Chicken Eye Closed: Causes + What to Do

Anyone close to chickens will notice that they may have their eyes closed at some point. It is normal for chickens to close one or both their eyelids while resting or sleeping. However, you need to be worried if they are extremely lethargic with their eyes closed.

Diseases like infectious coryza, masons eye worm, and coccidiosis can cause closed eyes in chickens. A chicken’s eye can also remain closed due to injuries, dust particles, and excessive heat in the coop at night.

A chicken can remain alert while sleeping because it can close one eye to sleep while the other remains open. The open eye is able to see any danger while the other can completely rest. This happens when there are predators, or the chicken feels threatened.

Chicken Eye Closed
Chicken Eye Closed

What Causes closed eyes in chickens?

Therefore, it is very important to identify the cause of a closed chicken eye and how to manage it. Chickens having their eyes closed is a common phenomenon. Anyone who wants to venture into poultry keeping will experience this firsthand. Below are some causes of closed eyes in chickens:

1. Infectious Coryza

Coryza is an infectious bacterial disease that can keep a chicken’s eye closed. Once it escalates, it affects the tissues around a chicken’s eye. The infected tissues will swell, leading to a closed eye or both in chickens. This is a common disease across the globe, and it can have a negative impact on a flock’s production.

A chicken that is suffering from infectious coryza becomes lethargic with closed eyes. It will have a swollen face that can affect its eyes. It withdraws, looks depressed, and sometimes becomes less active with swollen wattles. In severe cases, the chicken will also have a constant nasal discharge.

The scientific name of the bacteria that causes the infectious coryza is Avibacterium paragallinarum. This bacteria that can leave your chickens with closed eyes can be transmitted from one chicken to another. This happens when they drink together or come into contact as they sleep in the same coop.

2. Dust particles

Chicken usually spends a lot of time in dusty areas. This may make dust particles lodge in their eye, which leads to constant irritation. If that happens, the chicken will have a lot of difficulty blinking.

Constant scratching in an attempt to remove the dust particles will leave the eyes with injuries as a result. When a chicken has constantly irritated eyes, it will always have its eyes closed since they are more painful when opened.

Dust particles can also hide under the chicken’s eyelids which can cause severe irritation. The chicken may blink more than often or even have permanent eye damage that is always closed.

3. Masons eye worm

Mason’s eye worm disease can cause closed eyes in chickens. Slender worms mainly cause this disease, usually referred to as threadworms, because of their slender appearance.

This worm is usually transmitted via a cockroach which is the main vector. Once the cockroach consumes feces that are contaminated with the worm eggs, they develop into larvae within the cockroach’s body for approximately 3-4 weeks.

When the chicken eats an infected cockroach, the worms’ larvae find their way up to the eye. The worms then lay their eggs on the nictating membrane of the chicken eye. This causes a lot of irritation resulting in constant rubbing of the eye. The constant scratching can damage the eye cells and membranes, thus leading to its permanent closure.

4. Coccidiosis

The chicken eye can remain closed due to coccidiosis. This disease is usually caused by coccidia, which is a protozoal parasite. Coccidia is usually ingested through food that has been mixed with contaminated droppings.

These parasites usually affect the small intestine, making it difficult for the chicken to absorb nutrients. Eventually, the birds become weak and depressed. The chicken will then close its eyes due to weakness.

5. Excessive Heat Inside The Coop

Chicks will also close their eyes due to a lot of heat inside the chicken coop. Excessive heat may lead to dehydration which makes the chicks weak. This weakness may make the birds close their eyes.

If you have to introduce heat in winter, then do it in moderation. Ensure that the chickens are comfortable by monitoring their behavior after every 2-3 hours when the heat is increased. If they are restless and moving towards the exit, then reduce the heat.

6. Sticky substance during birth

Baby chicks are sometimes born with their eyes closed. A chick’s eye closes during hatching because the thick sticky fluids in the egg may stick to their eyes.  

Some chicks usually experience difficulty in opening their eyes after hatching. They are usually responsive to sound, but the eyes remain closed. This happens when the sticky fluids in the egg dry up on their eyes as they hatch.

7. Injury from pecking

The chicken eye can close from injury due to pecking. Chickens often fight each other, injuring each other’s eyes. Various factors usually cause pecking. Overcrowding will cause insufficient living space for the chicken. They will therefore fight in order to find enough space.

Insufficient feeders will also make the chicken fight each other. They will peck each other in order to gain a chance to feed. Therefore, ensure sufficient space by building a large coop and providing enough feeders to avoid these injuries that may cause closed eyes in chickens.

What to do: How to help a chicken with closed eyes

Before treating a chicken with closed eyes, it is important to find the underlying cause. If a chicken has its eyes closed with a discharge, seek a vet’s advice. Do not get random remedies while taking care of it. Here are some tips on what to do:

1. Wiping chicken eyes

If there are sticky fluids on a chicken’s eyes after hatching, gently wipe them off with a piece of cloth dipped in lukewarm water. Wipe each eye five times then repeat the same process later on. Be careful not to pull the eyelids. Eventually, the eyelids will open. Sometimes, just a little wiping will make the chick’s eye open.

If the chicken’s eyes are irritated due to dirt, It is important to wipe the chicken eye with a wet cloth dipped in warm water in order to remove the dust particles. Wipe the eye gently to avoid causing further injury to the chicken.

2. Quarantine new chickens

Be careful when introducing new chickens to healthy ones. The infectious bacteria among chickens is also air-bone; any droplets from an infected bird can infect the rest of the flock. Always scan and check for any physical signs before letting a new bird into a coop that is full of healthy ones.

Before being released into the general population, all new birds must be quarantined and examined for coccidia or the infectious coryza. This will prevent the introduction of the causative parasite to the chicken coop.

Performing an annual health check for coccidia is also advisable. This will help you identify the infected birds and remove them before infecting others.

3. Control pests in the coop

To control these worms that can cause the masons’ eye in chickens, it is necessary to kill the cockroaches, which are the disease vectors. Spray insecticide all around the chicken house and in the cracks to eliminate them.

You can also remove the worms from the eye using a pair of tweezers. Also, placing cresol solution on the chicken eye will kill the worms.

Pests like rats in a coop can also make the chickens sleep with one eye closed. They have to stay alert to protect their eggs. Rats can eat chicken eggs, and this can be a real threat to layer production. Those rodents can also kill young chicks, leading to poor production and losses to farmers.

4. Keep the coop clean

Coccidiosis can be prevented by first of all maintaining good hygiene in the chicken coop. Ensure that the food is not mixed with chicken droppings. You also have to ensure that you wash the chicken feeders daily in order to wash away any parasites that may have been deposited.

Chickens move and fluff a lot, and there is an urgent need always to keep the coop clean and free from dust. Once the chickens are out during the day, soak a clean towel in a bowl of warm water and use it to wipe off any dust in the coop. A clean coop will keep chicken predators like snakes away.

5. Reduce heat in the coop at night

It is also important to keep the coop aerated at night, especially in summer. Too much heat can have negative effects on the chicken eyes as well. It dries out the chickens’ eyes, thus leaving them irritated. The chickens will end up closing their eyes to avoid irritation or injuries from scratching.

You should therefore maintain the ideal temperature inside the chicken coop in order to avoid dehydration. The ideal environmental temperature is 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also provide adequate water for the chicks. Enough watering stations will ensure that the chicks do not suffer from dehydration.