Raising backyard chickens is a joyful experience. I love their little clucks, curious natures and, of course, farm fresh eggs!
But sometimes chickens can get into a bit of trouble, and it’s best to be ready to take care of minor illnesses and injuries at home. Since I’m only just entering into the wonderful world of backyard chickens, I asked a colleague who works in chicken medicine to provide me with a list of what to have in my first aid kit for chickens.
Meet Dr. Williamson in my post about sick chickens.
Get a printable list at the bottom of this post.
For storing your first aid kit, a plastic tote is a great option. And make sure to keep it in a handy location near your coop.
For wrapping and covering injuries, Vetwrap is the perfect option because it’s self-adherent and easy to find.
It does stick very tightly to itself. So to avoid making your bandage too tight, pull a section of the wrap loose from the roll and reroll it before you place the bandage on your chicken.
Non-stick Telfa pads can be placed directly over injuries without sticking to them or interfering with healing.
Medical tape is also good to have on hand.
You may want some popsicle sticks or tongue depressors to use as temporary splints if needed.
A chlorhexidine solution like Hibiclens or Nolvasan is better and less damaging than peroxide for cleaning wounds.
You’ll want to dilute the chlorhexidine to a light sky blue color, so make sure you have a small dish for this purpose in your first aid kit. A small stainless steel pet food bowl works well for this and is easy to clean.
Neosporin or other topical antibiotic cream. Choose one that does not treat pain/contain lidocaine.
Honey ointment is another option, but it is very sticky.
Epsom salts can be used to soak wounds and help speed healing.
For vent prolapses, Preparation H or sugar can be applied to reduce swelling
Blu-Kote: A blue ointment that is useful to cover/hide wounds. Use carefully, it will stain your skin and clothing!!
- Chickens like picking at each other’s wounds and will pick each other to death in some cases. Appling Blu-kote to wounds is useful if you are unable to remove a wounded bird from the coop to try to reduce picking. For that reason ONLY, I recommend keeping some in your first aid kit. Please do not mistake that color as an antibiotic treatment, though. It doesn’t prevent, treat or control any infection.
If you have a sick chicken that won’t eat, you’ll need to force feed her so she doesn’t starve. Mash up some feed and water and use a large syringe with a catheter tip to drip food into her mouth.
If your chicken will not eat, try to feed her approximately 15ml per pound several times a day.
Poultry probiotics are great for making sure your chicken doesn’t lose any natural flora while she’s ill and can help treat sour crop (an overgrowth of yeast in the crop). Add some to their water on a regular basis and especially when they’re ill.
A vitamin and electrolyte supplement is helpful during times of stress including excessive heat, molting, and illness.
Poultry dust containing permethrin, an insecticide that is not approved for organic farms.
Diatomaceous earth is an organic option that can help control some external parasites.
To apply sprinkle directly on your birds or add to your chickens’ dust bath.
Some chicken owners swear by natural dewormers like Verm-x, but there isn’t any scientific evidence to support their efficacy.
Wazine is sold over the counter for chickens but does not treat all types of intestinal parasites, and the eggs of treated chickens cannot be consumed for 2 weeks.
Consult a veterinarian to diagnose and treat severe intestinal parasite infections.
Dog nail trimmers for cutting nails, beaks, and spurs
Cornstarch or styptic powder for stopping minor bleeding
Sterile eye wash (saline solution) for flushing eyes
Terramycin antibiotic eye ointment
Flashlight and batteries
Disposable latex gloves
Read more about caring for a sick chicken
The information within this post is for informational purposes only. Always consult a veterinarian before treating or administering medications to your pets.