Ask the Expert: Pheasants

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Pheasant Troubles

I was given a pheasant around six weeks old and he had a bulge on the right side of his head. The lady’s daughter-in-law lanced the bulge and clear liquid came out, it kept running.

I tried to find a vet to look at him but no one knows anything about a pheasant. Finally I found one. He lanced another part of his head and strips of infection came out. He charged me with Amoxicillin and some cream to put in the hole where he lanced it. The pheasant seemed to perk up. But now he has another knot growing on his head. It doesn’t seem to be catching but I have him isolated. Should I take him back to the vet to get more Amoxicillin and cream and ask him to lance it again? Have you ever had to deal with anything like this?

Sarah Cucina, Maryland


It sounds like the pheasant most likely has a respiratory infection. The bulge is most likely a swollen sinus. While a few things could cause this, a couple of likely culprits are either chronic respiratory disease (Mycoplasma gallisepticum) or fowl cholera (Pasteurella multocida). 

These are both bacterial diseases, so the antibiotic should help.  In both cases, however, it can be difficult to completely clear the infection, so it may come back when you stop giving the antibiotic.

You could try another round of treatment and see how it goes. Both of these diseases can spread to other birds, so it might be in the best interest of the rest of your flock to get rid of this one. 

Of course, I can’t say for sure that this is the issue without more testing. For a firm diagnosis, you’d need to have more testing done by the veterinarian or your state veterinary diagnostic lab. For chronic respiratory disease, a blood test can be done to confirm whether the bird has antibodies against it. This shouldn’t be too expensive, and it would let you know for sure. Fowl cholera may be a little more difficult to confirm. 


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