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Newly hatched chick can't walk- Help! (With photos)

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I had to assist a chick in hatching in sub-par conditions (because the hen was killing chicks upon hatching) due to no incubator, low heat/humidity, the chick's lack of progress in hatching itself, and membrane drying. The chick is now 14 hours old and can't walk, can't even really stand. Its feet are thrust in front of it and whenever I try to help it, the chick can't seem to support its weight on its legs. See the photos below for more of an idea... It can lift its head, but usually lays its head on the towel. Otherwise, its eyes are open, it responds to us, and it's fluffy and alert and the peeping has become stronger since last night. But now I'm afraid the chick is a cripple.Below are some photos. Any help and advice would really be appreciated.



Edited by Freckleluck - 6/14/12 at 8:32am
post #2 of 4

I've had this problem with a number of silver grey dorkings, I think the issue is a humidity problem but sometimes it just seems to happen. However it is curable and when the leg muscles build up the adult bird will be fine.


Firstly try a less slippery surface, hessian or a sticky rubber surface that you can wash or throw away after use to give the bird some grip. I see the chick is on towel in your picture which is quite a good surface so you may have to try the more extreme measure of very delicately 'hobbling' the legs together. I started by using soft fine thread (very fiddly job to avoid hurting the chick) but found a thin strip of elastoplast was better and less of a fiddle. just cut a sticky plaster into three strips lengthways and tie the legs together at the knee loosely so the chick can stand without splaying out (using only one of the strips), you may need to experiment to find the right length.


At first it will keep falling over so stay nearby and keep righting it, change the hobble at least three times a day and in 24 hours or so the leg muscles will hopefully build up so you can remove the tie. If it still doesn't walk unaided repeat untill it does.


 As long as the chick can move to water and food it doesn't matter if the walking is ungainly at first; it will improve - keep it away from healthy chicks who may bully it.


It sounds cruel but I have several chickens on my farm that had this problem when young and they are perfectly healthy now.

Edited by lukera - 6/14/12 at 8:54am
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

I'm definitely going to try some physical therapy, I've put so much effort into this hatch-gone-wrong that I don't want to give up now. I think the toes of the left foot are curled? I'll try the bandage trick. Here's a close-up of the feet.


post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

Update: He has begun to stumble about a little, and the toes on his left foot aren't as curled anymore, but I tried the bandaid method to straighten them. I don't think I got his toes far enough apart- should I try to re-do it or just take it off?


Edited by Freckleluck - 6/14/12 at 11:11am
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