Chickens are pretty hardy birds. Feed them a quality layer feed, give them access to fresh water and a clean, dry place to sleep and they will stay pretty healthy all on their own. As a responsible animal owner it is always wise to be prepared; a fight between two birds, a predator attack, an unexpected illness, you want to be prepared for the worst. Following are some items to assemble for a chicken first aid kit so you will be prepared in case the need arises. Particularly in an emergency situation, you want to have the supplies handy. Have a sick chicken now? Check out my post on diagnosing illness with a chicken check up
The first thing you want to have handy is a place where you can isolate a sick or injured chicken. Isolating a sick chicken at the first sign of disease can save the rest of your flock from getting a sick. If you have an injured chicken often her flock mates will make the situation worse rather than offer her compassion. It can have a deadly end for the injured bird. A hospital coop can be a spare mini coop (click here to see how I built one out of scrap wood), a large dog crate set up in your basement or garage can also work. Be sure to provide the sick or injured chicken with her own food & water around the clock.
A predator attack can be a pretty ugly scene. Unfortunately, sometimes a predator will attack several birds, dragging one off to eat and leaving behind a trail of injured, bleeding birds in it’s wake. If you are squeamish, this is going to be hard enough to deal with on it’s own. Having gloves might make it a little more bearable. It will also stop the transfer of germs between you & the chicken
An anti bacterial gel spray, Vetericyn is used to clean wounds and treat infections. Vetericyn is safe for almost all animals so it is a really handy product to have on hand for any animal owner.
This can help a bird with minor injuries stay with the flock, reducing stress on her. Birds are drawn to raw skin or bleeding wounds. If you have a chicken with an open cut, the other chickens will often pick at the area making it worse. Blu-Kote is an antiseptic spray that will dye the area blue making it less attractive to other birds (word of warning, it will also dye your skin & clothing!)
Vetrap Bandaging, Non Stick Gauze Pads & small scissors
For treating injuries. Vetrap is a self adhering bandage used for animals. The great part is it sticks to itself, but not to fur & feathers so it doesn’t cause damage when you need to remove it.
Syringe or dropper
Not just handy for administering medicine, a syringe can also be helpful if the chicken isn’t drinking on their own, or for feeding if you need to mix up a liquid diet to keep her strength up.
Preparation H (regular without pain relief)
In the case of a prolapsed vent you will want to act quickly. A prolapsed vent is more likely to happen in young hens and often after passing a particularly large egg. When passing the egg, it will basically pull part of the oviduct inside out and pull it out of the vent. Clean the area well (being very gentle) and apply Preparation H to reduce swelling so you can gently push everything back in the vent. Spray the area with Vetericyn twice a day and keep the hen separated for at least a couple days to monitor her.
Saline Solution is great for washing out eye injuries or cleaning dirt from the eye area
Comes in handy packets, Sav-A-Chick can be a lifesaver for a chicken in distress. From a chick failing to thrive to heat stroke to the shock of predator attack it’s great to mix into the water for any bird in the hospital ward to speed along healing.
Pet nail scissors, nail file, super glue, thin fabric or paper
The birds will generally do a pretty good job keeping their nails & beaks trim, so it’s unlikely you would ever have to trim them. It’s handy to have these items around for beak injuries though (and less often for overgrown beaks). If your bird loses part of it’s beak, you will need the clippers or file to keep it from snagging on things. Sometimes the broken part will not fall off all the way and it can be repaired with super glue. Use a thin piece of paper (like a coffee filter) or fabric to “bridge” the two pieces together, held together with super glue. Sounds crazy but it works!
Poultry Vet Rx
For treating respiratory problems (like excessive sneezing, wheezing or labored breathing). You can put a few drops of Vet Rx under the chicken’s wing before bed and as they sleep the smell will help them like a menthol rub will help clear up congestion when you are sick.
Great for preventing frostbite. It won’t treat it once they have frostbite damage, but a layer of Vaseline rubbed on combs & wattles forms a moisture resistant barrier to keep frostbite at bay. It’s also helpful for treating scaly leg mites, egg binding and many other things so this is something you definitely want to have around.
A handy item that most people already have on hand, cornstarch can help stop bleeding in small wounds, particularly bleeding nails, beaks or pin feathers (which can bleed a surprising amount if broken).
Non Coated Aspirin
To help with pain management. Crush 5 aspirin into one gallon of water to help with pain.
Triple Antibiotic Ointment
Something without added pain relief, this is good for treating deep wounds and bumblefoot infections.
Surgical Scalpel with sterile blade
For emergency bumblefoot operations
Blood sucking mites can be a deadly problem in a flock if they get out of control. Nearly impossible to see, if you part the feathers under the wing it’s an easier place to spot them. Look very closely, mites look like an almost translucent red tiny flea. Birds with a heavy infestation will have pale combs and might be lethargic. Left unchecked, mites can literally suck the life out of your chicken. Ivomec Eprinex is marketed for cattle, but can be used on chickens to control external parasites as well (it also has some effect on internal parasites like worms but is super effective on external ones). For standard chickens, use 0.5 cc dropper (.25 cc for bantams), applied topically on the back between the wings (NOT an oral medication!). It’s also wise to treat the coop for mites by emptying all the shaving and cleaning with a vinegar spray (click here to see how I make mine). Sprinkle some food grade Diatomaceous Earth in the corners and along walls before filling the coop back up with clean bedding.