Both my husband and I are country kids, so we decided to get our city kids some chickens to teach them how to care for animals and to be responsible for something. Plus, I wanted fresh eggs! Little did we know that we would absolutely fall in love with our little feathered friends! We purchased 5 chicks in the spring and built them a cozy little coop outside. We named them all: Kitty, Keith, Bachelor Button, Turkey, and Ariel (this was my chicken, named after the angel of abundance). Playing with the chicks quickly became one of our favorite daily activities!
All of my kids’ friends were so interested in their new pets. So naturally, when we had a small end of the school year party for my daughter, everyone ran to the coop with enthusiasm! Amongst all of the excitement, one of our chickens (my chicken Ariel) was accidentally injured. The door above the nesting box was dropped down on her neck as someone was trying to dig her out of the box. I heard crying, and then one of my daughter’s friends handed me a limp white chicken, with her head flipped back. She appeared to be dead already.
So as not to traumatize all of the 7-year-olds excitedly playing in the coop, I ushered them out to play a yard game and then I choked back tears and laid my sweet girl on the floor of the coop. I summoned my husband, who grew up on a farm, and he said she was “toast”. Again, I choked back MASSIVE amounts of tears, dropped to my knees in front of her and said a quick prayer. Then I went to entertain the kids until their parents could come to pick them up. After the last kid was gone, I occupied my kids in the house, worked up some nerve, started crying, and headed down to our coop.
How we healed our chicken with a broken neck
To my surprise, my poor chick (they were only 6 weeks old, so she was still very much a little chick) was still breathing!! I again dropped to my knees in prayer, sobbing through my prayers of gratitude! I put on my ER nurse cap and thought: “what would we do with a c-spine injury in the ER?”. I did my assessment, keeping her neck stabilized. She had not moved from where I laid her earlier, so she had not been able to exacerbate her injury thankfully. I picked her back up and she moved her wings and legs as I carried her into the house. This was a great sign. Now I was not sure if the movement was spastic or purposeful, but it was movement, and I was thrilled to see it!
By this time my husband had the kids in bed so I was able to go to work without interruption. First, I prayed again for guidance to do what needed to be done. Then I set my priorities, based on what I learned working in the emergency room for many years.
gathered my supplies
Now I had all of the essentials in place, I had to trust that this would all work for my special little Ariel. I said goodnight to her and she opened her eyes and looked around. My heart burst with joy! Washed my hands and went to bed, while she slept in her basket in my closet. Not much sleep was to be had, I was up all night checking on her. It felt like I had a newborn baby again, but I was happy to care for her.
In the morning I told the kids what the plan was. They had never dealt with anything like this before, so there was a LOT of questions! Then, two days later, I had to leave on a business trip! So I showed my daughter how to syringe feed her, make her food, and change her towel after she pooped. I also showed the kids how to do range of motion so her tiny chicken muscles would not atrophy while she healed.
I left for Utah, my daughter had a checklist in hand and a promise to do her best. While I was away I got daily updates on her progress. She was eating, pooping, moving around, and looking around. All very promising!!! I was so glad to return home a few days later to oversee her care again!
Over the next few days, she continued to live in our closet under her red heat lamp. One day we heard noise in the closet, she had flapped her wings and gotten out of the basket and was trying to work her neck brace off. So I gently removed her brace and her head was very floppy, her muscles had clearly atrophied some. She refused to let me put it back on, so I did close observation for the entire day. Chickens are surprisingly resilient because by the end of the day she was gaining enough strength that I felt confident we could leave it off without the risk of reinjury. Her movements now appeared to be purposeful and that everything was intact! No paralysis!! Her neck was still weak, so we still had to watch her all the time.
Weeks passed and she grew stronger but was still dependent on us to help her eat and to clean up after her. By now she was in a box, so she would not fly around the closet. We had to go to a wedding out of town, so we brought her along in her box. She was our camper chicken for the weekend.
The morning after the wedding, the kids had her outside in the grass, eating clover, and she decided to just stand up and walk. They screamed with delight! Then after some coaxing, she walked back to the camper and flew up the steps inside! We were all shocked, and oh so thrilled! See the video at the bottom of this post with more visual on this epic day!
Back home we continued to rehab her, and she was now able to eat on her own. Soon we were able to reintroduce her to the other girls in the coop. Her neck was now strong enough. She did not walk much, so we always had to make sure she was in a safe warm place near food and water. I then trained the kids on a daily rehab program for her, so she could build up the strength again. Her balance was way off, and she fell down quite a bit. But, we worked with her every single day, and eventually, she was walking well enough to get around with the other girls, with the occasional fall. She’s such a tough and determined little chicken!
back with her friends
Fast forward through summer, and she started laying eggs! Our sweet injured girl can still do all the things the other hens are doing! We blew out and saved her first egg, what a treasure! Her balance was still off, she fell over often, but quickly recovered and regained her stance. She came in the house often to play.
She is now one year post-injury and doing so well! She is our best layer, our best forager, and our best friend. Everyone has a special place in their heart for Ariel now, we call her “our sweet girl” because (if you have chickens you know this) she has the sweetest personality. She really is our little friend.
My daughter was so inspired by the entire process, that she wanted to start “a job” to share about her adventures in caring for chickens. So, “Ellie and Her Chickens” was born. We are still working on showing Ellie the ropes (she was 8 when we started her blog a few months ago), she is ready to learn everything there is to know about chickens and blogging! She wanted to get her story about Ariel out to the masses, to give kids with injured chickens hope. So, while I share my story of Ariel’s healing journey here on my website, she shared her story in her words over on her blog. We would love it if you checked it out and shared Ariel’s story with the chicken lovers in your life. Out of near tragedy came a story of hope and recovery, and so so much love! All of God’s creatures are special, even our little chickens, and my kids learned a BIG lesson last summer! For that I am grateful!
Watch the video below to see Ariel’s injury and recovery
44 Replies to “How We Lovingly Healed Our Chicken With a Broken Neck”
Aw, poor thing. Glad it’s feeling better!
Gosh, what a sweet story. I love how you cared for this dear chicken and the influence you left on your children. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you! Yes it was a really great learning experience for my kids, turned into a blessing!
What an incredible and inspiring story! Most people would’ve ended the chicken’s life rather than go to so much trouble to heal it. I am so touched when people regard animal lives with as much respect as human lives.
Hi we just had a baby chick go thru the same thing yesterday. She is about 8 weeks old. How long did you wait before taking off the neck brace?
It was about a week. I hope your chick is on the mend!
I am SO thankful for this post…one of our hens was attacked by a raccoon I chased him off with a stick before he could eat her but her neck is severely broken. ..luckily I work on a farm and I am able to bring her to work to keep an eye on her but I wasn’t sure where to begin with a neck cast..I saw this blog and now she has a cast and I have hope she will make it…thank you SO much.
That is so amazing Saiesha, I am sending you healing prayers for your sweet chick. Keep me posted on her healing!
Hi Kate and Saiesha,
I had the same thing Saiesha had happen to one of mine. She is my favorite protector hen. She defended her coop. My husband found her in the same state as yours, Kate. We have had her isolated for almost a week. She is getting stronger, but still struggling to feed. I did not think of doing a cast, do you think it is too late at this point? I would expect the Injury is already set at this point. She did start standing about 3 days after, but is still very lethargic. Did you do anything for pain? She is so clever that when we moved her from a box to a large dog crate to give her more fresh air, when she lays down, she first props her beak on a wrung of the crate to keep her head stable as she lays down, otherwise she can’t keep it held up while she sleeps. Very hopeful she survives, so thank you for the post!
Oh I am so sorry Patrice, you could definitely try applying a brace and see what happens. I also applied frankincense essential oil to the back of her neck daily, one drop. She sounds like such a smart hen, don’t give up on her. Try to help her rehab the neck muscles as much as you can, to get her strong again.
I’ve had a similar thing happen to one of our chicks, we have no clue how his/her neck got injured we just found them in the morning. It looks/feels like they have a dislocation at the C2-C3. I followed your directions to make a cast and they seem to be healing well. I’m super thankful for this guide as it’s made it much easier to try help them heal. My chick is much younger than yours, only 2-3 weeks old, and much smaller too as they are a Chinese Silkie Chick. I’m a little worried about pain management, the only ratio I’ve managed to find is 5 tablets of aspirin to 1 gallon of water – unfortunately the dosage of aspirin varies from country to country which can make it difficult.
Thank you so much for your guide, it’s helped so much with giving me the confidence to try save our chick.
So glad you found Ariel’s story helpful. Sending prayers for your sweet Silkie. We used Frankincense EO for comfort, on her neck. Keep me posted on your progress!
omg i need a silkie your so lucky! hope she/he gets better!
how is she/he now?
Hi, I think my 2 month old chick may have broken her neck. Do you mind sharing how you made the food mix and how much food and water you gave her each day please?
Thank you for sharing your story..
Oh no, I am sorry to hear that! I added enough water to make it liquid to suck up into a syringe. We fed her every few hours 2-3, just small amounts. Sending you healing prayers.
Hi there, I have a chicken with a similar problem. We’ve been caring for her for about a week. What rehabilitative exercises did You do on her legs?
Oh no, I’m so sorry. Hope she she it on the mend! We held her upright, standing, with assistance. We worked up to letting her go, she would fall over and we would do it again. Every day. Eventually she got stronger and was able to do more….until she one day walked! Just keep doing it every single day.
My beautiful hen Coral was savagely attacked by a fox and has a possible broken neck and severe lacerations that was such a worry I thought it might be an artery. Coral is on her second night in a basket in my room, she seems to be doing ok but is not out of the woods yet. We are taking her to the vet first thing tomorrow to get her some pain relief and antibiotics. Please send prayers for Coral, she is a member of our family and we love her very much X
Oh I am so so sorry, sending you prayers for complete healing. How is she doing?
Hello and thank you for sharing your story and giving me a hope that injured neck can be healed though it won’t be an easy process. If anyone else is reading this looking for an advice – it is important to remove the injured chick from the coop to protect her from other chicks. It is also important to check on her regularly as she can start moving around, lose balance, fall on her back and even suffocate.
Great point Jana! Keep them isolated until they are healed. Thank you for your comment 🙂
2 raccoons got our entire flock except for one though they broke her neck. Your post very well may have saved her life. I am following all your advice and so far so good. Only been a couple days but seeing progress. Thanks so much!!!!
Oh my heart breaks for you! Sending hugs. I hope this post helps you heal your sweet chicken. My daughter and I have another blog about our chickens and we talk about keeping raccoons out of the coop in a post: https://ellieandherchickens.com/how-to-keep-raccoons-out-of-the-chicken-coop/. Hope this helps!
Thank you very much! My chooky buttercup poppy is doing better!
Oh that’s great to hear Diana!
Hy my chick has a broken neck after he was raided by rats.What should i do?, the neck is now V-shaped
Hy my chick has a broken neck after he was raided by rats.What should i do?, the neck is now V-shaped.
At first we tried to make him stay alive and now he tries to walk a little but his neck keeps making him stay down and now eats with his head facing another direction.
Did you make a neck brace, that will help stabilize the neck.
Hi Cate – thanks so much for your post – it has given us hope: today a dog pulled one of our chooks out of the coop – we thought she was dead initially as her neck was all skew. We held her upside down and her heart started beating. We have now put a neck brace on like you suggested and place her in a box with hot water bottles and an infrared lamp – her breathing seems to be getting stronger- holding thumbs – thank you. Ian and Diana
Oh that’s so wonderful you were able to save her Ian and Diana! How is she doing now?
This is our girl. We had her and her buddy roaming the backyard garden area for some fresh air and I totally forgot and the dogs ran out. I grabbed one in time but she’s not so lucky. Our dog quickly grabbed her and we think broke her neck. I thought she was dead – I was devastated. There was a drop of blood from her left ear opening and she was limp. I wouldn’t believe it so I held her for a good while and tLked to her (my kids think I’m crazy) but she started opening her eyes.
I brought her inside and separated her from the other pullet because she was sitting on her and I didn’t want to cause any more damage. So I came across your page and decided to make my own neck brace and have been following what steps you’ve done and we’re on day 3. She’s still very weak but she’s gaining strength in her feet and opening her eyes quite often. She lays there pitiful and squaks when she tries to stand. It looks like we have a long road to recovery but she’s moved into my bathroom here I can keep an eye on her and my dog knows to not even look in the direction of my room – he’s in big trouble. She’s being drinking vitamin water and now we’ve moved onto yogurt/chick feed mush. I have to hold her head still while she eats because she’s not stable with her neck control. I’m wondering how long it took yours to start showing signs of neck recovery. I’m trying to be optimistic but at the same time I don’t know how much pain she is in.
Oh I am so sorry that happened Jessica! I also held my sweet Ariel for a while, just like you did. We also had to hold her head to feed her. It takes a while. Our chicken took about 5 weeks from injury to first steps. Then many more months before she fully recovered. It actually took her almost two years to be able to perch again. Her balance is still off, but shes a fighter and is the dominant chicken in our coop.Sending you healing prayers.
Hi Kate am unique
Today morning my hen broke its neck as a result of the other hen falling on it.it can’t eat , drink or move .am so scared and I don’t kno what to do so please my dia I need your help.am in Uganda africa
How long did it take for the neck to heal and how long to walk our dog did some damage
How long did it take for the neck to heal and how long to walk our dog did some damage. Pluse my kids want to try to save it so i agreed.
It took a month to heal, when she took her first steps again. But it took many months to be fully recovered. Hope your pup heals fast!
omg sooo happy i just had a chicken die bcuz of a broken neck…😭 but i buried her in the pet grave yard. she got the broken neck during shipping and we had no idea what to do.😭 we were super sad. but im happy i know what to do if that happens again
Thankyou so much for this post! I have a leghorn bantam who got his head slammed in a door and had a similar reaction. I’m following the steps you’ve taken, how often did you give Ariel water?
This gives me hope I haven’t just lost my little treasure.
His ladies are missing him!
I’m so sorry your sweet chick is injured. I gave her water every couple of hours, even at night
This is sweet but when one of my chickens gets sick or gets wry neck or whatever I will try to help, but I don’t suggest trying this for yourself. I would just wring its neck to put it out of its misery. I don’t mean to seem cruel or barbaric, but its just what I do.
the reason I wouldn’t recommend trying this is because you could hurt them more and cause worse pain if your not careful. But anyways great job!
Thanks for the input, we like to try and save our pets if at all possible
We have baby chicks and they are a few months old now. While I was at work my boyfriend told me one of them wouldn’t pick their neck up and it’s turned around towards their butt. An she pretty much runs backwards and other chicks are pecking on her. So we have moved her to a separate area. I’m going to try the steps you have mentioned. I love my animals so much. I eat meat and all buy my pets are strictly pets! I’m hoping what you did will help my sweet girl! Thank you for this post!
Good luck Taylor, sending healing prayers for your sweet chick.