Too often in backyard chicken keeping, injury or illness occurs that needs to be treated quickly. Since many products used to treat poultry are not readily available locally, and many vets don't treat chickens, it is my recommendation to be prepared and keep these critical items stocked at all times. Hopefully you will never need them, but at least you'll be ready if you do.
I don't believe in using commercial antibiotics or medications not only for the hens' well-being, but also because we eat their eggs, so medicating chickens isn't optimal when thinking about then resuming eating their eggs. Additionally, most medications and treatments recommended even by vets are not approved for use in poultry, and withdrawal periods (during which you shouldn't eat the eggs from a treated chicken) are often uncertain.
I consider the items listed below essential to any chicken first aid kit. They are all-natural and have no side effects or withdrawal periods when used as directed, but between them all, you should be equipped to treat nearly anything. We have never used a medication, antibiotic or other chemical-based product on our hens and have never lost one to disease or illness.
All-Natural First Aid Kit
1. Green Goo - an antibacterial/anti-fungal topical salve for abrasions, cuts, scrapes and use as a first aid dressing. A natural alternative to Neosporin, that can be used on chickens, ducks, cats, dogs, horses, and humans to help speed up the healing process and prevent infection.
2. Anti-pick spray - an antibacterial/antifungal topical spray for wounds, cuts or sores is an important addition to a first aid kit. Using one with blue food coloring added has the added bonus of preventing further picking at injuries from other birds who might be attracted to red blood or raw skin. Add a few drops of blue food coloring to some honey and a bit of water to make your own all natural spray. To make your own, read more HERE.
3. Nutri-Drench - this molasses-based liquid packed with nutrients, helps resistance to disease, boosts immune systems, corrects vitamin deficiencies, helps with heat stress, improves appetites in sick birds and increases the body's response to other treatments. Excellent to give to new chicks to ease the strain of shipping. (Note: Blackstrap molasses can be used interchangeably - but in moderation because too much can cause diarrhea. Molasses can also be used as a flush in the case of accidental poisoning or botulism) Nutri-drench is given orally using an eyedropper or can be added to feed.
4. Kocci-Free - an organic, all natural antibiotic/anti-parasitic that helps boost the immune system and rid the body of the coccidia parasite. Also kills other viruses, bacteria and fungus. Given orally using an eyedropper.
5. Poultry VetRx - a 100% natural alternative to antibiotics, this camphor-based formula is used to treat respiratory ailments, scaly leg and eye worm. Given orally, dabbed on the nostrils or under wings, can also be added to drinking water.
6. Verm-X - An all natural wormer/preventive that helps control and flush internal parasites.
7. Garlic Juice - A 10% garlic juice/90% water mixture is an effective remedy for mites and lice.
8. Honey - an antiseptic with natural healing properties, honey is obviously also non-toxic if inadvertently eaten. Wonderful to apply to wounds to aid in healing.
9. Saline Solution - a bottle of regular saline solution is perfect for rinsing dust or dirt out of watery eyes or cleaning a wound.
10. Cornstarch - a fast way to stop bleeding effectively. Apply topically to the site of the bleeding.
11. Molasses - Molasses fed in large enough amounts can cause diarrhea, which can be beneficial in the case of accidental poisoning or suspected botulism. It also contains a super dose of vitamins and minerals which are of benefit to a recovering hen. Read more HERE about the benefits of molasses.
12. Activated Charcoal - In the case of suspected poisoning, Activated Charcoal can help flush toxins in humans and animals. Not a bad idea to keep some in your first aid kit....just in case.
13. Oregano Oil (or dried oregano) - Oregano has been studied as a natural antibiotic when added to chickens' diet. Read more HERE about the benefits of oregano as an antibiotic.
14. Waxelene - This all-natural alternative to petroleum jelly can be used to prevent frostbite on wattles and combs.
15. Vetericyn - non-toxic, this gel spray kills 99.9% of all bacteria, viruses and fungi without harmful steroids or antibiotics. It speeds healing, cleans wounds and treats infection including bumblefoot.
16. Cayenne Pepper - Cayenne powder can be applied to a wound to stop bleeding. As treatment for shock, adding several teaspoons of cayenne powder to a cup of water can relieve the shock quickly.
These items, along with some gauze pads, tweezers, a small pair of scissors and vet wrap or first aid tape will ensure you are prepared.
For a complete, more comprehensive list of all the items to consider for your chicken first aid kit, as well as some non-natural supplies, click HERE.