Causes for Chickens Making Snoring or Honking Noises

When our chickens are making snoring, wheezing, or honking noises it can be quite scary. Everyone who has kept chickens is familiar with the variety of different noises they can produce. In fact, chickens can make between 24 and 30 distinctive sounds. Most of them signal various everyday activities, such as mutual communication, happy cackling when they lay an egg, grumbling and growling of a broody hen, or noises alarming of potential danger. So, a large majority of chicken calls are no cause for concern.

However, some of the sounds your chicken produces can be a sign of underlying health issues. Similar to people, chicken snoring noise, honking, wheezing, honking, or sneezing usually point to difficulties your bird may have while breathing. With these symptoms, the chicken has likely contracted a respiratory system disease or infection. These diseases are best treated when diagnosed early.

Otherwise, some of them may even cause death, and even worse contaminate other members of your flock. These diseases have similar symptoms, much like those mentioned above, accompanied by watery eyes, panting, swollen face, and loss of stamina.

Detecting the threat on time may not just save the chicken showing these symptoms, but the whole flock. For that reason, it’s very important to be able to figure out what’s happening with your chicken and undertake the right course of action.


Which Diseases Cause Chicken to Snore, Sneeze, or Honk


There are several variants of the Mycoplasma disease with Mycoplasma gallisepticum being the most common. It’s caused by bacteria that exist in the environment, so most of the chickens are likely to contract it at one time or another.

Fortunately, it doesn’t always necessarily cause a serious problem as some chickens seem to have good a good resistance to Mycoplasma. The bacteria usually lead to disease when the chicken is already stressed or have some other infection. The young chickens recently added to the flock are the most susceptible to this disease due to the stress of moving to the new environment. Since the bacteria is carried by wild birds, free-range chickens are the most exposed.

The first outbreak in the flock is always the most serious, while the subsequent ones are milder. The bad news is that once infected, birds become infectious carriers for life. When the disease takes hold, the infection can spread through the flock very quickly.

The most common symptoms of Mycoplasma are sneezing, foamy and watery eyes, and swollen sinuses. Sometimes chicken’s joints swole, causing lameness. Vets usually recommend treating Mycoplasma with soluble Tylosin or other antibiotics such as Tylan or Baytril.


Infectious Bronchitis

Infectious Bronchitis is caused by a very infectious type of coronavirus. It doesn’t only cause significant respiratory issues for chickens, but also a drop in egg production and softer, misshapen, oddly colored shells. Unlike Mycoplasma it doesn’t infect chicks via egg.

Young birds contracting Infectious Bronchitis may harm their reproductive ability for life causing them to lay the egg internally due to the damaged oviduct. this can further cause internal bacteria inflammation.

This disease has several symptoms including wet eyes and nasal areas, altered eggshells, labored breathing, and chicken wet sneezing. You may notice distinct breathing noises at night, while the bird is resting. At the moment there’s no treatment for Infectious Bronchitis, but there’s a vaccine available.

If there’s a suspected secondary infection, you may try treating chicken with antibiotics.


Newcastle Disease

Mild strains of Newcastle disease are rather common while the more deadly ones are mostly present in Asian countries. In most cases, isolating infected birds on time can help prevent mortality among your flock. The Newcastle Disease equally affect the bird of all ages and can also be transmitted to other animals and humans. If you’re not careful while handling sick birds, you may get mild conjunctivitis. Adult chickens with this disease often refuse to consume food and water and experience a decrease in egg production.

The chickens carrying the Newcastle Disease can be identified by hoarse chips, nasal honking, gasping, watery nasal discharge, neck twisting, trembling, and facial swelling. The main problem with this disease is that there’s not much you can do in terms of prevention since it can be picked up from almost anywhere. This includes your shoes or the equipment you use while tending to your chickens. The vaccine is available, but it’s only short-term and requires repeated boosters. There’s no specific treatment, other than antibiotics for preventing additional infections.


Crop Diseases

Difficulties while breathing, gurgling, or snoring can also point to a potential crop issue with your chicken. There are several crop diseases, including Impacted Crop, Sour Crop, Pendulous Crop, or Marek’s Disease. The food eaten by a chicken is stored withing is a crop, and these issues can influence food digestion or prevent the bird from emptying its stomach. These diseases can be the result of various causes: infections, worms, improper use of antibiotics, or simply an injury.

The chickens with crop issues are often lethargic, have difficulties turning their heads, and experience weight loss. Usually, treatment is only possible with the assistance of the vet.



Adult Syngamus Trachea worms living in the chicken trachea are what causes this disease. Worm eggs are dropped to the soil along with the chicken feces and often eaten by snails and earthworms. Chickens usually contract the disease by eating these infected snails and earthworms.

The worm larvae go through the intestinal wall and travel through the bloodstream to the lung before eventually settling in the trachea. The chicken carrying this worm coughs a lot, shakes it had, gape, and experience troubles breathing. The worms can grow soo large that you can actually see them in the chicken’s throat.

Gapeworm mostly attacks young birds, up to 8 weeks of age. The prevention mostly consists of regularly applying your worming regime. If the bird gets infected and the worm grows large enough to block breathing channels, ask for the vet’s help. Using Flubenol or Aviverm which can kill adult worms is usually the course of action. Remember that you should treat the whole flock, not just the infected chickens.


How to Prevent Chicken Respiratory Diseases

Respiratory diseases, once they get out of control, can wipe out your entire flock. For that reason, it’s essential that you do everything in your power to prevent them from even happening. Infection, of course, can always get through, no matter what measures you apply, but keeping a properly fed, clean, and comfortable flock can minimize the risks.

Drafty and damp coop, especially in the cold areas, can decrease the chickens’ immunity and make them more susceptible to the infections. A clean and well-ventilated area where your birds spend most of their time is the first line of defense against respiratory diseases.

Keeping the coop dry is also very important. The leaky roof makes for a moist and damp living space which is the perfect breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. Also, the dry feed may get moldy and thus unhealthy. If possible, your chickens should be able to spend at least some time outdoors searching for natural foods and enjoying the fresh air.

Clean your food containers on a regular, since bacteria can build up quickly creating conditions for disease transmission. If you notice any pests in your coop, make sure you use traps or poison that is in no way dangerous to chicken. Pay attention to what you feed your bird with. Their daily diet should contain all of the necessary nutrients and vitamins to make them strong enough to fight off infections for as long as possible. there are available vaccines that can help you manage severe respiratory diseases, so inform yourself and make use of them.


What to Do if Your Chickens Contract Respiratory Disease

Respiratory infections are usually contagious and failing to react properly can cost you all of your flock. If you notice an infected chicken first thing you should do is isolate it. Chickens are social animals, and if the ill bird is left with the flock, pretty soon you’ll have a problem with most of your birds. Isolated chickens should also have their own supply of food and water.

Additionally, offer it vitamin supplements and electrolytes. Make sure you’re carefully monitoring the rest of the flock for any possible symptoms of infection. Listen to their breathing sounds and observe the way they move. Be aware that even when the chicken seems fully recovered, it may still be able to transmit the disease to others. sometimes, for the rest of the chicken’s life.

Sick chickens should be kept warm, hydrated, and well-fed. If the bird has become seriously ill and weak, be prepared to use a dropper or spoon to give it the necessary water. It’s something you may have to do until it fully recovers.

Most of the chicken respiratory diseases require serious medical treatment. Make sure you consult with your vet to decide how to treat the infected birds.

The most common treatment is the broad spectrum of antibiotics with the addition of some probiotics. If the infection is not too far advanced, you can try some natural remedies.