Caring for a Pecked Chicken

My latest post for Backyard Poultry Magazine.....

A little over a week ago, I decided to take a mid-morning break and visit my flock. As I walked through the yard, I noticed everyone acting a little strange and one of my roosters was pacing back and forth in front of the open coop door. When I got to the coop, one of my Ameracauna hens, “Little Muff” was on top of the nest boxes and she practically jumped into my arms. The first thing I noticed was her head was covered in blood.
Since it was a cool day and she was severely injured, I knew that I first had to prevent her from going into shock. So, I took her into the house to examine her wound and get her warm. Then, I tried not to freak out because her wound was horrible.
From just behind her comb to top of her head had been pecked away. There were no more feathers and her top layer of skin was completely gone. Luckily, her blood had already formed a scab because so much skin was gone that it really was just hanging there and the only thing holding it in place was the dried blood.

I situated Little Muff in the dog’s kennel (the dog was unhappy about this) since it could be easily cleaned and was pleased to see she had lost none of her spunk as she ate and drank immediately.
After that, I knew I had to tend to her wound. Now, a lot of people recommend thoroughly cleaning a bloody wound and then applying ointment. But, it’s important to note that chickens have a higher body temperature than we do. This allows their blood to clot faster, helps them avoid infection and heal quickly. With that in mind, I gently cleaned away the excess blood around her face and neck with a warm wet cotton ball. Then I applied Neosporin and hoped she’d heal.
I’m happy to announce that after a week, Little Muff is doing well. Her deepest wounds still have some exposed clots, but there has been no infection. Her skin color is great. Her wounded dead skin is starting to flake off and be replaced by new skin. She is actually starting to get back a few feathers around her eyes and comb. But, I don’t think she’ll ever get back feathers at the top of her head. In that spot, the wounds are so deep that I think the entire feather shaft is gone.

I’ve prepared a hospital, complete with a heat lamp, and have moved Little Muff to our garage to finish her recovery.
Watch for my next post as I research why chickens peck.....

Originally posted at Backyard Poultry Magazine.
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