Help! My hen has injury on back of head and not eating or drinking!


9 Years
Aug 11, 2011
I found my hen with a wound to the back of her head. Not much blood, just a bit swollen and looks dark gray witn black spots in it. I have cleaned it and given her electrolytes but she shows no interest in eating or drinking after 4 days. I am feeding her with a syringe which she eats with no problem but will not eat on her own. Anyone have any idea what is going on? Anyone else dealt with this? I will upload a pic.
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Is she alert and active? Will she stand and walk around, and is she moving her extremeties okay? It's odd that she won't eat on her own, but eats for you with a syringe. I would suggest trying to add some water, plain yogurt, and some raw or cooked eggto her feed. Canned tuna is also good to tempt her to eat. These types of injuries can cause head injuries. I have had a polish hen who was injured this way, and she was a little special needs afterward. Hopefully your hen will survive, but I would apply some betadine, plain antibiotic ointment, or Vetericyn on it daily. Keep her safe from pecking, either inside or in a crate with food and water with the other chickens. Do you have a young rooster who is overly rough on the hens?
She is a bit lethargic but is active. This is now day 5 since I found her. What happened was that I have an Exchequer leghorn rooster with 3 hens that are about 3 years old (intended for more hens, but hatchery messed up). Anyway, I wanted to add more hens to the rooster so I got 5 white leghorn hens back in February. They are now 5 months old. The rooster and hens are in a long 25 foot chainlink run. I divided off the back half and put a temporary coop in the separate pen so they could all get used to each other. This was about 6 weeks ago. Well after several weeks things seemed to be going well, so I opened up the back pen and let them in with the rooster and 3 hens. The 3 hens seemed more agitated by them than the rooster did but things went fairly well. They returned to their own coop in the back half at night and did not roost with the rooster & 3 hens.

Every afternoon (weather allowing) I let the white hens and the black & white hens free range with another set of hens in the pen next to them and leave the rooster in. He is then let out later on his own with his original 3 hens. Things seemed to be going fine. Well, last Thursday I opened up the back pen and let the pullets into the front side with the rooster and hens and left for the day. When I came home to let them out to free range, this one was under her coop panting like crazy (its been over 90 degrees here too which doesn't help). I picked her up and saw a bit of blood down her neck but not much but could clearly see the wound behind her comb. It is just a very small lump but is discolored gray with black specks. I have never seen an injury colored like that before. I immediately took her into the house and she is in my basement in a dog crate where she is away from the heat and the other hens. She was definitely in shock. I gave her some herbal remedy liquid I had and some electrolytes. I cleaned the wound and put neosporin on it and Vetricyn wound spray. The first day she ate and drank ok, but by the second day she was acting strange. I gave her some yogurt on a spoon and she just kinda scraped sideways with her beak and knocked it off. I tried her chicken crumbles and the same thing happened, she swept sideways with her beak and everything fell off. From then on she wont' even try to eat on her own. I have been giving her 1/2 a baby aspirin once a day for 2 days and have been feeding her Kaytee Exact by syringe which she takes with no problem at all. She just lays in my lap and eats every bit I give her. She takes about 1/2 to 1 ounce each time I feed her. I also give her water that way. I have tried egg and yogurt and I think she really wants it because if I put it in her mouth she eats it like she's starving, but I if I give her the option to eat on her own whether from a spoon or her feed cup, she doesn't even try. She walks ok and has jumped up on chairs and things so my biggest issue with her is that she doesn't seem to be able to eat. I am wondering if there isn't swelling in the brain that has messed that up or something?

I weighed her 2 days ago and she weighed exactly 3 pounds and today she weighed 3 lbs 2 ozs, so I know she is getting enough food, but I don't think she'd have much quality of life if it stays this way. She did appear to have a bit of a fuller crop this morning before I fed her and some of her chicken crumbles were in her water so I think she at least attempted to eat so maybe that will come back. Have you ever seen anything like that before?

My rooster is really not over aggressive but he is twice the size of the hens (which seems a bit unfair by nature), so my guess is he may have grabbed her and her being a newbie wrenched free and then received the injury, but I'm not sure. The other older hens peck at them, too. So for now, the other 4 hens are back in the back pen to stay till I let them get a bit older.

Any idea if you think she may learn to eat on her own again? I have taken her outside a couple times in a shady area to see if she'd at least eat some grass, but all she does is stand there and sometimes closes her eyes like she wants to sleep.

Please, any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I have never had this kind of injury in all the years I have kept chickens and just not sure if I'm on the right path or not.

Thanks for your help, I truly appreciate it!!
I would think that she may have a head injury, but she sounds like she is doing okay. The weight gain is good,mso I would still try to get her to eat. She may eat better if you bring in another chicken from her group with supervision. Tube feeding her could be an option, but many people report that their sick chickens will eat better when surrounded by other familiar chickens. You could even place her in a cage or dog crate with food, and place her with her friends. Let us know how she progresses.
Sounds like great suggestions! I will give it a try and let you know how it goes. I do have feed cups in her cage with food and water but have not seen her touch them. I will put the crate in their run and see how that goes. Thanks again!
Well, happy to report things seemed to have worked out ok in the end. I did get a bit of a chuckle too. For the first couple days I was feeding her from a syringe but also left cups of water and crumbles in her cage in case she would eat. Everytime I went down to the basement she would just be hunched over the food. One morning when I went down to feed her, I noticed her crop was a bit full but she was still hunched over the food like she wasn't eating so I got an idea. I have a kickstand built into the cover on my cellphone so I hung it on the bars of her cage and turned on the video for 10 minutes just so I could see what she was doing when I was gone. When I retrieved the phone I thought I would see 10 minutes of boring chicken hunched over, but to my surprise she waited a few minutes after I was gone and dived right into her crumbles and was drinking water! She ate and drank the whole length of the video which ended up being over 13 minutes. Made me chuckle a bit cause when I walked back down she was hunched over the dishes again.

Anyway, I put some blue kote on the wound and kept her inside for about 6 days to completely heal. I did have a heck of a time getting her back in with the flock, though. I put her outside in a cage where they free ranged for a few days and then put her in her original pen, but they did pick on her. I would leave her with them during the day (with supervision) then take her back in at night. Eventually it all worked out and they seem to be leaving her alone now, but it was a long road.

Thanks again for your support and interest! I do truly appreciate it!

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