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How to Trim a Chicken's Injured Comb or Wattle

5 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Tending a Sick or Injured Chicken

When you raise chickens, it’s not surprising to find a chicken with a torn comb or wattle. Chickens can tear combs or wattles in a fight or by accidentally catching them in something. Generally, these parts cannot be repaired and must be trimmed to avoid infection. You can take the bird to a vet, or you can trim combs and wattles yourself. Most birds recover quickly and completely.

  1. Wash the area with hot water and soap.

  2. Clean the area with rubbing alcohol.

  3. With sterilized scissors or a sterilized heavy knife, trim off the torn area of the comb or wattle.

  4. Apply antibiotic cream to the area. Ask a vet or poultry expert to recommend a good ointment or look for a pet ointment that says it is safe for birds. In warm weather, an anti-fly ointment may also need to be applied.

  5. Isolate the chicken until the wound has healed.

Because the comb and wattles have blood vessels, trimming them causes some bleeding, but it’s minor. Some pain is involved; however, anesthetics usually aren’t given because birds are tricky to anesthetize and the pain is quickly over. If you take the bird to the vet, he or she may administer local anesthetics.

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