Hawk Attack — Chicken First Aid

I came home last Monday to find our tiny Sultan hen, “Shorty”, wedged in a bloody heap between some stones in the coop area. A red-tailed hawk attack, in all likelihood. Despite the fact that I struggle with a not-so-mild touch of vasovagal syncope, I was able to get Shorty inside (still alive) and flush the deep talon wound to her neck with a syringe and sterile normal saline. (If you’re reading this because you yourself have an injured chicken, please do not use Dakin’s Solution – homemade or otherwise – it’s apparently somewhat old-school medicine for this type of situation and can be damaging to the vulnerable tissue around the wound. There is a lot of well-intended, but limited knowledge on the web!)

As a stop-gap until my partner, Laura, got home a few hours later, I kept Shorty warm with me near the wood stove and dropper-fed her a solution of water and poultry electrolytes. Honestly, we didn’t think she would make it through the night. She was limp as a wet sock and distressingly listless. But she did! Laura, our superstar nurse, was able to clean, pack, and bandage the puncture with flair. Shorty is still not eating or drinking on her own, so we’ve been dropper feeding her a batter-like mixture of poultry formula and starter crumbles. Also, we found an informative article by in ICU nurse on how to administer subcutaneous fluids under the wing, using a syringe, normal saline, and a 22 FR butterfly needle. Shorty doesn’t like it, but tolerates it. And now a week later she is “sort of” standing. She’s upright on two legs, with her main tail feathers pointing up to the heavens, and her comb resting on the ground. Small steps.

So in addition to the bank of rabbit cages and pregnant/nursing does temporarily residing with us inside the yurt, we also have an odd turkish hen recuperating in a dog crate. Our menagerie unfolds.

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