How to Deal with a Damaged Chicken Claw

It’s fair to say I’ve experienced my fair share of chicken problems, ranging from feather pecking, fatal diseases, egg related issues and the dark side of chickens known as cannibalism. You name it and I’ve probably seen it or heard about it from my chicken-keeping pals. Early this morning I dealt with what seems to be a common occurrence for one of my hens. Lily is a large clumsy old hen and often rips a claw, she has a couple of claws missing (from her time as an inmate) and her feet have been strapped up more times than I can remember – undergoing surgery once for a nasty case of bumblefoot.

I thought I’d document what I did when I discovered Lily’s damaged claw/nail. It may be useful to someone. Below are the products that I used with a brief explanation:

  • Gentian Violet spray has antiseptic properties and best of all disguises blood or red areas that chickens go mad for, preventing more serious injuries or cannibalism. It can be purchased online.
  • Veterinary Iodine – prescribed by my vet, excellent for cleaning wounds before dressing. A spray form can be purchased online.
  • Cotton wool balls, to clean wounds. I use them to cushion and protect foot injuries.
  • Micropore Surgical Tape – hypoallergenic paper tape that is gentle to the skin and leaves minimal adhesive residue. I use it to hold cotton wool balls/pads in place. Vet tape is very good to use too.
  • Animal wound powder can also be used to stem blood flow from minor wounds.

If your hen is nervous, get someone to hold her before you begin. Gently clean the wound using cotton wool soaked in veterinary iodine. Use wound powder directly to the area to stop the flow of blood or place a cotton wool ball on the damaged claw until the blood flow slows down.

A quick spray of Gentian Violet spray will keep everything clean before you dress the wound and will disguise the red area in case the dressing comes off. The last thing you want is other members of the flock being attracted to the red colour and pecking the damaged claw.

Apply half a cotton wool ball to the damaged area, then use the tape to secure. Be careful not to tape toes together and never wrap tightly or bend toes. Leave this in place for a couple of hours then remove. The blood should have stopped and the wound should already be starting to heal.

Contact a vet if you cannot stop the wound from bleeding or you’re concerned about your hens behaviour / well-being

Lily is fine and quite used to me, I’ve no idea how she did it but at a guess I would say she did it last night as she went to bed seeing as there’s blood all over the perch. If you’re concerned about your hen, always contact a vet.

22 thoughts on “How to Deal with a Damaged Chicken Claw

  1. Very helpful advice, I have had problems in the past with one of my chickens. I wasn’t aware all these products were available on line. Thanks


  2. I had this exact problem just a couple of weeks ago. It took two of us to keep said chicken still enough to perform the necessary first-aid (and be warned, that purple spray goes everywhere!). I’m so impressed that Lily stayed so calm for her photo shoot!


  3. She’s a poppet, very used to me and my vet tending to her feet! It’s not as easy as it looks with hens that protest! Yes, the purple spray can be messy, stains too!


  4. Ouch! That looks sore. Great post though. Luckily I’ve not had to deal with dmamged claws but now I know where to look fi I do – thanks :)


  5. Hi, thanks for posting this. How long will it take to get propperly better please?
    We bought our first chickens last week end and found one had damaged her claw in the box on the way home. Its been a week and she is still limping and spends most of the day hiding in the house. I looked at it yesterday and she got so upset at being put on my husbands knee she scratched it on his jeans and it started bleeding again. The claw looks exatly like in your photo.


  6. Hi Rutu, a damaged claw shouldn’t take very long to heal. Because your hen is also limping and hiding herself away, I think it would be wise to get her checked over by a vet to make sure everything is OK. Is she eating and drinking?


  7. Thank you. She does eat and drink when she’s out of the house. Two or three times a day I encourage her out of the house and shut the door. She goes over to the food & water for a few minutes has her fill then goes back to wait outside the door for me to let her back in.


  8. Does she protest (noisy or even trying to peck you) when being removed from the coop? Any sign of feather pulling from her chest? I’m wondering if she is broody or going broody!


  9. Just another point to raise, to cover all angles, is she straining or looking like she is trying to lay?Hens visiting the nest box frequenty (other than going broody) could either be feeling poorly from an internal soft shelled egg or are egg bound.

    What is her general behaviour like? Is she fluffed, hunched or quieter than normal? Sorry for all the questions, it’s so hard to help without seeing the hen. If you’re in doubt at all it would be worth popping her into a vet to give her a check over, a vet should be able to feel an egg if one is stuck. Not trying to frighten you, just trying to help x


  10. Are the others chasing her away from the food? Any signs of bullying? If so, try putting a heavy bowl of food in the coop during the day so that she can eat in peace, remove at night. If she ignores it and insists on sitting on the nest then you may well have a broody hen on your hands.


  11. Is there a place in USA where I can order and get Gentian Violet? Everything i looked was in England.


  12. I have just found your blog from this post and I love it!
    We collected ex battery hens last weekend (we are first timers!) and this morning when I went to check on them I found blood in the coop, one of our hens had damaged her claw, this post was brilliant. Although I had none of the products you listed I know exactly what to get for next time. Our hen seems much better after a clean up and an afternoon in the kitchen with lots of cuddles!


  13. Hi Charlotte, well done for giving some ex caged hens a chance to be proper chickens! It’s very rewarding, watching them develop. I’m glad you found this post helpful and I’m pleased your hen is much better. Thanks for your lovely comment!


  14. Thank you for this article – the only one I found that related to my rooster’s injury. Don’t know how he did it, but I cleaned and bandaged it once before, then took the bandage off when it had time to heal. It was bleeding again this morning. I think he re-opens the wound when he jumps down from the perch. So I decided to try 3 things: 1) lower the perch, 2) place bubble wrap (smooth side up) on the ground in front of the perch (it can be hosed off), 3) look online. Thank you for confirming for me that it is an injury to his claw and that he’s not the first chicken in history to have this problem!


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