A warning about using zip ties to identify chicks. (GRAPHIC PHOTOS!)

WARNING: There are graphic photos of an injured chicken in this post. If blood or open wounds bother you, please do not continue reading this post. Skip to this post or this post instead....they're funny not images of wounds! 

Hen that had an injured leg due to a zip tie being left on!

Many chicken keepers use zip ties to tell chicks apart. Especially if they have different breeds of the same age with similar coloring. It makes sense. The problem is when the zip ties are not removed as the chick grows it can cause serious injury. Such was the case with Peggy. 

Yes, son named her...injured leg, Peg leg...get it? *sigh* anyway... 

Peggy was brought to me with a severe limp. There was no known injury or attack, she just started limping one day so she was brought here to see if I could figure out the problem. Thankfully it was easy to diagnose and treat and 1 month later Peggy is just fine now! Read on to see exactly what happened.

Remember: those graphic pictures are coming up!

zip tie injuries in chickens, wounded leg


When I first looked at the young pullets leg, I noticed it had a knot around it. It looked more like a crust then a scab, but clearly here was the injury. First I soaked it with Vetericyn wound & skin care spray. This is my go-to injury care product for wounds like this. 

It's excellent for minor injuries and since I didn't know what I was going to find under that crust it just made sense to use Vetericyn to clean it off. After the crust had softened I removed it gently and this is what I saw....

The dangers of using zip ties on chicks

zip tie injury on chickens leg

The zip tie that had been put on her leg to identify her as a chick had been left on! As her leg grew the skin around it grew, but underneath the zip tie was only room for bone. Had this been allowed to stay on much longer she would have lost circulation in her foot and probably lost the foot! 

Thankfully we caught this just in time!

Treating a chickens leg injury

Luckily there was only a tiny spot of infection and it was easily cleaned away. I had to cut the zip tie off of course (oh did I feel bad, that had to hurt!) It started bleeding a bit and I waited for the blood to stop, using a little Vetericyn spray to keep it clean. 

I clipped away the feathers on her leg so as not to interfere with healing by sticking to the wound. Finally, when it was done oozing I coated the wound with Neosporin (without pain relief) then wrapped it with gauze. I sprayed the gauze with a bit of Vetericyn to make sure it didn't dry out then wrapped her leg with vet wrap to keep it all in place. 

I usually use the camo colored vet wrap, but since she was pretty mad at me by this time...Peggy got the Angry Birds pattern! 

injury on backyard chickens leg

I changed the dressing every few days until the wound was closed. After it was healed from the inside I switched to just vet wrap for about a week to keep the dirt out. Keeping it wrapped also keeps her and other chickens from pecking at it which would have made the recovery much longer! 

The last week she's been without a bandage and almost all the scabbing has fallen off. As you can see (even though the pictures are blurry since she seldom stands still now!) Peggy is all healed up and doing just fine! 

While I still use zip ties to identify chicks, I never send one to a new home with a zip tie still on! I always remove the zip ties before they leave here. I have since purchased these chick bands which are more like a spring and will open up if they're left on while the chick grows.

Problems with using zip ties to identify chicks

Peggy is going back home this weekend, all healed up and ready to see her hatch-mates again! I wish her good luck and will have a talk with her owner about watching more closely for signs of injury or illness. This should have been caught much sooner. 

Either way, I'm just glad she's all better and I hope her story might help to remind others of the importance of removing certain types of leg bands as chicks grow.


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I am not a veterinarian or other animal care professional nor do I claim to be. I am simply passing on information that has worked for me and my flock. This information is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any medical condition. Please see a vet if your chicken is ill. Click for my full disclaimer

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  1. I love my chickens and would hate to know one of them had such an injury. I am so glad you knew what to do and the bird has made a great recovery. Thanks for sharing a warning with some who just may not think about those bands.

    1. Thanks.....I'm very happy she is doing so well! She doesn't seem to have any permanent damage, so it definitely could have been worse!
      Thanks for stopping by!


  2. tHANKYOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST , I bougt some silkie chickens around 4 months ago and am new to chicken raising. I bought them of what i thought was a trusted breeder. I never even knew about clip ring or ties for identification. Anyhow 4 months later being today I noticed Minnie my silkie was limping and did everything thing you stated there was a zip ties on her and i hadnt even noticed it for the past 4 months the breeder said nothing and being feather legged i didnt see anything. I was so worried thankfully it wasnt as grown in as your peggy but never the less such a stressing ordeal for minnie and myself. She is going great at the moment and seems very settled the swelling has gone right down in her leg allowing blood flow again and only a few drops of blood was lost keeping a close eye on her but hopefully all stays well.

    1. I'm so glad she's doing well! It's so stressful when they get injured, isn't it? Peggy has feathered legs too. Those zip ties are much easier to spot on clean legged breeds.

      I'm glad Minnie and you are doing well!

      ~Lisa M

  3. Im glad she is ok. I'm not concerned about using zip ties on young chicks or ducklings but nearly mature ducks and chickens. We are raising Peking duck and mixed breed chickens for meat and do not want to accidentally butcher a mature breeding duck or mature laying hen. My rooster is easy to identify by color and his mature spurs thank heavens.