Chicken Sneezing: Identify, Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Just like people, chickens can get sick, catch a cold, and sneeze. While sneezing is not always a reason to worry, it’s essential to make sure that everything is right with your furry little friends. Let’s learn how to prevent and identify chicken sneezing and what are some potential causes and treatments. 

How To Identify Chicken Sneezing

Chicken sneezing is not difficult to identify as they sound like any other animal sneezing, except they tend to make a high-pitched sound. You should check up on your chickens at least twice a day, and if you hear even one chicken sneezing, you should immediately take action and try to see what caused it. While it can be just dust, it can also be a viral disease that could infect your whole flock.

Causes of Chicken Sneezing

Irritated Nose 

sneezing chicken

Sneezing is just a body’s mechanism of clearing out the airways of dust and particles that can irritate our noses and get into the lungs. The same is with chickens. If they live in a dusty barn, they may sneeze more often because they need to clear out their air paths more often.

Chickens can also experience sneezing when temperatures change abruptly. They have sensitive airways, and during the spring, pollen can irritate them and make them sneeze. Another reason they might sneeze is because of the food they eat.

Their nose is very close to their beak, so some particles may go into nostrils, and the irritation can cause sneezing. Neither of the cases is a cause for concern. If sneezing is accompanied with other symptoms, you should take immediate action to make sure the potential disease is diagnosed and treated properly. 

Bird Flu

chickens sneezing

Bird flu is a potentially fatal disease that can also affect humans, so you should be especially on the lookout for the symptoms that might appear. It is not very common, but one of the symptoms can be sneezing.

Some other symptoms that usually occur are a decrease in the production of eggs, diarrhea, nasal discharge, swelling of the head, combs and wattles, and an overall change in the behavior of the chickens. They may become lethargic and lose appetite.

If you see any of these symptoms, you should take your bird to a vet as soon as possible. As it can affect humans, watch out for any unusual signs that may appear so you can get treatment right away if needed.

Mycoplasma Gallisepticum

chicken sneeze

This is a bacterial disease that is common in chickens. Its symptoms are sneezing, wheezing, coughing, nasal discharge, watery eyes, and reduced appetite that can lead to weight loss. If you notice these symptoms in any of your chickens, make sure to separate them from the rest of the flock, as this disease can spread around relatively easily. 

Infectious Coryza

Infectious Coryza is another disease caused by a bacterium. The symptoms that first appear are usually sneezing and coughing. Chickens may have trouble breathing, and they will not eat regularly or at all.

Their faces can swell, and conjunctivitis may appear. It is not deadly, but it is highly infectious, as the name itself tells us. It’s crucial to separate the chickens with these symptoms from the rest of the flock as soon as you notice them. 



Colibacillosis is an E. Coli infection that can cause damage to the respiratory tract of chickens. Apart from sneezing and coughing, chickens can become unresponsive, and they may refuse to eat food and drink water. This bacterium can cause digestion problems, too, so your chickens might get watery diarrhea.

Infectious Bronchitis Virus

sneezing chickens

This is a highly contagious virus that affects poultry. The first symptoms are usually sneezing and coughing. If a chicken is infected, you may hear wheezing, and you can notice a discharge from the nose. They can have trouble breathing. Those infected with this virus can have watery eyes, and they may refuse to eat and drink. 

Newcastle Disease

can chickens sneeze

Newcastle disease is an infectious disease that can be deadly if not treated promptly. The symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases – sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, diarrhea, and lethargy. It’s important to diagnose it as soon as possible because it can cause paralysis and eventually death if left untreated.


Parasitic gapeworm is a parasite that lives in the trachea of chickens. It blocks their airways, and chickens will sneeze and cough relentlessly to try and get rid of it. However, it’s not that easy.

chicks sneezing

Gameworms can grow bigger and take more and more space for the windpipes of chickens, eventually suffocating them if left untreated. If you notice your chickens are sneezing, coughing, and having trouble breathing, take them to a vet as soon as possible. 

Infectious Laryngotracheitis

Ťhis is another highly contagious respiratory illness that can affect chickens. It is caused by the herpes virus. The symptoms include sneezing, coughing, serious trouble breathing, nasal discharge, watery eyes, and conjunctivitis. It can be deadly if it is not treated, but if you notice the symptoms on time and treat the chickens, they can recover gradually.

Prevention and Treatment Of Chicken Sneezing

chicken sneezing

Coop Hygiene and Ventilation

It’s of absolute importance to keep the place where your chickens live nice and clean. If their coop is dirty and not cleaned often enough, the dust can cause chickens to sneeze a lot, making them very uncomfortable.

Some diseases can spread through chickens’ feces, like Newscastle disease, so make sure that doesn’t happen. Feces also emit ammonia that can cause respiratory infections in chickens, and it’s not exactly pleasant for humans either. It’s also very important to ventilate the coop properly. They should get plenty of air and oxygen, and it will reduce the chances of them sneezing. 


Vaccination is probably the easiest and the most important way to prevent many respiratory diseases, like Newcastle disease, Infectious Bronchitis, and Infectious Laryngotracheitis. Make sure to vaccinate your whole flock as soon as the vaccine should be administered. Vaccinating the flock can save you and your chickens so much trouble and worry.


If you introduce new chickens to your flock, you should quarantine them for two weeks to a month. Put them in a different place because they may have some infectious disease that is yet to show symptoms. You will protect your other chickens, and it will be easier for you to watch the new ones closely for any signs that may appear. 

Sun Exposure 

my chicken is sneezing

Sun is an excellent source of Vitamin D, and it is as important for chickens as it is for us. Exposing them to the sun during the day will not only help them lay good eggs more easily, but it will boost their immunity and prevent some potential illnesses that could damage their health.

The coop itself doesn’t have to be sunny, but you should allow your chickens to run around in the backyard for a few hours per day. 

Isolate Chickens With Symptoms

As soon as you notice any symptoms of the respiratory disease, like sneezing, you should isolate the chicken(s) that show it. Provide them with immediate medical attention because it is better to be safe than sorry. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for keeping your whole flock healthy and safe. 

Diet and Water Intake

Your chickens should be fed high-quality and fresh food. Follow the dietary requirements the chickens need to have according to their age. They should be getting enough protein, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals that are important for their health.

Another thing that is important to mention is that you should regularly change their water. Having a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fresh water can boost their immune system and reduce the chances of respiratory diseases in chickens. 


chicken sneezing

When it comes to the diseases that are caused by bacteria, antibiotic treatment can help eliminate the bacteria from the organism and gradually reduce the symptoms. Depending on what stage the condition is, treatment can last from a few days to a few weeks until the chickens are fully recovered.

Some vets will recommend taking antibiotics even if chickens have a virus. Although antibiotics don’t work on viruses, they can prevent secondary bacterial diseases, which bodies are prone to get when the immunity is lowered.

Take Care of Your Chickens 

Chickens are not very difficult to maintain. They don’t need a lot of company and care, but you should make sure to take care of them properly and regularly.

Apart from cleaning their coop, ventilating the space they live in, letting them run around in Sun, and vaccinating them, you should spend some time with them every day. You will get to know how they normally behave, so you will be able to notice any irregularities in their behavior, like sneezing. 


While sneezing in chickens is usually not a reason to be concerned, it can be serious if accompanied by other symptoms. Proper care and prevention are crucial, but if you notice your chickens sneezing, you should make sure what causes it so you can prevent any respiratory disease that may occur. 


chicken sneezing

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