I had a fun interview with Holly Bennett from Triathlete Magazine. Learn about my chickens and who I named them after here:
Post by the wife:
So after Pat, one of our chickens got attacked by a raccoon, I did a ton of research online to find out how we could help her, if she’d live, etc. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any photos of wounds as big as Pat’s, so I didn’t really know what to think. Since most vets don’t take chickens, you are kind of on your own. I thought it might be helpful to post this blog of what we did and how long it took to heal for those who may have chickens with similar injuries.
I think it’s important to note that although a ton of skin was ripped off, there were no major puncture wounds through the muscle. I think that may have saved us.
So here’s a calendar of her progress and what I have learned:
Day 1 – Pat woke us up at 5am screaming. After the dog chased away the raccoons, it took us about 30 minutes to find her. A huge flap of skin was torn off (about 5×3 inches). We put her in a dog crate on top of some towels and went out shopping for medical supplies.
*First important thing to know – you need to separate an injured chicken. Even the nicest chicken friends will peck at the wound, because “it tastes good”. You also should keep them somewhere warm so they don’t go into shock. You may be having chicken sleepovers in your house for a long time (until she heals).
After an hour, we washed her wound with saline and iodine. I found out later that we should have mixed the iodine with the saline, because iodine is too strong. I cut off the hanging flap of skin. She did not react at all. I also cut back feathers that were getting in the way. This did not hurt her. We did not try to stitch the wound. If you find it necessary, superglue is better to use than stitches because their skin will tear. You must also leave the bottom open so that it can leak – you don’t want to trap infection inside. I cleaned her out again that day and later, I covered the entire wound in neosporin. Make sure that it is not the neosporin with painkiller. It has to be regular neosporin. The painkiller is bad for chickens. Main goal for the first week: don’t let the wound get infected.
Food and water – you can add a little electrolyes (gatorade) or vitamins in her water to help her get her energy back. Also, anything you can get her to eat is great. Chicken feed crumbles are ideal. Hard boiled egg yokes are great for healing. Probiotic yogurt helps, with a tiny dab of honey for energy. Oatmeal is good too. Any food is better than no food. We fed her black oil sunflower seeds too, because she loves them. If she’s not eating or drinking, try hand feeding her and dripping water on her beak (don’t force her to drink – it will get into her lungs). She needs food and water to grow the skin back and heal.
Photos of Day 1 –
Day 2 – We washed the wound with saline and iodine again, twice that day. At the end of the day, we coated it in neosporin. We also cut back some more feathers because they were sticking to the wound.
Day 8 – After the second day, we stopped trying to clean the wound. It didn’t appear infected and iodine slows healing, so it made sense to just stick to neosporin. If it looks infected though, keep cleaning it. We have been putting on neosporin every night. We also sectioned off some area of the chicken run a few days ago for her to walk around in. Luckily her wound has not been getting dirty. I guess it’s in a good location. She is still coming inside at night and will be until the wound heals (to avoid the cold).
Day 11 – It appeared that she stopped eating. I mixed up some yogurt and feed and put it in between her and the other hens. They all went right at the food. That got her to eat. I then decided to let her out with the other hens. A few tried to peck her wound, but she fought back and seemed to be doing a good job keeping them away from the wound, so I let her stay with them for the afternoon.
Day 14 – I’ve been letting her out with the other hens in the day time and bringing her in at night. Still been covering the wound with neosporin every night. The top part of the wound is starting to seal to the ripped skin. Today she decided to treat herself to a dirt bath, so I had to wash her off with saline and apply some more neosporin. The dirt didn’t come off completely (shineyness is from neosporin)…
Pat’s back to being quarantined (in the day) outside in the grass where she can’t take dirt baths.
Day 18 – I decided to stop with the neosporin and just let the wound dry up.
Day 19 – photo:
Day 20 – Now that I let the wound dry, I decided to let her back in with the others..dirt baths and all (still bringing her in at night). She seems happier and is eating more.
Day 28 – For the last few nights I’ve been letting her sleep in the coop with the others during the nights that don’t dip under 47 degrees (no real reason for 47 degrees being the cut off). She seems happier. The scab is starting to crack off.
Day 29 – I think Pat might have laid an egg today. She’s back!
Day 34 – Holy scab falling off!
After a month, she doesn’t seem to notice her ginormous scabby wound.
Day 40 – The skin on the sides have moved in and the wound is a lot smaller. I can also see the beginning of feathers starting to poke through in the new skin.
Day 50 –
Pat’s wound has now completely healed. She’s laying again and you could never tell that anything happened.
I hope this has been helpful to you chicken owners out there
Early this winter, I decided to race Oceanside instead of Galveston 70.3 this year. I competed in Oceanside for years as the kickoff to my season. The harder course suited my fitness for this time of the year and I’ve had bad luck in Galveston the last few years, so I decided to give that race a miss this year.
No surprise, it was cold in Oceanside. I’ve frozen my butt off many years in the Oceanside harbor and this year did not disappoint. The swim was really cold. Lucky for me, I had my TYR Freak of Nature wetsuit and I managed to come out of the water in 5th place. At that point Andy Potts had a solid 2 minute lead on us.
I guess in California, “a marine layer” really means rain. Luckily I packed my arm warmers, which came in very handy on the bike. Matt Lieto was making fun of me at the start because I kept complaining about the cold and wet, when really I love the hard conditions.
The ride was hard from the start, with Ambrose setting a hard pace early. Just before the big hills, the second group caught up. As soon as the group caught up, Ambrose and Griffo decided to attack. I made the decision to go with them and we managed to put a big gap in the group for about 20 miles, but Lieto and Jesse were able to bridge the gap and come into transition with us. Never have I been so thankful to have Shimano Di2 in a race. I really would have struggled to change gears with my cold fingers if I had normal levers.
I had a really bad transition. My fingers were so cold I couldn’t undo my helmet strap. With the quality of runners heading out of transition and me still struggling with my helmet I had a little panic attack and left my PowerBar gels and run visor behind.
I managed to close the gap to the front group quickly. We all hit the first mile hard, with Ambrose and Griffo pushing the pace. I think we went through the first mile in around 5:10. The next couple of miles, Leon and I kept pushing the pace. Everyone dropped off, apart from Jesse. I knew it was going to be one of the toughest runs of my life with these two quality runners still hanging in. The first 4-5 miles, I really had trouble with my feet still so cold. We managed to pull back about a minute on Andy in the first couple of miles, but he held the time gap around 1:15 for the rest of the race. Around 6 miles, just as I was starting to hurt, Jesse put the hammer down and opened up a large gap on us. Around this point, I was really regretting leaving my nutrition behind. At 7 miles, I managed to grab a PowerBar gel and some Coke at an aid station. I yo-yo’ed off the back of Griffo for another mile. Half way through the 7th mile, I got a little bit angry and decided to pull my head out of my ass and go after Jesse. The next few miles, I realized that I didn’t feel any worse, so I kept trying to lift the pace. At the turnaround, I managed to close a lot of distance between me and Jesse. Still feeling good, I really worked hard on the small hills to catch him. Just before mile 12 I managed to close up to Jesse. In the back of my mind, I was trying to figure out how to beat him as I knew he was an outstanding runner in college. I love sprint finishes. They have always been one of the best parts of the race for me, so I was looking forward to the battle to the finish line. I decided to go straight past Jesse and just run my own pace. Over the next mile, I slowly kept picking it up. It seemed to work as Jesse faded with a couple hundred meters to go and I was able to hold him off for 2nd.
Congrats to Jesse for putting in a good race. He worked hard on the bike, which I think took a bit out of him on the run. Also congrats to Andy. Leading from start to finish is always impressive. I’m really excited to have such a great finish. I’ve been training really hard this winter, especially on the run and I’m happy to see that it’s starting to pay off. Thanks to my sponsors: Rev3, Recovery Pump, Kestrel, TYR, PowerBar, RudyProject, Pearl iZumi and Shimano for their support.
There’s a cool video recap of this race on YouTube. You can check it out here: