injured hen

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by appysky1, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. appysky1

    appysky1 Hatching

    Sep 11, 2013
    This is my first year having chickens. One of my hens (she is 9 months old) went missing last night. I searched and searched but couldn't find her. This morning she was sitting by my sliding glass door! She is very lame in the left leg; will barely put any weight on it. She also has a superficial skin injury on her back. The injury on her back is completely covered by feathers, I only noticed it because her feathers were out of place in that area (ie, I don't think the skin issue will be a pecking issue). I was not able to feel a fracture or any other issue. I am a veterinarian but I don't know anything about birds (learning fast, though!) so I took her to my office and gave her some injectable pain medication, cleaned up her skin wound, and X-rayed her. I can't find anything wrong with her leg. I looked up some references so I've got her on oral pain medication. I debated about oral antibiotics for the skin wound, but it's so superficial I just opted for topical Neosporin. I've read that it (the leg) could be a slipped tendon but assuming that this feels the same as it does in a dog or cat, I am unable to feel anything like that. So I'm assuming a it's a muscle injury, but can't rule out a slipped tendon or pinched nerve. She laid an egg this morning shortly after I put her in the coop. She has a good appetite and is drinking water, although barely moving around so I feel like I have to put feed right in front of her and leave her near the drinker. My questions are:
    1) Should I confine her during recovery (ie, in a dog crate)? Right now she is just loose in the coop. I only have two other hens (no rooster), and so far they have not been picking on her. The injured hen is resting on the floor (in pine shavings) and the other two are roosting like they do every night. I'm thinking I should confine her because a) I would confine a dog or cat with a lameness to try to prevent them from exacerbating the injury, and b) I'm not sure if the other two hens will change their minds and decide to start picking on her.
    2) If you think I should confine her, should I put the dog crate inside the chicken coop so they can still see her, or should I bring her in my house so I can keep a better eye on her? My concern with keeping her in the house is that I don't want issues trying to return her to her small flock, and I also don't want her to get used to the warm house (I'm in Michigan) and then have to send her back out to the cold coop later on. I'm not sure but it seems like being suddenly plunged back outside in November or December weather would be hard on her.
    3) Any other ideas on diagnosis?
    4) Any other suggestions besides pain medication +/- confinement?

    Any and all advice appreciated!


  2. ten chicks

    ten chicks Songster

    May 9, 2013
    I would separate her just in case the other hens decide to investigate wound and to monitor her condition. Probably not much i can tell you as you are a vet,but i would keep her warm,when ill/injured chickens cannot regulate their body temp so additional heat is needed. You could give her some electrolytes for stress/shock.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Free Ranging Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I would separate her in a crate, but leave her in the coop with the others so she won't get upset or depressed, and so they won't forget her. It is tough having to re-integrate only one hen. I would give her vitamins in her water, and offer high protein snacks in addition to her feed (tuna, liver, and dry cat food.) Some recommend not medicating for pain, so they will stay off the hurt leg. You might consider splinting it if it doesn't start to improve in a few days. Welcome to BYC!

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