The pros and cons of separating an injured hen

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by sebTucson, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. sebTucson

    sebTucson Out Of The Brooder

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    The backstory (skip ahead to the next paragraph if you're uninterested!):
    I mentioned in my introduction yesterday that I'm nursing an injured hen. She is a 6 month old silkie who was attacked by a dog. The attack was very quick- I saw her hop the fence at the same moment as my boxer, and Waffles got to her just a moment or two before I did. Despite this, she did get grabbed by the back and shaken before I got to her. She jumped up immediately and hid behind a large agave plant in the corner of the yard. From my parrot days, I know the toughest thing for injured birds is shock, so I herded the dogs inside and gave her 5 min to settle down before approaching her. Then I immediately put her back in the chicken enclosure. She wandered around for a few minutes and then laid down on her stomach in the middle, looking pretty unwell. I offered her some food and water. She ate readily, but seemed disoriented and was having trouble walking- she kept falling on one side. I realized she wasnt just going to 'bounce back' so I brought her inside and put her in a tupperwear with some food and water and covered the whole thing. I could tell she was bleeding from somewhere but I couldnt tell where, and it wasnt very much. Still worried about shock, I left her alone for an hour or so. During that time she pooped (it was normal), ate a good bit, drank some water and laid an egg. When I finally pulled her out she was incredibly painful. On one wing all of her primary feathers had been pulled out, most of the feathers under her wing and above her leg were gone. Somewhere in there was a wound but I couldnt find it and she was starting to pant. I covered the whole area with vetricyn and left her alone for the night figuring she would make it or not. In the morning she was still alive and looked more alert than she had the day before. I have a large coop (the size of a smallish shed) so I moved an unused rabbit hutch into it and filled the bottom with straw. I put a dish of food, some veggies, and water in it and left her there while I went to work. I picked up some penicillin on the way home and when I got home she had eaten well and was still pooping normally. She seemed warm to the touch, but otherwise okay and she was moving a bit better (still gimpy but able to walk without falling or looking disoriented). I put her in the sink and used warm water to give her injured side a bath. Eventually I discovered the source of the bleeding. She has a rather deep puncture about an inch above and behind her leg. No redness, but there did appear to be some puss inside it and it was warm to to the touch. I washed the whole area with antibacterial soap, flushed the wound with a syringe with diluted apple cider vinegar and then clean water, dried her off and filled the puncture and the surrounding area with triple antibiotic ointment. I gave her a 0.2cc sub q injection of penicillin (shes thin, and I was nervous about pushing the needle in too far so I 'chickened' out of doing an IM injection). I kept her inside last night. She ate, but not a lot, though she did still eat pretty well this morning. I put her back out in the rabbit hutch today, and again she ate but not a whole lot. Her movement is much improved and she is barely even limping now.

    The question:
    The injured hen is due at least 3 more days of antibiotics, and its very cold (for Tucson- mid 50s) and rainy. I had planned on keeping her inside at night in a tupperwear so she stays warm and dry, and out in the rabbit hutch in the coop during the day. She is alert and she seems worried about being alone. She is still eating, drinking and pooping, but keeps making anxious sounding chirps whenever all of the other hens have left the coop. Today I put her out for 30 min with the flock when I fed them a bunch of garden scraps. She seemed on edge and stayed on the periphery of the flock but seemed happier to be with them. She ate some, but spent more time standing at alert. I want to make sure she stays warm, dry and that her wound stays clean, but does that outweigh the costs of her being anxious about being alone? Do you think keeping her in the hutch is a suitable 'socialization' until the wound is healed up? I just want to do what's best for her! I'll feel terrible if she doesnt make it.
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    [​IMG] It sounds as if her recovery is proceeding nicely and that the flock is still accepting her presence. If she were mine, I would not change anything that you are doing. Part of the anxiety that you are observing may be her still on 'high alert' because of the attack. Get her back together physically, give her time and the psychological issues will resolve on their own. Good luck.
     
  3. sebTucson

    sebTucson Out Of The Brooder

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    Well Chick Norris is still doing well- eating, drinking, alert and moving around. VERY annoyed at being confined and is feeling well enough to be really ornery during her wound cleaning baths. The wound looks both much better and much worse today. On the good side, the puss, heat and swelling are all gone. On the bad side, since it looked so much better I poked at it a bit more. Turns out the puncture is more significant than I originally thought. The hole is about the size of a dime, with a 'pocket' about the size of a quarter. There is what looks like bone sticking out- though not exposed bone. There is at least some muscle and tissue over top. I'm still flushing and spraying vetricyn directly into the 'pocket' and then covering the whole area with antibiotic ointment. I'll probably do a full 7 days of penicillin rather than just 4. Im wondering if I should bandage it, as there are feathers that keep getting stuck in/on the wound. Maybe if I cover it in cotton and then vet wrap, I can help it heal faster? Or would this just restrict air flow to it and slow the process. Thoughts? I can provide a picture tomorrow, if that helps.
     
  4. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    You're going to have to pack the wound with antibiotic ointment and it will slowly heal, this will be an ongoing process. Dont bandage the wound and continue finishing up with the penicillin injections. Use scissors to trim back fluff and feathers around the wound so air can get at it. Dont put her back in the flock until the wound is healed, you dont want dirt to get in the wound (dust bath) or other birds pecking at it.
     
  5. sebTucson

    sebTucson Out Of The Brooder

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    She seems very upset to be locked away from her friends. I have a large wire dog crate- if I bed the bottom of that with straw and cover half of it with a blanket to give her shade and a quiet area, would that be suitable to put her in out in the enclosure? Temps are supposed to go back into the 70's and 80's so she should stay plenty warm. I think she'd be a lot happier if she had more interaction with her friends- especially if this is going to be a several weeks long ordeal.
     
  6. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    Sounds good, give it a try and see what happens.
     
  7. sebTucson

    sebTucson Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the advice!
     
  8. COChix

    COChix Overrun With Chickens

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    One thing I would suggest would be to add a friend to be with her, depending on the wound. If open wound obviously that won't work. If a closed wound or if wound is not visible to others, then I would add another hen with her, we had a girl get pecked in the eye and ended up blind in that eye. She was in he recovery space for a week, where she had visuals between chicken wire with entire flock, we tried introducing her back with flock and there were issues. We had to segregate her out again, but I added two sweet Easter Eggers with her for about 3-4 days. When it came time for integration is made it easier and we didn't have any issues for the second integration. It is harder to re-integrate a single bird compared to two or three, the flock can focus on one bird a lot easier and not necessarily in a good way. Just my two cents from my recent experience, good luck. My understanding is the longer time they have away from the flock the harder it is to integrate them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  9. sebTucson

    sebTucson Out Of The Brooder

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    That's mostly what I'm worried about. The wound is open, and its somewhat visible. She's a silkie, so there is a LOT of fluff which hides it quite well. However, I think im going to have to trim some of those feathers back to keep the wound clean. There is an area of the pen where I have a large piece of plywood leaning against a part of the fencing that seperates the front and back of the enclosure, though they have free access to both. That is where the hens like to spend their majority of their time when they arent eating. Im hoping that if I put the crate on the other side of that (so that they can see her and she can see them and they can interact through the crate, then she'll be 'part of the gang' enough that reintroduction wont be as much of a problem. Chick Norris is pretty low in the pecking order, so there arent many I could add in there with her that I'd trust to not beat her up. I could add the other silkie, but shes kind of a weirdo and loner anyway. I'm sure she wouldnt pick on her, but Im also not sure it would facilitate reintroduction.
     
  10. sebTucson

    sebTucson Out Of The Brooder

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    Things went down hill a bit this evening.... I think. She felt very thin when I brought her in to clean her up and her crop wasnt very full. I washed her up, cleaned her wound, gave her the penicillin and went to put her in for the night. I have been letting her wander around a bit before I put her to bed, and this time she seemed very distressed- lots of scratching at her head. I thought maybe she was just mussed from the towel, but she keeps making these yawning movements, shaking her head and scratching. Worried, I put her in the tupperwear, where the behavior continued. I left her alone for a bit. My boyfriend just went in to move his laundry and said she was drinking when he went in and looked like she was interested in the food. The only thing that changed was the washing machine was running when we went in there (its LOUD) and wasnt when he went back in. It seems unlikely that that would bother her... If she is still alive tomorrow Im going to put her in the dog crate with the flock and hope that improves her appetite. Im also going to pick up some Exact to try and get some calories in her.

    Any ideas as to what might have been/what is wrong?
     

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