How to treat an injured chicken

As chicken keepers we see our fair share of injuries in the flock. Whether it be because of feather pulling, bullying or predators we often have to take care of their wounds at home. 

Finding a chicken vet can be difficult if not impossible in some areas! I live in farm country and my closest avian vet is over an hour away down in the city (so weird, right?) We have to know how to deal with wounds at home. 

chicken, wounds

I always keep a chicken emergency kit on hand to help deal with these issues. Luckily the steps are very simple and chickens heal quite quickly.

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How to treat a wounded chicken: 

Stop the bleeding: 

Apply gentle but firm pressure on the wound with paper towels. You can use blood stop powder if necessary. Cornstarch works also.

Assess the injuries: 

Check to make sure there are no other injuries on the chicken. Look under wings, part feathers and check her all over. Puncture marks can be hard to find but easily get infected, so check very well. It's easier to treat the wounds when they're fresh then try to treat them after they've become infected.

Clean the wound: 

I like to rinse with saline solution to get the bulk of the dirt out of the wound. You can make your own saline solution. Make sure it's room temperature if you make it fresh. Use a large syringe (without the needle) to flush the wounds. After all the visible dirt is gone, gently pat dry and rinse with hydrogen peroxide. Allow to bubble then dry gently by dabbing with a paper towel. 

Next I use Vetericyn spray on the chickens wound to get rid of any bacteria that may remain. Then let air dry for a few minutes.

Protect the wound:

The next step depends on where the injury is on the chicken and if you'll be able to cover it or not. If it's something you can wrap or cover in some way, just skip this step. If it's not something you'll be able to cover you'll want to use blu-kote on the wound. When chickens see red they peck at it, and a flock can very quickly turn a small injury into a gaping hole. Blu-kote turns it purple and they suddenly have no interest in it. I know it sounds silly, but it works. 

injured chicken

You'll want to apply antibacterial ointment to the chickens injury next. I like to use Neosporin but any triple antibiotic ointment will work. Make sure it is NOT the kind with pain relief! That contains an additional ingredient that can be toxic to chickens. If you don't have any on hand, you can whip up this 2 ingredient first aid salve using common herbs and coconut oil.

If the injury is on a place you can wrap, cover it with a gauze pad and wrap with vet wrap. Be careful not to make it too tight to cut of circulation, but you do have to press the wrap together a bit to get it to stick.

I check the chickens wound daily. If a wound gets dirt in it I rinse it with saline solution and use the Vetericyn spray again. Re-apply ointment until it's healed

Depending on the extent of the injury you may want to separate the chicken from the flock. I use a cage inside the coop so she can still see her friends while recovering. I find this minimizes stress when she is allowed back in with the flock. If the injury is on her back you could put a chicken saddle on her to minimize picking and exposure to dirt.  

Related reading: Timber Creek Farmer has a great post on treating Foot injuries in chickens.

Ideally you'll have everything you need on hand. I wrote about what's in my chicken emergency kit and it's a good idea to be prepared, but if you need to pick up a few things, most feed stores carry everything you'll need. That post has a printable list to take shopping with you so you don't forget anything!

If you don't want to buy blood stop powder, Healing Harvest Homestead has a great recipe for making your own quickclot.

When dealing with an injured chicken I like to add some vitamins and electrolytes to their water the first few days. Make sure she's eating well. You can add mealworms, yogurt, BOSS or cooked eggs to their food to increase the protein level and help her body heal. Most chickens bounce back quickly from minor injuries and within a few months you won't be able to tell they were injured at all!


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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. Hello. I really appreciate the posts that you write, and the fact that you share so much valuable information. For those of us that want to be as careful in our chickens' care, but would like to avoid most commercial products, do you have suggestions for some of the products listed here? I note you mention making your own quick clot, and saline solution, but what about the Neosporin or the vetericyn spray? Oh, and what is BOSS? Thank you again!
    Carol L

    1. Hello! I do not make my own neosporin but Wellness Mama has a recipe on her site and I trust her advice and recipes. Unfortunately I do not know of a homemade version of Vetericyn. BOSS is black oil sunflower seeds and chickens love them! Hope that helps!