Written and submitted by Nathalie Ross A.K.A. threehorses
Believe it or not, injections are easy, and once you get over the fear of giving them you'll wish you had done it long ago.
The reasons that injectable medicines are very much preferable to oral medication methods are these, among others:
1) The dosage is assured; there is no guessing just how much a chicken drank, or whether or not it even WILL drink because of the taste of the medicines.
2) The medicine gets into the system quicker since it goes into the muscle.
3) The length of antibiotic therapy is shorter because of assured dosage, medicine strength, and efficiency of getting into the system, and the guaranteed freshness of the medicine.
4) The medicine is LESS likely to degrade than powdered antibiotics, which must be stored in very controlled conditions.
What you'll need:
1) Either 3 cc syringes w/.22 gauge needles, or diabetic syringes with needles. I prefer to use one syringe/needle per bird, but at least use one needle per bird as you don't want to put a used needle back into the medicine bottle
2) A helper.
3) Some paper towels and alcohol, or alcohol swabs.
4) A cup or something to hold your supplies and used needles/syringes.
Preparing for the shots:
It's less confusing if you put the meds into the syringes while you're still in the house, or at least before you start handling the birds. I like to get all my syringes filled and needle caps back on and just take them out like that. That's how we did it at the vet clinic. Here is the method that works best.
If the needles are separate from the syringe, take the syringe out of its holder. Also, take the end cap (not the long needle cover) off of the needle and screw the needle on, or pop it on (depending upon what type you have). Do this for however many syringes you'll need.
I always wipe the top of the injection bottle with alcohol first before I pull the medicine.
Take your first syringe and needle. Take off the needle cover carefully. Before putting the syringe in the med bottle, pull air into the syringe the same amount of air as medicine that you will be pulling. For example, if you are going to use 1 cc of medicine, pull a teensy bit over 1 cc of air into the syringe.
Now, holding the med bottle bottom up, gently put the needle into the med bottle. The medicine will automatically start to fill the syringe for you. Pull a little more than needed out, then thump the syringe with your fingers before pulling it out of the bottle. This puts the air bubble at the top. Press the plunger gently to push the air bubble into the bottle and get to only the amount of medicine you need. Then pull the needle out and put the cap on. Repeat for all the syringes you'll need at that moment.
I like to put all my syringes, plunger up, into a cup to take out with me. I also use the alcohol swabs that you can buy a box of at the drug store. I take one of those for each shot, plus a couple of spars, in my pocket.
Put on some old clothes so you can toss them in the wash (since you're dealing with sick birds), get your helper to do the same, and you're ready to go to the barn.
Giving The Injections
Have your helper pick up the bird, gently holding its wings to its body, the birds' breast to you.
Now, think of a chicken breast from the store when they're split and ready to cook. On the chicken, find what would be the middle of one of those breast halves. In other words, on one side of the chicken's chest, find the middle of the breast. Avoid going close to the breast bone, or too close to the wing, to low by the abdomen, or too high by the neck. Smack dab in the middle.
Separate the feathers on a good meaty looking spot, the wipe the skin with the alcohol swab. Some people don't do this, but I'm a stickler so I do it anyway especially if the bird has any respiratory illness where they might have gotten their mucous on their feathers.
Then, pull the right syringe, remove the needle cover. Part the feathers again, then gently put the needle to the breast skin. You can steady your hand with your other hand if you wish it will probably make you feel more assured. Now, don't push the plunger yet, read the note.
When you put the needle in the bird will squawk like you've hit him straight in the heart, and wiggle like he's in horrible pain. He's only surprised and feeling a sting, don't let him fake you out.
OK, now brace yourself and gently put the needle into the breast, just a bit, no more than ¼ of an inch.
Before you push the plunger, pull it out a little and look at the medicine. If you see blood (which you won't) then relocate to a different spot and don't put the needle in so far. You WON'T see blood, but this is a good check point for your peace of mind. Now, push the plunger gently but firmly until all the medicine is in. Then pull the needle out gently and cap it.
At this time, I like to rub that area with a tissue to help the medicine absorb (especially with thicker antibiotics). It's not necessary, but if you want to do it, it's a good step.
Now, pat yourself on the back for being SUCH a good chicken steward!!!