I sincerely hope this title will continue to be true.
Our biggest hatch ever, 29 of 34 fertile eggs, included one chick with a slipped tendon in her right leg. With so many chicks it was impossible to tell who hatched when so I was moving any that were fluffy and had some control over their walking to the brooder once per day. The injured chick was probably two days old when I began to intervene. I've never encountered this before so thank you BackYard Chickens for the many ideas I got from the forums. I'm posting this in case it will help others.
Symptom - right leg resting on hock, twisted far to the right and hip thrust out to the right (but not as far as splay leg) Unable to straighten leg on her own, but easily straightened by hand.
Only the first day I felt something rolling inside her tiny, tiny leg. I tried to move it into place but was afraid of breaking her leg and uncertain about the mechanics. I don't think I got it into place. If I did, it didn't stay there. As she grew, it was easier to see that the tendon had slipped toward the inside of her hock so I was more confident of the direction it needed to move in.
Everyday for almost two weeks I have done physical therapy by pulling her leg back in the stretch position and holding it there, sometimes for up to 20 minutes. When in the stretched position, the tendon naturally moved toward the center. I massaged her very swollen hock and coaxed the tendon further toward the back. She is feisty when I just hold her but very cooperative during therapy. It doesn't hurt her and sometimes she trills like she likes it.
Therapy alone wasn't working. I could see that as soon as she bent her leg the tendon slipped back to the side. I tried using soda straws as a brace but it didn't work well and would quickly come off. I'm using a Brinsea brooder at my off-grid house (love it!) and don't have a way to keep her properly warm in a chick chair. I'm not sure it that would be better. She's been very strong in balancing on her good leg with a variety of casts. After a couple of days she no longer wanted food or water from me because she was in the scrum getting it herself.
I constructed a cast that kept her leg slightly bent. She could get around well with this but managed to get her leg almost fully bent by the next day. I constructed a new cast with her leg completely straight out behind her I left this on for about 30 hours. When I removed it, she could not bend her leg and began walking on the front of her ankle with her toes back! This gradually improved and by the next day she was walking on her foot and bending her hock some. The next day she was walking pretty well. The next day she wasn't able to fully straighten her leg again and when stretching her leg there was a clear snap as something shifted places. The tendon had slipped again.
So by then she was over a week old and still in trouble. I put a cast back on her until the next day and she was once again able to walk fairly well. Since then I have been putting the cast on every night and taking it off during the day so the tendon doesn't shorten too much and she can build strength while she eats and drinks with the others. Now, at 14 days, she is walking well and the swelling in her hock continues to lessen. Her entire lower leg, from hock to ankle, is still enlarged. Movement is stiff but she has the full range from stretching her leg behind her on her own to folding it completely to lie down.
I am going to continue to use a night brace until her leg seems normal - no swelling, easy movement. Here's how I'm making the cast - cut the square from the center of a cotton pad used for cleaning off makeup. Cut a bandaid or tape into three long thin strips. With the leg held straight back from the chick, wrap the cotton around the leg. Use one strip of tape to tightly secure the cotton below the knee so it can't slide up. Use another strip to tightly secure the cotton above the knee so it can't slip down (doesn't need to be super-tight and the cotton helps avoid cutting off circulation) None of the tape should come in contact with the skin. Use one or more strips of tape around the knee itself to make the cast too stiff for the chick to bend her knee. Cut the tape to remove it. As the chick has gotten stronger she has a slight bend by morning but I don't think this is a problem - here's how it looked this morning:
Sorry that I don't have photos of what the leg originally looked like. Here is a photo of QueenLiz at 2 days old and some of her enjoying her freedom of movement at 13 days old. You can see that her right leg is still larger than her left.
If you think there is a problem with the night brace approach - let me know! Wishing you all a happy day with your chickens.