Case Study Pathology

Avian Pathology Cases: 26

This series is a partnership between Bitchin’ Chickens and Dr Vicki Bowes, vet/avian pathologist. We get together to chat about interesting chicken health issues and attempt to come up with a diagnosis or treatment advice based on the information we have, which often isn’t much.

Recently we worked through about 30 cases. This is the second post related to issues stemming from an injury.

Heat Lamp Burn

Bitchin’ Chickens: If you’re a proponent of not using heat lamps because they can cause coop fires, then here is another reason not to use them. Improperly secured lamps or those that young birds can inadvertently reach are also a potential danger. Consider using a heat plate instead.

Dr Bowes: Treat this as a wound by debriding the area and cleaning it with Hibitaine twice/day. You can apply a topical antibiotic like silver sulfadiazine cream.

Cloacal Tear

Dr Bowes: This injury would have been easily repaired if she’d been taken to a vet at the outset, who could have sutured the opposing sides. At this point, monitor for infection, disinfect and apply a topical antibiotic. The vent should heal without causing a prolapse.

Dog Bite

Dr Bowes: This injury should have been treated as a significant wound. Dogs tend to clamp down and crush bones so I would recommend an X-ray to determine if there is damage to the bone. I’d also like to know how much mobility does the chick have (i.e. can it move its lower leg and toes normally?).

Pecking Wound

Bitchin’ Chickens: This case was presented by the owner as flystrike because fly larvae had infected the wound.

Dr Bowes: Whenever an injury is so severe that the skull is exposed then I would recommend humane euthanasia.

Hawk Attack

Dr Bowes: My first concern is are the structures underneath the wound intact? Are there any punctures elsewhere? A vet would draw the flap over the wound and suture it. At-home care would be to hold the flap in place with vetwrap. The bird looks alert, there isn’t blood and this is an injury that it can recover from.

Damage From Pinless Peepers

Bitchin’ Chickens: If you’ve never heard of them this plastic device is used to prevent pecking injuries by limiting the sight lines of the potential aggressor. They are often seen as benign and one site I found considers them a “harmless solution that can be used short or long term with no detrimental effects.” Indeed, many chicken keepers believe that as well. Looking at the photos below you’ll see that’s not the case.

Peepers are held in place by inserting them into the nares (nostrils). Both Dr Bowes and I question the need for them. Pecking and bullying are symptoms of stress, overcrowding, boredom and competition for resources (i.e. nest boxes, food, water, roost bar space). If you understand flock dynamics and practice good management they are unnecessary.

Dr Bowes: This bird has developed proliferative bony growth, which was a reaction to a foreign body. It’s now a permanent deformity of her beak.

Wing Amputation (Lacey Perkins Bass)

Bitchin’ Chickens: I’m assuming that this injury was due to a predator attack. I know a couple of chicken keepers whose birds have lost wings due to raccoons reaching through wiring and extricating part of the chicken out. I also know that this is where Dr Bowes and I get upset at the lack of understanding or empathy some folks have as to the level of pain and potential complications such injuries cause for the victim.

Dr Bowes: This injury is problematic for a few reasons: the bone is exposed without skin to cover it and the humerus is where an air sac is located so the bird runs the risk of a bacterial infection. There is also the possibility of permanent damage to the radial nerve. She should be taken to a vet who can disarticulate the shoulder, clean the wound, suture the opening and provide pain management.

Well, that wraps up another edition of Show & Tell With Bitchin’ Chickens and Dr Bowes. I hope that it’s been a learning experience for you.

If you’d like help with a case drop me a line using the ‘contact’ button on my home page. Remember to wear gloves, take good close up photos from several angles and supply us with plenty of information (e.g. timelines, symptoms, medications, general flock health, etc) so we’re able to more accurately pinpoint what’s going on.

Thanks again to Dr Vicki Bowes for her willingness to share her wealth of knowledge and experience to build capacity and skills in small flock keepers.

2 comments on “Avian Pathology Cases: 26

  1. janice power

    Is there any way to encourage a broody hen? I would love to try hatch some babies or do you know anyone who has one for sale?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Broodiness is linked to genetics. Some breeds are more likely to go broody (i.e. bantams, Silkies). Hens that are currently broody and rehomed will probably stop. I’ve written lots about broody hens. You can find those articles by typing ‘broody hen’ in the search box on my home page.


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