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Head balded and pecked to skull. How do I treat??

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ChickenBurn, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. ChickenBurn

    ChickenBurn Out Of The Brooder

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    Long story short, my beautiful 1-year-old RIR has encountered quite a serious problem with my newly matured Dominique rooster. All of the feathers on the top of her head have been pecked out and so, now, has a nickel-sized chunk of her scalp. It's bare to her skull. HOW DO I TREAT IT? DOES SHE HAVE A CHANCE OF SURVIVING, OR SHOULD I CULL HER???

    I'm about to go check on her. Hubby thinks we may have to cull her, which would make her our first chicken to own and to cull. I'm hoping she can make a recovery. We can deal with the rooster problem later, but the first priority is to get our hen what she needs. We'll be keeping her separated until she's fully recovered (if she recovers). I just don't know how to treat her wound. HELP!

    She is my first chicken. She's very sweet and gives eggs regularly. She's an egg source but also a pet. Roo is my first rooster and only started crowing 3 weeks ago. He first bloodied her 3 days ago while they were free-ranging, and we made the mistake of letting them return to the coop together that night. Second day, she hid by herself and we didn't see rooster action. Third day (yesterday morning), he was at it again in the run. By the time I got dressed and out there, she was roosting inside and everyone else was ready to be let out of the run for the day. I checked on her after an hour or so, once the rest of the flock was far away. There was Lucy, still chilling inside. Not laying, just resting--or hiding.

    I left for work. By the time I cam home early evening, they were all in the roost for the night but she was freshly bloodied and I could see her skull. We took her to the tool shed to rest and roost for the night. Do you think she has a chance of recovery, or do you think it's best to end it now for her???
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    You'd be surprised how resilient chickens are. Clean up the wound with a little soapy water, or whatever you prefer, and put some Neosporin or other topical antibiotic. The only cation is, never use anything that contains a "caine" drug such as cetacaine or benzocaine.

    The main thing is to separate her, and keep her separate until the skin is healed. Any of the chickens could have done the additional damage, as once there is a wound, chickens will peck at it, to the point of kiling te bird. Your shed is OK unless flies find her. They may lay eggs in her wound, causing more prolblems when they hatch into maggots. There is a product intended for horses which keeps flies away from wounds; it also works fine on chickens.

    For more minor wounds, many people keep Blukote (gentioan violet) as a way of hiding the blood so the chicken can stay with the flock. I think it usually works for smallwounds, but not always.
     
  3. ChickenBurn

    ChickenBurn Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks, @flockwatcher , for the tips! I checked her out a few minutes ago. She was thirsty and hungry. She ate the grapes I brought her as a treat. She is carrying herself as if she's not injured at all!

    Her wound looks like it's trying to repair itself, with a layer of mushy stuff. I'm going to clean it and put some Neosporin on it until I can pick up some gentian violet later today.

    What do you think about using peroxide for the first clean? I've read mixed reviews about it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2014
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    For a wound like that, I would stay with the neosporin, probably for a week or so, maybe more. The gentian violet is more to cover a small wound to keep a bird in the flock and let her heal. You're going to have to keep this one separate for several days or they will just keep reopening it.

    Both peroxide and Betadine are good antiseptics, meaning they kill some germs. However, both also kill new cells as healing is tyring to progress. I would probably not use either after the initial cleaning. At least Betadine should be diluted quite a bit (to a tea color) even for its first use. If there is stuck on dirt, a dilute solution of either is OK for the initial cleaning and soaking. After that, I would only use one of them if there were signs of infection (redness, warmth, drainage, odor.) That layer of mushy stuff could be infection, though. You should have a better idea once you've done an initial cleaning. Peroxide is also good for a puncture wound as it tends to "boil" out dirt from inside the puncture.

    Next time, try to clean it right away, with whatever you have at hand.

    It's a very good sign that she is eating and drinking on her own!
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    My Polish hen has had this happen to her about once a year, and this year she just recovered from being attacked by a young rooster. The first day or 2 I treated with Neosporin ointment, then I use BluKote which contains gentian violet and alcohol. After 2 weeks the leathery 1/2 dollar-sized patch of skin fell off, and her feathers have all started to re-grow. Yours can be left in the coop in her own cage, so that they won't forget her and she won't get lonely.
     
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  6. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Good to know, Eggcessive. And certainly, a cage in the cooop is a great setup for healing.
     
  7. BigSoftee

    BigSoftee Out Of The Brooder

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    we have had a few roosters try top exterminate chicks in a similar manner. The advice of neosporin/bluecoat and a coop caage is great. The neosporin keeps the wound pliable and allows the skin to move without tearing further - skull will heal over. I would suggest keeping some type of cover over the cage as to aid in keeping the wound clean.
     
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Yes, my chickens would all roost on top of the cage for the night, and you know what that means down below, LOL. I re-purpose empty feed bags for things like that, then throw them in my burn pile.
     
  9. ChickenBurn

    ChickenBurn Out Of The Brooder

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    Lucy is being kept inside. Once the wound closes up, we'll move her to a sectioned-off area in the coop so that everyone can begin to re-acclimate to each other.

    Yesterday, I washed her with warm water and peroxide, then applied gentian violet before big gobs of neosporin. She shook her head and shook some of the neosporin off, but I reapplied some after a few hours and it stuck. This morning I just used soapy water and neosporin. The gaping wound is not as gaping, it doesn't smell bad, and I can't see her skull anymore. Fingers crossed that no infection sets in!

    HOW MANY TIMES A DAY SHOULD I BE CLEANING IT?
     
  10. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Don't clean it anymore, just reapply the neosporin. She doesn't need the gentian vilet or BluKote until she is out with the other chickens again. The neosporin will do the job. Cleaning with peroxide and betadine will tend to keep it from healing. you want a scab to form over top of it.
     

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