Maggots those disgusting little larvae that leaves us feeling sick and our birds smacking their little chicken lips in delight. They are not a problem if they stay where they belong. Once the they infect our birds they are big trouble.
Commonly called “flystrike” can affect any open sore or cut in just a few hours. Even a vent can become the target of the flystrike. I recently had and attack of the killer larva on my special rooster. I was afraid I was going to lose him. By mastering my gag reflex and some pretty gross actions, “Bert Jr.” is alive today.
Normally I like to have pictures in my little lesson in chicken life, I thought about them when working on Bert Jr., but to be honest they would have been too gross to show at a convention of coroners.
The history of the flystrike:
Bert is a breed of my own making. I used some pretty impure lines to make him. He has some CX in him along with some secret breeding of his ancestors. I wanted a large breasted meat bird with larger thighs and legs than seen on CX's. I have accomplished this. Bert is a breed I call “Toads”. Toads are very mild mannered by nature. They do not really defend themselves. Bert lived in a run with his offspring and sister wife, Bertha.
One day Ed, a partridge Chanticler got into Berts run and did some damage to Bert's butt. Bert instead of fighting just puts his head under something or in a corner and lets other roosters beat him. The other roosters are lucky Bert is so mild, as he weighs in at 28 pounds.
I removed Ed from the run and blocked the hole he found to get in. I checked Bert out and he was injured but seemed fine. I checked him twice a day. He was lethargic but seemed okay. 2 days later I found him hiding under a bed spring I keep in his run to hide under from aerial attacks.
I pulled him out and found his entire backside crawling with maggots. 12 hours earlier it was red and seemed to be healing. Now he was raw and had open sores around his vent. It appeared quite deep, and was one large crawling white mass of larvae. It was enough to make me gag.
I had two choices cull Bert or try to save him. I decided to take drastic actions and try to save him. I took into account a couple things:
- I was not worried about eggs from him being consumed by humans
- I know his meat will never be consumed by humans.
These 2 items allowed me to have a wider range of treatment than I could have had on a hen that laid eggs. I will not be using Bert for breeding next year, I plan to use one of his sons to cement the traits I need. Bert is in retirement. I doubt he would be able to breed again based on the damage to his vent.
Loaded with a box of latex gloves my wife and I started treatment on Bert. First we picked out the maggots we could see. A job that will ruin your meal for the night. We used a popsicle stick to pick them out and then a tweezers.
When we got out all we could see without digging into Bert's flesh too deeply, we sprinkled Sevin on the wound. I am sure it was not comfortable for Bert. The Sevin brought more maggots out. We set Bert down on a plywood piece He stood their and clumps of maggots fell off him. It was disgusting. When the maggots stopped dropping we again picked and scraped them off.
Next step was to drench the wound in peroxide. Peroxide bubbles and foams when it comes in contact with blood. The wound bubbled with more maggots and gunk dropping out of him.
The next step was to wash the wound again, we used Betadine for this. The wound appeared to be clean of maggots but knowing eggs could still hatch we mixed a poultice of Sevin and Udder Balm. We spread this over and into the wound.
We did not know if Bert Jr. would be alive in the morning. If I had to bet on it, I would have bet against it. I was pleasantly surprised to see him alive the next morning when I opened the doors.
We cleaned him again, skipping the “Sevin” this time. Now our goal was to get him healed. We washed him with betadine and packed the wound with Udder Balm. I also put a couple drops of “Frontline” on him. I have no idea if it would help or not. I was operating on the theory it can't hurt.
We did a couple days of this before going to just udder balm. He has gained health, he is walking around, eating drinking and even crowing. We are ready to release him from the ICU and let him back into his run.
You need to understand I am not any kind of medic. What I did might be illegal, might be ill-advised, but it worked for me. For all I know this could be akin to asking a Doc to prescribe LSD to cure a hang nail. I am not advising anyone to use my regiment. We are just happy Bert Jr is alive and well. We do not expect Bert Jr to live much longer, a nearly 30 pound chicken is lucky to live over a year let alone 3-4 years. Hopefully, Bert Jr will have a 2nd birthday.