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    Chicken First Aid Guide: Caring for Sick or Injured Chickens

    Authored by Jemma Petts

    Keeping chickens injury-free is a priority for your entire flock. Get prepared for any medical situation by building a sick bay and chicken first aid kit. You never know when one of your flock may need some extra chicken attention.

    Constructing a sick bay for your sick or injured chicken

    Any sick or injured chicken should be pulled from the flock immediately. This prevents any spread of illness or further injury to the bird. Build a safe and quiet place available for care—a private hospital room for your chicks. Your recovering bird should stay separated until they are fully healed.

    How to build a sick bay for chickens

    Make sure you know where your chicken’s sick bay will live before you need to use it. There are a few options for what to use, but the main points of your sick bay should be:

    • Enough space for your injured chicken to move around
    • Easy and accessible to clean for you
    • Food and water are available and away from where the chicken can relief itself
    • Dim light and extra warmth can help your patient feel cozy during recovery

    Your chicken’s hospital room can be as simple as a dog crate or large pet carrier, or as elaborate as a rabbit hutch. You can also set a room or space in your home or garage that isn’t being used up for your sick bay. If you are using a room, remember to put down plenty of bedding for the chicken.

    Where to put your sick bay

    If your chicken is injured with a wound or broken bone, you can place your small crate sick bay in the coop. This allows the hen to have the nearness of her flock mates, while also keeping her safe during recovery.

    If your chicken is sick with something contagious, such as coccidiosis, your sick bay should be completely separate from the coop and other flock mates. Make sure to keep your recovering hen separate until she is back to 100% to prevent disease spread.

    Building a Chicken First Aid Kit

    Stocking care items for chicken first aid is key to fast action if one of the birds in your flock is injured or falls ill. The Chicken Chick lists the following as the essentials for your first-aid kit:

    • Non-stick gauze pads
    • Disposable gloves
    • Flashlight or headlamp
    • Tweezers
    • Scissors
    • Triple antibiotic ointment
    • Dog nail clippers or a Dremel
    • Aspirin (No baby aspirin)
    • Syringe
    • Epsom salt
    • Wooden craft sticks
    • Antimicrobial spray
    • Vitamins and electrolytes
    • Prozyme

    How do you know a chicken is sick

    Keep an eye on your flock of chickens so you can recognize symptoms of illness quickly. Injured birds are usually easy to spot, but illness can take some investigation. Look out for:

    • Decreased egg production
    • Decreased water and food intake
    • Abnormal droppings
    • Swelling in the face or abdomen
    • Coughing
    • Discharge from eyes, nose or mouth
    • Weight loss

    Try not to rush offering your chicken any medication until you are sure of the cause. Remove the sick hen from the flock and into the sick bay. Contact your poultry-trained vet and keep your patient calm and comfortable.

    How to introduce an injured chicken back to the flock

    Returning your chicken to its flock mates should be postponed until the bird is fully healed, with no signs of scabbing or bleeding. Introduce the chicken to your flock as if they are strangers and this is their first meeting.

    Keep your injured chicken separated using a fence or large dog crate. Patience and repetition of introductions will be your best bet, allowing the birds to get their pecking order back in place safely. Much like introducing new dogs or cats to the family, allow everyone to see and hear one another without physical contact. Keep separate food and water for the new and reintroduced chickens. If you find that there is a persistent bully in your flock, separate the bully chicken from the flock for a few days.


    Being prepared before any member is sick is your best bet to flock success. Make sure you have an infirmary area ready, stock your chicken first aid kit and plan for slow reintroductions to the flock. Be sure to also find your local veterinarian who can treat poultry before you are in the moment.