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.