top of page

Is There a Doctor in the House?

The calamity in the woods was alarming, and we knew something was awry. Upon investigation, one of our chickens had landed themselves in the fox trap, and now was limping.

Photo Credit: Beaux & Arrows Photography, Maine

Inside to the ICU (Intensive Chicken Unit) we went!

The craziest part about homesteading and owning livestock at times, is the veterinary care. When your dog or cat has a problem, you take it to the vet. If the vet needs to give it a shot, then vet techs may come in to assist, while you, the owner, sit and wait.

This is not how it works for small-time livestock keepers. Most veterinary hospitals (at least where we are) do not treat chickens (or any other livestock animals). So, what do you do when something goes wrong?

Luckily, there are some local large animal/livestock vets that are willing to travel, but they definitely are in high demand and their hours differ from your local vet's office. In addition, if any sort of medication or shots are needed, they have the supplies for you, but you have to step up to play the provider role.

We're lucky in that the Homestead Husband has a degree in medicine, so this is pretty routine stuff for him, but on my end, it's a big learning curve (as it may be for most)!

Since we started, we have now splinted a chicken leg (it healed!), taken rectal temps on a goat, provided intravenous shots for a septic goat (who got better), bumble foot (a condition chickens can get) removal and bandaging, treated sour crop & egg-bound chickens, wry-neck, and then some... It's pretty shocking how much knowledge you can gain from the experience. It doesn't always work out, but the more you experience, the better equipped you are the next time something comes up.

Livestock are also fairly stoic, so it is not uncommon to not be aware of an issue until it is really taking over, and is at times an emergency. It is incredibly important to be vigilant with your care, cleanliness, and attention to your animals. They are relying on you, as domesticated creatures do.

Photo Credit: Beaux & Arrows Photography, Maine

It may seem overwhelming at first to consider all of these unknown ailments like "water-belly" or "bumble-foot" but the longer you own these critters, the more you learn. Reading and finding a community or network to ask questions to, is also very helpful (many blogs, books, and Facebook groups out there folks!). Be mindful that everything should be taken with a grain of salt... Just like with child rearing, what works for one family may not work for all.

When you own livestock, it's a good lesson to be prepared, be brave, and be responsible, but know that you can always ask for help!



bottom of page