Poultry First Aid
*Only a Licensed Veterinarian should be consulted past basic first aid measures*
It's good to have a Basic first aid kit on hand for your poultry. Some examples include:
-Blood coagulet, like Blood Stop Powder, Wonder Dust or Kwik-Stop (flour or cornmeal will work in a pinch)
-Vetericyn spray or hydrogel spray
A few suggestions to cover 'basics' while you assess the situation, and then figure out a course of action or consult your avian veterinarian.
Questions to ask yourself include:
-Is the bird drinking?
-Is the bird eating?
-Is the bird pooping?
-Does the poop (or last poops) look normal?
-Are there disrupted feathers or wet spots on the bird possibly indicating a bite or attack?
-Did anything change? This can be the weather, new birds, lawn or garden application, something next door at a neighbors, etc.
-Has the bird been laying eggs? If so, was her laying today same as usual?
-What has the bird eaten recently?
A lot of what we do as poultry owners is process of elimination. Thinking about the questions above can help rule out different issues and get you better prepared to answer questions and give facts to your vet's office as well.
Some things you can do in the meantime:
Heat - Keep the bird in a warm, draft free environment.'Put the bird on heat' is a common term, for saying essentially get the bird warm.
Water - If the bird is drinking, electrolyte solutions for poultry are available at Tractor Supply and many feed stores. Some also contain probiotics. If offering electrolytes, make sure to offer clean drinking water free of additives in addition to the electroylte-added water in a seperate container.
We do NOT recommend syringing or pouring water down a bird's throat! Like you would with a newly hatched chick, you can dip their beak in the water and they have the choice to swallow. If they're not swallowing, do not try this again, but definitely do NOT forcibly put water into a bird as this can lead to mortality for them.
Bleeding - Two parts: 1) stop the bleeding 2) if it came from a dog, cat or other animal you MUST kill the bacteria ASAP.
If you have a profusely bleeding bird, staunch the bloodflow as much as possible and call your avian veterinarian.
Birds as a rule, don't have a lot of blood in them, particularly the smaller they are. Though a chicken will have more than a parakeet for example, STOP THE BLEEDING RIGHT AWAY. Products like Blood Stop Powder, Wonder Dust and Kwik-Stop Powder are all specifically made for stopping the flow of blood and are good to already have on hand in your critter first aid kit. If you don't have one of these coagulets, flour or cornmeal will work in a pinch.
If you have a bird of ANY species and the wounds have been inflicted by another animal it's crucial to kill the bacteria at the wound site(s).
The bacteria found in the saliva of a dog or cat, or under the nails of a cat can be deadly within 24-hours for a bird. If you think your bird has been wounded with the skin broken, it's important to kill the bacteria at these sites right away.
Here at our farm we use Vetericyn spray, either the gel or non-gel spray. The gel seems to stay in place longer, is one observation we've made.
If it's a bite, there is likely more than one skin puncture/entry on the top and side or underneath the bird where the jaw wrapped around by a dog. Wetness or 'disrupted' looking feathers may help serve as an indicator of possible puncture areas.
You may need to go through by hand, looking for disruptions under the feather layer to find ALL entries. This should be done GENTLY and keep the bird and yourself calm.
Vitamins - Whatever ails your bird, a healthy nutrient rich diet is a basic overall boost. Products like Nutridrench for poultry can be added to a second water source, while also keeping a clean additive free drinking water source for them. Also natural raw produce is proven highly effective for the highest nutrient conversion. Well-washed dark leafy greens, and fruit like Papaya (without the seeds) can be great sources for most bird species.
Testing - Be prepared before you ever go into the Vet's office on what to expect with testing so you're not surprised. Generally speaking, there are a LOT of different things poultry can pick-up and many things resemble other things. A lot of these tests are costly ($100+) and may render false positives or negatives. With some viruses there are currently no tests made available for use on live specimens. This can be very frustrating for poultry owners, which is why good biosecurity, quarantining any new birds, and keeping clean healthy spaces is important.
Necropsy - The unfortunate has happened and your bird has passed. What's generally a fraction of the cost of multiple tests on a live bird is available for most avian carcasses from experienced pathologists. A chicken carcass should NOT be frozen as this alters some of the internal workings (for lack of better words) for the pathologists to gather data from. Refrigerate the carcass, and overnight ship with frozen ice packs (NO dry ice) to a lab of your choice. Or consult your avian veterinarian about their necropsy pricing and options.