Friday, December 28, 2012

How To Pill a Chicken

There are many people out there, believe it or not, that keep chickens and consider them to be more than just "livestock". Some chickens are lucky enough to be called someone's pet. They are actually very sweet and docile creatures honestly. Plus, they provide yummy fresh eggs to eat!

I used to help treat a lot of sick chicken patients during my time as a veterinary technician. When I first started working on chickens, I will admit that I thought it was a little weird. In most cases, the poor chickens had been attacked by dogs, cats, raccoons or some other creatures. I eventually became very fond of chickens.

There were plenty of times that people decided they would rather euthanize their chicken than medicate it. Those chickens were usually handed over to us and stayed at the hospital until we found them a suitable home, which was usually with one of the veterinarians.

When I was asked if I knew how to pill a chicken, I really had no idea that it was even possible. Eventually, I became the go-to technician when a chicken needed to be medicated or someone else needed to be trained on how to give a pill to a chicken.

So, here's how to pill a chicken...:

  1. Get your medications and other tools ready beforehand so you don't have to fumble with opening pill bottles or packages while trying to wrestle with a chicken. 
  2. Get a nice thick towel and place your chicken in the middle. Firmly but gently wrap your chicken up so their wings are tucked inside the towel. This may make it easier and prevent wing flapping and slaps to the face. 
  3. With one hand hold onto the chickens head. Place your thumb and forefinger at the hinges of the chicken's beak and pry it open. Don't worry about being bitten, they can't really bite you and if their beak closes down on your finger it doesn't hurt. 
  4. Take the pill with the other hand and poke your finger down the back of the chicken's throat. You can actually put your finger very far down without hurting the chicken. 
Photo: pahlkadot
If you have to give liquid medications, you can follow the same process but replace your finger with the medication syringe and just squirt the medicine out once you have the syringe down the chicken's mouth.

It's pretty simple, but the hardest part is trying to get the chicken to hold still while you do this. If you can, try to get someone to help you restrain your chicken when you do this. Luckily, there is not really any threat of getting hurt by the chicken.

I don't know how many chicken owners I have that follow this blog, but if there are any I'd love to hear about your chickens! 

18 comments:

  1. Yikes. I never thought about how to give a chicken a pill! The towel is a good idea. I would hate getting slapped by a chicken!

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    1. Wing slaps are no fun, but fortunately they don't really hurt that badly.

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  2. We too never thought about giving pills to chickens. You always teach us something new. Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

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  3. You always teach us something new :) Wez back now and we hope you had a fantastic Christmas :) xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

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    1. Hey guys welcome back! You have been missed!

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  4. Birds scare me. I mean I love to look at them, but they give me the creeps if they get to close. Now they are allowing people in the city to keep a few chickens in their yards for eggs. I think small animal vets will see more requests for Chicken care. I really would not want to give a pill to a chicken. Actually, I would not ever want to be that close to anything with feathers. It is the wolf in me, I guess.

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  5. I'm sorry but this headline totally cracked me up.....

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    1. Lol good I'm glad! I thought it might have that effect on some people hehe!

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  6. I'm actually obsessed with the thought of living someplace where I can have chickens as pets and have fresh, wholesome eggs. I never gave a thought to pilling them, though. Very informative.

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    1. I also would love to have some chickens. I do live somewhere where I could keep them. Maybe one day I'll get a chicken coop :)

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  7. I grew up on a chicken farm in southern New Jersey, where we raised the birds for egg production. I guess that's tainted me cause, though I know many do, I can't bring myself to see them as pets. I respect your skills even more after reading about how you found a solution to this question.

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    1. I think most people who brought their chickens in to be seen by the vet never thought of them as pets until they needed medical attention either Gizmo. Then they realized how special they were to them.

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  8. That sounds like how I get pills, except I don't need the towel!

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    1. Yea it's similar to cats, but when I say put your finger down their throat I mean much farther than you would want to on a cat! It's a good thing you don't require a towel!

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  9. We had chickens before we started the RV life, I really enjoyed them and miss them. And the eggs.

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  10. Very interesting, and something we never thought about. People are starting to keep chickens in the city more and more, and my momma has a friend with pet chickens. The chickens lay eggs and my momma's friend makes the most amazing cakes with fresh eggs! We've heard that chickens are great for bug control and that they eat ticks!

    your pal,
    Garth

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  11. My chickens ate rat feces containing Dcon (manufacturer does not warn about this fact) I coul dnot find any vet willing to sell me some vitamin K. chickens kept dying. I found some Vitamin K from GNC and although its potency is 30 times less (GNC's vitamin is formulated as a supplement not as antidote to poisoning) it is my only available option. I could not figure out how to pill the chickens. Until I had an Ureka moment. I figured I could fill a grape with the pill inside. I picked small grapes for the pill and gave the chickens bigger grapes first so they would know what this whole thing was all about. It was a breeze o make they swallow the small grape with the pill inside. I did have, however, to keep track as to which chicken had taken its grape/pill so that I would not miss or double dose the chickens.

    Grapes filled with a pill works.

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    1. Yea, vets can't sell people drugs like that without seeing a patient first because it's against the law. It would be like a human going into a clinic and saying "hey, gimme some drugs because I'm sick" and then walking out with some. Just doesn't happen. I sure hope the supplements helped your chickens though! I try to advise people against using rat poison because in addition to killing the rats, you could be killing other wildlife or neighborhood pets. Owls, hawks, cats, dogs could all eat the dead poisoned rat. The grape idea is a pretty good one too, I like that.

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