November 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm #257400
I’ve been hatching chickens for a while now just to keep our little flock going. I have had chickens with legs problems before but they normally get over it once they fluff up and have been in the brooder for a bit.
I had a chicken hatch yesterday, It took an unusually long time to hatch, Over a day. It has been in the brooder over night and it’s legs are kind of stiff and the toes are all together. Nothing is wrong with the feet as such, normal toes all there none stuck together. But it’s not using it’s legs. I can get a pic if you like. It sort of flops around often ending up on it’s back. How long should I wait before making a decision to put it down? Have any of you had this problem and has the chicken become well?
ThanksNovember 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm #528917
Hi Melrose, I’ve had a few like that. Some were put down. They won’t come good on their own. You need to intervene. I had one with curled up feet that couldn’t walk. I put hobbles on her (bandaid) & gave her boots to wear. That’s sticky tape under the feet & on top of the feet, stuck together around the toes to straighten them, then thin card under the feet & sticky taped in place. A full 24 hours will sort the feet out, perhaps less time would work. If the chick has the achilles tendon out of place, the hobbles for a few days will help. If you take the hobbles off after a couple of days you should see a big improvement. If the leg splays out to the side it’s probably a twisted tibia which is a much more involved process. I’ve done it all with one chick & at 6 weeks of age you couldn’t tell the difference between her & any other chick. If you need more info on the more involved process, let me know, but I won’t go into it all right now – have 1000 other things I should be doing! Good luck!November 7, 2012 at 11:29 pm #528918
More info would be great!! I Will post a pic tomorrow. I think I understand what you are saying but if I post a pic and you tell me exactly where to put the tape on to straighten them that would be great! Thank you sooooo Much. Too bad it if it turns out to be a rooster =/November 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm #528919
Okay, I’ll try to put up a pictorial story for you to follow…
This is Boots a few hours after hatching. She can’t walk, her feet and legs are somewhat crippled.
The sticky tape boots – sticky tape under her feet, gently move her toes into the correct position & then put another piece of sticky tape on top of her feet & stick to the other piece, holding her toes in position. I used magic tape so it didn’t hurt her skin as much & was easier to remove later.
Boots with her shoes on. After sticky taping her toes into position, I used a thin card to put shoes under her feet, again sticky taping them in position. I also put hobbles on her legs using a band aid. When you remove the band aid, you will need to use oil to gently remove the stickiness.
View from behind of her standing for the first time. You can see her leg sticks out to the side still. The hobbles work if it’s a slipped achilles tendon.
Taking her first steps!
After two days, I took the hobbles & shoes off. You can see her leg still sticks out at an odd angle. This is unfortunately a sign of a twisted tibia, not a slipped achilles, which is harder to deal with. Her feet look much better but are not perfect, so I put shoes on again for another 24 hours with excellent results.
The second lot of hobbles & shoes, showing how the feet look before I put the card on the bottom again.
24 hours later her toes are much improved. But still the leg sticks out.
So next step is a bit more dramatic. Boots needs to have the bad leg bandaged all the way down & at night the legs need to be bound together at the bottom for 5 nights. To do this I made a chick sling out of a childs sock which was then suspended in the top of a tissue box.
The sock sling.
Boots in her sling.
Bandaging Boots’ leg while she’s in the sling. The next night I used a thin real bandage rather than the terry cloth I used here as it gave a much better wrapping & was much thinner.
Her bad leg is bandaged & then both legs are bandaged together to pull her bad leg into alignment.
Boots in her chick sling chair. The side of the tissue box is cut out so we can keep an eye on her legs. The edges of the socks were then fastened to the side of the box.
Boots hanging out in her sling chair with food & water available. Hope she’s as comfy as possible.
Unfortunately I didn’t take any photo’s of her after day 5 of being in the tissue box chick sling. During the days she still had her leg strapped, but not strapped to the other leg & she could wander around normally. I was doubtful that 5 days would be enough, but it was. She was recently sold at 6 weeks of age & the new owners couldn’t tell her apart from her siblings at all. Her legs were looking good. I sold her by accident as I was intending to keep her, but the buyers arrived after dark & I caught the chicks by torchlight & didn’t realise until the next day that I still had her box buddy (while she was undergoing treatment, I had another chick in with her to keep her company – I think this is important to do) instead of her.
Hope all this helps. How’s your chick going?November 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm #528920
What causes this to happen to a chick? As far as you are aware is it a genetic thing, does it have something to do wi the temperature in the incubator, or is it something else?
Great explanation of how to help the chick by the way, I should bookmark this so I can help if it ever happens in my birds.November 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm #528921
From what I can gather (without the backup of scientific proof) it’s because of low humidity during the last part of incubating eggs, not a genetic disorder. Boots was one of the last chicks to hatch & I’d opened the incubator a few times to take out other chicks & eggshells & must have lost too much humidity. 🙁 :blush:November 10, 2012 at 9:31 pm #528922
Several things can contribute to deformities Melrose. Most common are low humity in the incubator, or having the temperature set too high. If you have a thermometer in your incubator, try to have it at the level of the eggs so you get an accurate measure of what temp the eggs are being subjected to.
I also did a post on my blog way back when I had problems with a chick. My issue was crooked neck, but you can click on the links in my post to get details on how to set splints.
Other things which can cause deformities, is lack of proper nutrition in the parents, or inbreeding too much. Sometimes you need to bring in a new rooster to bring in new genes, to create hardier stock. Also never breed from a chick which experienced issues hatching. It’s great when you can save them and they turn out to be good layers, just never collect their eggs for incubation or you stand to pass on the genes responsible for the deformity.November 17, 2012 at 4:00 am #528923
Thank you so much for the picture tutorial! Sadly the little chick was dead when I went out to strap the legs. It was only three days after hatching I think there must have been something else wrong. I will definately remember this for next time! How did you learn all of this?November 18, 2012 at 1:53 am #528924
Sorry to hear your chick died, Melrose. 🙁
I learned it all from lots of internet searching & I found someone in America who does a lot of this & had long email conversations with, sending pics of how Boots was looking at each stage, including video of her walking & going on the advice given in return. I learnt a lot!
Forgot to mention that whenever I was doing things to her, she was on a warm wheat bag with a hand towel on top of it. It kept her warm & comfy & was easy to hold her in position with the wheat bag gently shaped up around her.November 21, 2012 at 12:33 am #528925
Thanks. It happens though she might have been in pain so it could have been for the best.
I didn’t know where to start looking. I will definately remember this for next time.
Yeah I was wondering about the warmth, thanks =]
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