Opal On The Mend

This morning Opal was no longer standing hunched in a corner. She was out and about with the flock.



Her eyes were open enough that she could see her way to the font and have a drink of medicated water, which means I won’t have to dose her today – a relief for both of us. What’s odd about this disease is that one side of the head is more affected than the other. The first day, when perhaps only one hen is stricken, you’ll find her with one eye clear, but the other shut. It does at first appear to be an eye injury, or perhaps a wasp sting? But at the end of 24 hours, listen, and you’ll hear mucus-clogged breathing. Some hens in your flock might not be affected at all, and some, get hit hard and like Opal, will die within a day if not attended to. Fortunately for my flock, the symptoms burst on the scene just hours before I left on vacation. If I’d gone, there would be four or five dead hens right now. But, luck was with them. My plans were flexible. I could stay home and care for my chickens. Still, it was touch and go for Opal, which is why this morning I was so very pleased to see that she was able to open both eyes to stride outside with the flock. She’s definitely on the way to recovery. But my work is not entirely done. Her left eye doesn’t stay open for long. I squirted another bit of terramycin on it. Onyx’s eye, too, needed some care.

closed eye


But, that’s no big deal. I thought that I might lose one or two, or more, hens to this outbreak, and they will all recover. And so far, despite it being extremely contagious, the pullets are fine. What a relief.

I’m doing research into when, after being medicated with antibiotics, that their eggs will be safe to eat. It’s taking some time and sleuthing, but I’ve found some research and science-based guidelines. Stay tuned for that post.


  1. So glad everyone is on the mend. Thank you so much for sharing, all your post are so helpful with my own little flock. Do you have any ideas on what maybe could be done to keep the outbreak from happening. And also what kind of antibiotics did you give your girls?

  2. Hi Terry…….I’m very much enjoying your blog. I’ve never understood the need for blogs before until now. I found your website because I was looking up unwell chickens and you popped up. It was too late for my barred rock, but I will knowv what to do in future. I live in BC Canada we had a very wet couple of weeks followed immediately by a heat wave the weather was very hot and humid. Then one of my older chickens got sick. I wasn’t sure whether it was an infection of some sort because non of the others were affected. Or just old age.
    Good news about your flock. You have some good tips. I will continue to read your blogs. Nice web cam too.
    Than you for all your hard work putting this altogether for us to enjoy and learn

  3. Hi Terry – I’m so glad to hear they’re all on the mend. Thank goodness for your experience and expertise! They are certainly lucky birds. And it’s nice to know that such a special flock is able to stay together. I can’t remember if you mentioned it earlier, but I’m curious to know – do you have any idea of where the infection may have come from? Just something soil-borne that’s always around waiting for a chance to infect a hen, or do you think it may have come from somewhere else?

  4. Opal had a lot of people pulling for her! I’m so glad she’s going to be ok!!

  5. Do you find that hens develop an immunity for these kinds of infections over time?

    • Yes, the older hens rarely get sick – but I’ve read that they can be carriers and if stressed can shed infections to others. This is another reason to be very careful about bringing mature birds into your flock. Even seemingly healthy hens can bring in disease and a quarantine period. won’t always show protect you.

  6. Oh, how I wish that you made house calls! We’ve lost two hens this summer, which I thought was due to being egg-bound. Now we have another hen who’s been hunched in the corner with tail down and not doing much. Her eyes don’t seem to be swollen, but she does have them closed. I just wish I knew how to fix them! We have close to 40 hens, and the ones having trouble are 3 years old. They free range (no pen of any kind) and are locked up at night. Now I’m wondering if critters are bringing in disease or something. Oh, my!

    And so glad you know how to treat your flock! I’m learning from you, but have a long way to go! And I’m sure your hens are extremely grateful for your help! :)

  7. This is the best news – I’m so happy for all of you at Little Pond Farm!

  8. So happy to read your news. On a lighter note: Is that a bunny blocking the door to the little barn???

  9. Good.
    The better news is they should all have built up a good immunity to this bug.

  10. I don’t know how chicken’s respiratory tracts are built but perhaps there is more clogging on one side than the other, more infection manifesting, hence the one eye more than the other problem at first? Glad health has returned to the flock.

  11. We were really pulling for all the hens but especially Opal and I am so glad to read that they’re all doing better! They’re very lucky to have such a caring person looking out for them!