MAGGOTS on dying chicken - please help


In the Brooder
12 Years
Apr 26, 2007
My chicken is dying and she has maggots, and I don't know what to do.

She got diarrhea after sour crop and was eating but only a little. I've been force-feeding her today, but she has her eyes closed most of the time and most of the time she lies down in the corner of the run.

Starting yesterday afternoon she has had diarrhea so badly that today I put her on a plastic bag when I held her to feed her, and when I put her down in her bed, there were maggots where she'd been on the bag.

Should I just let nature take its course and let her die as peacefully as possible, or should I try to do something about the maggots on the off chance that she will recover? I am almost 100% certain that she will be dead by this evening or tomorrow morning.
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Could you possibly hurry her to a vet? She has an infection - hence the maggots - and needs the area cleaned and antibiotic administered - right away.
Can you offer her some plain yogurt, gatorade in her water, anything to give her some energy? When was the last time she was dewormed? Does she have an open wound anywhere that the maggots are in? I personally would try to fix some of her problems. Isolate her, clean her up and keep making sure she is eating and drinking. I could not just leave her without trying some more. Sorry for your troubles and good luck.
Please don't let her suffer anymore. Put her down. If you can't do it have someone else do it. She's sick and dying and being eaten alive by the maggots. It's going to be very hard for you (I've been there) but you have to think about HER. I'm sorry for what you are going through.
Personally, having been there, I would recommend euthanizing her.

If you would like to save her, you must first determine if she can be saved. You'll have to find out whether the maggots were just in her diarrhea, in a wound, in sores because of the diarrhea, or whether or not they've entered her cloaca.

Despite what many people say, maggots don't only eat dead flesh.

If the maggots are inside her, and you can't flush them out, then please euthanize her. Do not 'let nature take its course'. It would be cruel.

If the maggots, once you flush the are (see how below) are only in the manure and a wound, then you might be able to save her. Maybe. We can help you try.

That answers the question about euthanizing her.

Flushing maggots: You'll want to get a very large bottle of hydrogen peroxide, warm water, a basting syringe and/or other large syringes. Ear flushing bulbs for children can work. If you have iodine, betadine, bring that along. If you have none of this, you can try lots and lots of warm water. A hand-held shower attachment in the tub is good for this. Note: in this condition, the hen might die during this. You've been forwarned. If you don't do it, she surely WILL die.

Flush the area vigorously. The point is to cover them with water, or hydrogen peroxide with a drop of iodine, or anything to where they crawl out of her to where they can be washed away. You'll do this for at least a half hour because they'll be wya in her. Bring a pair of tweezers to pick them away. Please use gloves.

By the way, doing this under a red light makes it a little less gross.

You'll be simultaneously cleansing the wound. While you're doing it, look for broken skin, etc. Pasty vent and diarrhea causes sores in chickens just as it does in humans. I normally wouldn't use hydrogen peroxide on that area because of the pain of small fissures and H2O2 - but - this is an emergency.

Once all of the maggots are gone, for sure gone, then you can do one more flush of the area with water and iodine (tea colored mixture), pat dry. Use antibiotic ointment (neosporin, no cortisone at all please) to dress the wounds. Put some on your finger and run around the opening to her cloaca and inside it.

It would be helpful if you can get some anti-fly ointment. Feedstores almost all carry Swat for horses, an antibiotic ointment that has fly repellent built in. It only takes one fly, and in heat fly eggs can hatch within hours. You might want to keep her inside - or make a cage and cover it with screening while she heals.

As soon as you're doing with her, feed her crumbles in water or a little milk, yogurt if you have it (plain is best but at the moment anything), boiled egg would be good. Gatorade, a bit of karo syrup, pedalyte, honey - a dash of that would also help give her energy. Sometimes with ill birds, I'll put oatmeal in the food processor til it's dust - then mix that with water and make a broth. Get her back up, try this, and then let us know please what your decision is because we'll all worry.

One last thing to the board: I hope someone doesn't bring up the "maggots are helpful - doctors use them on wounds" argument. Yes, doctors use sterile, lab produced maggots on wounds in a very controlled manner, never allowing them near orifaces. In real life, maggots are nasty little things that carry botulism and will get into a bird and eat them alive. Maggots should never be 'used', never EVER be fed, always be totally eliminated. Always.

One last thing to the poster: I lost a duck like this once. She was a very special duck to me, and it was heartbreaking. We euthanized her. I am very sorry that you've had to go through this, and I absolutely feel for you. My prayers are with you. I'm available here or on PM should you need anything - even encouragement to do what you need to do.
So sorry ~ She sounds bad off ~ I would most likely put her down. If this is some beloved bird and you want to do all possible to save her then find the area that the maggots are coming from and clean it out and disinfect it. Put some antibacterial creme (you can even use Neosporin as mentioned) on it and give her some electrolytes in her water. Say some prayers and hope for the best. IDK what else to tell you but I am sorry!
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Thank you. I'm just so sad about this. She's my last one and maybe because of that she's more important to me than all the others have been.

It's really hard to let her go, and I was willing to let her pass on her own as she seemed peaceful and restful, but the maggots just tip this over the edge. I can't let that happen to her.

I found and made an appointment for tomorrow with a vet who will see a chicken. If she's still very sick, I will have her put down. If she is by some miracle recovering, I will have him help me with the maggots. My wish is that if she going to go, she takes care of it on her own tonight and that I find her gone in the morning.

Thank you so much for your support.
Three horses has very good advice. If you follow her instruction you may have a chance of recovery. It may also alleviate any suffering over night.
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I'm sorry to be so pressing about this, but please - work on the maggots now. You really must, seriously. I'll go as far as to beg.

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