chicken with torn nail, hanging by thread and bleeding, what to do


In the Brooder
10 Years
Apr 18, 2009
We went out to have our morning cuddle with the chickens and found the following:

1. Our almost year old Bard rock has a pinky nail on her right foot that is very loose. It appears to be hanging on by a whitish thread. I would like to just clip it but have heard that birds can bleed to death if certain veins are cut and I think there is one in the nail.

2. The nail is weakly attached, seems to be able to rotate, is painful to her, and she is holding her foot up. She is holding that toe up when walking. She did let me touch it though. It is now upside down, sticking up instead of down, which I think is better becauseit is not having weight put on it.

3. There were droplets of blood on the toe near the quick. There was blood droplets on the board under the roost, the blood was enough to be seen, but not a puddle. It has stopped oozing blood but will bleed when touched.

4. the foot was significantly warmer than the other foot. We live in MI and it is still cold hear so the feet are usually cool.

5. The pad of the foot and maybe a bit of that toe seem to be slightly inflamed but not terribly swollen.

6. I washed the foot in cool water. I put peroxide on the toe, it foamed quite a bit but the hen did not seem to mind. I patted the foot and toe completely dry and put on a triple antibiotic cream on the area and rubbed it in really well. I gave her a warm snack of 24% food inside while we checked to make sure it was not actively bleeding, and it was not. But, I think it may bleed with use. She has hung out on the perch for most of the day, but that meant her crop was empty and this hen has a habit of loosing weight, so I took her out and fed her where the others could not bother her.

7. Not sure how this happened, there is a wire floor out in part of the outside run so they can get fresh air but not be in the snow if they do not want to, but they do have access to a snowy run too. The inside coop floor has pine pelits, but is now mostly dust as they had scratched it all up during the winter, it is about 6 inches deep. The roost is 2 x 4 laying on it's flat edge so the 4 is the side they perch on.

8. What now. It looks like if I do not somehow remove the nail, she will get it caught on something and rip it out and I am worried she may bleed to death. Additionally, I am battling a pecking issue and have one chicken inside already to let her heel, I am worried that the pecky ones may not give this girl a break or peck at any blood that appears as a result of her using it to get around.
again I have no problem cliping it but just can not find out whether this would be dangerous or cause excessive bleeding and then I just do not know what to do so it does not get worse.

Is there a way to remove the nail?
Is there a way to bandage the foot? And, is it possible that the nail will heel itself if it is bandaged?
Is there anything else I should do/use to prevent further injury or infection?
If I just snip it off, which it looks like I can do, how do I keep it from getting infected as she scratches around and walks on the foot?

Thanks for any help you all can give.

Last edited:

Funky Feathers

former Fattie
11 Years
Jan 15, 2009
My Coop
My Coop
Hi, retired Vet Tech here. Do you have any cauterizing tools or blood-stop powder? If you do I would go ahead & snip it off (w/razor blade, scalpel or nail trimmers), then stop any bleeding, put antibiotic ointment on the wound, and bandage the foot w/a piece of gauze & vet wrap (coban). Then change the bandage/ put more ointment every day. Careful not to wrap the vet wrap too tight so you don't cut off the circulation.


In the Brooder
11 Years
May 3, 2008
Waterford Township, MI
I've twice had hens lose part of a nail. Each time I found blood drops on perches, nests, and the floor. I had to closely inspect each hen to figure out what had happened - none of them were acting strangely or limping. Only way I figured out what had happened was by checking feet and finding the very short/sheared off nail. My point is, neither of my hens had any adverse effects from losing the nail. The bleeding stopped by itself. I'm sure they scratched in their yard, but the bleeding didn't recur. Luckily, none of my girls seem interested in picking at each other.

I would think it would be better to snip the nail yourself under controlled conditions, then disinfect. If it bleeds you could hold pressure on it until it stops. I had to do this when I trimmed my EE's twisted beak too far - I only had to hold her for about 15 minutes, but she reopened it pecking the ground. Still, not too much blood loss.

I'm in Michigan too. If your yard is like mine the frozen ground is less likely to have active bacteria to infect her toe - something good about winter! Hope it turns out well.


In the Brooder
10 Years
Apr 18, 2009

I do not have any blood stop powder, but can see if my local vet can give me some or I can check the pet store tomorrow. I have lots of gauze but none of that type of tape, so I will see if I can find that too. Any ideas where I can get these things easily? I do not drive and have to send someone, so do not want to send them on a wild goose chase. Will corn starch or something I have around the house be possibly helpful?

I just want to take care of it, before she bleeds when I am not out there to help stop the bleeding.

Thanks again,



Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
May 3, 2009
New Jersey
the toe is a long way from the heart. Cut the nail off with a pair of dog nail clippers, apply some some cornstarch, and your bird will be fine. Don't overcomplicate a simple procedure.


5 Years
Mar 2, 2015
sw Iowa
I know this is an old thread, but we could use some help. I just found my new rooster with one of his toe nails almost completely broken off at the base. We cleaned it with cold water, peroxide and then with a sterile clipper cut the rest of it off. There was no new blood however, and I noticed right under the area where his nail was still attached there is a darker spot, almost looks like a bruise. Is this anything I need to treat right away or with antibiotic cream and keeping bandages changed and clean, will it go away? I would like to send a pic, but he is pretty upset with me now, I took him away from his girls so he wants some space between us.

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