For Use on Chickens

Drawing Blood Samples From the Wing Vein of Chickens

Venipuncture of the cutaneous ulnar or brachial veins (i.e., the 'wing veins') are superficial and easily visualized. Therefore, bleeding from these veins is usually the simplest and best method for obtaining blood from turkeys, chickens, and most fowl under field conditions. This is especially when the bird is to be returned to the flock.

Expose the vein to view by plucking a few feathers from the ventral surface of the humeral region of the wing. The vein will be seen lying in the depression between the biceps brachialis and triceps humeralis muscles. It is more easily seen if the skin is first dampened with 70% alcohol or other colorless disinfectant. To facilitate venipuncture, extend both wings dorsally by gripping them firmly together in the area of the wing web with the left hand. Puncture the vein of the right wing using a 4mm Goldenrod Animal Lancet held in the right hand. When blood exudes from the puncture, collect the blood sample in a collection tube.

The medial metatarsal vein is analogous to the caudal tibial vein and runs along he medial aspect of the tarsometatarsus. It is easily accessed for venipuncture using a 4mm Goldenrod Animal Lancet in chickens or turkeys 300g and larger. Hematoma formation is usually minimal in this area, especially when using the Goldenrod Lancet. This also emphasizes the need to avoid reusing the lancet as the cutting edge loses its sharpness with each use.

The animal care and use guide for research animals requires limiting blood collection to no more than 10% of the bird's blood volume. Blood volume as a percentage of body weight averages 7%. A convenient calculation is to draw 1% of the body weight (i.e. 1 mL from a 100-g chick). Birds are more tolerant to blood loss than mammals because rapid volume replacement occurs by resorption of tissue fluids. Ducks and pigeons are even more tolerant, likely through baroreceptor reflexes. Carotid sinus baroreceptors are not present in chickens.

Click the link below for information on how to order Goldenrod Animal Lancets. Collection tubes can be purchased directly from Fisher Scientific. Please click the link below to go to Fisher Scientific's Webpage where you can order collection tubes.

For more information on Avian Hematology see Veterinary Hematology Fifth Edition 2008, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

4 mm Goldenrod Animal Lancet, Collection Vials, and Gauze
Wing Vein
Venipuncture using a 4 mm Goldenrod Animal Lancet
Blood Collection