Feeding antibiotics to a chicken

April 3, 2010 | By | Comments (11)

Years ago, when I looked after a sick cat for a good friend in New York, I was completely unable to get pills down her frantically squirming Russian Blue. Whenever I thought I’d finally done it, the kitty would go “ptoo” and out would come the little blue pill.

I’m having sort of the same experience with sick Ruby.  I’m supposed to syringe liquid antibiotics and painkillers into her beak, but that’s just a joke. She wiggles her head so much it practically becomes a blur. And a chicken’s head is really, really hard to get a grip on, worse than a cat’s because it’s about the size of a golf ball. I’m afraid I’m going to put her eye out or wring her neck.

So I’m putting the antibiotics into food. I’m not doing too well there, either…I tried yogurt this morning but after a few pecks she’d lost interest. Corn kernels were a bit more enticing, but I’m fairly sure that most of the medicine dripped off and pooled on the plate. Tonight I tried dribbling it onto a tablespoon of bread crumbs.


Go, Ruby!

However, she stopped after a few bites. Exasperating!


Any suggestions? Next I’ll try giving her the most minuscule possible amount, maybe 1/2 teaspoon.


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  3. Sue Green

    Our vet gave us a pill gun to get it right into the stomach region and not the lungs. The syringing was also ok, getting one person to hold and the other to pull her neck up. Soon over …

    April 28, 2011 at 11:43 am
  4. Betsy

    I became an owner to chickens for the first time this April. I have to say I truly love my chickens, they are my pets. My original, Ursula, had a visit to the vet Wed because I found a massive abscess/cyst below her vent. I have been struggling giving her the pill form antibiotic that the doc prescribed. Opening her beak has been impossible. He told me not to do liquid form and she can not have dairy with her meds, which means no yogurt (her favorite). What do I do??? My other two are so interested in what she is doing that separation is tough and when I leave her in the coop to administer the pill she is concerned with them and loses interest in her “medicine food”. Any suggestions?

    December 3, 2010 at 10:16 pm
  5. janet

    how do you give a chicken a pill and how big of a pill can they swallow

    July 5, 2010 at 6:24 pm
  6. Margo True

    Hi Lynne,

    Well, I figured it out! Scroll up to the post above and you’ll see how. I’ve also read that squirting syringefuls of liquid into a bird can choke them–and unfortunately you proved it! Glad she’s okay.

    June 15, 2010 at 5:04 am
  7. Lynne

    I would really like to know how the meds finally got into that bird. I have a welsummer with chronic sour crop.bought her last week then noticed something not right at all..The vet gave me baytril and nystatin to administer with a syringe, but the first time I did it I thought I’d killed her. I am sure some went in her lungs. I used a tube but God help me I probably put the damn thing down her windpipe. She coughed and rattled and closed her eyes. I tapped her a bit and she came round. She’s not rattling now and is out eating with the others, so who knows..but if there is a better way..She doesn’t really like yoghurt but I have managed to get her to eat some of that with a bit of cod liver oil. Help I’m feeling a bit wobbly!

    June 12, 2010 at 7:12 pm
  8. tina k (friend of nugget)

    Wow! I took my chicken in on Saturday for the exact same thing to Wildwood Vet in Portola Valley. Dr. Sanders also drained the bright yellow liquid from her! She felt much better after all that fluid was out. It was making her breathing labored. I give her Baytril (pill) and Metacam (liquid in syringe) It helps for 2 people to do this. One to hold the bird, one to grab her head an open her beak and give her the meds. If I have to do it by myself, I actually have to sort of sit on her to hold her down, then grab her head with one hand and give her the meds with another.

    April 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm
  9. Margo True

    Raheli, I would except it’s a communal water dish…I could remove her from the flock and set a little dish of medicated water in front of her, but I’m not sure she’d drink. Like the saying goes, You can lead a chicken to water…

    We could try to isolate her, of course, and then she’d have her own food and water. But so far none of the other chickens have pecked her, and she’s happier being with the flock.

    In the meantime, I think I’ve hit on a way to get the meds into her. Will be posting shortly.

    April 19, 2010 at 6:41 pm
  10. Raheli

    Can you put it in her water? That’s how we have given medicine to sick chickens.

    April 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm
  11. Sabrine

    I love Sunset Magazine, and I love my chickens. My RIR Fiesty this past weekend was a bit sluggish and not herself…turns out is was girl problems. Poorly formed egg tha all came out in pieces. Luckily she is okay now, but I wanted to give a big bump to backyardchickens.com who has come to my rescue many times and has really thoughtful and experienced members.

    Good luck to you all!

    April 19, 2010 at 4:34 am

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