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Main Content

Chicken First Aid

By Laura Mikulski

Backyard chickens inevitably face some sort of medical emergency. When it happens, time is of the essence, and having ready access to supplies can make all the difference in keeping your bird alive.



  • Corid (amprolium): for coccidia
  • Sulfadimethoxine: for coccidia, use after Corid
  • Duramycin-10: for respiratory symptoms
  • Tylan: use when symptoms of mycoplasma appear, typically presenting as swelling in the face and eyes and discharge around eyes, nose, and beak


  • Point-tip and slant-tip tweezers
  • Small pair of scissors
  • Superglue: seals lacerations, repairs beaks
  • Nonstick sterile gauze pads
  • Syringe: used for administering liquids, both medicine and nutrient when needed. Keep two on hand, one that measures in 0.1mL increments and a second that measures in 0.5mL increments for larger dosing.
  • Vet Wrap
  • Disposable surgical scalpels
  • Disposable gloves
  • Digital scale: a small digital scale helps provide accurate dosing of powdered medicine.
  • Dog nail clippers: used to trim nails, beaks, and spurs.
  • Medical and waterproof tape
  • Birdy Bootie: one pair is handy to have, used to keep bandages in place and wounds clean.
  • Chicken Saddle: covers wounds from hawk attacks, feather picking, or overly aggressive roosters.
  • Old clean towels: for wrapping stressed birds
  • The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow: invaluable list of symptoms and treatments.

Treating for Parasites:

  • MannaPro Poultry Protector: a safe, non-toxic treatment for mites, lice, fleas, and ticks. While you should be dusting the coop with diatomaceous earth and allowing your birds access to dust bathing areas, if the worst should happen and you find an infestation, this is a great treatment option.
  • Sevin Dust: for more serious infestations of mites and lice, apply Sevin Dust to the coop and directly to birds.
  • Piperazine (Wazine): a safe, effective roundworm wormer. When worms are suspected, use this first to kill off all roundworms prior to using a more thorough wormer to avoid overloading the chicken.
  • Fenbendazole (Safe-guard): a safe, effective general-purpose wormer. Use either after Wazine when a large worm load is suspected, or when symptoms are more specific for worms other than roundworms.

Wound Cleaning and Care:

  • Vetericyn: general wound wash
  • WoundSeal powder: fantastic styptic powder that stops blood loss instantly
  • EMT Gel: seals wounds, acts as a scab for larger lacerations
  • Povidone Iodine: strong antiseptic, can be diluted and used to wash over an area such as legs and feet, stains to hide red from blood
  • Blu-Kote: mild antiseptic, use for small wounds to stain the area dark so other birds won’t pick at it
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • TricideNeo: marketed as a topical antibiotic for ornamental fish, this produces excellent noninvasive results in bumblefoot treatment
  • Granulex: an incredible antibiotic and debriding agent. Use for festering wounds where tissue is clearly necrotic, such as those associated with flystrike. Use hydrogen peroxide and antibiotic ointment if you can’t find this.


  • Sav-A-Chick Electrolytes: use during heat stress, shock, or general illness.
  • Sav-A-Chick Probiotics: use after antibiotics or treating for parasites.
  • Activated charcoal: used when poisoning is suspected, such as when spoiled food is eaten.
  • Rubbing alcohol: for tool sterilization.
  • Poultry Nutri-Drench: provide to birds who have experienced shock or stress, or any bird that is suffering illness.
  • Preparation H: used to treat vent prolapse.
  • Epsom salts: used in foot soaks (in the case of bumblefoot), or if a chicken looks droopy.
  • Liquid calcium: use when a hen is egg-bound.
  • VetRx: this is essentially the same as Vick’s Vaporub; use in conjunction with treatment for respiratory illness.
  • List of supplies and expiration dates: write out what you have, what it’s used for, and any expiration dates to make things easier during emergencies.