Terrible head injury - is there any hope? (WARNING: GRAPHIC/SAD PHOTOS)


13 Years
Sep 9, 2010
Saint Paul, MN
Last night I woke up to suspicious sounds, and went outside to find a raccoon munching on one of my hens (she was sitting on eggs outside the pen). It looks like it took the skin and some muscle off the back of her head and neck. I don't see any damage to the spinal cord or brain per se, but she's pretty unresponsive. However, she has perked up this morning, and is capable of sitting up by herself and righting herself if she falls over. She responds to touch, but not sound. Her eyes are closed and sunken-looking, even though I can't see any damage to them.

I'm assuming I'm going to have to put her down (ugh), but I have had birds bounce back from really bad injuries before and wanted to check with you all before I do the deed. Anybody ever have a bird come back from something like this? Is it possible that her unresponsiveness is due to shock and not brain damage? Why do her eyes look so weird?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Poor chicky! If you don't see any damage to the brain/spinal cord, it's entirely possible she is shocky. Keep her warm, hydrated, antibiotic ointment and lots of TLC. She will make her own life/death decision I think. Often times wounds look worse than they actually are, so fingers crossed. Her main problem after shock is going to be infection, best of luck to you, keep us posted, Sue
One of My chickens(when she was just a Baby) was snatched up by a cat and The cat broke her leg. I was able to nurse it back to health and now it is healthy full grown Hen.Alive to this day.I Would try to stich the skin back together(if you know how) and That should start the healing process..I hope this helps!
Thanks for the advice and encouragement! I found another thread about similar injuries - and the hen survived! Simply amazing.

My hen doesn't show interest in drinking when I lower her bead into water, but I have a syringe I can try. However, I'm worried that I'll get liquid into her lungs instead of her stomach. Is there a way to avoid this?
I had a quail receive similar injuries. Nearly identical to yours. I was almost certain I was going to have to put him down out of mercy. It looked awful and he was just lethargic and miserable looking. hated seeing him so miserable and I was not hopeful. My husband persuaded me to give him a day before putting him down to see if he improved. I'm glad he did. With TLC and time, Thor recovered completely. He is happily tending to his hens at this very moment. Don't give up quite yet!
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Not entirely sure!! I suppose it's going to be a drop at a time by syringe, that way she will have time to think about what to do with it - I think you have a long night ahead of you!
Also - because it's a predator bite I wouldn't stitch the skin. You would most likely end up with an abscess under the skin. Keep the wound moist not wet and the skin will slowly re-grow, whether or not she gets feathers back remains to be seen.
I have read on here that penicillin is good for animal bites. Lots of neosporin to the wound too. Isolate her, feed her good protein and hope for the best.
So very sorry to read about your chicken. Get some Betadine a.s.a.p. available at any feed store and most pharmacies. Put Betadine on the wounds generously. If possible use 4x4 or samler gauze pads soaked in Betadine. Or a gauze with a cotton ball soaked with Betadie, put gauze next to skin. Cotton will stick to wound and feathers. Soak it in Betadine for at least an hour. Be generous with it , pour some on if possible. AVOID EYES and NOSTRILS, Infection is going to be the big problem. After Betadien, when area dries apply Neasporin. WARNING Betadine STAINS. ( But the chicken won't care.) Hydration very important, use syringe if necessary, open beak and gently spirit. If head is tipped back it will go down the right place. A nice mash of corn meal and (Quaker) oats with some olive oil , cooked as thick as possible with out it sticking to the pan, (The olive oil will help.) might be tastey and good for her. Sounds a little crazy but some Gator Aid or any good sport drink (no caffeine) will help. Hydration very important ~ far more so than food. Best wishes, good luck ! Keep us posted !
When you bandage her, use sterile gauze. Get some sterile saline solution to moisten a pad and apply that to the wound (you can buy sterile saline contact lens solution-make sure it is nothing but sailine-no protein removers or anything like that). Put a dry pad over the moist pad and then wrap it with vet wrap any way you can so that she can still breathe and drink/feed.
This is similar to how burns are treated which are large areas of damaged/removed skin.
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