Health help for a chick hen pecked

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by SuperK, Oct 14, 2016.

  1. SuperK

    SuperK Chillin' With My Peeps

    Health Question for a wounded chick. Head and neck feathers have been plucked out and looked like he isn't going to make it.
    Back ground-
    We let our 10 Cornish Cross chicks out to mingle with the flock yesterday, and I decided to let out 'Lightning', our barred rock Roo that is two weeks younger than the Cross chicks out too.He is 4 weeks old today(Oct 12) Since they have been brooded together, they get along splendidly, with Lightning considering the big boys his older brothers so to speak. He's never had trouble standing toe to toe with them even though he's a tenth their size.
    We have 9 pullets, 4 Barred Rocks and 5 Rhode Island Reds. We got these as chicks and did the sneak egg swap late at night trick to try getting their broodiness to pay off for us. It worked! We split the Rocks and Reds for the two hens and these two were awesome adoptive moms, doing the things mom chickens do for their chicks.
    Three weeks later we got our Cornish Cross chicks and had another broody hen so we tried it again. No Dice this time. The chicks were scattered in the coop, three had bloody specks on their heads, so we separated them and brooded them out in the coop, but separated from the group by wire.

    Well, the mothering period is over, the adopted chicks are now full pullets and are on their own. The Moms are back to laying and all was well till yesterday. The 6 hens have been the flock leaders since they were the first we got and do hassle the pullets now and again, but when we let the Cornish Cross out (they are 4 weeks younger than the pullets, but almost twice their size) there is only an occasional fuss to show the pecking order. I think its only occassional because some of the Cross chicks are bigger than the hens! I expected that, and I get that will continue until the Cross chicks get to slaughter week.

    The incident I need advice for is the roo. I let them run early in the day- 6 am and I checked them again at noon. There was a bit of clucking and fussing, but no blood, everyone' feathers were where they were at 6.
    Evening check and time to go back into the brooder pen for the night and I find the little Roo huddling in a corner trying to be as small as possible, with missing feathers from the back of his head down to almost the top of his shoulders. It looked as though he'd been scalped. Wound size is about 3/8" wide by 1/2" long, I'm thinking a huge wound for such a little guy. I didn't expect to see him alive for much longer, let alone in the morning.

    We cleaned him up, put antibiotic ointment on the wound, separated him from all the chickens in our small quarantine cage, turned the heat lamp back on for him(it has been 75-78 here the last two night and he is still young) ample food and water just for him. Since he actively seek out the Cornish chicks when separated, we left the quarantine cage in the main coop next to their (the Cross chicks) roost area. Even hurt, he actually tried to get to them so I'm thinking he needed to be with them. This morning we went back expecting to find him expired but he is still standing, eyes closed, he does move away from and back to the lamp area but he is up on his feet and alive. The left eye is swollen shut, skin taut and raw looking. The ointment makes the skin shiny so it looks bright red, but no active bleeding.

    Is there anything I can do for this little guy other than what we've done already?
    We have a pen in progress for the Cornish Cross, but it's not finished yet, and they were reaching the top of their brooder pen-hence me letting them out to stretch and run for the day. Needless to say, this pen will be done today and both the Cross and the Roo moved from the hens and pullets, but what else can I do to make this wounded Roo feel better while he recovers?

  2. FoodFreedomNow

    FoodFreedomNow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds like you have the wound care covered, so I'd suggest maybe providing some vitamins and electrolytes (like Sav-A-Chick) to support his recovery. You can also give him aspirin - here's a thread with more info: Hope his recovery goes well.
  3. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Can you see the links down at the bottom of my post? There's one on healing a severely wounded baby chick. It describes how I successfully treated a scalped two-week old chick.

    The secret to healing a large deep wound is to meticulously clean it twice a day to keep infection at bay. You need to keep it moist at all times. A dried out wound won't grow new tissue and will invite infection.

    Begin with a thorough cleaning. Remove any puss or dark tissue. Flush well with saline or hydrogen peroxide or Betadine.

    If you coat the wound first with Blue-kote, it will camouflage the wound so the chick can go back with the others. Let that dry, and then spray with Vetericyn. Let that dry and smooth on antibiotic ointment. Do this twice a day until the wound is completely closed.
  4. SuperK

    SuperK Chillin' With My Peeps

    Azygous, thank you for the advice and the links.
    I'm a retired Nurse of 25 years so I figured basic First Aid and basic wound care is the same no matter what the species. It is in the specifics in treating chickens and their small size where I can get fuzzy. We did try to find a vet on this Island that treats chickens, but there is only one and he was on vacation.
    We have isolated him in a small quarantine cage and turned on the light again. We will be keeping this little one separated from the others until he gets full grown now as Lightning is the youngest of all the new chickens. The closest chicks in age to him are three weeks ahead of him but are Cornish Cross and they are now 10x his size. We have set up a grow out cage for him next to the main coop so when he finally gets to the whoop *** size; he is a rooster, he should be able to mingle just fine with the ladies with no fear of getting hen pecked.

    So though he still looks bad, he is feeling much stronger. He is cheeping a lot, and is eating and drinking well. His left eye was swollen and we feared he'd lost it and that we might have to rename him Dread Pirate Roberts but Yea! Today he is opening it and it is starting to look better. All in all, this trooper is getting stronger and but still looks terrible. I think it may be a while before we get feathers back.

    #1 & #2 are day four photos before am treatment. #3 is after antibiotic applied. #4 are the Cornish Cross "siblings" that lightning has grown up with. #5 & #6 are of the the new cage and Pen location. The blue tarp is temporary for any driving rains, this will be replaced with a plywood facade once we make the two story change. We were going to be adding an official second floor by adding another cage on top for more real estate in the same footprint. This pen will house the hatched out chicks from Lightning and his Harem. This grow out addition was planned, but the schedule was moved up drastically when Lightning got struck. Because we plan on having more baby chicks that will include various age groups, we have decided that the hens responsible for this will be culled as this behavior goes past normal 'pecking order' enforcement.

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  5. Jensownzoo

    Jensownzoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 7, 2016
    Saint Louis, MO
    Aspirin for pain/inflammation as previously suggested. Healing happens better/faster/stronger when pain is controlled across species. Since he's isolated from the others, no reason not to add it to the water.

    Petroleum-based ointments are okay, but will make a mess of the surrounding feathers and they won't be effective. If you want to continue with it, be sure to use the barest amount and be prepared for possibly needing to bathe his head to remove the residue once you d/c it. I really like the Poultry Vetericyn spray for wounds on chickens. Alternatively, the Blue-kote also already mentioned is an antiseptic. I have used it as an exclusive treatment on a pair of juveniles that I didn't feel that I had to remove from the flock, but that had feather loss and deep lacerations at the base of their tails (the roo that created them was relocated).

    You may consider nutritional support in the form of a bit of egg--if you can prepare it so the white is cooked and the yolk is raw (soft poached is probably easiest?) I think it would be even more effective than vitamins/electrolytes in the water. Although you could certainly do both.

    Luckily, chickens seem to be amazing at healing even deep wounds given simple supportive care.


    They're your birds, but I think what happened was fairly predictable and I wouldn't punish the hens for being normal chickens. One of them probably grabbed the feathers/skin on the top of his head, Lightning panicked, skin tore. Should you want to do a similar introduction in the future, you may want to put the new bird(s) in a protected space (like a wire dog crate) within the established flock first. That way they can make introductions from safety. Then, assuming the newcomer is small like Lightning, you can make a Lightning-sized opening in the pen...big enough for the new guy to come and go freely, but the adults can't fit. Was it you, Azygous, that called this a panic door? In addition to having a panic room for the newcomer, strewing the place with "furniture" to break sightlines, give the smaller guy a way to go over/under/through if being chased so the pursuer loses momentum by having to take the detour, provide a lot of distractions for the adults, etc..
  6. SuperK

    SuperK Chillin' With My Peeps

    Lightning is feeling better, peeping and cheeping,and even preening his chest feathers. His head is less red, with way less sensitivity when you apply the ointment. The hospital / quarantine cage seems to be doing the trick. Thank you all for the support and advice.
  7. SuperK

    SuperK Chillin' With My Peeps

    UPDATE on Lightning

    Past photo on the day of the incident- completely bared neck and patchy head wounds. we weren't sure he was going to make it through the night.

    Today's photo shows him healing nicely and feathers coming in. This small wound is sooo much better. He scratches at it a lot, but it is healing. We built a larger more sturdy Isolation cage that we are leaving inside the large coop complete with swing that he doesn't seem to like and a roost that he loves. He has doubled in size,

    He is feisty and frisky and soon will be ready to move into the new pen we have for our future chick rearing. He'd be in it now but it's not finished yet. Photos of that soon.
    Thanks again for all your help!

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