How To Make A Chicken First Aid Kit
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Raising backyard chickens is a joyful experience, but it’s important to have a chicken first aid kit ready to go in case they get injured.
If you’ve secured your chickens appropriately in their coop, then injuries and illness should be pretty uncommon. However, you don’t want to be caught unprepared because it can be hard to find a vet to treat a chicken.
With this chicken first aid kit list and the tips in my post about taking care of sick chickens, you should have everything you need to take care of minor injuries to your hen or roo if they do get hurt.
Chicken Wound Care + First Aid Supplies List
First things first – you’ll want to isolate the sick chicken so having a dog crate on hand is a good way to keep her contained and provide easy access. You’ll also need a container or cabinet for your first aid kit, and make sure you keep it in a location that is convenient, out of the weather, and safe from pests.
You don’t want to be digging around in closets and drawers if your chickens need quick attention. You might even consider a rolling briefcase or something with wheels to make your first aid kit easy to move around if needed.
Make sure you get the printable checklist to keep in your first aid kit too. It will help you keep track and replace your inventory as needed.
Wound Cleaning Supplies
Always wear gloves when handling wounds. This protects you as well as your birds. Your first step in wound care is to get it as clean as possible. Wash wounds liberally with a chlorhexidine solution or diluted Iodine cleanser.
These antiseptic solutions are better and less damaging than peroxide for cleaning wounds. Just be careful with chlorhexidine around the eyes as it can cause ulcers.
You’ll want to dilute the chlorhexidine or Betadine 50:50 with warm water. 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.
Medium (6-12cc) syringes can come in handy for flushing debris out of hard to reach areas.
Wound Care Supplies
Topical Antibiotic (WITHOUT LIDOCAINE!)
After thoroughly cleaning the wound, apply ointment directly over the open injury. Neosporin or other topical antibiotic cream is essential to have on hand for applying directly to wounds.
The cream not only provides antibiotics, but it acts as a physical barrier to prevent debris from getting in wounds. Make sure you choose one that does not treat pain/contain lidocaine. Products that contain lidocaine are unsafe for birds.
Honey ointment is another option, but it is very sticky. It might surprise you to know that honey has antibiotic and healing properties, and it is frequently used to help wounds heal faster.
Epsom salts can be used to soak sore muscles and help speed healing. For vent prolapses, Preparation H can be applied to reduce swelling and promote reduction of the prolapse.
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.
First Aid Bandage Material
Waterproof Medical Tape
If possible, large open wounds should be covered after they’ve been cleaned and ointment applied. You want to make sure that no dirt or debris can get in there and cause infection, but you should never wrap a wound that has not been thoroughly cleaned.
Non-stick Telfa pads can be placed directly over injuries without sticking to them and protect the wound from your bandage material.
For wrapping and covering injuries, Vetwrap is the perfect option because it’s self-adherent and easy to find. But you should know that it does stick very tightly to itself.
So be very careful not to pull the bandage material too tightly around your chicken. You can cut off circulation and cause worse injury or even death if your bandage is too tight.
Medical tape and tongue depressors can come in handy as additional bandage material and for splinting if needed.
Sick Chicken Nutrition
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 crumbled feed with warm water and use a large syringe with a catheter tip to drip food into her mouth.
How much to feed a sick chicken?
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 the flock’s 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 is an insecticide that can treat numerous dermal parasites, but be aware this product is not approved for organic farms.
Diatomaceous earth is an organic option that can help control some external parasites. It’s especially beneficial when applied during your coop cleaning routine. To apply to individual birds, sprinkle directly on their skin or add to your chickens’ dust bath.
Intestinal parasites can infect chickens, but these are not as common as you might think. Some chicken owners swear by natural dewormers like Verm-x, but there isn’t any scientific evidence to support their efficacy.
Some parasiticides are sold over the counter, but make sure to check which parasites are sensitive to it and whether it’s safe to consume eggs after giving oral treatments. (Look up withdrawal times here)
Wazine, for example, 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.
Additional Items For Chicken First Aid Kit
Saline Eye Wash
Dog nail trimmers are handy for cutting nails, beaks, and spurs. Cornstarch or styptic powder helps stop minor bleeding of nails and small wounds.
Occasionally, chickens will get injuries to their eyes. Keep some sterile eye wash (saline solution) to rinse out the eye, and then apply some Terramycin antibiotic eye ointment.
Emergencies often come up after dark. So make sure you have a bright lantern or flashlight and batteries in your first aid kit for chickens.
The information within this post is for informational purposes only. I am a vet, but I am not your vet. Always consult your veterinarian before treating or administering medications to your pets.
This is a good solid article. We keep all of these items as well. Thanks for sharing.
Good information, thanks for your post.
Don’t forget! Neosporin with pain reliever is toxic to chickens. You need to use the type without pain reliever. Also known as bacitracin (unsure on proper spelling of that word).
I would love be to have the checklist !
I have issues at times with our internet and for the life of me I can’t get a list to pop up . Is it possible to send me a link ? I appreciate your help very much !
Hi Melissa, I’m sorry that the link to get the checklist was broken. I have updated the post to make the checklist accessible. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. 🙂