Last week my Instagram friend Chickens & Wine put together a video outlining her chicken first aid kit. I thought this was a wonderful idea so I’m following her example (except not via video….some people belong in front of the camera and others behind. I’m a behind the camera kinda gal).
The first two pictures are just an overview of all the items (along with some of my soap making products in the background). The third picture shows leg bands and pinless peepers. The leg bands are used on the chickens when they reach pullet size. I like to know who is who so I band them with a number. Technically I could take the bands off now since I recognize each of my chickens. At first, I think all chickens look alike. But as they grow and their personalities develop, I start to recognize them more and more as individuals. But until that time, I put a band on them so I can tell them apart. The bands are expandable so they grow with the chicken. Other than putting the bands on, the chickens don’t seem to mind the bands. The only reason they mind in the first place is because they are still in the ‘sky is falling’ stage and everything bothers them. The pinless peepers were for one of the freezer camp girls who couldn’t behave herself. The peepers sit on their nose with prongs inserted into the nostril (prongs probably isn’t the correct term and it doesn’t hurt them. They are a pain to put on and you will need assistance with it. It’s best to drop the peeper into some hot water first to make them more pliable).
The next picture shows the knock-off Vick’s Vapor Rub, Wazine, Saline, Vet Rx, and prescription strength artificial tears. The Vick’s Vapor Rub has several uses. I originally purchased it to put on Gertie’s head when she was getting pecked at night. I read that you could put it on the site where a chicken was getting pecked and the smell and taste would keep the other chickens from pecking that spot (the mean girls were tearing out Gertie’s feathers at night and there weren’t any open wounds). The vap-o-rub didn’t stop the pecking though. The Wazine is a good, all around dewormer. I don’t deworm on a regular basis but it’s good to have something on hand. There’s a lot of information out there about what type of dewormer to use for certain worms so do your research before you purchase anything. Saline solution is good for cleaning out wounds, flushing sinuses, etc. I picked up Vet Rx after watching Chickens & Wine’s video. It seemed like a good thing to have on hand. Gertie wheezes a lot and I’m not sure why. As far as I can tell, it started when we moved them to our new house back in October. It’s not a respiratory issue per se. Her nose gets gunky occasionally and I just take a q-tip moistened with water and clean it out and she seems fine. I got the Vet Rx to use to help open her nose and sinuses up. The Vet Rx is a lot like the vap-o-rub but it’s more of a liquid. I like that better. It doesn’t stick and collect dirt which the vap-o-rub was doing. The prescription strength artificial tears are because I had a chicken that had an eye injury. I was flushing her eye with saline and using the eye drops to clear the injury. There are 2 types of prescription tears-1 with antibiotic and 1 without. We did the one without because there’s no withdrawal time.
The next picture shows Duramycin-10, Calcium, electrolyte powder, and iodine. I purchased the Duramycin-10 before the Federal government started restricting the purchase and use of antibiotics. This antibiotic is a good, all around antibiotic though and doesn’t expire for years. If you ever have to use this antibiotic here’s what you need to know: there is a 21-day withdrawal period from the last day that you give the antibiotic. Duramycin should be given daily for 7 days at a rate of 1 tablespoon per gallon of water. This dosage is fine if you are treating your whole flock. Chances are that you will only be treating one bird at a time. So you can give 1/4 tablespoon per quart of water or 1/8 tablespoon per pint. I did my research and found out that chickens only drink about 1 cup of water per day and since I was only treating one bird and wanted to make sure she was getting as much antibiotic as possible, the calculation and dosage I came up with was 1/4 teaspoon duramycin per cup of water. I mixed the antibiotic with the water every morning and dosed the chicken 2 teaspoons at a time (using a syringe without a needle) throughout the day until I was satisfied she received a healthy dose. Rarely did I get a full cup into her. And I stopped the antibiotic on day 6 (after consulting a veterinarian) since the chicken showed marked improvement.
If you’ve never given oral meds to a chicken, please do your research beforehand. Their airway is in the middle of their mouth and the esophagus is behind that. Here’s a good image of what I’m talking about and it shows how you should correctly syringe food or water into the chicken’s mouth (even though it says pigeons). I will warn you, it’s not as easy as the picture shows. I did the best I could and kept a very close eye on the bird, checking for any lung aspiration.
On to the next items in the picture. Calcium. This is good for any chicken who shows signs of egg laying issues: soft shells, egg bound, etc. I crush 1/2 tab in some yummy treats (yogurt and oatmeal, softened food with yogurt, etc. There’s no exact science on the yummy treat front) and feed it to the chicken in question. Again, make sure you do your research before purchasing and using the calcium. Electrolyte powder is a really good thing to have on hand. You mostly use the electrolytes with baby chicks, but I use it with my girls during the summer or after a period of stress. The electrolytes help the girls rehydrate and help prevent stress related issues after a stressful event occurs. As per Chicken & Wine’s recommendation, I now add the probiotic powder when using the electrolyte powder. A stressful situation can be anything from the hawk attack we experienced a couple of weeks ago to an illness to the flock just acting out-of-sorts. For example last night I let the girls out for a few minutes before bedtime. As I was rounding the girls up for bed, I noticed Gertie was wheezing again (I took her in and cleaned her up. This can be stressful to the bird). But also, I tried picking up Little Girl and Elsie at the same time. Of course this didn’t go as planned. Both girls ended up jumping out of my arms. I believe Little Girl must have knocked herself silly because she was just sitting on the ground for a few minutes. I checked her and she seemed fine. I watched her off and on for about an hour and all’s well. However, since I had 2 girls that were just stressed, I gave them electrolytes and probiotics in the water that evening. I don’t use it often, nor should you, but it’s good to have on hand. Little Girl also needed her fluffy butt cleaned up today due to a lot of poo sticking to it for the past couple of weeks (I tend to let them clean themselves up and just keep an eye on their little fluffy butts and only intervene if needed). Some chickens don’t mind spa day, but my girls don’t want anything to do with it. This can be very stressful for them, as it was for Little Girl. On to iodine. Iodine is a good wound cleaner, but just keep in mind it will hurt just as it does when it’s used on a human. They are not fans of it but it is a really good antiseptic.
The next picture shows hydrocortisone cream and knock-off Neosporin cream. Their uses on chickens are pretty much the same as what you would use on humans. However, it is good to note that the triple-antibiotic cream is exactly that-it has antibiotics in it. Just be aware that there might be a withdrawal period on it as well. I don’t practice any withdrawal period with it, but if you are so inclined please make sure you do your homework.
The next picture shows a homemade chicken saddle. I made this for Clare E. Clare when she was losing her feathers on her back. I’m not sure if the other chickens were picking on her or if it was just from stress. She had a bald spot on her back so I whipped this saddle up and she wore it for a long time. Some of her feathers grew back in and I took the saddle off. It’s good to have some saddles on hand if you have a rooster (or roosters). The favorite chicken(s) will loose feathers from the over-mating and the saddles will help. You can find tutorials online for making your own or purchase from etsy if you prefer.
Every first aid kit should have q-tips and cotton balls. I’m not sure what else to say about this. They’re great to use as applicators or for cleaning purposes (as in cleaning a wound, cleaning out a dirty nostril, etc.).
In the picture below are blu-kote, hydrogen peroxide, and knock-off vaseline. Blu-Kote is good to have on hand for treating wounds. I would use it the same way as iodine and it has two advantages over iodine: one, it doesn’t hurt, and two, it helps conceal the wound from the other chickens. As I’m sure you are aware, chickens like red and blood. If they see red they will literally peck that spot to the end. With Blu-Kote, it covers the red and hopefully the other chickens will leave the spot alone. Be warned though, Blu-Kote is MESSY. You will get it everywhere. Wear old clothes and gloves unless you want to have stained hands. Also, there is a spray version that might work better than the bottle I have. Don’t use the applicator that comes with this bottle. Use a q-tip. You’ll still end up wearing it but you’ll just wear less of it. And inevitably the chicken will shake whatever part of the body you are putting the blu-kote on and you’ll end up wearing it as well. And finally, knock-off vaseline. I know. Horrible product. But it’s what I have. I’m sure there are much better products out there (and I’ll explore those when I’ve used up this jar of petroleum product…after all part of homesteading is being frugal, right?). I use this on the chickens combs if I see an issue with them. It does come in handy as a lubricant for checking for any egg issues though! I also used it on Gertie for the pecking issue. It, too, was supposed to taste awful to the chickens and they would leave the vaseline-wearing chicken alone, but not my girls!
We’ve discussed the electrolyte and probiotic powders as well as the iodine. The Peck-No More was purchased in an effort to get the girls to stop pulling out Gertie’s feathers. I do not like the product. It didn’t work, it smells, and it made a mess of her feathers. I would opt to make a more natural alternative for future use. I was doing some research about that after I purchased the bottle below. Do yourself a favor and skip purchasing the Peck-No More.
I think I’ve covered everything in the picture below.
The last two photos are of the kit put together and a larger view of my messy crafting station. I can do a post on that at some point too. Basically everything fits right into that handy caddy. I included the larger picture of the messy craft station so you get an idea of how much room this takes up and where it’s stored. I tend to do my chicken first aid right there. The room isn’t heated so if the first aid includes something that will make the chicken cold (such as a bath) or if it’s really, really cold outside, then first aid gets done in the house.
What I don’t have in my kit yet are gloves (I have gloves, I just need to restock) and syringes, both with needles and without. I also like those little round rubbermaid containers for storing things or for using as feeders in the sick ward. They are also good for scooping out mealworms, seeds, etc. I recycle them every so often because I only want to run them through the dishwasher so many times before I feel like they start leaching out horrible things from the plastic (we don’t use a lot of plastic).
Also, I do have a large first aid kit for the humans and the fur babies that include some other items you might want to have in your chicken first aid kit, such as gauze pads, tape, etc. I will do a post on that first aid kit soon. Also not shown is apple cider vinegar. I know most people use the one with the ‘mother’ in it but since I use the ACV on a regular basis I buy it by the gallon at the grocery store. Again, I don’t think you are supposed to use it daily but sometimes I do. The reasons for using ACV are limitless, but I use it for several reasons: to help prevent parasites and nasty bugs, for added protein, for its overall health benefits, etc.
All of the items I’ve mentioned I have purchased locally at either my local feed store or at Tractor Supply or the grocery store. Mostly from my local feed store though.
I hope I’ve included everything you need to know about these products and why I use them. If not, please ask any questions you might have! Thanks for reading!