Broken wings

If a chicken, duck, or other backyard poultry is favoring a wing, it might be broken.

Jacquie Jacob is a poultry Extension project manager at the University of Kentucky. She says the bone structure in a bird’s wing is very similar to human arms. The humerus is the large bone that starts at the shoulder joint and extends to the elbow. The ulna and radius bones reach from the elbow joint to the wrist, and the wing digits extend from the wrist.

If you suspect a broken wing bone, carefully inspect it.

"You have to manipulate the wing around, gently, because it’s going to hurt if it’s broken. First you need to check for any wounds because especially if a dog did it, then it could have a wound, or just the break itself could go through the skin so you have to clean the wound," explains Jacob. "Don’t use a detergent because that could be damaging to the wound tissue and very irritating to the poor bird."

Put a topical antibiotic on the wound, and depending on the season, an insect spray to prevent maggots.

How you wrap the wing depends on which bone is broken.

"If it’s the radius and the ulna, then you can do a figure 8 wrap to immobilize the bones, you need to do it at least three times. You want it tight enough that the bones are supporting each other, but not so tight that you’re cutting off circulation," she says. "If it’s the humerus bone, you might need to wrap it around the body as well to immobilize the shoulder."

 It takes about two-weeks for a wing to heal. In the meantime, Jacob says you can help alleviate the pain by dissolving five regular aspirin in one-gallon of the bird’s drinking water.