A Guide to Building a Chicken First Aid Kit

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A Guide to Building a Chicken First Aid Kit

Owning a chicken first aid kit for your flock is a must! Let's face it, no matter what level chicken keeper you are, there will eventually come a day that an illness or accident happens and you will need medical supplies for a member of your flock. As luck will have it, these events notoriously happen after hours, on weekends, or holidays when stores are closed. Inevitably leaving you frantically running around searching for supplies like a chicken with its...(well, you get the idea). Preparing for the worst now will surely save you much stress, time, and grief later.

Farmight Chicken First Aid kit

So what supplies do you need for a chicken first aid kit?

It's best to think about the most common types of injuries or illnesses you'll be treating for. Predator attacks or pecking injuries are some of the most common types of trauma you'll see, so supplies for wound care are a must! My Pet Chicken has made it easy by offering a ready-made First Aid Kit for your convenience or you can certainly build your own.

Planning ahead can save critical time when you have a sick or injured bird. First, you will want to separate the patient from the flock to prevent further injury and give her a quiet, safe, stress-free, area to recover. Some options for a hospital cage can be our Hen Pen Pop-Up Brooder, a large pet carrier, or a wire dog crate. Depending on her injury there should be enough space for her to move around, but not too much space that she will further injure herself. Having a hospital cage at the ready will most certainly save you time.

A sick chicken sits in a hospital cage
A hospital cage is essential for a sick or injured bird.

Having Veterinary resources is a must!

As a former veterinary technician, I'm often asked what is a "must-have" in MY chicken first aid kit. My answer surprises people and is often overlooked. It's a list of local veterinarians that treat chickens since not all veterinarians are knowledgeable about chickens. As backyard flocks are becoming more popular and people are treating them like any other pet, more vets are adding them to their patient list.

Call your local small animal vets, farm vets, or avian vets and ask if they treat chickens. In multi vet practices, ask if all the vets will see them or only specific vets. Your list should include the name of the hospital, address, vet names, contact information, and hours. While treating some minor issues at home is fine, having a go-to list of vets in your area when you need it is invaluable. It's also important to update this list once a year...checking current contacts and possibly adding any new ones.

A sick chicken is being held by a Veterinarian for an exam.
Veterinary care for your flock is invaluable

Can I make my own chicken first aid kit?

Absolutely! If you've had chickens for a while you probably have the beginnings of a kit already! I like to keep all of my first aid supplies together in a small plastic tote. A small toolbox or fishing tackle box also makes a great way to keep your first aid supplies together, organized, and ready to grab whenever you need them.

Where do I find supplies?

Most of the supplies listed below can be found at any pharmacy. Budget-conscious shoppers can score big at your local Dollar store whether you are creating a first aid kit from scratch or restocking your existing kit. My Pet Chicken offers many products made specifically for poultry. You can often find some of them at your local feed store as well. Putting together a first aid kit can be quite expensive so I recommend starting with essential supplies and adding items from the advanced and optional supply lists over time as your budget allows. Adding just one new item per month will have your kit well-stocked in no time!

Chicken first aid kit essentials

  • Surgical Gloves
  • Syringes of various sizes with and without needles 
  • Eye dropper
  • Nail Clippers
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Elastic Bandage material (i.e Vetwrap, Flexwrap)
  • Gauze pads
  • Cotton balls
  • Q-tips
  • Medical tape
  • Old Towels (use as bedding for ill birds or wrapping/restraint)
  • Hospital Cage
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Veterinary Contact Info

Advanced chicken first aid kit supplies

  • Poultry Vitamins
  • Electrolytes
  • Probiotic
  • Epsom Salts (soaking injuries or egg bound etc)
  • Salve or Vaseline (frostbite prevention, leg mites)
  • Betadine Solution (dilute 1:10 with sterile water/saline for flushing wounds)
  • Vetericyn Solution (or other wound spray, Blue Kote not recommended for open wounds)
  • KY/sterile lubricant
  • Tums/Calcium Supplement (egg bound)
  • Saline Solution (flushing eye injuries)
  • Styptic Powder, Dust On!, Cornstarch, or Flour (broken nails, minor bleeding combs/wattles)
  • Vet RX (respiratory)
  • Antibiotic Ointment (without pain reliever)
  • Corid/Amprolium (Coccidiosis treatment)

Other chicken first aid kit items to consider

  • Super glue (beak repair)
  • Preparation H (without pain reliever, to help reduce pain/swelling with prolapsed vent)
  • PRID drawing salve (bumblefoot)
  • Nutridrench
  • Polyvisol (without iron)
  • Activated Charcoal (suspected poisoning)
  • Rubbing Alcohol (to clean/sterilize instruments, not wound care)
  • Small notebook/pencil for treatment notes
  • Medication chart including dosages, purpose and withdrawal times
  • Chicken Medical Book such as Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow
  • Basin or small tote for soaking
  • Scale (to weigh bird for accurate medication dosing)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Popsicle sticks, Tongue depressors or paint sticks for splints or splay leg treatment
  • Chicken Saddle
  • Pinless peepers
  • Sugar/Honey (added to water to give weak chicks a boost of energy, honey has natural antibacterial properties to help heal wounds and sugar can reduce prolapse swelling by osmotically drawing out the fluid.)

But how do I use these chicken first aid kit supplies?

As every successful flock owner knows, it's not a matter "IF" you will ever need a poultry first aid kit it is a matter of "WHEN" you will need it. No matter how safe we try to keep them, our feathered friends will find a way to get themselves into trouble from time to time. It's not only important to have first aid supplies but to learn basic first aid skills as well. My Pet Chicken has an extensive help library on how to manage many illnesses and injuries. PoultryDVM is also a great resource for reliable information on poultry health issues and common treatments.

If you take steps to prepare now, when illness or injury strikes your flock, you will be much more adept at staying calm to handle the situation and your bird will have a greater chance at recovery.

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