*WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEOS IN FOLLOWING POST*
Bad things come in threes?! I guess so. First fowl pox, then vent gleet, and now fly strike. If you’ve never experienced fly strike, I pray that you never have to. It is hands down the worst thing I have EVER encountered!
What is it?! Well…fly strike is basically when flies lay eggs on your chicken (usually in a cut or on a bit of stuck poo) and the maggots hatch and begin eating your chicken, ALIVE! This can actually happen to any animal, humans included, and it is truly cringe-worthy.
I noticed that Mister Django was being uncommonly friendly and lovable. I joked with my mother that he must be dying because he’s so friendly.
Unfortunately, he WAS dying. I truly believe he was coming to me for help, because upon further inspection, I noticed THOUSANDS of maggots around his vent and tail area. I nearly puked right there, not to mention the smell was awful.
I proceeded to take him inside and began the dirty work. First, I put on gloves, then I rinsed the affected area in luke-warm water. Then I POURED on the iodine, really slathered it on. I waited about 5 minutes, then rinsed the area and re-applied. I did this at least 2 more times, before filling up a small tupperware tote with a mix of iodine and warm water and letting him soak for 10-15 minutes. While he soaked, I covered his whole body (that was not soaking below water) in iodine. Maggots were literally scrambling to get out of the iodine. I also had to cut his pretty tail feathers because there were so many fly eggs on them I couldn’t remove them all without cutting the feathers.
Once his iodine soak was done, I rinsed him and re-filled the tote with luke-warm water and epsom salt, and then soaked him for another 15 minutes. Once that soak was done, I gave him a final rinse. After his final rinse, I sprayed Blue Kote on the affected area and gave him a shot of penicillin.
– For penicillin, I would typically inject in the breast, however he has gotten quite thin, presumably from the strike, so I injected in his right thigh – tomorrow I will give it in his left. Rule of thumb is 0.1cc for every 1lb of body weight. I estimated him to be around 5lbs, so I gave 0.5cc. Make sure when injecting penicillin to pull back the plunger once it’s under the skin and ensure that there is no blood, if you give it into their vein you can kill them almost instantly. I used 18 gauge needles and he didn’t budge. I will continue this course of antibiotics for 3-5 days depending on how he does. Also please note that I am NOT a vet, I only have veterinary experience, you should always consult a professional before administering any medications or injections.
He is now inside, where I can control his fly exposure, in the infirmary (aka my spare bathroom). I doused him in a couple drops of diluted tea tree oil in hopes that it will keep any flies that may sneak in away from him. I also hung sticky tape next to his cage to catch any indoor flies. I gave him fresh food and water with ACV as a probiotic, as well as sat some yogurt, oats, and BOSS in a small cup for him to encourage him to eat more.
Only time will tell if he will make it or recover fully. I can still feel maggots crawling on my skin, even though I’ve killed them all and taken a long shower. I’m now paranoid and have checked all the other chickens and rabbits, and will be watching closely to try and prevent this happening again.
How can fly strike be prevented? First and foremost, cleanliness and good hygiene. Django has never been a big fan of dust baths, so I think that’s part of his problem. Try to control your fly population if you can, using traps or fly predators. Keep your chickens in good health, and feed probiotics to prevent digestive issues. And always make sure you’re checking your flock regularly so that you can catch it quickly if it does occur. Unfortunately Django has never been friendly, he came to my yard from a neighbors where we think he was used for fighting. If your chickens change behavior (ie. become more friendly, more flighty, lethargic, etc.) that is a HUGE sign that something is wrong. KNOW YOUR CHOOKS!
I’ll keep everyone updated, hoping this dude pulls through, he’s a fighter for sure.