How To Give Medicine To A Chicken

Buffy’s most recent miraculous recovery was due to The Spa Treatment, and especially to the tonic of epsom salt and juice that I dosed her with (1 teaspoon of epsom salt in one ounce of juice.)

The easiest way to give medicine to a sick hen is by diluting it in their drinking water. This is the way to give antibiotics to an entire flock. But, if your hen is weak, she might not drink it, or not get in enough to help. That was certainly the case with Buffy. I knew that she needed to have a full dose all at once. You can’t pour medicine down a hen’s throat, because it can get into the lungs and kill her. So, I use a plastic syringe (available at all pharmacies) and squirt in a little at a time, letting the hen swallow each mouthful. This takes a bit of skill and patience but is really not that difficult. To show you how to give a dose of liquid medicine to a chicken, I made a video. Here it is:


  1. Hi Terry, Something seems to be amiss with your Barn Cam. It is not moving and one can only see the chickens feet. Have a good day. Linda

  2. Just like when I have to dose one of my cats. And just like the cats…Buffy clamps her jaw when she decides she’s had enough. At least you don’t have to deal with teeth!

  3. This is the most useful and informational video. Thank you so much for posting it!

  4. well what a good patient! I have had them grab the syringe and run off with it! Good that you show to go in the side of the beak as there’s much less risk of squirting it in and them aspirating the liquid; the bottom half of the beak forms a nice ‘dish’ to put the medicine in! I’d like to see a video of you giving your most cross bird some olive oil…. i find it turns into that thing they used to do at fairs where you had to catch a greased piglet.

  5. Thanks for the video. A picture is worth a 1000 words. I have an older hen and have given her the spa bath several times this summer. For some reason she seems to get a poopy bum. She is the only one so I think it has to do with her age.
    She is a wonderful babysitter and I can trust her to help introduce young pullets to the flock. No longer lays but, worth her weight in gold.

    • An older hen that introduces young ones to the flock! Yes, worth her weight in gold! Try povidone on her. She might have a yeast infection called “vent gleet.” The povidone helps clear it up. (It’s like iodine, but more potent.)

  6. I can just hear the chicken version of “No more !!! No more !!!’ going off in Buffy’s head. Do chickens have many taste buds and variety as humans ? Like I know cats can’t taste things that are sweet, but dogs can. Are hens able to know the difference between salt vs sweet, bitter vs sour, or even the new one umami (savory) ?

      • That would make sense, because I have heard of chickens sharing a can of coke or pepsi with their owners. And would take sips out of their owner’s cup and the only I would see them doing that would be if they could taste sweet things. I know hens like yogurt hey probably prefer flavored ones over plain.

    • Wonderfully informative video! Re cats and sweets, I keep hearing that, but mine really likes sweet things. He much prefers sweetened yogurt. Re someone’s earlier olive oil question, I put it on oatmeal and they gobble it up!

      • It might be the savory part he tastes, and the fat in the yogurt. And sweet yogurt would have more fat. But that’s just where I have read about in research, apparently other predators like dolphings can’t taste sweet either.

  7. Hi Terry – With vent gleet, do you put the povidone in a bath and pop the hen in like the spa treatment or do you squirt it onto the vent and clean it that way? Thank you for posting the video, luckily the syringe method has worked for me in the past, although ALL mine do the mouth clamping!

  8. I just checked your FAQs and of course, the question has already been answered! She is the one that passed away last week but its good to be armed with the info for any future hen bottom issues! Thanks again :0) PS I had read about Povidone in your blog before and we dont have it in England. So, on a trip to Vegas I got the husband to visit Walgreens and buy some to bring home for the girls! Hee hee…..

  9. Many thanks for very good information we’d otherwise not have! Buffy is such a sweetheart, BTW.

  10. No, normal people bring home souvenirs of Buckingham Palace etc, we take home hen meds :o)

  11. Well, it looks like that black chicken with the white fluffy head has taken over Candy’s cage. I saw that chicken the other day trying to intimidate Candy. :-). Hmmm… maybe that chicken is in menopause!

  12. Such a good patient! It looks likeBuffy is feeling better…and just in time to slay some vampires this Halloween. :-)