This past summer I received a call from a chicken friend. While she and her family were outside with the flock, a hawk scooped down and picked up her largest hen! They were able to shoo the hawk away and the hen was dropped from its talons. They immediately ran to the hen.
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The chicken appeared limp, was panting with her mouth, and had puncture wounds in her wings. The hen was in a state of shock. Quickly, they wrapped her in a towel and brought her into the house. They gingerly assessed her wounds. Thankfully they had stopped bleeding. They quickly treated the wounds with Vetericyn, wrapped them and then re-wrapped her in the towel. She was still stunned but seemed to be regaining her bearings. They set up a makeshift brooder, complete with a heat lamp and placed her inside. They gave her only water with vitamins and electrolytes to drink and sat there watching and waiting. Within a couple of hours, she had recovered a bit more and stirred from the towel. They unwrapped her and she began to drink.
She had been in a state of shock from the events of the attack. She stayed in the brooder for a few days until she seemed to return to normal. After a few days, they reintroduced her to the flock and today, it is as if nothing had ever happened.
|A dog crate, like this one shown in the role of a brooder, would make the perfect place for a hen in shock to recover.
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Shock is a medical condition that is an emergency as it can lead to death. The signs of shock in chickens include pallor of the wattles and comb, open mouth breathing, listlessness, rapid heart beat, weak pulse, collapse, and a stunned appearance. The causes are many including trauma, illness, cancer, predators, excessive bleeding, reactions to medication, and sudden changes in temperature usually hot to cold.
Treatment for shock in backyard chickens includes keeping them separated from the flock and keeping them warm. To keep them warm, you can try wrapping the chicken in a towel, placing it in a warm brooder, or making a warming unit for more severe cases of shock. Seek veterinarian assistance if your chicken is experiencing severe blood loss or illness as their care requirements are most likely more than you can provide. Adding vitamins and electrolytes to the water source can be helpful too. It is not recommended that you feed your chicken until they are fully alert and moving about normally.
My friends were prepared. They had a chicken first aid kit and were ready for anything. I am a firm believer that their quick actions saved their chicken’s life.
Click on the links to learn more about shock, how to make a warming unit or how to prepare yourself by creating a first aid kit or locate/add a chicken veterinarian near you. I invite you to follow Tilly’s Nest where I chat chicken, beekeeping, gardening, cooking and crafting. I’d love to see you there.