Our littlest Barred Rock, Mimi, hurt her toe and was bleeding.
(This post has some great photos towards the end – but I hope you read the whole story!)
I opened the chicken coop as usual on a Sunday morning and the chickens rushed out. I noted right away that there were spots of blood dotting the wood shavings litter throughout the coop. My first thought was that someone got pecked and immediately began to look at combs. Everyone was fine. Then I noticed Mimi’s bloody toe. There was also blood on the bottom of her other foot.
I didn’t take any pictures, but the short version of the story is that it looked like she injured her middle toe around the toenail on her left foot. I couldn’t see that her other foot was injured, but I couldn’t be sure. I went inside to tell Mr. Gordon and grabbed our chicken first-aid kit. Back in the run, Mr. Gordon held Mimi while I washed her feet with a clean, wet rag, then applied some Blu-Kote. (Wear gloves! It stains!) This first step would be the immediate “fix” while we figured out what to do next.
“We’re bringing her in.”
We had to run an errand. When we returned, I nearly bolted from the moving vehicle because I could see Mimi sitting on the ground and the other chickens hovering around her. I was worried that they were pecking at her. In fact, I saw a little red on her head and thought she was being pecked. (Turns out she wasn’t. She scratched her head and wiped a little blood on herself.) BUT, her toe was bleeding again.
Anyhow, it was enough to convince us to bring Mimi in for a few days to reduce her movements and keep her safe from the other chickens.
We had an old pet cage that was perfect. We made a mini roost for her. We piled fresh straw on the thick plastic mat on the bottom of the cage. We made sure she had constant access to food, water, and grit. She also got plenty of treats. At night, we completely covered the cage to help her feel more secure.
We brought her in on a Sunday, again washing her feet and applying the Blu-Kote. We did that two more times over the next few days. The toe stopped bleeding the first day. The other foot appeared to be just fine. By Wednesday, Mimi was vocal and wanted to return home to the coop.
Concerns, But Take Heart
We had a couple of concerns from the beginning. One, Mimi would be in a warm house and we were worried about returning her to a cold outdoors when the time came. Secondly, we were worried about returning her to her flock. Would they see her as a new chicken? Would she be bullied? Would she be hurt by the other chickens?
I’m going to take a moment and address a real frustration of mine. The internet is a wonderful tool full of great information and helpful people. It can also be a source of horror stories.
Let me state right now in this post for the newbie chicken keeper: You can return a chicken back to the flock with NO DRAMA. Sure, there are plenty of unhappy stories that you can find in search returns or in chicken keeper forums. And, it’s a good idea to educate yourself and to have a plan. But take heart: You and your returning chicken CAN have a drama-free experience. We did.
Many chicken keepers suggest returning a chicken to her flock into the coop when the chickens are roosting and drifting off to sleep. This is when you sneak in and gently place the returning chicken onto the roost with the others. The theory is that in the morning… viola! No one knows the difference. (Supposedly.) Mr. Gordon’s son Kyle has done this successfully with his chickens.
Sounds like a great plan if you can walk into your coop. Ours is about 3-ish feet off of the ground. You can’t walk into our coop. This recommendation wouldn’t work for us.
After terrifying myself for a couple of hours reading about people’s failures and chicken drama, I landed here at Jack’s Henhouse. The portion on introducing a new adult chicken to the flock gave me hope.
Then, I developed a plan.
Distraction and Treats
Mr. Gordon built a gift for the girls (and me!) right before Mimi injured her toe. I hadn’t given it to the chickens yet.
A Chic-Nic Table. That’s right, a pic-nic table for chickens! A table that could be loaded with tasty treats: a big salad topped with grubs!
The plan: We’d move in tandem. I’d sweep in and deliver the Chic-Nic Table, top it with the goodies, and Mr. Gordon would be right behind me sneaking Mimi into the feasting party!
And that was exactly what we did. It worked with absolutely NO DRAMA. In fact, no chicken seemed to notice Mimi’s return. Enjoy these AWESOME photos of the Chic-Nic celebration! (PS, the coke can is an empty can with pennies in it. If someone went after Mimi, I was going to shake it at them. Never needed to use it.)
Mimi in the center of the photo below with Daisy by her side.
Mimi’s in the house, Chickens!
Well, Mimi herself did bring a little drama to the party. I think she channeled her inner RuPaul upon entering the coop for the first time.
Then, strike that pose!
Oh! And the weather? About three days of sunshine and close to 70 degrees. We got lucky.
And all’s well that ends well. Sigh. 🙂
Tell Me About Your Chicken Success Stories!
Because all chicken-keepers – new, kinda new, and well-seasoned – need to hear the good stories. 🙂