I bought (4) Copper Maran chicks at (3) weeks old, two blacks/two blue. Being a first time mom to little chicks - I fretted a lot, and spent a lot of time watching them and keeping them at the proper temps. They started their life in a very large storage tub - they stayed in this until 6 weeks - as it was obvious they had outgrown the tub. Next, they went into a extra large dog kennel. At seven weeks, Oprah - one of the blacks, started to hobble a little when she walked, and sat down more than the others. I looked at her legs, and noticed that her right side was just a little crooked, making her pigeoned toe.
I should have taken her to the vet immediately at this discovery. This was her first symptom of a leg deformity - splayed leg is another name. The treatment is simple - and you don't have to go to the vet, as long as you get the proper fix off of BYC or another website and start treatment/rehab immediately. I needed the vet for the proper diagnosis - and all the "fix" is is a certain way to tape up the legs to each other - this prevents the deformity into turning worse, and should correct the problem, however it is not overnight. Rehab/therapy takes awhile - is better on a young chick (like days old), but takes time and patience.
Because I thought I was dealing with a Vitamin deficiency (and I still feel like this played a part, as the onset of the condition was later rather than earlier), I treated Oprah with extra vitamins in her water, some antibodics just in case (thinking leg injury), and put her and another flock mate in a separate dog kennel, so they would have more room to "spread their wings." She did respond some, she got up more, wobbled a little less, so I figured I had the problem under control. At 10.5 weeks, she got a really bad cold and her left hock started to swell. She stooped walking all together, and pushed herself (in a backwards motion) on her hocks, in order to get around. At some point, I begged my boyfriend to put her out of her misery, as her cold/upper respiratory infections was causing her to gasp for air. I started her on Tylan 50 @ .2 ccs and gave her the extra vitamins again. She recovered from the cold/URI, and the hock looked better, so I stopped the Tylan. Three days later, her left hock had become twice the size it had been before, and a very small slit in the hock started to make bubbles (like the bubbles a baby will make at times). Put her back on the Tylan, and was already going to the vet anyways to find out about her legs (as now they had become very deformed - sitting at weird angles and toes all curled up).
The vet let me know that Oprah is/was relatively healthy at this point - no signs of URI, the left hock was infected and about 2 cc's of pus was aspirated, however he felt her legs were beyond repair. She will probably never walk - as the legs are more or less done growing, and doubts treatment can help at this point. He recommended putting her down. Even if treatment was started, it could take six MONTHS before any signs of recovery, and she would be a "maintenance nightmare."
Well, even though she prognosis is grave, I had the vet tape up her legs anyways. I asked him to verify what dosage of Tylan 50 I can give her, so that I can try and resolve the infected hock. She is now on .5 ccs of Tylan, twice a day - until it looks like that has completely resolved. I bandage up the left hock myself, and will change that bandage every few days. She is getting 1 cc of NutriDrench, as I still feel this was the result of a chicken that was not absorbing her vitamins, despite being on medicated chick starter. She is getting a 1/4 of asprin, once a day (even though I could probably give her 1/2). She will be getting leg & foot massages at least once a day, if not twice, to help stimulation of the muscles that have atrophied. She will start exercises where she will bear weight on her legs, as soon as the hock looks like it is healed enough to tolerate the weight. For now, she is strapped down, with taped legs, that are perched under her, so they will get back into a "normal" position. Trying to keep her from readjusting herself is the real test - Oprah has such a strong will - which is probably why she has made it through all of this. Her legs will pretty much stay taped up, except between changings, and then I may put her into a deep tub of water, support her body, and let her move the legs - anyway she wants.
I don't know if this will work - but I've already invested 9 long weeks babying her - unless she goes South, or she demonstrates a depressed mood, I will continue this until she does recover, or I know I have exhausted all measures and nothing changes. I don't want to put her down - but ultimately if she can not have a relatively normal chicken life at some point - I will do what has to be done.
I will update weekly - or sooner if she does show signs of deteriorating. I will post her first pics, to now, just showing how "normal" she really was, up until 7 weeks.