Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Injured Chicken-Rockett

By having chickens I've learned tragedies happen, no matter what you do to prevent them. I've also learned how to word things in Google to get the answers I need quickly when an accident does occur. This post is about a recent incident to one of our chickens. This is not a post for the faint of heart. 

Rockett, a Bard Rock Chicken, is not one of our smartest. She usually stays in the coop all day, sitting on eggs, hers and the other chickens or eating. She is not very social with the other birds. Once we were cleaning the coop and put her out in the yard, she tried to hide from the others behind some piled up grass hay. The others ignored her and kept on scratching and pecking the ground.

The other night (3-8-2011) my husband went out to check on our six chickens and two ducks. He heard one of our chickens loudly squawking. He found our female duck, Maxine, on top of Rockett, attacking her. Our ducks are Muscovy Ducks, much larger and heavier than our chickens. Rockett was badly injured.

Ted, my husband, came in and told me what happened. He said, she may have to be put down. He was able to catch her long enough to look at her wound under her right wing. He wasn't able to contain her though because of her squirming.

When it was time to lock the birds up for the night, Ted found Rockett had calmed down and was in her nest box. He was able to pick her up and bring her to me to examine. We initially put her in the tub to be able to care for her. She had an open wound approximately 3" by 5"under her wing. She stayed surprisingly calm and even let us pet and examine her.

 I rinsed the area with saline solution while Ted held her wing up. (I keep generic saline on hand for wounds and flushing eyes. I buy it at Wal-mart for about $2. I then diluted some Betadine in water and  poured it on her wound, followed by more saline. No signs of infection were noted, (swelling, discolored drainage). I couldn't find the antibiotic ointment and made a mental note to get some the next day. (When I'd looked up how to care for an injured chicken it was recommended to apply it to the wound.)

We decided to keep her in the house to ensure her safety. We've found when a chicken has visible injuries the others will generally pick on them, making the injury worse or killing the bird. My husband went out and retrieved an old dog crate. (We keep this old, well used crate for times just like this.)  He put grass hay in it for bedding along with food and water. I'd put Terra-vet antibiotic in the water hoping this would cut down on chances of infection. I've used Terra-vet in the past when the birds had symptoms of respiratory or gastrointestinal infections. It is a broad spectrum antibiotic and I hope it will work on preventing skin infections.

Partial view of wound. 
Old dog kennel, temporary home for Rockett. 

 I was concerned about her wound and comfort. To make sure she would keep warm I turned a little electric heater up to 76˚. My husband had to correct me on this, though. He said the heat would be too much for her because she is used to her coop being in the 50s.

Our dogs, which live inside with us, didn't understand what was going on. They kept looking at her and sniffing her through the crate. Our female, Princess, is not used to being around any of our fowl. She is too spastic and we're afraid she would hurt one of them. Our male, Max, is a lot milder. He actually goes with my husband at night to herd everyone into the coop. He has been known to gently pick up a chicken and put her in if she can't find her way.

Mild Max checking on Rockett

Being a city girl and a nurse, I always want to care for a hurting animal. My husband accuses me of trying to change nature. I just can't help it though. I feel the animals are under our care and we need to do the best we can for them. Even if it "goes against nature."

Not sure what will happen from here. I will keep you posted.

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