I have been using this site for wonderful advice for a while, but just signed up as a member. As a veterinarian, I didn't get the most chicken training in school, but did work with a lot of raptors and parrots working part time in the Zoo Med dept many years ago. I would love the advice of some of the veteran chicken pros here on if there is anything I can do with this chick of mine.
I have a small mixed flock of 10 month old chickens on my family's 7 acre farm in North Florida. When our Salmon Favorelle rooster was killed, my mom was distraught. So I bought her an incubator (forced air with the automatic egg turner and thermostat - high end because mom is useless for stuff like this and I don't live at the farm) and told her we could try to hatch out the next 2 weeks worth of eggs and raise his offspring. Mom really loves the birds, but is clueless when it comes to husbandry, medicine, etc. Instead of just collecting the Favorelle hen's eggs, she also collected the eggs from our Easter Egger and Silver Laced Wyandotte. They were all eating commercial layer feed (hadn't been expecting to hatch anything out), meal worms, dried fruit/veggie/nut mix, and day time free range of the 7 acre horse farm.
Everybody started hatching out beautifully right on time. The first 5 (of 28 eggs) were perfect. Then the 6th pipped but died (egg necropsy revealed some deformities to the body wall and almost no absorption of the yolk). Then Nugget hatched (one of the SLW x Favorelle eggs). The pipping and unzipping were right on schedule, but the membrane was obviously sticky and she had trouble getting out of the egg - looked like a leg was stuck. I helped her out, but she never stood up normally and seemed uncoordinated and weak. By day 2 she was half the size of the chicks only 2 days older than her and she never walked. I took her home with me the day before Christmas for some TLC. At day 3 she wasn't eating and started seeming weak. She would drink a little when syringe fed, but I started tubing her blenderized starter crumbles and water with Sav-A-Chic electrolytes and probiotics. She got stronger and it became obvious she was lame on the left leg. I could then feel a low tibio-tarsal fracture just above the hock. I splinted her and she hobbled around poorly. I started her on intramuscular injections of butorphanol and oral meloxicam for pain. At day 6 I noticed her hyperextending the right rear leg as well and starting to curl the toes (losing control) on the left leg like there was a neurologic problem and she seemed more lame.
Day 7 she went into a chick chair and I started feeding her vitamin supplements, and chopped boiled egg and spinach. She began eating really well on her own. I ended up splinting both legs (the right was starting to over extend at the hock). She did well in her little chair until on day 10 I noticed a lump over her left hip. I took her to work and took radiographs.
The left tibiotarsal fracture had healed well with a great callus, but she had a more recent high up femur fracture. And both femurs look bowed. I am guessing that the tibial fracture happened during hatching and the femur fracture happened on day 5-6 when she began knuckling. She obviously had some vitamin/calcium deficiencies. More pain meds were given, I continued the supplements, changed bandages every2-3 days, and she loves her chair and eats like a champ.
We are at day 14 now. She has doubled in weight over the past 4 days and she had better movement of both legs, so I removed the bandages. I think the vitamin deficiency/rickets is under control now. Legs are doing great and her movement is a little uncoordinated but getting better, except she is extremely bow-legged and walks with her feet extremely rotated inward (she walks on the outer part of her foot instead of the pads. And her left knee is slightly swollen now.
I know femoral deformities are usually reason to cull and that she will not likely improve her foot rotation and remain unable to walk on her own. But I have now spent a ton of time with this girl, she goes with me to work, my BF's house, etc., and she is completely happy in her chair. I really don't want to euthanize her just for orthopedic reasons. My big questions:
1.) Being so young, is there a chance that with the chair, bandaging, and PT I could get her to functional?
2.) I am trained extensively as a small animal orthopedic surgeon and my specialty is actually angular limb deformities in dogs - what about corrective surgery? At what age should I consider it if it is an option?
Thanks for any advice!