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Chicken Emergencies and Injuries


What to Keep in Your First Aid Kit

Whenever you raise chickens, you can expect to deal with sickness and injuries from time to time.

Sick and injured chickens require immediate attention, but how do you know what to do? The poultry experts at Southern States have some tips for handling some common chicken injuries and what supplies to keep in your chicken first aid kit.

Whether it is a fight between birds, a predator attack or even a common sickness, having the right supplies can make the difference between a successful recovery or possibly losing one of your valued chickens. Always be prepared because you never know when a sick or injured chicken might require immediate medical care. Have emergency supplies on hand.

What should you have in your chicken first aid kit?

First: always protect yourself when treating your birds - wear latex gloves at all times. Basic first aid supplies should include: cotton swabs, gauze, cotton balls, vetrap, small scissors, syringes, pet nail trimmers, popsicle sticks (as splints), tweezers, and a small flashlight. Make sure your kit is stocked with: vitamins & electrolytes, epsom salt, animal-safe antibiotic ointment, Vetericyn, saline solution, rubbing alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide. It's a good idea to have a scale so you can monitor the bird's weight. For quick access, keep the phone number handy for a vet who treats birds.

Know your flock

Learn their personalities and behaviors so that you can see changes that may indicate a potential problem. Early diagnosis is critical. Some symptoms to look for include: loss of feathers, decreased egg production, thin egg shells, wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, bleeding, open wounds or abscesses, swollen joints, fever, lethargy, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, confusion, or lack of coordination. When your chicken appears hurt or you think it might be sick, examine it carefully. Decide whether the injuries can be treated at home or whether you should call the vet. If you choose to treat the bird, move it to a location away from the rest of the flock. Establish a "sick area" in a safe, quiet spot. Have it large enough for the bird to move around freely. Keep food and water easily accessible while the bird is recovering.

Common Injuries

If one of your chickens has been cut and is bleeding, it's important to treat the bird quickly. Move it away from the flock to prevent it from being bullied and pecked by the other chickens. Wash the injury with hot, soapy water and gently pat dry. Using a cotton ball, clean the cut with hydrogen peroxide. Keep the bird in the sick area while recovering. Check the wound a few times a day for signs of infection.

Chickens' eyes can sometimes become damaged from predator attacks or fights within the flock. For treatment, move the chicken to the sick area and clean the eyes with a non-medicated eyewash for animals.

Sometimes, the tip of a chicken's beak can break off. If only a small amount is missing, the bird should be fine. Separate it from the flock and clean the exposed tissue. Make sure it has healed and the chicken is able to eat and drink normally before putting it back in the coop.

Injuries to the feet need to be taken seriously. A limping chicken may be a sign of bumblefoot - a bacterial infection or abscess of the foot. Upon inspection, you may notice swelling of the foot or it may look red and inflamed. If so, isolate the bird from the flock because the bacteria may be contagious. Put the bird in the sick area and administer antibiotics. (Always follow the label directions.) Soaking the foot in warm water with epsom salt may also help.

Chickens can suffer from broken wings and legs. Broken wings can be repaired without too much discomfort to the bird. Position the broken wing naturally against the bird's side and proceed to wrap gauze around the bird to hold the wing in place. Broken legs can be splinted. For its protection, keep the bird isolated for about two weeks while the injury heals.

If a chicken tears its comb or wattle, it can recover. The damaged area will need to be trimmed to avoid infection. Wash with hot, soapy water and clean the area with rubbing alcohol. Using sterilized scissors, trim the damaged area of the comb or wattle and apply an animal-safe antibiotic cream. Keep the chicken isolated until it has healed.

These few simple tips for chicken wound care can help when you are faced with your next chicken emergency. Find the information you need and the poultry supplies to get the job done at your neighborhood Southern States.


Article Source: The Essentials of Tending A Sick Or Injured Chicken

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Poultry Care Series

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