Chicken Wound Healing Process

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).

Here’s a photo from Day 8 –

Day 10 – I started wondering how long I should be applying neosporin for. There wasn’t much information online, but I decided to keep at it for a while longer.

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 :)

— Melissa

36 replies
  1. -slrw
    -slrw says:

    Melissa, Thank you for sharing! Your story saved our 5 week old speckled sussex chick who was nabbed by our golden retriever (my fault) by the leg. When I got the chick out of his mouth, the skin was sliced down the side from under the left wing down to the thigh. I could even see one of the lung bladders. My first thought was to dispatch the little thing, because I couldn’t even imagine a would like that healing…. luckily I checked the web first and saw your story! So this little guy is now healing up nicely, and only a week later, the wound has closed up to about the size of a half dollar. It looks much like your picture of day 18, and I’m so glad to see that this is the start of a scab that will fall off in time! The chick is doing really well now, it was off it’s food for about 3 days, but I kept it hydrated with gatorade and vitamin drops which got us over the shocky period. So now I have a very happy and very sweet little chicken in my house, our two dogs are learning that chickens are not toys (or food) – and I’m thinking this was a lucky lesson for all of us…. and we have you to thank for it! Thanks again for sharing your and Pat’s story.

    Regards,
    Seanda (and little ‘nugget’)

    Reply
    • julie
      julie says:

      Thank u Melissa! My young hen was also attacked by what I assume was a raccoon. The skin and fat from her whole underside and legs were stripped away. She had been flayed alive. I followed ur instructions and had to even get her a collar because she began picking the scabs off and making herself bleed. Today only about 3weeks later and with a good scab on all of it I put her back in the pen with some younger chicks. She is going to live thanks to ur advice. Thank u so much. Julie Hall

      Reply
  2. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Seanda,
    I’m so glad to hear that! It’s nice to know we helped someone else. Best of luck with little ‘nugget’!
    Melissa

    Reply
  3. mzkynd
    mzkynd says:

    Came across this blog post thru TBC and I can’t thank you enough for posting it. I woke up this AM to awful squawking to find out a coon had gotten in the coop. My Frankie’s wound looks exactly like yours. I was worried I would have to put her down never having dealt with such a wound before but after reading thru the forums and this post I am hopeful that she will mend up with proper care.

    Reply
  4. Dara
    Dara says:

    My hen was attacked by the rooster and made worse by the hens. Her wounds are pretty bad. Can’t get her to walk much, but she’s not having any problems eating or drinking. I used that purple livestock spray that keeps bugs, fungus and bacteria away. Im worried she’s not going to heal right, and be a hopper. Do you have any suggestions?

    Reply
  5. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Hi Dara,

    I’m definitely not an expert as this was my first experience, but definitely separate her from the rest of the chickens until she heals. I’m not familiar with the livestock spray, but my guess is that if you do what you can to keep her wounds clean that she will heal just fine. How deep is the wound? Does it cut through the muscle? I’d recommend posting some pictures to this forum here: http://www.backyardchickens.com/f/10/emergencies-diseases-injuries-and-cures. I found people on it to be really helpful.

    Here’s a very long similar thresd that might help too: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/584134/rooster-went-nuts-brutally-attacked-hen-more-photos-added

    Hope this helps!

    Melissa

    Reply
  6. Dara
    Dara says:

    Thank you for your reply. The muscle was not punctured but almost all of the skin from mid back to thigh was ripped off. Pictures I’m afraid would not show much because the spray is dark and she is also.
    The link is just what I needed.
    And by the way she’s walking again she started around noon today. I used treats to coax her, she was slow. I think she’s going to make it.

    Reply
  7. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    That’s good to hear! As you can see, Pat’s skin was ripped down to the muscle but the actual muscle did not rip. She’s fully healed now – no limp and laying eggs. Sounds like she has a good chance.

    Reply
    • Dara
      Dara says:

      I decided some physical therapy might help. At first she was just walking in circles. Now she’s walking and running short jaunts and taking a break. I’m just doing 15 minutes at a time. Don’t want her over doing it on the first day.

      Reply
  8. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for this post! Gives me real hope that my rooster will make it! I found him in the yard looking a little sullen yesterday afternoon. And when I picked him up I found a huge laceration going horizontally across his chest from wing to wing. I love my chickens tremendously. My first thought was he won’t be able to survive. I called my vet and he stapled and sutured the wide wound back together. We suspect it was some sharp palms in the backyard that might have done this to him. Don’t know what else it could be. No skin is missing, no punctures. Doesn’t seem predatory at all. Anyway, my strong boy laid in my lap while the doctor put his skin back together. Only a very small part of muscle was injured at all, it’s all skin. He’s on Clavamox as an antibiotic and Metacam for pain and inflammation. We are cleaning with vetricyn and coating with triple antibiotic ointment. I thought he would go into shock. But he woke up crowing this morning and ate well all day. Just hoping we can avoid an infection. Your story makes me believe we could have a little miracle on our hands. My Merlin is one special guy.

    Reply
  9. Sarah Aspholm
    Sarah Aspholm says:

    Thank you for sharing your success story with us! Our chicken was mangled by a loose dog today and we thought the worst, but after seeing your post we have hope that we can nurse her back to health! We will be following your blog and the wonderful instructions you have given! I think we might even take pictures of the wound each day, as you have with your chicken, to document her recovery!!
    Thanks again
    Sarah Aspholm and family
    Hillsboro, Oregon

    Reply
  10. mommagonemad
    mommagonemad says:

    Thank you so much for this! My 15 week old pullet was attacked while in the henhouse by our dominant hen She has a huge amount of shin missing from the back of her neck and I can clearly see the muscles of her neck. Luckily the didn’t get into the muscle. I am off to buy supplies!

    Reply
  11. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I also have hope now from reading your blog. We had a hen (wilma) who was attacked by our neighbors dogs who ran right through our fence, her right wing and hip were crushed and mushy, after caring for her in our home for a few weeks she began to be able to hobble around again, we waited until she was all better before we put her in with the others. We now have a hen who got caught in a fence and her whole neck was eaten by her siblings all the way to the muscle. We can even see her spinal tendons, we have her in the house doing everything you did so our fingers are crossed, thank you all for your positive success stories

    Reply
  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Thanks so much for all this information it was real hard to find something like what I am dealing with my six week old chick. The dog stepped on it and ripped the skin off its belly down to the muscle in about a 2.5x 2.5 inch area. I have been cleaning it out with iodine mixed in water, dabbing dry and then putting triple antbiotic on a non stick gauze pad and the vetrapping that in place. It is eating and drinking really well, I just worry about how much pain it is in and what I can do about it.:(

    Reply
  13. Monkey
    Monkey says:

    Moist wound healing might be useful to speed up the wound healing time. The idea is to keep the wound moist. Probably better done when chicken is taking oral antibiotic and the wound does not look /smell infected. Honey or solosite with non-stick covering bandaged into place. Remember to check bandaging regularly to ensure it doesnt get too tight and change dressing at least every second day or sooner if blood or wound discharge soils it.Great post:) I think there is a place for painkillers at very low doses from the vet. The experience I had is that the two birds i have seen given pain relief by a vet were brighter and more comfortable within a couple of hours. I also think some vets understand that you want to give the animal a chance and will help you.

    Reply
  14. PolarisDan
    PolarisDan says:

    Although I know this post is over a year old I thought I’d comment with my current situation.
    We have 10 free-range hens, in interior Alaska. 2012-13 was our first winter with them, and they became bored and have been picking each other and themselves a lot, half of them have bald backs or bottoms. Hoping summer free-ranging would help end the cabin-fever and boredom of winter’s 20 hours of dark every day, and being stuck inside to avoid -40F temps, we were excited to have the birds out. Monday June 10, the birds wandered a ways down the driveway while the wife and dogs were out for a jog. She returned to find lots of white/gray and a couple yellow feathers in the drive, and most of the chickens missing.
    Luckily, 9 of the girls somehow made it back up the drive (maybe 200 feet) and under the cabin, but one yellow/brown bird, Buffy (a buff orpington) didn’t. My wife found Buffy under a tree about 50 feet from the attack site, with lots of feathers missing and blood around her neck.
    It’s 5 days later, with 3 trips to the vet, multiple injections (liquids and antibiotics) and lots of care. She won’t eat or drink, can’t walk but tries to stand, has a laceration near the base of her neck, and has worsened from Monday; she’s now unable to hold up her neck, and if she stands she struggles and her head/neck flop around. She’s finally doing better today, after spending Thursday at the vet with a feeding tube and subcutaneous fluid injections.
    I may try to document this better, as I was earlier trying to start a blog about our homesteading. http://polarisdans.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  15. Liz
    Liz says:

    Thank you so much for doing this! I was just googling “healthy chicken wound,” with my husband making fun of me for it, and this blog is exactly what I needed to not be panicking anymore. Week and a half since the raccoon got her, and she’s still going strong.

    Reply
  16. Wren
    Wren says:

    THANK YOU for posting this. We have a young hen that was attacked by an older member of the flock. Her comb was ripped clean off, as was all the skin from the top of her head down the back of her neck. I thought there was no way she would make it – but we are going on day 3 now and she has been active, eating, drinking and appearing to heal. I have no idea what a “healthy” wound is suppose to look like and was concerned with the yellow goo and spots I was seeing on our chicken – but now I see yours too had them. I too have no idea how long to apply the neosporin, so I will keep at it for at least a few weeks like you did. Again, THANK YOU for posting this. I’m glad she made it!

    Reply
  17. rebecca
    rebecca says:

    Well I was happy to read that a chickens skin will grow back. Our 5 week old chicks where attacked by our neighbours dog 1 did not survive and one has a huge rip of skin between her wings. We have separated her, she is now inside in a bird cage, I’m worried she is missing her sisters but don’t want her pecked and flies getting into her flesh. she is eating and drinking didn’t stop that at all. Will be going out tomorrow to get some Neosporin. Thanks years have past but helped me today

    Reply
  18. Daniel
    Daniel says:

    Oh my goodness, thank you so much for taking the time to write this up and post it. Definitely the most useful info I’ve found anywhere online for serious chicken wounds. One of our six month old ameraucanas had a run in with the dog a couple days ago. She has a big chunk of skin missing on a wing. Unfortunately hers does go down into the muscle there too, but she still seems to be able to use the wing (much as I try to discourage that!), so I’m hoping that she’ll recover completely. I just really wasn’t sure what to do with a wound that big on a creature so small, so it was such a relief to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel! It’s great to have all the pictures even though for some reason looking at pictures seems to turn my stomach a little more than actually tending to her wounds. We’re on day three and she’s pretty lively, eating and drinking plenty, I’m going to stick with the neosporin regimen for a while and hope for the best. The dogs and chickens have separate fenced in runs, but she flew over to visit with the dogs :/ Planning to clip feathers back a bit to discourage that.
    Anyway thanks again for posting this, it’s still tremendously useful!

    Reply
  19. chloe
    chloe says:

    Thank you for taking the time to do this. My most affectionate chickens Lucky (formerly known as Ginger) was assaulted by a raccoon while free ranging just after breakfast yesterday. She’s got a broken wing and two gashes around her neck. I cleaned the wounds as best I could and put her into a broader which I’ve put in the kitchen with a heat lamp. She laid an egg in the middle of the night and another this morning, plus started eating and drinking this afternoon. Not a lot, but enough to make me think she’ll make it. I’m going to trim away the feathers and do the polysporin next, then splint her wing. Thanx again

    Reply
  20. Ciub
    Ciub says:

    Our horrible attack wounds healed tremendously quickly and she was doing great and had even laid a few eggs within first ten days, then she became lethargic- on closer inspection, her right foot was very swollen. Apparently a small unnoticed foot wound combined with muddy rain conditions lead to a severe infection. I have read about bumble foot and am treating infected area with Epsom salts soaks, cut away the spongy tissue and packed wound with Bactroban but i don’t have access to any antibiotic besides a bag of gallimycin – she had lost all feathers near her wound and it seems on her leg that was not wounded, but again, everything besides her foot looks good. Any suggestions? She is a sweet buff Orpington, about two years old…

    Reply
    • Richie Cunningham
      Richie Cunningham says:

      I’m sorry I don’t know much about bumble foot. My vet just started taking chickens, so there may be a vet in town who does. It might be worth looking into.

      Reply
  21. Stacie
    Stacie says:

    Thank you! Going through this myself right now. Looks like the dog pulled a hunk of skin off the back of my chicken’s neck but otherwise did not do further damage. It is down to the muscle though and looks awful. Vets could not help as they had no bird experience. Used saline, iodine, and neosporin today and have her in a dark cage in a separated room of the house with food and electrolyte solution. Hoping for the best!

    Reply
  22. Shalena Schermerhorn
    Shalena Schermerhorn says:

    Thank you for posting your blog. Our Rooster was attacked by a raccoon during the day yesterday(5-01-16), he got his back pretty good. We have been cleaning it with Peroxide and Neosporin and feeding him Gatorade. We check on him about every hour. We give him Advil cuz he was burning up. He seems to lost a lot of blood we just are clueless on what to do for him for his strength he holds his head down and can’t raise it up by himself. I just keep praying he makes it.

    Reply
  23. Karen Thompson
    Karen Thompson says:

    Just read that 5 regular aspirin in a gallon of water should be given for wound pain in chicken. Also read that Vetricin spray is better than peroxide, iodine, soap etc. to treat the wound as the afore mentioned are too strong. Washing initially with saline ( you can make your own- look for recipe on line ).

    Reply
  24. Vicki Grace
    Vicki Grace says:

    Thanks for this great blog post. I found it by Googling about how long it would take for the skin to grow back. My Olivia has a good 4×3 inch patch of skin that has been ripped off by a coon. She’s been in the house and has been doing very well since day 1, thank God. I bathe her about every other day with warm water and liquid, organic castile soap, then spray down the wound with Vetericyn gel. And when I’m home I like to take her outside for the day – in a roomy dog crate – so she can get some natural food and sunlight. Because chickens are very social I keep another hen in the house with her (planning to switch hens every week or so) – this is what I do anytime I have a hen “under the weather”, I believe the same species company keeps their spirits up and keeps them eating and drinking. Again, thanks for the great post ~ I knew she’d have a long haul but was curious as to what that actually might mean.

    Reply
  25. Cindy Rosenfeld
    Cindy Rosenfeld says:

    Melissa,

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. We had an incident recently which was not as severe as yours, and this really helped! I am so grateful to have seen.

    Cindy

    Reply
  26. Kris Tart
    Kris Tart says:

    Hi- Thanks for the post.!My chicken was severely injured by a dog (worse than the pictures above) huge chunks of skin missing and part of her neck torn apart- I had to put the he back together with vet wrap and steri strips. She’s survived and is doing area ( I wont get into what I did but it was a lot!). Here’s were I need help: she’s starting picking at her bandages. When I unwrap her she tears at the scab -admittedly it looks better after she does so- and it only happened while I left the room changing a bandage yesterday. Should I un-bandage her and see what happens? thoughts?! And if I do- should I use anti pick lotion- will that impair the healing process? Thanks !!

    Reply
  27. Liz
    Liz says:

    I have been taking care of my girl hairy , now day 4. My dog got a hold of her and she’s seriously injured. The first night she drank water, layer an egg even, second day ate a lot of food-(mixed yogurt , egg yolks & apple) and lots of water. Day three she barely ate& drank little – compared to day before. Today is day 4, she’s not interested in food nor water- she’s laying down with her feet tucked under laying down(which she remained standing most day prior) she has her eyes close, just wanting to sleep, and breathing is slightly hard for her – I can actually hear her breathing now- also I have washed the wounds w the solution you suggested &been giving her neosporin every night. She was more spunky last night- trying to clean feathers from ointment – it seems so bizarre-
    Do you think she declining ?
    Does she just need a lot of rest(the lack of food/water interest has me worried)
    I’ve been on top of this- like a newborn – this is my favorite lovely girl, please any suggestion will be gratefully appreciated!

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Richie Cunningham
      Richie Cunningham says:

      It might be worth calling some of the local vets and seeing if they take chickens. I’m not sure, but it does sound like she’s doing worse. I wonder if she has some internal injuries.

      Reply
  28. Sheilah Rodriguez
    Sheilah Rodriguez says:

    I am so thankful to you,I don’t know what to do,my Tina got attacked by our Shepherd..it’s not too bad like yours but she’s hurt and I layed her inside in blankets..I have hope she will make it, she’s a good chicken.thank you again.

    Reply

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