If your homesteading activities include backyard chickens, you need a chicken first aid kit.
Learn how to create your own quickly and easily with this list of items.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
When we got our first flock of Western Rustic chicks three years ago, we didn't know much about raising backyard chickens. But boy, did we get a crash course!
Once our chicks arrived and settled in, we learned more about chicken keeping and feeding.
We created our own fermented chicken feed.
And we realized that we needed a quick kit of medical supplies to help treat our chickens at home.
So we invested in chicken first aid supplies such as gauze, bandages, antibiotic ointment, and hydrogen peroxide.
And we gathered other essential items for minor wound care, such as tweezers, Q-tips, scissors, and cotton balls. In addition, we stocked up on additional resources like apple cider vinegar, garlic cloves, and chili powder to help treat minor issues.
And I put together a list of first aid supplies for backyard chickens.
Why a Homemade First Aid Kit for Chickens?
Chances are you already have a first aid kit for humans in your home. And the reasons for creating a DIY first aid kit for your flock are similar to why you keep items for pain relief and clean wounds in your medicine cabinet.
You want a healthy family. And you want healthy chickens too.
When you're prepared with the medical supplies and/or natural products to treat signs of illness or even an emergency situation with your birds, you can act promptly. This could help stave off infections, dress wounds, reduce the chances of further illness, and even save on vet bills.
Yes, you can buy chicken first aid kits online or even at your local feed store. But it is really simple to create your own to help deal with common medical conditions and injuries that can as part of backyard chicken keeping.
In our case, we live quite far from the nearest town. So it's hard to dash to the store for more chicken supplies. As my daughters say, we want to be responsible backyard chicken keepers!
So it helps to have these first aid products on hand so we can create our own mini chicken hospital.
When To Use a DIY Chicken First Aid Kit
We've used items in our kit many, many times. Sometimes for preventative measures.
For example, when we introduced new birds to our flock, I added apple cider vinegar to their drinking water.
I like the benefits of ACV for chickens as a natural alternative to antibiotics and to help stave off coccidiosis, which could take out the rest of the flock if it spread.
It's really simple just to add a tablespoon of organic ACV to clean water when you bring in new chicks.
We've also used these items with newly hatched chicks, broody hens, and young hens who have had various scrapes or injuries.
We've used these items throughout every season, in the winter months for frostbite and respiratory infections. And then again in the spring for broody hens and new chicks. In the summer for heat stress too.
Essential Chicken First Aid Kit Items
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Rubber Gloves
- Clean washcloth or clean towel
- Antibiotic Ointment
- antiseptic spray
- gauze pads
- Chili Pepper (or hot red pepper)
- Petroleum Jelly or olive oil
- Epsom Salt
- Styptic Powder
- Small pair of scissors
- Cotton swab
- Gauze Tape
- Saline Spray
- Low dose aspirin
- diatomaceous earth
- Vet info
- Large container with a lid
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is one of the most important items in my DIY chicken first aid kit.
These days I make my own apple cider vinegar from apple scraps. But I used to use Bragg's Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.
ACV has many well-documented natural healing properties for people and animals alike. Add about 1 tablespoon per gallon of water for your chickens.
Chili Pepper or Hot Red Pepper
Yes, chili pepper is an old-timer addition to healthy diets for chickens. And it's recently been verified by science as having natural healing properties.
Add chili pepper to quality layer feed as a natural alternative for an antibiotic.
This is another essential item in chicken keeping as it can help treat an egg-bound hen. Soak her in warm water with Epsom salts to help pass the egg.
Epsom salt water can also be given to help with constipation or to flush out a chicken's system.
We've also used it to help soothe young hens after they've had run-ins with our aggressive rooster. (He made a fine chicken stew, by the way.)
Or sprinkle it on the floor of your chicken coop.
Saline spray is a vital tool to include in your homemade chicken first aid kit.
A saline solution helps to flush out superficial wounds. Use it to remove dirt or other foreign matter around your chickens' eyes.
Hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic used on the skin to prevent infection. You can apply it to superficial scrapes, cuts, and burns. Just remember to dilute it with equal parts water before applying.
Microcyn or Vetericyn
This is an anti-bacterial gel spray or ointment that does not contain antibiotics.
Use Microcyn or Vetericyn to treat sores around the vent, frostbite, and minor wounds from pecking.
This is a really handy product and the first one to try. If the injury isn't healing, I try.
Use antibiotic ointment on gauze or a clean old towel to apply to minor cuts and scrapes to encourage healing. And avoid the one with pain medication.
But remember, chickens, just like humans, can become antibiotic resistant. So you don't want to make this your first choice every time you have an injured bird or sick chicken.
DIY Calendula Salve
We made this easy DIY calendula salve to use with our family and our chickens too! Grow your own calendula or get your supplies online.
If you don't have time to make your own DIY chicken salve, try styptic powder.
It stops bleeding from cuts, over-trimmed nails or wings, and aggressive pecking wounds.
If your baby chicks seem a little sickly, try a few drops of probiotics. They can also just be given to baby chicks as a preventative to help strengthen them in their first few days.
This is especially for store-bought chicks that are under stress and at risk of developing a health issue.
Just like probiotics, use electrolytes to help bolster adults or new chicks.
More Chicken First Aid Supplies
Investing in gloves to keep your hands clean when handling injured chickens and sick birds is a good idea.
We keep disposable gloves to protect our hands and chickens from bacteria, body fluids, etc. And also from nasty pecks from a broody hen!
I consider this a necessary item in my kit.
You'll definitely want to have one or two syringes in your first aid kit to administer medicines or help give water to a dehydrated chicken.
Cover wounds and discourage pecking from other chickens and use it to correct splayed legs in new chicks.
Nail Trimmers or Scissors
Use these to trim your young chickens' nails and spurs to prevent more problems.
Low Dose Aspirin
Aspirin is used for pain relief. But don't use it if your bird is bleeding.
Aspirin thins the blood and can make bleeding worse.
Crush into a powder and dose three times over the course of the day.
Your Vet Information
Go ahead and put your vet info, like their phone number, email, and address on a thin piece of paper in your homemade chicken first aid kit. Or write the number directly onto the container with a Sharpie pen.
Then you'll have it right in front of you if there's an emergency.
Large Container with a Lid
I started with a small container (see pic above.) But my research turned up more and more items for my wish list. So now I need a bigger chicken first aid kit container!
Whether your backyard flock includes layers, meat, chickens or both, you want to have healthy birds. So learn about basic chicken ailments and conditions.
Practice preventative medicine by keeping their coops clean. Give them lots of fresh water.
And create an emergency plan in case of a predator attack or other injury.
Learn to identify the signs of serious illness or injury.
Also, learn how to safely capture an injured chicken so you can bring it inside for medical attention if necessary.
Maybe even invest in a good chicken health handbook.
And keep that DIY chicken first aid kit stocked!