Wound care for poultry.
It is unfortunately much too often that we have to deal with wounds on our little feathered friends. Be it from pecking one another, or predator attacks, whatever the case may be, it is not fun to deal with, but I hope this article will help you care for your chicken so it may be back out with the flock in no time!
The most common reasons for wounds on chickens are the ones I stated above, but sometimes you will have freak accidents, and they will get hurt on protruding pieces of chicken wire (do not ask me how I know this). Or other things like that. I am sure we have all had our chickens get hurt in the craziest ways possible!
What to do when you find an injured chicken
When you find an injured chicken, the first thing you need to do is remove the bird from the flock. If left in the pen with the rest of the flock, they will see blood and wounds as an opportunity to exercise their pecking order rights, and peck the weakened bird. Often injuries may start out minor, but the flock will peck them until they are quite severe.
Once the bird has been removed, look all over it for wounds that you may not have seen in the first place. Especially if it was attacked by a dog, there could be many puncture wounds underneath the feathers. Think of how many teeth a dog has, that many teeth will not leave one wound, so look under the wings, parting the feathers everywhere to make sure there are no wounds you did not find. The lush down feathers on a bird are masters at hiding wounds.
If the bird had many wounds, you will need to make sure you will be able to find them all. Count them so you know how many you will need to treat each time so you will not miss any. I usually cut the feathers around the wound so that it leaves a spot that is not as full as the rest and you will be able to find it.
Head wounds are not always as bad as they may seem. This guy was able to return to his flock after just 4 days, with the help of Blu-Kote
Treatment for the wounds.
After you have located all of the wounds, you need to clean them well. I use hydrogen peroxide and cotton balls to get all of the dirt out of the wounds to get the germs out. There are several different creams and salves that have been made for wound care and treatment of poultry wounds. I have included a list of things that I have found to be quite effective in treating wounds.
Vetericyn---Kills 99.99% of germs in wounds. This company makes multiple different sprays and salves for all different animals and parts of the body. They even make a solution for eyes.
Blue-Kote---This works well for masking wounds when re-introducing a bird back into the flock if it still has any signs of the wound, this will help cover it up so the birds will be much less likely to peck at it.
Silver Sulfadiazine Cream---This is the main thing I have used multiple times for treating wounds, on birds and humans alike! I have found it to be very effective.
Honey---Yes, believe it or not, honey works quite well for wounds! It has many anti-bacterial properties and when slathered on a wound it helps a lot! Raw honey works best for this, honey you buy at Wal-Mart will be MUCH less effective.
Essential Oils---I mixed up Frankincense and Tea Tree oil in some water and it works quite well for a natural, anti-bacterial spray.
Treat the bird’s wounds one to two times a day, depending on the severity of the wounds. I usually treat them twice a day for the first 3 days, and then once a day until it goes back out with the rest of the flock.
I do not bandage the wounds most of the time, it annoys the birds, and they usually end up scratching it off. Unless they have a very bad wound and feel like it must be bandaged, just leave it open. It can be very difficult to bandage the wounds anyway. The first time I had a severe wound on a duck of mine, I bandaged it, and it was on his neck because of a dog attack. Despite the fact he was weak from losing so much blood, he still managed to scratch it off.
You will need a pen for injured birds, something like this will work fine.
Depending on the size of the birds’ wounds, it will need to be alone for a few days to recover without being picked on by other birds. It is good idea to keep a pen for sick birds to recover in, and it can also double as a broody pen. It does not have to be big, but I have one about 10 square feet and it works well. However, flies love nothing more than wounds to lay their eggs in, so you must be diligent about keeping the wounds clean. If you have a large tote for birds with open wounds it will serve you handy, you can cover the tote with a towel so that flies cannot get into lay eggs on the wounds.
Feeding injured birds.
Often I just give injured birds their normal rations and water. If I have a badly injured bird, and it has lost a lot of blood, I give it some electrolytes and vitamins in its water. I have included a list of things that work well for perking a bird right back up!
Sav-A-Chick---These are electrolytes that often come in packets to mix in a gallon of water, you can find them at almost any feed store, and they work well for newly hatched chicks and injured birds alike.
Nutri-Drench---I have found this to be especially effective as it has even more nutrients in it then Sav-A-Chick, but I had a slightly harder time finding it in feed stores.
Sugar and Baking soda---If you do not have time to run in to town to get anything, mixing sugar and baking soda makes a nice, cheap alternative. Boil a gallon of water and mix in ½ cup of sugar in and let it dissolve. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and give it to the chicken once it is completely cool.
When to turn them back out with the flock.
Once your chicken has made a successful recovery, it can go back out with the rest of the flock. Your chicken is probably ready when it starts acting perky again, and its wounds are well scabbed over and no longer have a hint of pink in them. Even so, when it is ready to go back in I recommend spraying some Blue-Kote on the wound to be safe. Keep a close eye on your chicken to make sure its flock mates leave it alone. I recommend putting it back in the coop at night, so its transition back into the flock is calm and most of the time, the rest of the flock does not seem to notice when they wake up and find a new chicken in the coop!
I hope this article has been helpful to you.
Thanks for reading!