How to Care for and Heal an Injured Chicken
One of the worst things for any chicken owner is having a member of your precious flock hurt in some way, shape or form. Last December, a member of my own flock escaped through a hole in my backyard. The neighbor's dog was out at the time and he got ahold of poor Willa, chomping her torso. We found her sitting on the street, evidently in shock and took her inside. We wrapped her in a cloth and sat her as comfortably as we could, but she was obviously hurt and miserable. We had to do something. But, what could we do to help her?
Some of the first things to remember are that chickens are very delicate animals. When they are hurt, you must, must, must be gentle with them. Try not to move your chicken too much and let her situate herself, only giving her support when she wriggles around (which she will). This is only the first step however; the second step is making sure she has somewhere to stay.
If you have purchased a brooder cage for your chicks, that will do just fine; just make sure you lay down cloth over the wire so her feet don't hurt. Of course, you will have to change the cloth every day because she will poop on it. However, if you do not own a brooder cage, a large cardboard box with plenty of soft bedding will work as well. Just make sure you supply her with food and water in a closed container (she will knock over anything else). Put the box/brooder cage in a warm, dry location like a laundry room. If you have any other pets, keep the door closed.
Next comes the healing part. Gently take the chicken and place her on a cloth or towel or some rags. Look around for any cuts or bruises. When you are sure that you have found all of them, get a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and some cotton balls. Soak a cotton ball with the hydrogen peroxide and apply it to the wounds heavily, making sure you soak it in as much as you are able. Next, to help the wounds scab over, apply A&D or Petroleum jelly to the wounds. Place her back in the cage/ box.
This is all you can do to help the wounds heal, but it should work fairly well. You must take her out every day to give her some attention and TLC, but also physical therapy. Make sure she gets use of her muscles, like her legs and wings. When you are sure that she is well (depending on her injuries, it should be from 2 to 4 weeks), start to slowly introduce her to the other members of the flock. Take her outside while the other chickens play. At first, she will tend to shy away from the others, and they may even pick on her. If they do, separate them but keep her with any who won't bother her.
Caring and helping an injured chicken may seem like an incredibly daunting task- after all, the fate of your animal depends on you. But with the right knowledge, you can be prepared and ready for anything. It is important to stay calm in the situations, for your own benefit and for the chicken's. Make sure you follow these instructions and your chicken will thank you.
Willa, three weeks after the accident.