Returning an injured chicken to the flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MD Sand, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. MD Sand

    MD Sand Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 8, 2012
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    This is only my second post, and my first chicken injury so hopefully it's in the correct spot :)

    Background:
    I let my girls out last Saturday morning to find a hen with a very bloody head and back. Looks as though she initially had a wound on the back of her neck about the size of a dime and deep. Then I think the other girls just pecked her to smithereens. She was weak, head swollen and one eye would not open.
    Right or wrong, the only way to keep her safe with my set up was to bring her in my heated bathroom where she currently is recovering amazingly well.
    I have been using a syringe to feed her electrolytes, water and mush until yesterday. She's finally eating some scrambled egg, soaked cat food and a few bites of chicken feed from my hand. She will not hang her head all the way to the floor to peck food, I'm guessing her head hurts! I really thought she wasn't going to live, so I ever thought past keeping her alive. She still keeps 1 eye closed a lot, so it's probably injured, but I think she can see out of it and I see no visible damage.

    I have been taking her outside for a little bit everyday on the other side of the fence so that everyone continues to see eachother, but not letting my head hen near her (she shows aggression towards her). Everyone else seems to pay her no mind. I hide her in a towel and put her down behind the barn and let her walk around like she's been there all day -this may be silly but I've never had to do this before :)

    My ton of questions (sorry):
    Tomorrow will be a warm- ish day. I think it's important to allow some supervised together time (more than the 30min I've been doing) as eventually I need to get her out of my bathroom!
    1) Is there a best practice for this? First thing in the morning, when I throw scratch out, lock the head hen in the coop...
    2) How can I wash the neosporin off her head and feathers? I think the fact that her head feathers are clumped and slimy from dried blood and neosporin draws attention from the other girls but it's winter and on her face so I don't want to soak her or drown her.
    3) Why is her comb starting to droop?
    4) Any other advice you can give to help me return her would be greatly appreciated.


    Okay finally done!! And if you read through all that thank you!
     
  2. florida lee

    florida lee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think your doing fine with her. I wouldn't put her back until she's fully healed. Just a damp cloth should be able to wash off the neosporin, however I wouldn't worry too much about that. get some blue cote, it comes in spray or dobber, coat the wound, it should disguise the wound so hopefully they won't peck at it.
    I would broadcast some scratch and allow her to eat with them while I supervised, then remove her. I would not leave her alone with them yet. but my experience has been that is doesn't seem to matter how long they've been separated they still get picked on when they go back. Don't know about the comb, just make sure she's eating ( fried eggs are good as is some fish) and drinking ( I used gatorade with injured hens )
    Good luck with her.
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    You may have to wait til she's essentially healed so you can bathe her and remove the evidence. Just a mildly soapy solution, warm water and some sort of basin. You'll want her to try where it's warm. You can use a hair dryer on low if you want. Baby shampoo would be good, or liquid castile or any mild soap. Dawn dish soap is also used extensively on animals -- it's at least one of the soaps used on birds in oil spills.

    I think you're doing just right to let them see each other every day. Hopefully when the time comes, you can just let them run together and distract everyone with a treat. It would be good for her to have a place to hide, too. Or you can try another method, putting her on the roost with the others just after dark, and hope by morning they won't realize someone new is there.

    A droopy comb I would guess is dehydration. Sounds like she needs to get eating and drinking better before you try real integration.
     
  4. MD Sand

    MD Sand Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 8, 2012
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    Thanks guys!
    Yea, I feel she needs more time away to heal, I'm really hoping the frequent visits make it less dramatic upon her return!!
    I didn't even think about dehydration for the comb, I'll offer the electrolytes/water combo again and some more soaked cat food.
    Now that you say that, it looks a bit dried out.

    I have the Blukote spray and Dawn, guess I'll wait a few days, see if I can wipe her down a bit, then if she needs the spray, try it out.

    I've read somewhere that if you stick them in at night, they don't notice... wasn't sure if that really worked or not. Think I like trying the supervised approach better, I'll save the other for a back-up.

    Appreciate the feed back, I'm glad it seems to be going well, and that other chicken people don't think I'm crazy for having a chicken in my good bathroom - or at least were nice enough to not tell me so :)
     
  5. LestersFlat

    LestersFlat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi! I was just going to post a new question about how to return an injured hen to the flock when I found this thread. Maybe I should just follow your progress instead.

    I have a hen that was pecked almost naked by my other hens, and then (I think) she molted most of the rest of her remaining feathers. Here in upstate NY, I had to separate her so that I could keep her warm, my coop isn't heated. The weather is supposed to be warm the next 2 days, so I might try putting her out with the others during the day like you said, but I'm worried that I won't be able to catch her again at night and that she'll just go back to the coop and get pecked again. After a few weeks in the "chicken hospital" to get her to this point, I would hate to find her pecked again in the morning. I actually caught the others pecking at her on the roost, so I don't think sneaking her in at night will help.

    I am a little worried that florida lee says that it doesn't matter how long they've been separated, they still get picked on when they go back. What do you do if that is the case? Send her to live with someone else and hope she doesn't get pecked there?

    Also, MD Sand, I don't think you are crazy at all for keeping your girl in the bathroom! I wish I could have done the same but the husband wouldn't go for it. Good luck with your girl! Please let us know how your reintroduction is coming along.
     
  6. MD Sand

    MD Sand Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 8, 2012
    Maryland
    Ha! Hubby's in Alaska for work... doesn't know yet :)

    She's having a great day, I put McNasty Chicken (head hen) over with the goats and scattered BOSS to keep her busy with a friend.
    Omelet (sick chick) is hanging out with the rest of the girls in the barn... dusting off as we speak.

    My goal is to keep her out until 3pm (4 hours) if possible and do it again tomorrow. The weekend will be colder, so I'll play that by ear.
    She pecked the ground for feed for the first time, so I think she acts more "chicken-y" with the girls, since she does more to keep moving out there then in the bathroom!! She's only eating if hand-fed inside.

    Lestersflat, if you couldn't catch her earlier, you could always get her out of the coop (assuming you have a door) at dusk. I think what really helped was watching her seperate from everyone (with a fence so they could see eachother), monitored which ones looked like they wanted to kill her and then split them into groups. May not work for all but seems to be helping here! And I feel the way you do, I don't want to spend all this time nursing her back to health to have them just kill her.
     
  7. LestersFlat

    LestersFlat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2011
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    Happy to hear that Omelet is acting more chickeny!

    My Red Momma has been separated from the other girls since January 28. It took us 4 days, and several tries each day to capture her. She was only half-naked when I realized there was a problem other than molting, but when I tried to catch her she would totally freak out and get away. The first time I tried to pick her up I didn't catch her right and she was flapping her wings so much I couldn't hold onto her, so I let her go, losing even more feathers in the process. After that attempt, every time she saw me coming she would get into a corner or behind something to hide. (She was better at hiding from me than the hen-peckers I guess!) Finally my husband was able to catch her, but she was almost fully naked by then.

    The others are free range, so the only time I could really catch her if I let her roam with them, is when they come in the coop at night. The problem with catching her in the coop is that my young ornery rooster likes to attack me every chance he gets so I have to watch out for him while trying to corner her. [​IMG]

    I have been putting her out in the fenced-in veg garden during the day when it's nice, and the other girls do come out and visit every once in awhile. And the roo does his ridiculous roo dance for her, very annoyed that he can't mount her... Maybe that explains why the last few times, including on this bright sunny day, she hides in the wooden box that I leave in the fence for her. I have to give her some place to hide because we have a lot of hawks and eagles.

    What state are you in, BTW? We are also having today and tomorrow as nice days, and then colder on the weekend. I think I will keep doing what I am doing until next week. She should be mostly feathered out by then and I will feel better about leaving her out in the cold with the girls and my stinky roo.

    It sounds like both of our patients are making progress, and that's a good thing. I see you're up to 4 posts already! Keep posting with your progress.
     
  8. MD Sand

    MD Sand Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 8, 2012
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    Well, we made it 2.5 hours. McNasty flew over a horse stall (@ 5 foot), through the hay stalls and over the coop. Quite impressive really!
    I let them work it out a little bit, not letting her get a hold of Omelet.
    However, I was hungry so I called it day and I swear I'd never seen a chicken pout until today. Her head was hanging down and eyes closed as I walked her into the house... sad but cute :)

    I didn't know anything about chickens when I received my mail order chicks last year, I actually read backyard chickens boards a ton, just never signed up. Somewhere I had read to put your hand on their backs until they submit, I did that since the day they popped out of the box in hopes that they would be hand tame. Now they're so spoiled and squat down to be picked up as soon as you walk towards them. I wonder if it would be different if I had a rooster...

    I'm in Maryland a little Southeast of Baltimore. And this makes post 6...on a roll!!!
     
  9. MD Sand

    MD Sand Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 8, 2012
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    Omelet stayed out a full day yesterday!! She was dodging McNasty pretty well.
    I let her walk into the coop at dusk and McNasty was giving her the evil eye but letting her roost, I was excited that she might be able to stay...
    Then her roost mate started grooming her head feathers, Omelet wasn't freaking out, but the pecking got a little harder, then a little harder... so I took her out for another night in the bathroom.

    I will wash her little head this morning, hopefully she wont need to be "groomed" and we'll try again... she's almost there :)
     
  10. MD Sand

    MD Sand Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 8, 2012
    Maryland
    And... she stayed out all night last night :)
    Kept peeking in after they went in for the night, she was doing good so we left her and she came out this morning fine!!

    Thanks for the advice, she's back with her flock!!
     

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