Huge black scabby abscess in chicken wing...HELP (gross graphic pics)


9 Years
Sep 28, 2010
Oklahoma City
I don't have any helpful pictures unfortunately because I needed to hold her with two hands.

My beautiful pullet Gertrude (a coronation sussex) has always picks the feathers around her wings. I thought that was her thing. The other day, I noticed she had a droopy wing. I instantly blamed my 5 year old daughter of breaking her wing and ran to check Gertrude. When I handled the droopy wing, I felt a huge, heavy mass, maybe 1-1.5lbs. I moved the feathers and saw a black, scabby, pussy mass visible on the upper and lower side of the wing. The size of the mass (on both sides of the wing) is about the size of my palm. We're talking LARGE. And HEAVY. I hadn't noticed because Gertrude has been acting (and still is acting) alert and hungry. The only other sign of distress is that the eyelid on the side of the injured wing is slightly closing. It's not as open as her other eye. But, the mass did feel warm and feverish.

Question #1: What is it? Infection? Abscess? Tumor? Injury? Marek's disease? Bird cholera?
Question #2: What should I have done with it?

So, later that night when my husband was home, I made him help me try to remove it. Because the mass felt warm, I assumed it was an abscess and I thought her best chance was to eliminate the infection. Poor Gertrude lost alot of blood as my husband (incidentally, he's a physician who knows nothing about animals) cut and opened holes on both sides of the mass and tried to clean it out. What we decided we saw was alot of necrotic tissue. I should mention that as he began to cut, INSECTS STARTED EMERGING FROM THE BLACK SCABBY TISSUE!!! We thought they were maggots but they weren't wormy like maggots. They looked like tiny bugs. (Oh, it was horrible. I'm still in shock.) He removed as much yellow-ish clumpy material as he could find in the mass but it is still hard and huge.

here is a picture of the droopy wing and you can see a slight bulge.

here are pictures of the type of stuff we pulled out.


It did not smell nearly as bad as I thought an infection should have smelled. So, does it look like it was an infection? Does it look like a tumor? Could it be something else?
Now Gertrude is in a plastic bin for "recovery" with neosporin and gauze stuffed into the HUGE cavity in her wing. She is still alert and hungry.

Now what?
Question #3: What should I do about Gertrude now? Continue cleaning & dressing the wound every day? Or put her down?
Questioin #4: If I should put her down, what is the most humane way to do that?
Question #5: Should I put her on general antibiotics? And if so, where do I get them?
Question #6: Should I treat the whole flock (of 3 other hens) with antibiotics? Should I treat the whole coop with sevin dust because of the insects in her wound? Do I just use the Sevin you buy in Home/Garden stores?

Please help me if you can. I really appreciate input & suggestions from people who have gone through this. This was just so traumatic and I feel horrible, HORRIBLE for Gertrude. I can't believe I didn't see this sooner (I hand feed them everyday) and I'm so worried I've done something wrong. I had horrible dreams all night long about Gertrude and the suffering she must be in. So, thank you in advance for any advice/help.
Chickens do not seem to react to pain in the way that we humans do.

Keep her confined, give a shot of L. A.. 200 or use powdered antibiotics (terriamycin) in drinking water for secondary infections and continue the dressing and ointment applied daily.

This should not be contagious to other birds but watch them just in case. The bugs were probably lice enjoying the moist areas on her. Gross but true! Sevin dust works great on lice and mites for your flock. Dust the bedding also....

Mereks would be small black looking sores along the base of feathers as well as pus filled boils.

Good luck with Gertrude!
oh, thank you! Great advice. I'm guessing the shot of l.a. 200 is the dosage? 200cc's? or does it come prepackaged? Do I get that at a feed store? Just don't know this as I assumed having a small flock of 4 birds in clean, dry housing would keep them free of most diseases.
something else that I have found to work better as an ointment on the farm is Carona ointment.. you get it at a feed and seed type store its wonderful and has antibiotics in it so it heals soooo much faster.. ya just goop it on .. works for people too.. great stuff...
shes not a gonner... even if she has maggots in the wound when you found and cleaned it out is actually a good thing they only eat infected and dead meat.. they actually keep the wound fresh supply of blood to heal faster.. I m not up on mites though... I have used the packs of antibiotic from the feed store in the water. worked fine.
if shes feeling good and doesn't seam to be in pain. Id turn her back out with her flockmates. medicate the area and antibiotics should be good.. Now that is of course if the other girls arnt picking on her but under the wing they shouldn't be attracted to the wound,,,
good luck )O(
That is the name of the injectable, L.A. 200. I usually give 2 ccs. to full sized chickens and 1 cc. to bantams. It needs to be given only once every 4 or 5 days because it is powerful stuff. Just under the skin along the breastbone. Do not stab it straight in.

The powdered antibiotic would be easier for you to administer but since your hubby is Dr. he would know how to give shots. good luck!
Thank you everyone for your wonderful advice and kind words. When I went to the feed store, they gave me duramycin because they said they weren't sure la 200 was safe for poultry. So, since they aren't as knowledgeable as you all, that's what I was "allowed" to buy. She's acting fine so this is really for any secondary post-operative infections.

But, you know what, I just wish I knew what to do about this thing she has. It's just huge. It's so big that her wing is completely mutilated. The bump is very hot and it was so today and also leaking alot of clear fluid. When we went to clean/redress it, I noticed that there was about two more golf-ball sized pieces of swollen, necrotic tissue we'd missed and we went back in. All the tissue just looks macerated and pulls off pretty easy, no cutting necessary. (So gross) Anyway, it's just so large that I'm worried she might just need a wing amputation. Her wing is completely deformed. I thought it surely had to be a tumor because it's so large and heavy but my husband thinks it's an infection because it feels so warm. Any thoughts/opinions on this? I've looked all over this thread and can't find anything that quite looks or sounds like what she has. I will try to post a picture tomorrow so you all can see just how bad and scary it looks. I feel so bad for my poor Gertrude. I just wish there was a clear answer as to what it is and what I SHOULD be doing for her.

but, thanks everyone!
THat is really odd. I have had chickens for 25 years (a lot of chickens) and I have never seen something like that. I am almost thinking that it could be a cancer of some sort? Keep us posted...this is very interesting! Terri O

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