You’re outside, pulling weeds in the garden and your hand brushes up against a squash plant. The prickly little spikes from around the squash plant are now all in your fingers. Most of them can be dusted off on your jeans, but a couple are stubborn and will need to be pulled out with tweezers. You go inside, grab some tweezers and the hydrogen peroxide, clean it up and get the spikes out.
It’s expected that we have our own first aid supplies in our homes. When we get minor cuts, bumps and bruises, we can take care of them without going to the local doctor’s office. Isn’t it funny though that most chicken-owners don’t have the necessary supplies to safely treat the same minor cuts, bumps and bruises for their chickens?
Why You Need to Prepare for an Emergency with your Chickens
The old saying that chickens aren’t very smart is true to a certain extent. Chickens tend to be more intelligent than we give them credit for (no, they won’t really drown outside in the rain), but they are livestock and if there’s a way for them to get hurt, they will usually find it and, well, get hurt.
Unfortunately for us as chicken owners, chickens don’t like to let us know that they are sick or hurting until they are really sick or hurting. There’s a reason for that though. Chickens are prey animals. In the wild, prey animals are picked off by predators. Predators will go after the injured, sick or old animals because they are easier to catch and less work for the predator. Chickens that are injured or sick will hide their sickness or injury as long as they can to prevent themselves from looking like the easy target. When you see a chicken that obviously doesn’t feel good, it usually means that the chicken is pretty bad off.
Once you notice that your chicken is either sick or hurt, you may not have a long period of time to get it the care that it needs. You may not have time to run to the farm supply store for medical supplies. You really may not have time to order the supplies online and wait for them to ship to you. For many people, taking chickens to the vet isn’t an option. A simple vet office visit fee can be nearly $100. Even if you’re willing to pay to take them to the vet, there may not be a vet clinic near you that treats chickens.
It’s important that we have what we need on hand to treat our chickens if they get sick or get hurt. A well-stocked chicken first aid kit can treat most chicken illnesses and injuries.
What do I need in an emergency kit for chickens?
Some of the items that you need in a chicken first aid kit are items that you probably already have at home. Others you’ll need to round up at a farm supply store or a local pharmacy. You can usually find chicken medications at your local farm supply. But, the selection of products that are designed solely for chickens is pretty slim.
Many medications and products that you need in your chicken first aid kit are actually created for larger livestock and are used ‘off-label’ for chickens. This means that although these are effective for chickens, they aren’t designed specifically for chickens and you aren’t using them to treat the species of livestock that is on the label.
Once you have all of your medications and products in place in your first aid kit, it’s important to understand how to use all of it. Since chickens are good at hiding signs of what is wrong with them, it can be tricky to figure out how to treat them if they aren’t feeling well.
You need a ‘road map’ to tell you what is wrong with them. By the process of elimination, you can figure out what’s going on with your chicken. Knowing which questions to ask yourself are key to making the right diagnosis for your chicken and therefore treating them properly for what is going on with them.
I’ve created a Chicken Emergency Bundle that is complete with not only what you need in a chicken first aid kit, but how to use that kit to heal your chickens faster. I’ve also included the ‘road map’ that you need to diagnose what is going on with your chickens. Once you’ve determined what’s wrong with your chickens, you can start treating them. I’ve created cheat sheets that you can easily reference to see how to treat your chickens. All of these things are included in the Chicken Emergency Bundle. Learn more about the Chicken Emergency Bundle here and prevent yourself from spending hours searching the internet trying to figure out why your chickens are sick.
Shelby DeVore is the founder of Farminence. She's an animal expert with more than 20 years of experience raising chickens for meat, eggs and show. She also taught high school agriculture and FFA. She taught many poultry science courses and coached numerous poultry judging teams. You can read all of Shelby’s Mother Earth News posts here.
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