Our Injured Chicken

This afternoon didn't exactly go as I had envisioned. When I got home from a long day (and a longer, boring meeting), Tiegan let me know that the chickens needed water. But when I went out to get the fount, I saw Abigail lying in one of the laying boxes. She was oddly splayed on her side, with one wing stretched out back toward the hen house. Her eyes were closed.

So I thought she was sick. Or dead.

I ran around to the outside to open the nesting box door. I gently scooped her up. And then I saw the blood.

So then I thought the other chickens had turned on her and pecked at her — especially with her one eye closed.

After a closer look over Abigail, I realized the blood was coming from her foot, which had been pinched in the door of the nesting box. She had probably been stuck in there for 20-30 minutes, from when Tiegan shut the nesting box door until I got home and out to check the water. I carried Abigail into the house, where I had to work on stopping the bleeding:

She was remarkably docile throughout this ordeal. Tiegan helped with supplying clean replacement paper towels and giving Abigail sips of water periodically, while I just kept as much pressure as I could on the two toes that were bleeding. 

Tiegan also did some google searching about broken feet and cuts on chickens, and what we read made us feel better — especially the post about someone who accidentally amputated two chicken toes by closing a door on it. That made Jonas cry, but in general the online consensus was that chickens are tough.

By the time we got the bleeding to mostly stop (using pressure and some internet-recommended flour to help with clotting), Kirk was home and ready to apply his nursing skills to Abigail's foot:

There are two nasty cuts, with some swelling and a loss of a scale or two. I thought at first that the toe on the far left in the photo was broken, but it seems to be ok — just cut deeply near the claw. 

Kirk wisely got a towel for my lap, and I held our chicken while he used some peroxide and gauze to clean up the wound, then put some bacitracin on to try to keep it from getting infected. He also wrapped the injured toes in gauze as well as he could while still leaving her room to move it.

I really wish I had a picture of her white-bandaged, mummified foot, because it was some A-plus home veterinary work. But by that point we wanted to get her settled for the night as soon as we could, so Kirk took her out into the hen house and set her directly on the roosting bar, which she seemed able to grip after initially wobbling a bit. 

We were careful to clean the blood off her feathers, and hopefully there's not too much more additional blood on the bandage by morning. The concern with the blood is that it will encourage the other chickens to peck at Abigail if they see she's bleeding (because that's what chickens do). We don't really have any kind of quarantine set up, but Kirk will check on her tomorrow morning, and I guess if it seems like there's an issue (or if her bandage is terribly, obviously red) he can put her in the day spa just to be safe. I doubt he'll be able to re-bandage her foot without another adult around to hold her, and I leave before sun-up, so that will have to be an evening project.

And now I am exhausted.

But one final note: While I was sitting cradling an injured hen, Kirk was fielding a call about a billing issue from the dairy that delivers our milk (glass bottle and all) on Wednesdays.

I got farmers' problems, y'all.


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