneezing, rattled breathing, and reduced movement due to shortness of breath. 

Sound familiar? Yeah, it sounds just like bronchitis in people. I had it as a child, and I’m here to tell you that it is not fun.

Well, it’s not fun for chickens, either.

Do All Chickens Get It?

As I said, it is the most contagious disease among chickens, so most chickens will get it as it comes on fast and spreads like wildfire.

In the brooder, it is noticeable in chicks, and if you are going to experience mortality, it will be among the young.

Older chickens will catch it, too, but it may be much less noticeable except on the roost at night when you can hear the rattle in their chests.

Older hens, pullets, cockerels, and roosters have a great survival rate.

What Happens to Chickens That Get Infectious Bronchitis?

Pullets that survive the disease will likely show signs of having had it. Their ovaries could be damaged, thus laying eggs at a lesser rate and possibly of lower quality. 

Older hens that have infectious bronchitis will lay fewer eggs of varying quality. Shells could be rough, thinner, and misshapen. Albumen could be watery. 

Chickens that typically lay brown eggs could lay white eggs.

It’s probably not a great idea to hatch eggs from infected hens because the hatch will be poor. The chicks won’t be infected with the virus, but they might not be as healthy.

Chickens that have recovered will still be contagious for several days, and although they will have developed an immunity to the disease for a while, if they are kept near the disease, they will be infected again as their immunity declines.

Here’s some more bad news. There are different strains of infectious bronchitis.

How Can You Treat Infectious Bronchitis?

You can’t, but you can try to prevent it.

If you know of any infections in your area- someone else’s flock is sick- do not go near it or let them near you.

Viruses can be carried on tools, clothing, boots, borrowed equipment, etc. Be careful.

There are vaccines available to treat your flock. You can tell if the vaccine is working by the symptoms shown by vaccinated chickens.

Mild symptoms include coughing and lethargy or listlessness. If no symptoms are observed, another dose can be administered.

Your flock could still contract infectious bronchitis even after vaccination. 


There are several strains, as mentioned earlier, so the vaccine your chickens received may not have included the strain your chickens caught.

Sometimes you just can’t win. If all else fails, you may have to remove your flock, clean the area, including the coop, disinfect everything, and start over with a new flock.

What’s the Conclusion?

Infectious bronchitis in chickens is the most contagious disease that chickens can get. Avoiding it at all costs is the best way to stop it; prevention is better than cure. Cleanliness and awareness are your best friends when it comes to avoidance of the disease.

Even if you do your best, sometimes the virus will sneak in. When that happens, some culling may be in order.

Thanks a lot for reading my post. If you have some experience with infectious bronchitis, let us know about it in the comments below.


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