young hen with possible broken leg -- need advice

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by klutterer, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. klutterer

    klutterer Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, All --

    BYC has been a great source of info for me (Thank y'all!!), but it took a trauma to get me to post.

    Here goes:

    A week ago, some sort of predator took a swipe at my chickens thru the chainlink fence. They had chosen to roose atop their re-purposed doghouse "coop" (ala Snoopy) despite the stormy weather. My best guess is that the alpha-hen, Helga, got hit and then slid down the roof onto the sand floor of the run. The other two hens are fine.

    Helga has been recuperating inside, in a dog crate, ever since. A bird vet costs $60 just to walk in the door, so I've been reluctant. I cleaned her up (which included snipping off a dangling bit of skin), sprayed with hydrogen peroxide, applied neosporin, then got Vetericyn spray at the feed store (it is supposed to kill germs and improve blood flow to accelerate healing). The wound oozed a bit the first day or so, but hasn't since.

    I gave her metacam (the dog had leftovers) days 2-5, but then stopped because I thought it might be making her lethargic. But then she stopped eating. (She's been eating mostly scratch and sugar water, which may show how well she has trained me.) She even turned away from scratch, Cheerios, shelled sunflower seeds, etc! So I restarted the metacam, and she is eating again. However, she pretty much eats only when I hand feed her. She just ate a grasshopper I killed for her, and is now purring at me.

    I had started worrying about diarreah -- but perhaps chicken poop is always watery, and you just can't tell when you are not capturing it all on gym towels? It was grainy with all the scratch, green after she ate a dandelion. So she's processing food, but not eating much and the consistency seems irregular. She does not like PolyVySol, or yogurt.

    My big worry now is what to do about her leg. Maybe I messed up by not taking her to the vet right away, but I keep hoping nature will heal her. However, she can't stand, and I can't imagine what kind of life she can have if that continues.

    At first, I wasn't sure if the problem was her leg alone or her wing. It has since become apparent it is just the leg. I can't tell if it is broken or dislocated or just lacerated and bruised. The knee much larger than the healthy leg. The area is covered with what looks like yellowish cartilage. Not sure if this is bruised new skin, or actual cartilage. There is a black area that could be a scab or could be matted downy feathers. I tried wrapping it in a wet warm towel to see if it would loosen up, but after poking at it for quite awhile decided I'd better let the poor thing alone.

    I think can post a photo, but will try that in a separate post.

    I thought it might help if she could stretch her legs instead of sitting on top of them all the time, so rigged up a sort of sling with 2 strips of cloth stretched across a wine box. It worked, till she decided to move around, and ended up tipping the box over. I re-engineered it, and next time she slipped down into the box with her hurt leg stuck up in the cloth. I'll try again when I can sit with her the whole time she's "in traction." However, I don't know if I might be harming her, since it may not be ergonomically correct.

    My next idea is to try to make up a splint using some bamboo garden stakes and first-aid wrap. However, I have no idea what I'm doing, so again I worry about doing more harm.

    Helga is about six months old (I got her in October; she laid her first egg 3 weeks ago). She's an olive-egger (Marans/Easter Egger cross) who lays dark brown eggs with speckles. She laid an egg the day after the injury and another the following day -- which was pretty darned impressive. Nothing since, which is fine with me.

    I got some comfrey salve yesterday, and some aranica. Tried both, but she gave me a harsh look with the aranica, and I wonder if it would be better to stick with the Vetericyn alone rather than goop up her leg with the comfrey salve (can't find just comfrey leaves, as some forum-er had suggested to another poster).


    Sorry for all the extraneous info -- just want to answer anticipated questions!

    Thanks in advance!

    Connie in Folsom
     
  2. klutterer

    klutterer Out Of The Brooder

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    Sorry: I'm a luddite.

    How do I upload a photo?
     
  3. klutterer

    klutterer Out Of The Brooder

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    It won't let me post this as a url, so I hope someone out there can figure out how to access the photo I uploaded...

    /forum/uploads/75439_helga.jpg

    Broken?

    Anyone??
     
  4. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  5. klutterer

    klutterer Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 5, 2011
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  6. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    O.K.

    Check this thread (need to decrease movement and sling might help): https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=435272

    Keep
    area clean (might want to use blu kote or weak betadine tea (betadine to water 1:10) to spray and then daub off. Could try Aspirin (see thread above). Keep chook in low light (dog cage covered with a towel or the like - keeps them less active) on soft bedding. That's a start but, I'd probably be giving penicillin as well (can get at feed store). Immobilizing is probably best (sling). You could try palpating to check for obvious fracture. Hopeful others will have better advice.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  7. jeslewmazer

    jeslewmazer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 24, 2009
    Mississippi
    Just from the picture it does not look broken, but it does look almost cut to the bone. I am Not saying that it's not broken. ivan3 gave some good advice. If she is not eating you will have to hand or syringe feed. Vitamins would be good also especially if she won't eat. If it is broke and she has been this way for awhile, then the bone would have already started to heal into the new position. (I wish my area had a avian vet, so I have just learning as I go.) So, if that is the case and you do take her now the vet might have to re-brake. If the leg and its bones stay in the normal range, then it is probably not broke. She is defiantly going to hurt and something like aspirin would help. I would clean the wound, and an ointment, dress the wound, and let her rest in a natural position. Also, include the extras.
     
  8. klutterer

    klutterer Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you Don/Ivan for inserting the photo for me, and readers for your guidance! -- I feel a little less clueless today. Helga is much more alert and I am feeling hopeful.


    I have a few questions, below, if anyone can add any more clarity. There's an overwhelming amount of wisdom in these forum pages, and it can get confusing. I've tried to break these into topic areas...


    MEDS -- I finally resolved my vet-expense dilemma by taking Helga in to a feed store, where at least someone familiar with animals could have a look at her leg. I still don't have a diagnosis, but there is some consensus that the leg may not be broken, and the swollen yellowish area could indicate infection. Per feed store staff, I started her on Agrimycin 343 in her drinking water. I syringed some into her thoat to get her started, but she puts up such a fight that I won't do that again. Fortunately, I found some blackberries in the freezer that she likes, and I've been stirring medicated water into those. Still, she doesn't drink much.

    Dosage Question: I'm not sure she is drinking enough to get an approprite dose -- but I don't really know what an appropriate dose is. The package is 4.6 ounces, and it's supposed to be used 1/4, 1/2, or 1 pkg per gallon for various ailments -- none of which is wound care. The package directions say to mix a fresh batch of water every day. 1 tsp/cup is my best guess at a mid-range dosage. It seems so random to put meds into water when you have a bird who can't be active and isn't drinking a normal amount.

    Question: Anyone familiar with Agrimycin? Is there any reason to use penicillin in addition to/instead of this medication?


    WOUNDS -- The black areas on her hock (knee) remain intact. I gave her a 15-min soak in Dead Sea salts (forgot to buy epsom and had these on hand), which gave her the opportunity to exhaust herself flapping her wings (definitely not broken -- she stirred up quite a tempest!) before she settled into the bath. She looked quite cute in her little bath, and afterward she had a long, deep sleep.

    Question: Should I soak her again? How often, and for how long?

    The soak didn't loosen the black areas, so I'm guessing they are not matted feathers but are in fact scabbing. I gave them a good squirt of Vetericin with a syringe while they were damp, and re-applied neosporin.

    Question: is there a reason to use some other topical antiobiotic instead of/in addition to the Vetericin? The skin on her body next to the hock is pink, so I'm guessing the over-spray is increasing blook flow there (as well as to the injured area).



    PAIN -- I read a remark about Metacam being hard to dose to the point where it is helpful and not toxic. I've been giving Helga Metacam (a dose appropriate for a 4-pound dog: 4mg) for about a week, but now I'm worried about it.

    Question: Should I be using aspirin instead?


    NUTRITION -- I finally found a reference on this site about the amount of PolyVySol to give -- 3 drops a day. I'd been putting a much larger amount in her water (which may be why she wasn't drinking much). I've been putting it into blackberries since yesterday.

    Question: Is an overdose of this vitamin harmful? Should I go buy veterinary vitamins?

    The only thing Helga had eaten eagerly was the grasshopper I found for her. So the feed store staff suggested I buy her some crickets at a pet store (lizard treats, 11 cents each). She's gobbled down 8 in the past 24 hours -- in addition to the protein, she's also getting some "sport." [​IMG] Since they're alive, I can't use them as a medication-device, but I'm just relieved to see her eating. Should I give her all she wants or save them for treats?

    I also got some high-protein cat food (pate) which I've mixed with laying crumble to give it a texture she can tolerate. She's eating it, and is more alert today. I got this idea from a different website, and hadn't seen it here. Is there any reason not to do this? The other site also suggested giving chick starter feed, but feed store staff advised against that because it contains medications that might not be appropriate.



    SLING -- I will work on a sling today. It will be a challenge to rig up something tall enough that I can also keep in a darkened area, so she won't move around too much. I"m not sure how I'll know when the sling has done its job -- she is already able to move her toes, though she doesn't use them to hold on with her left (injured) leg. Both feet are warm.

    She has started to make longer attempts to stand, and has balanced on one leg for less than a second. When she's stronger, I'll rig up a splint, possibly with the egg yolk/flour recipe. Feed store staff also suggested using bubble-wrap and tinfoil, which might be better for a first attempt.


    TRIMMING FEATHERS -- Should I cut at the base of the feather, or along the shaft (wherever it gets dirty/in the way)?



    Thank y'all --

    Connie
     
  9. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    Polyvisol is fine. Since you’ve decreased amount toxicity isn’t an issue.
    Meal worms and hoppers until she quits eating (ad libitum). You can dip the bugs into syrup from canned peaches (for instance) and then roll them in 30% Gamebird Starter (no meds in that feed) or regular feed. Cat food is o.k. on a short term basis.
    Clip feathers `long’ don’t want to cut to point that shaft bleeds. Can trim away barbs from the shafts. Don’t worry too much about lighting unless she’s bouncing off the walls. Sling is probably easier than splint to apply and allows for low/no wt.bearing. (easier to keep area clean as well); just remove her from sling in evenings and check on how she’s moving. Don’t know about antibiotic in water . PenG injectable allows for `dose certain’ amount. Wouldn’t use both meds. If area is kept clean and topical AB ointment is being applied she should be O.K. (any rapid swelling/cellulitis -red `lines’ spreading reddened areas around wounds – then start with injectable PenG). Aspirin is primarily useful for inflammation and is more `forgiving’ than the metacam. I'd continue with Soaks (epsom salts) as tolerated (by both you and the hen).

    Take a look at info here as well (chap. on trauma): http://www.avianmedicine.net/ampa.html (you can download entire book by R clicking on the pic of book/upper left above TOC and `save target as').
     
  10. klutterer

    klutterer Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 5, 2011
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    Sling update:

    I made a towel-stretched-over-a-box sling, and it worked beautifully, for about 20 minutes. Then Helga pulled her legs up thru the holes in the towel and was getting ready to make a break for it!

    She definitely could not touch the bottom or sides of the box with her legs. She looked very comfortable sitting atop the towel, looking around, even stretched out to see over the edge. She had just feasted and had snacks within reach. To reduce stimuli, I put her under a table, dimmed the lights, even put a towel over her body, and then her head too. But she repeatedly pulled her legs up and started moving around, getting her wings ready to take off. I'm guessing she just got restless.

    Does this indicate she does not need a sling?

    I can try the other sling design, in which she is suspended from above with her feet touching the ground. That way, she might be able to propel herself around a little. I can do this with or without a splint.

    Or should I just try a splint and see if she can stand with support?

    She is able to stand up on her good leg for longer periods -- maybe 2-3 seconds -- and she seems much more stable.

    SpurreDon, what do you think I should do next?

    Thanks,

    Helga's mom.
     

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