Learn how to use first aid with your free-range chickens. It is always a difficult decision every chicken owner must face whether to free range or not.
We originally began with six hens for the purpose that they would control the tick population in our yard. This meant that the dogs or us humans would seldom have a tick. This also meant tick borne illness such as Lyme disease was much less likely to occur.
The byproduct of having chickens around was they faithfully supplied the freshest eggs for our family. And, really chickens do the darnedest things making them fun to watch. They love being around people and chickens really do have personalities.
It is worth noting that chickens have many predators and this is the down side of free ranging. Of course, there are pros and cons to everything and free ranging chickens is no exception.
Free Range Chicken Fox Attack
Our original mixed flock of six laying hens we raised from two days old. Just as they were about to begin laying eggs a hawk took out the leader of the flock. It was devastating for us. The flock regrouped and a new leader stepped up. Then came thwarted fox attacks and illness over the next three years.
Our last fox attack was our worst yet. After dinner, I glanced out the window to find a fox sitting in our front yard with Gertrude a short distance away both motionless. I flew out the front door screaming. The fox went across the road and into the woods while Gerty went running for safety.
At the end of the night we found Gerty’s two sisters dead along with one of our baby chickens that we never did find. So, Gertrude was the last remaining chicken of our original flock of six.
Being late, dark and pouring rain all we were able to do was separate the injured chicken from the remaining babies until morning. The next day we were able to have a better look at assessing the situation and determining our path of treatment.
WHAT WE OBSERVED
A chicken in shock (she was still flying up on the roost bar and walking around as though nothing happened)
When shock wore off, she was in severe pain and barely able to move
No longer eating but luckily continued to drink water
A huge gash from one side of her back to the other with a puncture hole under her right wing. It was a miracle that no internal organs were affected. Her breathing remained normal.
A raw bloody mess
DEEP WOUND FIRST AID
Using a sterile saline solution, I sprayed wound liberally letting it run down her sides.
Once area was cleaned, I dabbed the wound and surrounding area gently with a non-stick sterile pad. This would take out any extra moisture.
Any feathers that were in the way of this large open wound were gently removed or cut back.
Using a clean plastic spoon, I liberally applied local RAW honey directly to all areas affected no matter how deep the cut or puncture hole was. It is important to keep cut/wound from drying out and to allow healing from the inside out.
Into her water I added approximately ten drops each of the homeopathic remedies Arnica, Bellis-perennis, Ledum, Hypericum, and Calendula. These remedies are known for expediting healing.
We hung fly strips in her outdoor attached run area to keep her wound free and clear of any bugs or eggs that might take up residence.
Every day I wet a hand towel with warm water, ringing it out only partially. This was used to wipe off any stickiness the honey application left from dripping down her body. I did not wipe wound! This process also removed any lose feathers. Gertrude loved this!
I would inspect the wound and add more local RAW honey using a new plastic spoon. We found Gertrude loves honey and would eat it from the spoon!
While I did these above two steps once per day, you may find that twice per day works best in your situation.
Every other day, I continued to add homeopathic remedies when giving her fresh water. Since she is the only chicken using this water container, I continued to keep it at half-full.
After about four days Gertrude became more mobile, slowly walking around her run area. Each day she gained more strength both physically and vocally.
Her intake of water continued to be steady while eating food happened much more slowly. Actually, she preferred eating the chick starter/crumble that we were feeding the babies. It was just easier for her.
It is to be noted, that both her water and food feeders were elevated before her accident. This turned out to be very beneficial after her accident because she was in too much pain to bend.
We used the chicken ramp as our work table. We propped it up with a sawhorse and it was the perfect height for working on Gerty.
If you decide to free-range your chickens, know the predators in your area. Having a chicken first aide kit at the ready, will prepare you if a horrible disaster like this one should happen.