Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian. I do apologize that your question was not answered before now, but different experts do come online at different times. Anyway, I have just come online, read about poor Hilda, and do want to offer some guidance to what we may be facing for her.
Now as I am sure you can appreciate, when a bird demonstrates respiratory signs like Hilda, we do have a few considerations. Specifically, we can see a wide range of agents cause respiratory disease in out hens like Acute Fowl Cholera (Pasteurella multocida), Influenza, ILT IRT, infectious bronchitis, and mycoplasma (Mycoplasma gallisepticum). Furthermore, we can see localized throat based disease cause similar signs due to Trichomoniasis (canker), Fowl pox (wet form causes canker lesions in the throat) and Syngamus trachea (gape worm) infestations.
Now in regards XXXXX XXXXX approach here, you will be limited with what you can do at home. That said, if you have not wormed her recently, then you could consider doing so to rule out parasitic causes (ideally using a good broad spectrum like Flubenvet) for her signs.
Further to this, supportive care is that key facet that we need to make sure you are addressing. For example, if you think she sounds congested and is sneezing profusely, then you can consider using a bit of steam treatment here. You can achieve this by putting her in a carrier in the bathroom while you run a hot shower. Or if you have a nebulizer/humidifier you can set up a wee steam tent for her (by putting her in a carrier and covering it and the humidifier with a bed sheet). This can just help reduce some of those airway clogging secretions.
If she seems chilled, you can also consider providing some warmth via a heat lamp or pad (but only if her pen is large enough that you can warm half with the heating pad under it, and room for her to move if she gets too warm). Alternatively, you can use a clean sock, and fill it 2/3 with uncooked white rice. Tie it closed and microwave (approx 1-1.5 min). Make sure to shake it before adding it to the cage, to allow the heat to distribute. Make sure its not too hot (as we don’t want to burn her). If it cools, you can re-warm as required).And of course no matter which heat source you use, you do want to keep a close eye to make sure she doesn't get overheated.
If Hilda live with other birds, then you do want to consider relocating her to an isolation pen. This will limit disease spread, prevent her from being bullied or pecked by the other hens, and allow you to have a close eye on her. And monitoring her is important because we need to keep a close ey eon her appetite and drinking at this stage (since this will be the building blocks for her immune system to fight this bug and dehydration can make them feel even more poorly). So, if you are monitoring and her fluid and nutrition intake is on the decline, then we do want to initiate tempting, hand feeding or even syringe feeding at this stage
As I am sure you can appreciate, dehydration can weaken a bird and contribute to worsening illness and cause additional issues. In regards XXXXX XXXXX intake, we want her water intake to be ~ ½ a cup daily. While you are keeping an eye on this, you also want to monitor her for signs of dehydration (skin tenting or sunken eyes). To maintain hydration, in a drinking bird, you can offer water with electrolytes instead of plain water. There are readily available electrolyte solutions available on the market (ie. Vi-tal) or you can use Pedialyte or diluted Gatorade (diluted 50/50 with water). You can offer these in a bowl or if she aren't drinking then you can administer fluids (and hand feeding) via towel restraining and a syringe or dropper. Wrap bird “burrito style” and hold securely upright in lap. You can drip water on top of the beak, as reflex will cause them to catch the droplets with their tongue. (some will even drink from the syringe directly). In doing this, do make sure not to get water into the nares.
Feeding wise, offer favorite foods. You can also get Nutrical paste to supplement her diet (either mixed in food, water, or via syringe) which will provide extra calories or nutrition. Offer fresh foods, high in nutrition and water content like cucumbers, Romaine, grapes, melon, oranges, etc. Hard boiled eggs mashed shell and all are extremely nutritious and delicious to birds and cous cous, pancakes, and cooked brown rice is good for them too.
If you are comfortable hand feeding birds you can make a handfeeding paste with handfeeding powder (ie Nupreen Hand Feeding Formula) and your electrolyte solution. Ideally, if you haven’t hand fed a chicken before, you should have your vet show you how to do this safely (as aspiration is a serious risk that is best avoided). Do monitor the crop by gently palpating to make sure its emptying into the gut, (normally 2-3 hours post eating). If it feels more like a hard tennis ball, that is an indication of dehydration and crop impaction or crop stasis. Give fluids and massage crop. But if it doesn’t improve, then veterinary intervention may be required.
Overall, there are a range of agents that can be to blame for the signs you are seeing with wee Hilda. Therefore, we do want to be proactive and get this under control for her as quickly as possible. If she hasn't been wormed recently, then you may want to consider worming her to remove those from our concern list. Further to that, you do want to monitor her closely and provide supportive care as needed. Finally, since we cannot address bacteria or viruses at home, it would be ideal to get a local vet involved at this stage. They will be able to examine her, and possible culture a sample of her airway discharge to identify this causative agent. Depending on their findings, they will be able to dispense the appropriate treatment to clear this for her and advise you on how to protect any other birds in your household.
Finally, in regards XXXXX XXXXX a poultry vet near you, you can check http://www.aav.org/search/, Avian web (LINK) or http://poultrykeeper.com/poultry-vets. Furthermore, you can check the RCVS register (LINK) by selecting for avian specific vets.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
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