Emergency Chicken First Aid!

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Sorry to ask another question so close together, but a neighbor's dog got into our chickens today and two of them are real bad off. Both are still alive, but I don't know for how long... I'm so distressed by this! I tried not to get too attached to the hens, knowing this kind of this happens, but I'm suprisingly upset. And my children... there has been lots of weeping and wailing here tonight! Anyway, is there anything I can do to help the poor birds? I put antibiotic salve on the wounds, and they are in a seperate cage under a heat lamp. What else? I really appreciate your help, Natalie

-- Natalie W. Whitlock (Casaflora@aol.com), February 01, 2001


It just depends on how badly they were hurt. If they are laying down and not getting up I'm afraid they probably won't make it. Chickens don't handle shock well. Most animals that are considered dinner by other animals seem to have the built in shock response that more or less means they loose the will to live after they have received a big enough shock. I've seen this in goats, rabbits, geese, and chickens. For the time being it seems like you are doing everything that can be done. One word of advice...don't get them too warm and don't get the heat lamp too near the feathers...they're flammable!

-- Amanda in Mo (aseley@townsqr.com), February 01, 2001.

Natalie-I don't know what you mean by really bad off. Can they walk? Have they lost a lot of blood? Are they suffering?? Perhaps if they are suffering you should put them down after the children are in bed? It is hard to offer advice when there is so little information. I am inclined to believe that if they can't walk they should be put out of their misery. I will be up for a while if you want to give more info

-- diane (gardiacaprines@yahoo.com), February 01, 2001.

Natalie, Sounds like you are doing every thing you can for them.treat the puncture wounds and keep them warm.Also make sure that they have something to drink at all times.you can do even better by giving them soome cattle electrolyte fluid like used for medicating scouring calfs.Keep the birds in a quiet place in the house some where if you can.This will help prevent some out side animal from taking advantage of thier injured state.As for what to do about dog attacks see the dead duck post.It is a long one and full of ideas and advice.You will also see that it is a big problem for most homesteaders.You may be surprised how much of a recovery your hens may make by morning .Good luck and keep the board posted!!!

-- Greg (gsmith@tricountyi.net), February 01, 2001.

Here's a little more info: both are awake, can stand and walk a bit and are drinking. I can't believe they are even alive from the looks of them! I wish I could tell if they might make it or if they are truly suffering... My 6-month old Araucana had her whole backside bitten off, and the little yellow Silky was bitten deep on the top and bottom (sorry to be so gruesome). Thanks again.

-- Natalie (Casaflora@aol.com), February 01, 2001.

Sounds like a tough call. Walking is a good thing. I guess I would wait and see how they make it through the night if they were mine. The one with the back side bitten off doesn't sound too hopeful to me. I sure hate this kind of stuff!! Sorry it happened to you.

-- diane (gardiacaprines@yahoo.com), February 01, 2001.

Natalie, I would say that the above posts have you covered. Walking is a good sign, drinking even better. The shock and seriousness of the wounds will be the deciding factor. I am very sorry that this is such a common plight.

I posted the dead duck question and i recieved alot of advise. When things calm down you should give it a read through. No more Mrs. nice neighbor for me.

-- Shau Marie (shau@centurytel.net), February 02, 2001.

I would recommend givng them Rescue Remedy in their water/electrolytes as well, if you've got it. It is helpful for shock. If you don't have any of the calf electrolytes, Pedialyte can be given as well as Gatorade in a pinch.

I've had birds attacked by dogs that recovered from the shock if they were kept in dimly lit, quiet, and warm quarters for a few days. The bites are of a concern. I don't know if it's too late to thoroughly lavage the wounds with sterile water (boiled will do in a pinch!) to try and limit bacteria driven into the wounds. I keep plastic pipettes handy for this sort of thing, but a syringe w/o sharps will work too if that's all you've got.

If they make it through the night, you might think about using a calendula infusion for washing out the wounds if they are not extremely deep. (if extremely deep, use chamomile infusion for the first few days so it doesn't heal up too fast) Calendula heals wounds so fast you may be surprised. They don't want you to use it on the deepest wounds as it will heal the skin over so fast, that it can seal in dirt and bacteria. It needs to heal from the depths upward, and use the calendula later. I used this on the hip of one of my horses that was punctured to the bone - the vet said that it would heal with a large scar and was very surprised that ultimately you could not even find the scar unless you knew where to look. Calendula is very safe for birds.

-- Julie Froelich (firefly1@nnex.net), February 02, 2001.

I am so sorry. When I lost one of my little bantam cochin hens I had to cancel my client calls that day. I know how hard this is.

-- Anne (HT@HM.com), February 02, 2001.

Replacing their water with Pedialyte (or the store brand look-alike) -yep, the stuff for children- for a few days will give them the electrolytes they need from the shock.

-- ~Rogo (rogo2020@yahoo.com), February 02, 2001.

Natalie, Sory about the injured chickens and you have lots of good advice. The poor thing with the backside gone does not have a good chance of surival, but everyday they are alive is a step in the right direction. Give the children a hug for me and tell them it is a hard lesson in real life. Good luck.

-- karen (kansasgoats@iwon.com), February 02, 2001.

I had a chicken whose neck was ripped down to the bone last year...She lived. I packed the wound with gauze and flooded it with hydrogen peroxide and force fed her homemade electrolyte replacer...1 tbsp honey 1/8 tsp baking soda pinch salt and warm water. I kept her in small pen and made sure that I kept the hydrogen peroxide soaked bandage on for 5 full minutes twice a day. Also I used triple antibiotic afetr the hp. best wishes to you.

-- Doreen (animalwaitress@excite.com), February 02, 2001.

This response is a little late- by now your poor chickens are probably gone or already on their way to recovery. But, for future reference, you might keep honey in mind for dressing wounds. It is hygroscopic- sucks the moisture right out of those nasty bacteria. They can't survive in it. We use it all the time, on animals as well as humans. It can be a little messy!, but worth the effort- in most cases you would want to cover the area to keep down the mess. There has been quite a bit of research done recently in the medical community- lots of hospitals are using it these days. It is especially valuable for treating burns.

-- Elizabeth (ekfla@aol.com), February 03, 2001.

Oh! That was a good suggestion! It's a bit off-topic, however, back in British colonial days in India, they used to issue sugar to the elephant handlers to pack into the wounds caused by tiger attack. I think it did the same thing as the honey.

-- Julie Froelich (firefly1@nnex.net), February 03, 2001.

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