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Eye Injuries

Eye Trauma

Overview


Chickens occasionally develop eye injuries. Usually injuries are the result of conflict with another flock member, self-inflected injury from sharp toenails, exposure to sharp objects, or from heavy winds blowing sand or other abrasive material in their eye. Prompt, aggressive treatment is required in order to prevent loss of vision or the eye.

Clinical Signs

Eye discharge
Swelling
Eye redness
Tightly closed eyelids

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Eye Exam

Treatment

NameSummary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Ophthalmic drops or ointments (topical aminoglycoside antibiotics)Administered into the affected eye(s)
AntibioticsMay be needed to avoid secondary infections, especially in ruptured eyes.

Prevention

  • Observe flock behavior daily---to look for any signs of (even seemingly small) aggression towards other flock members, as it can quickly escalate to an eye injury, loss of an eye, and even death.
  • Provide shelter that is large enough for all flock members to go in during strong storm events, as high wind can increase the risk of sand and other substrate particles blowing in the birds' eyes.
  • Do not allow large concentrations of dust to accumulate in chicken coops by dusting regularly (however making sure that no chickens are present in the area while dusting or sweeping).
  • Be mindful when mowing the lawn or when using landscaping tools while in the vicinity of the chickens.

Scientific References

Blogs

Risk Factors

  • Fights among flock members
  • Multiple roosters living together with a small female to male ratio (need more girls and more space!)
  • Overcrowding
  • Windy days
  • Mowing the lawn and use of landscaping equipment around chickens
  • High accumulations of dust