Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chick Health: Is It Splay / Spraddle Leg, Or Something More?






"Texas" Asks:



I had two chicks hatch yesterday. They were local eggs and I kept the humidity much higher than my first two tries at incubating. The first one hatched at the end of day 20. It had some of the egg white still in the eggshell. In fact, it carried around a little bit of shell after it hatched. The second hatched on day 21 and had much less of the white.

I left the two in the incubator overnight. I kind of thought chick #2 had a leg problem, but wasn't completely sure until this morning. Here are some pictures. I am not sure if this is spraddle/splay leg or a slipped tendon. I have tried to pull the tendon back into place, but it doesn't seem to give. I am putting pressure on it until the chick squeaks.

In the "natural" position.
 

The leg that is not in the correct position.

 


("Texas" then carefully followed directions for correction of Splay / Spraddle Leg, making a brace from a band-aid.)





Chrissy in CA Writes:


Is this baby chick getting around/up walking, using the bad leg and it's foot correctly yet?

If there is no improvement within a couple of days with the brace/hobble on, I have a different idea on what the leg issue could be...


"Texas" Replies:

Would love to hear what you think might be going on. It is not really walking or putting pressure on the foot. The leg is straightened out now, but it doesn't grasp with the foot.

Chrissy in CA Writes:

I was hoping the chick had improved and was zipping around the brooder tripping over it's hobble/brace, by now. I hate being the bearer of bad news...

Judging by how the entire leg looks twisted to me, my suspicion is a rotated femur (which is a deformity, not an injury).

While I am far from a hatching expert, I have incubated a lot of eggs (Guinea, Turkey, Quail, Silkie), hatched out well over 1700 birds... so I've run the gamut of incubator issues and hatcher injuries etc but in my experience with splayed leg (or legs), the leg doesn't turn out from the body. Normally splayed legs are the result of an injury cause by slipping/poor footing which results in a wobbled out/stretched out joint socket that lets the leg slide out from under the body to the side, no rotation of the entire leg is involved. Usually within a couple hours of being braced/hobbled (and the chick or keet has gotten used to the hobble) the leg is used normally, with no favoring, no pain. 
You mentioned slipped tendon, and the tendon not budging when you tried to move it... I can definitely see in your pics that the tendon on that leg is not in the correct position over the back of the hock. If it was a slipped tendon it would be easily moved back into the tendon groove (but would probably slip right back out as soon as the leg was bent), which with my suspicion of a rotated femur would be a resulting deformity that occurred during development while still in the egg (not from an injury after hatching).

 
The chick is most likely not grasping with that foot because the femur rotation and tendon deformity are causing it considerable pain. Hopefully I am wrong, but as I mentioned splayed leg is a pretty quick fix if noticed and the legs are braced/hobbled soon enough... which in my opinion you did.
 


Sadly, Texas did have to cull this chick as a result of its rotated femur. Our sincere Thanks goes to "Texas" and Chrissy in CA for sharing this learning experience with us! 
*



Comments

16 comments:

  1. well done! This is very important information to have available to those new to hatching

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  2. Yes - thanks to all who participated to make this post. As Tom commented, it is important information and helps us to use the clues to figure out more accurately what the problem may be.

    The experience shared here is invaluable - as always.

    LM

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  3. Great information! I have never run accross this issue with chicks. I now know if I ever do what the situation is and I can use the correct cull measures ASAP.

    Thank you for sharing a hard decision making process of correctly assessing an injured chick.

    Vicki

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  4. The thing with this chick is that the leg was malformed. It's probable that both legs were not formed properly. I guess I will never know what caused this, but it sure was a good learning experience.

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  5. very helpful, thanks, solved my mystery chick leg problem.

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  6. I think my 2 day old chick has the same problem the mother keeps giving her a nudge to get up should I take the little one out ? I dont have a incubator either

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - If there are other chicks under the mother, the mother will soon abandon it when she takes the others off the nest. I would take it and put it in a box in your house. Put a heat lamp over it - they're not too expensive and pretty much all farm stores carry them.

      Assess the problem - does it look like the joints are just all loose and just need time? If so, try the taping method for a few days. If the joints actually look deformed, then culling the chick is the best option.

      I'm sorry your chick is having trouble and wish you lots of luck!

      Delete
  7. i have a chick that appears to have the leg twisted IN not out....could this be the same problem?

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    Replies
    1. Sadly this sounds like a very similar birth defect to the one discussed above. :(

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  8. I made a hobble brace in accordance with your instruction here, and also made two pads for the feet as the toes looked to be twisted. I carefully straightened the toes and adhered them in position of a piece of bandaid. I too another piece and put it on top of the foot, and allowed them to bond to each other. I used "cloth type" bandaids so that they could get some traction walking on the white paper towels. QUESTION...How long should this hoble brace be left in place?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In normal cases of spraddle leg, the brace needs to stay on for at least 2 days (48 hours). Then gently remove it and place the chick on a non-slippery surface to see how it does. While it may not be able to walk right away, as long as the legs don't become splayed again, let it start working its muscles and reconditioning those legs. In most cases chicks do well after that. In some cases the brace must be put back on for another 48 hours. Hopefully your chick will be just fine after round 1! Let us know!

      Delete
  9. Thanks for the info. So far, it seems to be completely normal. The chick had a lot of difficulty initially, and I took a small Plastic jar (about 3" in diameter cut off the top half which left a container about 3" tall and taped it to one corner of the inside of the box. I placed the bird in the container to see what would happen. This forced the bird to keep his feet underneath him and he could stand up, or sit down, which forced him to exercised the affected muscles in his legs. After about 4 hours, he could push himself out of the jar and began to adapt to his new prosthetic. By the end of the day, I released him to be with the rest of his siblings and24 hours later, he is doing just great. Balance is good, and movement normal. Still just slightly wobbly, but I expect that will improve in time. Thanks for your help. If you would like a pic of the jar device, I would be happy to send one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd really enjoy seeing a picture of the jar! If you'd like, you can email it to shabbychicken@hotmail.com

      Delete
  10. This poult is doing wonderfully! Took his hobble brace off yesterday and he can run with the best of them! Two of my poults had toes that were not forming well and I was afraid they would suffer from bumblefoot. I took a bandaid of fabric and cut off a small piece of the tape. I spread the toes to what appeared to be a natural position and stuck them to the tape. I then took another piece of tape and placed it on top of the foot adhering the two pieces together where possible. After about 5 days, I took the tape off the feet and the toes were naturally spread and the poults could walkwonderfully!

    ReplyDelete

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