I’ve been an animal lover for 4 decades. But it wasn’t until 2015, or since chickens, that we started collecting what would be considered animal first aid items. If you have backyard birds long enough, sooner later, something will pop up, requiring you to have a few essentials. Thus, I thought it would be helpful to share some basic chicken first aid kit contents.
From the moment we’ve had dogs and cats, we’ve never had to perform any type of first aid on them. On the other hand, our fur babies have a veterinarian, whereas our feather babies do not. And unfortunately a lot of the advice online can be contradictory. Plus, some issues necessitate quick action. Therefore, we’ve had to learn how to take care of our birds ourselves. In addition, when we started out, we had a small flock. So, little by little, we began adding items to what became our chicken first aid kit.
Chicken First Aid Kit: The Container
When we first started making our kit, little did we know that’s what we were doing. Hence, ours was in our medicine cabinet, until one day it was gigantic and no longer fit. Now we have everything in a tackle box that’s easy to locate and move. So get a caboodle, makeup box, or a tackle box. But make sure it’s
- Within easy reach
- And easy to carry
Chicken First Aid Kit: Chicken Hospital
Since most injuries and illnesses require separating the chicken from the flock, this is where you will house them until they are well enough to mingle back with the flock. Ideally you need
- A pet crate or carrier
If possible, make sure the chicken hospital is big enough for the patient to be comfortable during their stay.
- And old towels
Towels you no longer use are to help make the patient comfortable.
Some injuries aren’t serious enough to warrant total isolation from the flock. For example, if you have a hen with sores on her back from an overeager rooster, then she can stay in the the safety of the crate while still in the coop. That way she won’t worry about pecking order issues.
But more concerning problems of contagious illnesses demand the chicken be separated to prevent spreading the illness. Further, urgent medical issues require the bird to be isolated to help calm them down.
Online discrepancies abound, regarding whether to leave the chicken patient in the coop or isolate them. And both have valid reasons for their points. Personally, I’ve done both, depending on the nature and/or seriousness of the issue. But all the times I’ve kept my chicken patients away from the flock, they’ve been calm, and they didn’t seem lonely. In addition, my reasons were justified for keeping them isolated.
Chicken First Aid Kit: Disposables
When I made this list, I really wasn’t sure how to itemize it. As you’ll notice, some of these things can go in multiple categories. Plus, you potentially have some materials in your house now, which can also be taken from your own first aid kit; just be sure to replace anything you swipe from your personal kit. However, for the disposables, you need
- Non-stick gauze
- Disposable gloves
- Coban or vet-wrap
- And popsicle sticks for splints
Chicken First Aid Kit: Dealing with beaks, nails, and spurs
Rather than putting these few items in their prospective categories, I just made their own section. Further, they all use the same supplies, such as
- Dremel tool or other battery-powered tool
- And styptic powder or alum
Chicken First Aid Kit: Tools or Instruments
Once again, some of these you should have in your medicine cabinet. Although, with the rest of these items, we collected from various trips to the emergency room for sutures. And since hospitals just throw suture kits away after using them, we asked if we could keep ours. The rest I ordered. Therefore, in your kit you should have
- Scissors or surgical grade scissors
- LED headlamp
- Surgical forceps
- Hemostats and resorbable sutures
- And disposable scalpels
Chicken First Aid Kit: Antiseptics
With the exception of rubbing alcohol, I had to order all of the items in this section, at one time or another. So make sure you have
- Rubbing alcohol (to sanitize instruments)
- Gentian violet .5%
- Sterile saline (for washing wounds)
- and Vetericyn
Chicken First Aid Kit: Anti-inflammatories and Salves
From having a hen who’s egg-bound to having one with sour crop to having another one with vent prolapse, the following is what you’ll need in your chicken first aid kit.
- Salve or Vaseline (for mites or frostbite in the winter)
- Epson salt (has many uses)
- 1% hydrocortisone (for vent prolapse)
- and a Water-based lubricant
Chicken First Aid Kit: Medicine, Vitamins, Electrolytes, and Pain Relief
- Enfamil poly-vi-sol infant multi-vits (without iron)
- Medicine dropper
- Vet-Rx (for respiratory issues)
- Fishbiotics (which is amoxil 500mg, for surgical procedures like impacted crop)
- **And topical anesthetic spray, like hospital formula benzocaine (also for the above mentioned surgery)
**There is some mis-information, and thus confusion on multiple sites as to whether you can give any anesthetic to chickens. For example, multiple sites claim you can’t give anything to chickens if it has caine on or in it. And that’s not true. In fact, I watched a Dr perform a surgery on a chicken, after he injected it with anesthetic. And as far as I know, all anesthetics contain caines. Further, the chicken did not die; she survived the surgery and the anesthetic.
However, the real issue is epinephrine, which is added to local anesthetics to prolong local anesthesia and prevent additional blood loss. Thus, in someone who might have heart issues, or a small animal, it could present problems. But because benzocaine is only a topical, it is clearly the better option for backyard chickens. You can read more about it here.
Chicken First Aid Kit: Advice
The items you see in bold are some of the first, and only, items we used while first involved with chickens. Though now it has definitely grown and evolved. You too may also already have some things you use on and for your birds. So the materials in bold are a suggestion only, to have on-hand what you will eventually need.
My last bit of advice is when Googling your bird problems, read at least 3 other suggestions, and not necessarily the top 3. They might not be right. And after you’ve received 3 suggestions from Google, cross reference them. For instance, if I read that something won’t work or is harmful, I Google why that something won’t work, like what will happen, especially if there isn’t a link to the original article. You’ll be surprised by how many answers you get that will contradict what you were just advised.
Lastly, taking care of injured or sick chickens is just like anything else: it isn’t cookie cutter perfect. Nobody knows your birds better than you. You will have to adjust and use your intuition based on your understanding of your flock. These are all suggestions according to my experience with my flock. And it has worked for us. But I Google several sources, and not the most popular ones either, and adjust the care instructions to gear them toward my flock.
Have you made a chicken first aid kit? Or have you had to use first aid on a chicken? Your comments are appreciated.
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