Caring for an Injured Quail
No one wants injuries to occur, but unfortunately they are going to happen. The best thing we can do for our birds is to care for them and give them the best chance at life.
Step 1: Separate the Injured Bird
You want to ensure that no other birds peck at the injury. They are drawn to the color red and will make the injury worse by pecking.
Step 2: Assess for Active Bleeding
Styptic Powder is commonly used to stop bleeding. It clots the blood and prevents them from bleeding out. You may need to reapply if the bleeding doesn't stop the first time or even hold the powder against the wound. If the bleeding still doesn't stop, get your bird to the vet or cull it depending on how severe the injury. At the Mini City Farm, we do our absolute best to prevent the need to cull, however sometimes making that decision quickly is the best, most humane thing we can do for our beloved birds.
Step 3: Check for Shock Symptoms
Bobbing head, shaking, ruffled feathers, and slow breathing are all signs of shock. If the bird isn't actively bleeding, this is the most pressing concern. Shock will kill a bird before infection can, so make sure to prevent shock from progressing as quickly as possible.
They need to be kept warm. 77F-85F is a good temperature range. They can chill very easily when they are in shock. You will notice that their feathers are puffed up. This is letting out a lot of heat, so you will need to control the temperature for them.
They need to be kept calm. Making sure there are not stressors around them will help them focus on healing. Calm and quiet will let them rest.
They need access to fresh food and water. Don't be surprised if they don't drink. Do not force them to drink or eat. Watch for these activities being done without help as that will tell you where they are in their healing process.
Step 4: Assess the Damage
Handling a bird a lot while they are in shock will cause more stress, so we wait until they show signs of improvement before handling them to assess the injury. If there is a piece of skin flopping around, put it where it belongs. If there is just a cut, try not to disturb the injury. Always wash your hands after handling a bird.
Step 5: Clean the Wound
We use a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution to clean out wounds that are less than 1/8" long. We just rinse with water for larger wounds until they start to heal then switch to more intensive infection control.
Step 6: Monitor for Healing and Continue Cleaning
The best thing you can do for your bird is to monitor them and let them heal. If they are progressing, great, let them do so and try not to disturb them too much. If, however, they start to decline, they may have an infection. Your vet should be called for next steps if that is the process you have decided on for your mini farm.
If you have decided that they will not be taken to the vet, monitoring for decline and then quickly making the decision to cull is the kindest thing you can do. For us, if we don't see that they are healing, we want to end their suffering as quickly as possible. As farmers, we are 100% responsible for the health and well being of our animals. Every minute that we are indecisive is a minute that they are in pain. We practice kindness and good husbandry by being decisive.