first aid kit.

Sometimes you need a little more to get better. Here are some common issues that we have dealt with.

Note - many antibiotics are no longer available over the counter, and must be prescribed by a vet.
Also note - do not just squirt liquid into your chicken's mouth. You can shoot it straight into the trachea and aspirate them. It is terrifying and can result in a dead or sick chicken. Either put it their beak tip in one or two drops at a time and let them swallow in between, or use a 1 ml syringe and gently push it down the throat so the liquid goes past the trachea right into the crop. The trachea is right at the back of the tongue, so you need to get past that before depressing the plunger to dispense liquid.
AND THE MOST IMPORTANT NOTE OF ALL - prevention is the key. Keep your coops clean, water clean, runs clean. Give your chickens a healthy diet, plenty of room for exercise, and lots of ventilation. Access to fresh oregano may be beneficial (natural antibacterial/antiviral).

I don't know!!!
This is by far the most common chicken ailment. First, observe normal behavior in chickens so that you can recognize abnormal behavior. Look for pale or purple combs, fluffy hunched bodies, limping, wheezing, coughing, nasal congestion, wounds, mites, etc. Are they eating and drinking? Develop a checklist. If they look a bit off but you cannot find a problem, try this trick I learned from HenCam. Fill a container or sink with very warm water (like bathwater) and add some epsom salt. I use about 4tbsp/half gallon, but less is fine. Let your hen sit in the bath for 10 minutes. That sounds very simple, but truthfully I've only had one chicken really sit in the bath. The rest I kept my hand on, pressing them down gently. (After wrestling them into the water and being doused with epsom salt bath mixed with whatever nasty chicken yard dirt came off in the struggle.) Hopefully you will have a towel laid out to gently dry them. I typically remember at this point that I should have done that, and end up carrying a dripping upset chicken over to the towels. Cause otherwise they kamikaze off the side of the sink. A bit of olive oil can also help - maybe 1-3ml. You can carefully give this to them or put it on some food that they like. An oral dose of epsom salt can also be beneficial to help keep things moving (natural laxative), kill off yeast (for things like vent gleet), and neutralize toxins! Internal dose is 1tsp in 1 oz of water - give most of it, then repeat in 12 or 24 hours. *** Make sure you bypass the trachea when giving liquids orally (see notes at the top of this page).

Another excellent first treatment - a dose of vitamins! Vitamins can really help - young chicks often recover from shipping much more quickly with vitamins. Once I had a shipped chick who kept flipping over on her back. Twice I thought she was dead. But three times I day I put a drip of Nutradrench in her beak, and after 4 days, she was completely normal. (** again, I cannot stress enough - be careful not to aspirate your chick - avoid that trachea by carefully dripping vitamins one drop at a time into the tip of the beak, allowing time for swallowing in between, or bypass the trachea with a syringe (see notes at the top of this page )).

Me showing my finesse as I carry Amber without first pinning her wings to her sides. Nothing like being buffeted in the face with big strong wings to wake you up!


Allergies
OK, this is not super common, but it happens. It seems quite prevalent in brahmas for some reason. We had a chicken who wheezed with the seasons. Spring and fall got to her, so on bad pollen days, she got 1 ml children's benedryl. It really helped. I've heard that it can help if your chicken is stung also, though we've not had that happen. I've also heard you can give a higher dose - half the children's dose, but so far 1 ml is all we've needed. (see notes at the top before giving benedryl - you do not want to aspirate your chicken!).

Bumblefoot
A nasty foot infection, usually noticed when the chicken gets an abscess or begins limping. A black spot on the foot can be bumblefoot, if it swells. There is often a hard kernel of infection that must be removed - it's pretty gross and not for the faint of heart, but I've done it. It can spread if not treated. I have noticed that in consistently wet weather, some of my girls get black scabs on their feet which are not bumblefoot and resolve on their own when the weather dries up. But for bumblefoot, remove the core (see the next paragraph), wash well with dilute iodine, put neosporin and gauze on the wound, then wrap with self-adhesive bandage. After that, I soak the foot in a warm epsom salt bath every other day, then rewrap. If it's pretty bad, I do it every day for 3 days and then switch to every other day. Usually I don't do more than 3 epsom salt soaks, since it can dry out their leg scales. I use maybe 4 tbsp epsom salt in 1/2 gallon water in a sink. Or you can just take your chicken to the vet. A friend did that - I think it was about $200.
And about those directions "remove the core," well, that can be easier said than done. Often removing the scab is difficult. Sometimes soaking that foot once or twice a day, then adding neosporin and bandages, can help soften it enough for you to get it off. If there is swelling, it needs to come off so you can squeeze out the infection. I had to soak one of my girls for several days before I could loosen the scab. Yuck. With one girl, I was able to fish out the "kernel" with tweezers. With another, no kernal had formed, so I had to just squeeze out the yucky abscess. Again. Yuck.

** If you have access to injectable oxytetracycline, 1ml in the breast tissue can help resolve severe bumblefoot. Do not eat eggs for two weeks after injecting.








This is a photo a day after the kernel was removed - swelling is still present, but has gone way down.

Coccidiosis
This stuff kills birds, particularly chicks, quickly. If you notice a fluffy non-responsive chick, sometimes it is good to just go ahead and treat, especially if you see frothy or bloody poop. I use amprolium powder. I put 1/2 tsp per chick waterer (which is 1/4 gallon) for five days. Then I make sure they get vitamins for about 3 solid days afterwards in their water, then probiotics. Amprolium keeps the parasite from getting thyamine, but also keeps your chicken from absorbing it, hence the vitamins. I actually just put all my chicks on amprolium after they've been in the dirt for four days (first they stay in a brooder for 2-4 weeks). I don't use medicated food, so I treat everyone just in case and never had a problem.

Impacted/Sour Crop
Impaction happens when something blocks food from exiting the crop and entering the digestive tract. Sour crop can result - this is a yeast infection. DO NOT GIVE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. This will cause the yeast to flourish. Isolate your bird, give them access to water and grit ONLY overnight. Also, give a pea sized dollop of monostat-3 (just put it in their mouth). Next morning, check the crop. If it's flat, great. Keep it isolated, feed it scrambled eggs for the day (high protein = low yeast), give another monistat dollop. Check again in the morning. Good? Give damp food in the morning, then out in the afternoon.
If the crop was not flat in the morning, you have a bigger job. You need to take out your bird about 5 times a day and gently massage that crop. You are trying to break up the mass that is blocking the digestive process. Allow the chicken scrambled eggs, grit, and water. Give a dollop of monostat morning and night to keep the yeast down. Repeat every day until they wake up with a flat crop. Give one more day of scrambled eggs, then half a day with damp food. Then back to the flock.
If it goes on too long, you may have to have surgery done on them to remove the blockage. I've never had that happen, but others have. I have made a "crop bra" to hold up a very saggy crop and put it in a better position for digestion.
NOTE - their crop will be full of liquid at the start of this. Do not turn your chicken upside down to remove the liquid. They can choke and aspirate, perhaps die.

Penguin wearing a sporty crop bra (made of an old sock) under her feathers to keep her swollen crop in the proper position. She got into some mown grass and stuffed herself!


Respiratory Illnesses
Wheezing, dripping noses, coughing - all of these should be taken seriously (unless they just snorted in some dirt, which happens). First isolate the chicken. Try to find out if they are eating and drinking. Start small, with something like Vet Rx on their comb and a drop or two under their wings. Some use Vicks, but be careful with that - it contains camphor, which can hurt chickens. If things persist or worsen, you may need antibiotics. The main one available is Tylan 50. This can be given orally or by injection - you will need a needle and syringe to get it out (just fyi, if you've not done this before, take off the little metal circle on top, but not the metal holding the rubber cork. If you need 1/2 ml, pull 1/2 ml air into the syringe, then inject the air into the bottle. Turn the bottle upside down and slowly pull 1/2 ml of Tylan into the syringe.). (and also, a cc is the same amount as a ml)


Oral Tylan 50: 1/2 cc standard, 1/4 cc bantam, 5 days

Injection: 1/2 cc standard, 1/4 cc bantam, 3 days (alternate sides, give in breast muscle)

(Note - this stuff makes them SORE after injecting, so expect them to be lethargic and very still until it wears off)


Oral or Injection? Well, I've only used this for a chick who breathed in some peat moss and then had some breathing issues. I injected, because it's quicker acting directly in the muscle and this chick was really having breathing issues. I consider that acute. (she got better by the way, and we removed the peat moss). But if it wasn't such an emergency? I'd do oral - she looked so sore. I've never dealt with an actual respiratory disease... I keep my flock closed in an effort to avoid them. Many birds become carriers of several respiratory diseases, and can spread them under times of stress. So many times people will buy a healthy looking bird, bring it home, and either that bird gets sick or their previously healthy birds get sick. 


Wounds
Clean the wound with iodine, use neosporin with no pain relief or a wound powder, then wrap if possible with adhesive bandage like Vet Wrap. If you can't wrap it, spray it with something like blue kote to keep the other hens from pecking. If pecking happens, isolate the hen until healed.

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