Treating Livestock and Chicken Eye Problems

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Livestock and chicken eye problems need to be treated as soon as possible. When our chickens and livestock get an eye injury or any type of wound, I grab the first aid box. Every farm and home should have supplies ready to grab when an injury happens.

Some injuries are accidental, while others can be from territory arguments. Paws and claws are injured when jumping off roosting bars or climbing. Honestly, if there are animals on your small farm, there will be minor injuries that need first aid care. Having products that I know I can trust for my animal care makes the job less stressful. Using a liquid wound care spray is my favorite first line of defense. I was happy to see an ophthalmology gel solution become available a couple of years back. This is what I grab first when we have chicken eye problems. The gel sticks to the eye better than other runny liquids. If you can’t find an antiseptic/antibacterial eye cleaner, you can use cotton swabs and gauze pads, to bathe the eye, using a sterile saline solution. Make sure that the antiseptic wound liquid is safe for eye injuries and infections, before use.

Treating Livestock and Chicken Eye Problems

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What Does an Injured Chicken Eye Look Like?

Chicken eye problems can be caused by bacteria, dirt abrasions or wounds. Left untreated the eye will continue to get worse. What do you do to clean the eye without making the problem worse? Often the eye will look cloudy. The cloudiness can be quite distinct looking. You may think the eye is not able to be saved. At the very least, try a course of using the Vetericyn Eye Gel. It will cost a lot less than the cost of a veterinarian visit. I know a lot of homesteaders need to watch carefully how the money is spent. All I can tell you is, I have used this product for a few years and every single duck and chicken has sight in both eyes. The chicken may not want to open the eye due to photosensitivity. This should pass as the eye heals. Bandaging the eye won’t work but using the eye gel has worked for us every time. I also use a standard bottle of saline solution for cleaning. A small speck of dirt may have lodged in the eyelids and caused a scratch.


If a chicken or duck gets a wound that has any red blood seeping out, or is actively bleeding, use light pressure with a gauze pad to try and slow the bleeding. When the bleeding has stopped, dress with an antibacterial wound spray and bandage if appropriate. If the wound is not able to be bandaged, coating it with a blue antiseptic will reduce the pecking from the flock members. If the wound is near the eye, spray onto a cotton swab and gently swab the spot with the blue coating antiseptic.

Wound and Eye Care in Livestock

Other animals receive the benefit of my home treatments for eye infections and problems. I am not discouraging you from visiting the veterinarian if you prefer that. We all need to make the judgment call ourselves. Keeping a product like Vetericyn Eye Gel on hand is a good idea, in case you can’t get to the veterinarian or have to wait a few days for a farm call.

Recently, one of our sheep had a freak accident. This time, I was again glad that we keep a fully stocked first aid kit. I was nearby and watched the ewe roll down an unsteady incline in slow motion. She came to rest under a small pile that had a piece of sheet metal roofing on top. Although I stayed calm, Millie did not. She began to flail and panic and in the panic she managed to cut her leg and hoof area quite deeply. We did manage to get her up and she walked back to the barn area. I put her on the stand and began cleaning the wounds. A good bit of blood was dripping from her leg but no artery was pumping blood. Pressure was applied to the wound area to slow the bleeding. The cuts were cleaned using sterile saline. Next, I washed the wounds using a diluted betadine solution in water. This lets me see how badly she was cut. The wounds seemed clean and looked like they would heal. Antiseptic wound spray was applied on the cuts. Since the cuts were clean, I didn’t anticipate any problem healing. Using a product from the Vetericyn lineup makes me feel like I am using the best option for my poultry and livestock.


How do These Injuries and Wounds Happen?

On a farm, just as in the workplace, accidents can happen. Also, animals have a hierarchy often referred to as a pecking order. Most of the time it is worked out rather peacefully. Sometimes injuries occur from rooster behavior. Roosters in the first few years like to prove dominance over the hens by repeatedly mating. They show dominance over other roosters by spurring each other with the long spurs on the back of their legs. I am sure you can imagine the kind of injury that can result from an ill-placed spur. It can result in chicken eye problems or any type of spur wound. During mating, the rooster may wear off the feathers on a hen’s back, leaving exposed skin. This skin can be easily scratched or sunburned.

Chicken predators are just waiting for a chance to strike. This doesn’t mean they will end up with a chicken dinner. If the predator is interrupted while attacking, it may just leave an injured chicken behind. We had a rather devastating fox attack in the secure chicken run. And then I found our Buff Orpington chicken hiding under a nest box area in the back of the chicken coop. She was wounded and traumatized, but alive. After a serious amount of wound care and TLC, she was able to return to the flock and today it is hard to see anything wrong with her.

Livestock with horns can harm each other when head-butting battles get crazy. Also, metal fencing can cut a goat, sheep or cow as it passes by. Just as with chicken eye problems, eye injuries can happen in goats, sheep, and all livestock. We treated one of our sows for a day after she was bitten by another pig. The vet came out as soon as he had time. In the meantime, we were able to start first aid, stop the bleeding and apply antibacterial wound spray.


Having a well-stocked first aid kit in the barn or feed room saves a lot of time. Treating the wounds as soon as possible is important. These are the items I keep on hand. I can start treatment right away, not after I find time to run to the store. In no way will first aid on the farm replace solid veterinary care for serious injuries. You must use your own discretion and assess each injury to determine the best course of treatment.

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First Aid Kit Contents

Saline solution

Gauze Pads  2 x 2 size for most wounds

Vetericyn or another topical wound spray

Electric tape this is the best waterproof tape I have found, particularly for foot and hoof wounds.  I use just enough to keep the bandage on. I do not completely wrap the foot in electric tape as that would block air circulation completely

Cotton swabs

Blue coating spray – Especially for poultry, to reduce pecking at a bloody wound

Hydrogen Peroxide

Betadine – For cleaning solution for wounds

Old towels to wrap the animal or bird with, for a secure hold

Paper towels

Treating Eye Problems

Storing the First Aid Supplies

A plastic tote box is always good storage for farm medications. It is easy to transport to the animal and keeps rodents out of the supplies. You could also use a toolbox, however, some of the livestock medications are too tall to stand up in a regular size toolbox. Take care of your medications since you have an investment in them. When you see chicken eye problems or other injuries, you don’t want to find the medication has frozen in the bottle. In freezing weather, I take the first aid box into the house because some of the medicated liquids are not as effective after they have been frozen. Read the labels for recommended storage temperatures. In addition, if the liquids freeze, they aren’t going to be readily available when needed.

Do you keep a first aid kit on your homestead? What supplies, such as Vetericyn, do you stock it with? Have you had to treat chicken eye problems? Let us know in the comments below.

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