Monday, 25 November 2013

Chicken Doctoring - Lesson Learnt

This post is not for the squeamish or the faint hearted but if you are a chicken owner you might be able to learn from our mistake and not have to go through this your self.

On my return from New Zealand I discovered that we had another batch of eggs that our bantam was sitting on turn out to be infertile so we decided to buy some more hens.  These hens were to join our second flock which consisted of 3 girls and a rooster. 
I had noticed that our rooster had been working the girls a bit hard and 2 of the 3 had lost a lot of their feathers on their backs.  We decided that the best thing to do was to remove the rooster and give the girls a chance to grow their feathers back and have a break from the rooster.

We were going to move him that night as they are in a big enclosure and we knew it would be impossible to catch him during the day.  But that night there was a huge thunderstorm and we delayed moving him.
This was our mistake.
The next afternoon when feeding them I noticed that one of the girls had blood on her back and I knew that that one extra day had been a bad idea.
That night we caught and moved the rooster and caught the injured hen.  Ohhh Lord.  It was far worse than I had expected. (See picture below)
The rooster had obviously been trying to mount her and slipped off.  There was one big scratch on one side of her back but on the other side there was a huge tear right through her skin and there was a big, I'm talking 5cm across, gaping hole where the muscle was showing through.

Oh you poor little chicken.  The guilt I felt was overwhelming and I knew that we might have to dispatch her if I could not help her.
So I retrieved our first aid kit and got out a sterile pad, antiseptic cream, antiseptic wash and a elastic bandage.
While my husband held her with her head covered I washed out the wound then very gently tried to pull the skin back over the wound.  But it would not stay and I did not have any steri strips to hold it closed.  Then Hubby tells me he is feeling faint and queasy (oh boy) so I had to send him out side for some fresh air while I carried on.  In the end I had to cover the sterile dressing in antiseptic cream and use it to cover the wound as best I could.  I then used an elastic bandage to hold the dressing in place wrapping it over her back, behind her wings and under her breast.
The whole time she stood still and was completely calm.  We then returned her to her roost in the pen to wait and see what happened.

The next day I checked on her and you would not have known there was anything wrong.  She was still the boss and eating, drinking and running around.  We were due to pick up our new hens that day and I called the breeder and told her we would take an extra one because of what had happened to our hen.  She asked about out inured hen and how she was doing.  When I said she was eating and drinking and running around the breeder thought she should be fine, but just in case she said when we picked up the other hens she would give me an animal antibiotic injection to give her.
We picked up the new hens the following day (I will introduce you to them another day) and the antibiotic injection with 2 doses, plus some chicken fashion.
So that night we changed the dressing again and I gave her the first injection into her breast.  It is a 3 day antibiotic and she will get another dose then.  

So 3 days on from the injury she is still behaving like nothing is wrong and tonight we decided to  take of the dressing as it kept slipping.  Instead she is now wearing this lovely chicken saddle that we picked up from the breeder.
The straps go under the wings and clip on with domes.
Hopefully this will stay in place a bit better but I am worried about the wound drying out too quickly.  I know wound care used to call for letting them dry out but these days I think the theory is to keep them moist. The main issue is that I have to go away in a couple of days and will not be here to keep a close eye on her so I am trying to come up with a plan Hubby can deal with (without feeling faint).  I do not really want to separate her as she is top chicken, and so far there has been not pecking at her from the other hens but it is always a concern.  I guess I just have to hope for the best.

Well if you managed to get past the yucky photo I thank you and hopefully this post will men that if any of you see your hens in the same situation you will remove that rooster regardless of the weather.  I know I will.


  1. Thanks for sharing fiona. I found a hen in a similar situation, but it was mid summer and she wasn't looking good so i had to dispatch her. Good to know that they can recover with the right care.

  2. You are braver than me oh dear the poor chicken... Just goes to show you how sting women are... They just get on with it don't they. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  3. That took some guts. Well Done. I think i would have sided with your hubby and fainted away.


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