Like any great battle, there comes a point where you manage to turn the corner and realize that victory may be yours.
Today I did a chicken inspection, and I am pleased to report that I didn't see any creepy crawlies on the hens. Regardless, I dusted their bottoms once more with the lice powder, just in an act of "good measure".
They certainly seem happier - clucking away and acting more like their usual selves again.
The wee chick who has clung to deaths door for the last few weeks also seems to be turning a corner. I have sat on the fence when it comes to this chick. I am still undecided if I am battling a case of infectious sinusitis - also known as Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) - or if she simply had Infectious Bronchitis (IB). Regardless, I just didn't have the heart to cull her. She was still eating and drinking, and seemed to be fighting whatever it was. I separated her from the others, and gave her Superbooster (an antibiotic, vitamin treatment). It seems to help, and she does seem to be recovering.
The difficult part about both viruses is that so many backyard flocks seem to have them if they are free ranging. Wild birds carry the virus in their stool and when backyard chickens roam they often pick it up.
My choices became:
1) Cull the chicks as they have all been exposed. If it's just a "cold" then I may be culling them in vain, but if it's Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) I will hopefully prevent my other hens from being infected.
2) I allow them to live, knowing that they "may" have Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG), and that they will have a stronger immunity to it. Some of my other hens may get sick when exposed, but again - if they recover they will have an immunity to it. Much like we develop an immunity to colds.
This website had some great info to help identify illnesses in poultry. Further reading shows me that many backyard chicken owners disagree on the subject. I guess it's somewhat like the decision to vaccinate your animals, or inoculate your children. There are always to opinions!
For now, she is still hanging in there and I just don't have the heart to "cull" her. Time will tell.