Help Hen acting slugish i think she may have frostbite.

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Noah Porter Md

In the Brooder
Dec 28, 2017
Hi, My name is Noah and i believe i have a problem, I went out to the coup this morning to find one hen acting vary sluggish and i picked her up to check to see if she had sour crop because earlier this year another hen had it, she did not so i picked up her feet to check to see is her feet were ok and a noticed that some toenail's were growing downwards instead of outwards and then i noticed that the tip of her to was black with some red in it, and also noticed she didn't like to be touched there. Immediately i went to google looked up frostbite and it looks similar so i was wondering if could put like Polysporn or this other stuff i have access to called Dog Bomb It's supposed to help with dry dog pad's. now it is starting to warm where i live forecast says its supposed to be minus nine to tonight and feel like minus sixteen i do have a heated water dish in the coup and a light which seems to give off heat should i let this roll or should i just put some Pollysporn and a bandage around the foot or what? please help any reply is a good one Im fairly new to this and feel so bad that she is in pain.

I found this helpful is it true in these circumstances?

Weather forecast says that it will start warming up soon i dont know if this helps.
Also i can seperate her from the flock if need be but please reply soon my dad's a survivalist and has tought me that frostbite is really bad and if you get warm slowly please help.

Also she does move around alittle.

Also toe is similar to this
Very sorry to hear about this. Glad you caught it before it got worse! We need to clarify some things to get a full solution.

- What breed and what age?
- What is your location?
- Are your temperatures in F or C?
- And to confirm: it is the toe your concerned about?
- Is the heated water dish an open dish? Or a bucket with nipples? An open dish will INCREASE risk of frostbite.
- Are the roosting bars flat (like a 2x4 on its side) or round like a stick? Round roosting bars exacerbate frostbite. Flat bars let the chickens keep their claws flat and protected from their toes from the cold by their body heat.
-How much ventilation is there in the coop?

Are there any wet spots on the ground that they may have access to? You want to keep their feet as try as possible.

Dry skin is FAR more prone to frostbite than hydrated skin. Make sure they are drinking all they can. You can try to apply Vaseline or Bag Balm. I have heard reports that those are ineffective though. We had problems with comb frostbite, not toe frostbite. Once we started moisturizing combs and wattles with melted coconut oil, the problem began to reverse.

There is not much you can do to treat frostbite apart from measures like these. Increase ventilation, decrease moisture content in the air, ensure hydration and moisturized skin. Once it strikes, simply monitor for signs of infection. If there are no signs of infection, there is no treatment beyond managing these issues.

And yes if the birds are acclimated to the cold - IF you must bring them inside for treatment - understand this is a long-term process:
1.) Warm them very slowly. Take them someplace that's 40-50F for a while (shed? gararge?). Treat. And monitor for several hours.
2.) Once they've acclimated you can look at moving them into the house - in a cool location to start! Not near a heater/fire or anything. The chicken will then need to live in an indoor pen until spring temperatures warm up again (high's near indoor temps and nights above freezing).

Good luck!
Thank you for your reply 1 breed age i have no idea what breed she is all i know is she is a popular commercial breed that is bred for laying she i would say is around 4 to 5

my temps are celsius

i live in eastern ontario canada it is supposed to go to minus nine tonight and feel like minus 16 but it is supposed to warm up to the pluses for the rest of the week

it is the toe it seems to be black and her toenail on the toe is growing downwards

it is a waterdish this is almost an exact model

they are round roosts but i think i saw her in one of the laying boxes that night

we put up vapor barrier during the winter in a few weeks we would've probably taken it down we usealy keep the door to the run open and the man do to the coup can be drafty

i have not seen any wet spot although is has got really hot then cool and the ground has frozen severaly times in the past 2 weeks

and i cannot bring her inside because a member of my family has a comprimised imune system from a liver transplant but i cant put her in the garage with a flood light on her a electric heater

also tempatures for where i live for night are not in the tens

Thank you for your reply :)
Okay, great info! Lessee...

Perhaps she's a buff orpington? I believe they a cold hardy for the temperatures you are describing. Those temperatures are cold, but not too bad. A healthy cold hardy chicken can handle them with no problems.

And I assume you mean 4 or 5 years old not 4 or 5 months old? I'm trying to figure out is she a pullet versus adult. A smaller chicken is going to have a harder time in cold weather (that's why there are no cold hardy bantams).

Cold weather definitely makes my hens subdued, but I wouldn't call it sluggish. As in: they CAN move around just fine, but they just PREFER not to move around on those really cold days (our coldest this winter was about -30 C).

I'm not sure about the downward growth on the nail, that sounds unusual (but I'm not THAT experienced). Can you take a picture and post it to the thread? That would definitely help diagnose.

IF this is frostbite, then to combat it I'd recommend a closed waterer. Here's what we've used and it's amazing: waterer

Also switching to flat roosting bars will help protect their toes.

Lastly the coop needs to be ventilated in cold weather and NOT sealed up. About 0.1 square meter of ventilation per bird is needed roughly. And the roosting and nest box areas need to be free of drafts while still maintaining adequate ventilation.

If you can't take her in the house, that's fine. I wouldn't actually separate her from the flock (especially not into a heated environment) until you're reasonably sure quarantine makes sense.

I'm a little concerned that the toe pointing down is sign of an injury rather than frostbite. A picture will greatly help here. If she is in fact ill (which could explain the sluggishness) then she may be weakened and managed to hurt herself. Illness would be cause for quarantine.

Please post a picture when you can an keep her under observation. I would not apply external heat just yet. How is her eating and drinking?

How many other chickens do you have? Are they exhibiting any unusual behavior?

You might notice diagnosing chicken illness is not always a straightforward process :)
hen's toe.jpg
These are the best pictures i could get and i found the other hens picking on her so im thinking maybe shes just broody also they are adults i also seperated her


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