Hen scalped by opossum

Jeremey1000

In the Brooder
Nov 9, 2018
5
12
31
My daughter went to collect eggs just as it was starting to get dark and when she opened the coop, she found that 5 hens were dead and 3 were injured and a opossum ran out. I had to humanly put down one because her neck was broken and was extremely torn up. One of our leg horns has some small damage to her comb but nothing bad. The one I'm seeking advice for is one of our rhode island reds (which happens to be the sweetest one of the flock) who was scalped. Her eyes are swollen some but they dont looked damaged. Her head on the other hand is completely bald. She is not actively bleeding and is still drinking alot of water but I'm not sure what to do, if I can do anything at all. I brought her inside and set her up in a shower that is never used, with pine shavings, feed, and water. I went to tractor supply and rual king and purchased what they suggested but after getting home and doing reasearch, I'm not so sure these products are the best option. One is called "blu-kote" and the other is called "hen healer". The after reading about the blu-kote, it says to keep it away from the eyes, nose, and mouth and the damages is to her head... The hen healer smells alot like vicks and I'm worried that it will cause a burning sensation to her so I'm reluctant to apply it aswell. Any help at all will be appreciated greatly.
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The hens are a year and two months old. I converted a 6x12 lawn mower trailer into their coop with 9 nesting boxes and attached a large run to the face of it. The opossum found a weak spot around the outside tire and forced his way into the run and then into the coop.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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I'm so, so sorry you had such a tragic incident. It's one of the awful things we have to face from time to time, and it never gets any easier.

Chickens can heal up well from such injuries as long as they aren't suffering internal injuries. How is her behavior? Is she acting lethargic, any trouble breathing, or any trouble standing or walking? You might want to give her warm water with electrolytes to treat for shock.

You can read through this article about a scalped chick, and you'll see how I treated her. https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/healing-a-severely-injured-baby-chick.71976/

Basically, you want to wash all the wounds thoroughly with warm soap and water and Betadine, if you have it. If you don't, you can use hydrogen peroxide this first time, but don't use it after the wounds start to heal as it interferes with new cell growth.

Ordinary triple antibiotic ointment is the best thing for all her wounds, and you can even put it in her eyes. Another great product for wound care is Vetericyn. I usually use it first, let dry, then put on the ointment. The most important thing in wound care is to cleanse the wounds each day and do not let the wounds dry out.
 

Jeremey1000

In the Brooder
Nov 9, 2018
5
12
31
Azygous, thank you for your advice. I read the post you linked to and am feeling more positive that she could pull through this. You did an awesome job by the way. I'm glad that everything worked out for you.
My hen is able to stand well but her walking is a bit wobbly at times. I'm hoping its just because she is having trouble seeing from how close the injury is to her eyes and that it's not a sign of a possible brain injury. She seems to be breathing normal and she is drinking alot but is pretty much staying in one spot unless I interact with her. Normally she is more like a dog then a hen, she always follows me and wants in my lap if I crouch down. She loves attention unlike the rest of the girls, which makes this hard for the whole family because she is very unique compared to the rest of the flock.
Is there a way to protect her eyes while I treat her wounds? I have heard you can use petroleum jelly for a dogs eyes but dont know if that's a good idea for her or not. If not, is it ok to get the betadine in her eyes because the injury stops just above both eyes and it would be very heard to keep it out.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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I believe, from what you say, this unique little girl will survive this with your good attention and care. You can use "no tears" baby shampoo to clean her head. She won't like that, but you need to get as much dirt and bacteria out of the wounds as possible. Take it slowly and gently, and use cotton balls instead of sticking her under a faucet. The rest of her can be done in the sink. I would keep her indoors for a day or so until you know she's stabilized. The Blu-kote will come in handy when you return her to the flock or what's left of it. That is too sad for words you lost so many. I lost a single hen to a bobcat several weeks ago, and it still hurts my heart.

Actually, Betadine will not harm the eyes, but it stings like mad, so I don't recommend it. (I know this from personal experience when I grabbed a little squirt bottle of Betadine and put a few drops in my eyes thinking I'd grabbed saline eye drops. I know. Stupid.) You may use ordinary antibiotic ointment in and around the eyes and it's perfectly safe. Just don't use anything with a pain reliever.

Each day, you will be able to streamline your wound care more and more, so it gets to be routine. As long as you keep the wounds clean and moist, your little patient should heal quickly.
 

Jeremey1000

In the Brooder
Nov 9, 2018
5
12
31
Update: So far she is doing ok. I have not seen her eat though. She is all about drinking. I added an electrolyte and vitamin supplement to the water to help but am worried about her lack of interest in food. I have read on here about pain may be why she is uninterested in food and to try adding aspirin to her water. I'm going to give it a try. As far as her injury, it really doesn't look much diffrent but it does look slightly better. So, I'm off to try the aspirin water and see what kind of things I can try to coax her into eating.
 

Relleoms

Songster
Jan 22, 2018
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915
211
Iowa
You can try mixing a bit of her feed with water to make a slurry. You can also add nutridrench or poultry cell to the slurry to give her added vitamins. Scrambled eggs are also a great source of protein. Prayers for you all & your girl!

ETA: I sneak aspirin into a grape half...they usually eat it in one bite!

ETA#2: I’ve also mixed feed with yogurt, kefir & baby food (usually squash) with good results. Just mix a little and if she eats it you can give her more!
 
Last edited:

Cyprus

Master of the 'never give up' attitude
Jan 19, 2018
16,113
55,585
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I would agree to follow the directions of the above posters.
Try to keep her hydrated, and give her a higher protein feed if you can (18% or more) to keep weight on her.
Oregano is a good natural antibiotic and Cinnamon increases the rate of wound healing.
 

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