What do you do if you have an injured chicken?
I came down stairs in the morning last Monday, made a cuppa, holding the lovely warm mug I went outside to let the Chickens out. I slid the coop door open, out they all came, down the slope and straight to the food! They walked over to the water and had a long drink. As the weather is as cold as ever, I’m still taking the water in at night and bringing it back out in the morning. As always I stood there in the chicken enclosure for a few minutes and watched them go about their morning business, checking everything was as it should be.
I noticed the Silver Appenzellers, Tufty and Whitey had blood splodges on their feathers. So I checked them all over and Goldie the Vorwerk chicken had blood dribbling down her head, right next to her developing comb.
I picked her up and Kev took a photo. It looked like there was a puncture wound at the top of her head, a beak shaped one! It seems that she has been pecked, most likely by one of the Silver Appenzellers. Poor thing. I was so worried, I’ve read stories that if chickens get the taste for blood then they might start to really damage a chicken that is bleeding, kill them even. I stood outside of the enclosure and watched for a little while longer , there was no trouble and everything seemed fine. I had to leave them, I was late for work, the vets were not open at that time, so reluctantly I just left things as they were.
As soon as I got into work I called the chicken vet in Tarporley, Cheshire. I explained what had happened and they suggested going home at lunch and see how bad it is then, it would be a good idea to rinse the wound with salt water, making sure not to knock the scab of if there was one. If I was worried I should take her in to the vets later that day.
I went home at 12.30, and checked Goldie over again. Not a sign of blood, or damage! If I had not taken a photo I would have thought I’d imagined it! The blood spots on the Appenzellers had also gone. So based on that I took no further action. Its been over a week now and there is no sign of injury or infection.
However since then I have done some research on what do you do if you have an injured chicken? How do you treat Cuts and Wounds in Chickens?
- Small scratches cuts or abrasions should usually heal naturally
- Severe open wounds require specialist clinical care, take your chicken to the vet. Don’t tackled it at home. (I have read some amazing stories of people patching up their chickens at home, I think I would rather go to a vet!)
- If you find a bleeding chicken, or a chicken with cut or torn skin, take action fast! Skin injuries need immediate attention
- Chicken skin is thin and tears easily, and bleeding wounds are very attractive to other chickens.
To treat open wounds that don’t need stitches:
- Hold a clean piece of lintless cloth or gauze over the wound
- Trim feathers away from the edge of the wound
- Wash the wound with warm mild soapy water
- Rinse well with clean warm water
- Trim away any loose bits of skin that will not heal
- If the wound continues to bleed, use stypic (blood stopping) powder or pressure to stop it
- Apply antibacterial ointment daily to help keep the wound free from bacteria
- Place the chicken in a clean, separate area and check the wounds for infection several times a day
- If infection sets in, clean the wounds two to three times daily
- If the chicken can’t reach the area with its beak and the weather is warm, apply a wound dressing to prevent flies from laying eggs on the wound
- Keep the chicken warm and quiet to prevent shock. If the chicken is very valuable to you, take it to a vet straight away.
Even though I would take my chicken to a vet rather than trying to stitch it up my self, I did find instructions on how to stitch up your pet chicken! I have to recommend don’t do this at home. Sometimes a vet will choose not to stitch up a wound. If the wound has bacteria in it, (this might be caused by an animal attack) stitching is not the best idea. It would trap the bacteria inside the wound and increase the risk of infection. The chicken wound would have to heal from the inside – out.
You would keep the surface of the outside of the wound moist and clean by squirting saline solution over the surface twice daily. I have nasal rinse sachets which I could use, if it is fine for my sinuses then it would be fine for the chickens!!
Chicken Wounds that might need stitches:
- If the chicken wound is really deep and gaping or the chicken has skin missing it probably need stitches – take it to a vet!!
- Butterfly stitches / paper stitches / steri strips (skin wound closure plasters) could be a good option. I have these in our 1st aid box, they are super useful!! The strip doesn’t stretch like a plaster, so they really hold the skin in place, I had not thought of using them on a chicken!
- Suture needles with silk thread, or worst case scenario it seems you could use a sterilised sewing needle and cotton thread to stitch up your chicken
- Stitches should not be very deep, no more than 1mm in to the skin
- Sew the stitches 3mm apart then pull tight
- The skin should be pulled together but don’t pull too tights. You don’t want the skin to pucker
- You can take the stitches out in 4 to 5 days
- Apply an antibacterial cream every day to keep infection and bacteria at bay
- Keep the injured chicken in a quiet safe place during recovery, ideally away from the other flock members. You could put them in a dog / cat box, separate pen, bath tub etc
I found some of this information on the following sites, they are worth a read if you need more information: