Many chicken owners find that the responsibility for caring for their birds falls to them. Avian vets are few, and treating a chicken is expensive relative to the value of the bird. If your chicken is a pet and not livestock, you may want to locate a vet before any emergency, or be prepared to treat simple injuries on your own.
While some chickens are extremely docile, most will try to escape from pain or prodding and may injure themselves further in the process. If what you will be doing might hurt, or you expect it to take a long time, wrapping your bird gently in a towel is a good idea to make the process easier on everyone involved. It’s not difficult and only takes a few minutes.
Wrap her gently
You’ll want a bath towel, not a bath sheet and patience. Chickens are calmer in the dark, and placing your hen in a box in a dark room prior to starting will make the entire process easier. Do the wrapping in the dark/dim room to keep her calm. If necessary you can use a flashlight to shine on the affected area.
Once your girl is calm, locate the area that needs to be isolated. Place the chicken on her side on the towel, and gently move the affected body part away from the rest of the body. Loosely wrap the towel around the chicken, finishing up with a flap pulled gently over her head.
The idea is not to tie her down, just to restrict the movement of the wings and feet that you aren’t treating. Having a loose flap over her head will keep her calmer during the procedure and less inclined to wiggle anyway. Don’t wrap her head, or otherwise constrict her breathing. Whatever you will be doing to her will be stressful and she needs to be able to breathe through it.
Treating her head
If her head is what you are treating, wrap the chicken gently with the wings and feet next to the body. Think of how a bird looks when it’s sleeping – feet tucked under the breast, wings folded close to the rest of the bird. That’s what you want to achieve inside your towel. If possible, make a little hood with a washcloth to try to keep her eyes covered. The darker her environment, the calmer she will be.
When you’ve finished your procedure, I like to bring the chicken back into the darkened room for unwrapping. Remember that she’ll be stressed out and a calm, dark environment will make the process easier. If your chicken procedure was something simple, go ahead and take her back out to the coop and let her rejoin the rest of the flock. Anytime I’ve caused one of my girls pain, or she’s in pain from something that happened to her, I leave her in a darkened room until the next morning. Think of it as an enforced nap that will give her some stress-free time to heal. A badly injured bird I leave in a dim (not dark) environment for several days until she seems mobile.