(Used every keyword I could think of for that title!)
So, having decided I was going to be one of those people who don't open the incubator or mess with the chicks during hatching, I left this one guy sitting in his shell after he zipped and pushed the top part off, but then just sat in the bottom half for two days while the rest of the eggs hatched. Learned a big lesson! I'm going to interfere if it happens again. I had no idea (but I do now!) how super glued in they become if they just sit in there and dry.
So his foot got cemented in a bad position, and if I can't get it to straighten out, I may have to cull him. I tried searching every keyword I could think of to find out how to save this little guy, and a few things came up that weren't quite like what I have here with him. But I was able to piece together what I read here and there, and I came up with this little Q-tip bootie cast.
Time will tell if it does the trick or not. But I wanted to share how I was able to get his foot and toes in alignment, in case it can help anybody else.
I wish I had taken "before" photos, but I really just wanted to hurry up and get him worked on. So all I have are photos of the final splint. Before this, his right foot and toes were curled severly towards his center, so that he was walking on the outer side of his clenched up foot. (Thankfully he can walk!) And his good leg seems to be good enough not to need any correction.
Last night I made tape booties like I had seen other people do, with his toes spread out on the tape to keep them separated. But the problem with that was that the whole spread out foot still bent inwards. It was his lower leg and/or ankle that needed straightening too. Here's how I figured to splint him:
I cut one end of a Qtip off to the length I needed and oriented it so that the remaining cotton ball end will cushion below his hock. Then I taped his innermost toe to the cut end of the Qtip and his lower leg bone to the shank of the Qtip. Thus making a straight line between his leg and his first toe. (Not the middle toe, because then the first toe would still curve to far inwards, it was that bad.)
Then I took a square of medical tape and stood his foot on that, spreading this other two toes out from each other and pressing them into the sticky tape. I took a second square of tape and covered over the top of the foot so that his first two toes were sandwiched between tape, and forced to be apart from each other. The third toe was hard to align at the same time as the first two, so I used extra pieces of tape to repeat the procedure, spreading the third toe farther out and fixing it in place. Then I trimmed off all the excess tape corners. So now he basically has a tape bootie that is made up of several pieces of tape.
This one shows how the Qtip is positioned on his leg.
I was prepared to do some taping on his other foot to help balance him out, but he can walk surprisingly well with just the one boot. I plan to remove and reposition the tape every couple of days as he grows.
I hope this works!
Oh, as far as the dried on shrink wrap membrane goes, it was tough to clean that off of him. He still has quite a bit of dried crud, and is probably missing a lot of down. I gave him two "baths" by wrapping him in a hot wet wash cloth to soften it and then rubbing/picking at the goo as much as I could. Then I put him back in the incubator to dry in between baths. He could probably use a third one, but I feel that he needs to graduate to the brooder now.