Chickens can be hardy creatures, but they’re not immune to occasional injuries or illnesses. As a responsible chicken keeper, it’s essential to be prepared for emergencies. One crucial step in chicken care is creating a comprehensive chicken first aid kit and having it on hand at all times.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through the process, explaining why you need a first aid kit for your chickens and what essential items to include. I’ll also cover various medications, tools, and tips for handling medical issues with your chickens.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian and I am not sharing medical advice for your flock, I’m simply sharing the supplies that we keep on hand in case of an emergency in which we can’t make it to the vet. I highly suggest you speak to your veterinarian any time your chickens are ill or injured, check out this directory to find one near you.
Why Do You Need a First Aid Kit for Your Chickens?
Just like any other pets, chickens can experience accidents, injuries, or illnesses. Having a well-equipped first aid kit on hand is essential for several reasons:
- Immediate Care: In emergencies, quick action can make a significant difference in your chicken’s recovery.
- Prevention: A first aid kit can help prevent minor issues from becoming major health problems.
- Peace of Mind: Knowing you have the necessary supplies readily available can ease your worries as a chicken owner.
- Saves Time and Money: Avoiding last-minute trips to the store or vet clinic can save both time and money.
What Are the Best Things to Put in Your Chicken First Aid Kit?
Creating a comprehensive chicken first aid kit involves gathering essential items and medications and keeping them all together, in an easy to find place. We keep our chicken first aid kit right next to our own personal first aid kit, that way it’s always easy to find.
It’s also a good idea to take inventory of your first aid kit every few months. You can take this time to replace things that you’ve used and make sure you have everything that you might need on hand. I can’t stress this enough, by the time an illness or injury takes place, it’s too late to gather supplies, you need to have them ready before hand.
Here’s a list of must-have items for your chicken first aid kit.
Petroleum jelly can be used to protect and soothe minor wounds on your chickens.
Neosporin can be applied to minor cuts and wounds to prevent infection. Make absolutely sure you’re using the type that doesn’t have pain medication in it.
Vet wrap is useful for wrapping and securing dressings or providing support for injured limbs. We use this really frequently with our flock, and as a bonus, it comes in rainbow colors, which is just plain fun.
Probiotic supplements promote gut health and can help chickens recover from digestive issues. We use probiotics any time one of our chickens has vent gleet, it really helps to support them, and it’s perfectly fine for the whole flock to have.
Electrolytes can help rehydrate chickens suffering from heat stress or illness. These are great to have on hand in the high heat of summer.
Blu-Kote is an antiseptic spray to protect and treat wounds, particularly helpful for preventing pecking because chickens are drawn to blood and wounds.
This product will clean wounds and help them heal faster. If you only buy one thing for your chicken first aid kit, make it this one! It’s all around one of the best wound products to have on hand.
Epsom salt is useful for foot soaks to relieve bumblefoot or other foot issues. You can also make an epsom salt bath for chickens to soak in if they have poop stuck to their feathers.
Tools and Supplies
- Scissors: To cut bandages, tape, and other materials.
- Tweezers: Useful for removing splinters, debris, or foreign objects from wounds.
- Disposable Gloves: Protect yourself from infection when tending to your chickens.
- Sterile Gauze Pads and Non-Stick Bandages: Essential for covering and protecting wounds.
- Saline Solution: Ideal for flushing wounds.
- Small Flashlight: Helpful for examining your chickens in low-light conditions.
Why You Need a Sick Pen for Your Chickens
In addition to a well-equipped first aid kit, we have found that having a designated sick pen is crucial for caring for sick chickens.
We always have a foldable rabbit cage on hand. When it isn’t in use it’s very easy to just fold it up and stick it under a bed or in a closet, but when we needed it, it could be ready in minutes. And boy, have we needed it a lot over the years.
We have used our sick pen any time a chicken was looking off. Chickens are very resilient prey animals and showing illness is seen as a big weakness that can get them shunned from the flock, bullied, and captured easily by predators. So chickens tend not to show any signs of illness or injury until they’re in very bad shape.
For this reason, any time a chicken is showing that they aren’t feeling well, we pull them from the coop and put them in the sick pen where they can get a little extra TLC. This gives them time to stay in a quiet, temperature controlled environment, and have some peace from the rest of the flock.
We also used our sick pen for broody mama hens and their eggs, then chicks. It also works great to quarantine chickens coming in to our flock as well. It served a lot of purposes and was one of the better chicken supplies we invested in!
A sick pen serves several essential purposes:
- Isolation: Sick or injured chickens should be isolated to prevent the spread of illness to the rest of the flock.
- Quarantine: New chickens or those returning from a show should be quarantined in a separate area for a few weeks to monitor their health and prevent potential disease transmission.
- Quiet Area to Heal: A quiet, stress-free environment aids in your chicken’s recovery, away from the noise and pecking order of the main coop.
Foods to Keep Around for Sick Chickens
When chickens are unwell, their appetite may decrease. However, it’s essential to encourage them to eat and provide nourishing options. We like to give the chickens foods that are easy to eat, and easy to digest. It helps also to give them foods that they like, as it will encourage them to eat even when they’re sick.
Keep the following foods on hand for sick chickens:
- Plain Full Fat Yogurt: Rich in probiotics, plain yogurt can help maintain gut health.
- Eggs: A protein-packed treat that’s easy to digest, and if you raise chickens, you should have these on hand! We give our chickens eggs that are soft scrambled.
- Oatmeal: Provides warmth and comfort and is gentle on the stomach.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Offer small, finely chopped pieces of soft fruits like berries or melon and soft, cooked vegetables for added nutrients.
- Electrolyte-Infused Water: Ensure your sick chickens stay hydrated with electrolyte-infused water to aid in recovery.
Creating a chicken first aid kit and having a sick pen on hand are two big steps that will serve you well for many years. If you’re raising chickens I can absolutely guarantee you’re going to need to give them medical care or TLC at some point in their lives, you may was well be prepared for it ahead of time to reduce the stress of the situation.
By being prepared for emergencies and having the necessary supplies on hand, you can provide immediate care to your feathered friends and increase their chances of a speedy recovery.
Remember to check and update your first aid kit regularly to ensure it remains well-stocked and ready to use whenever your chickens need it. Your chickens will thank you for your proactive approach to their health and well-being.