This is sort of good news/bad news, but I learned a LOT so I wanted to share:
In the new years hatch, we got one chick who seemed 'off' right out of the egg- it hatched by itself and quickly, but was not using one foot- the foot was twisted sideways and the toes slightly curled, but otherwise seemed normal, which baffled both Fosterson (my otherhalf) and myself. Neither of us knew what this was.
In the days it took me to research it, the little guy (or gal) got the hock swollen and a little scraped up, and didn't do well in with several day older chicks who were stronger, so he got off to a disadvantage.
I found some sites (including this thread here: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/116207/curled-toes-and-swollen-twisted-hock-pics and some info on poultry podiatry/orthopedics on several sites on the web) and I found out the chick has slipped the achilles tendon off the hock.
You can tell by holding the joint between thumb and forefinger in the same hand you're holding the chick in, and then using the other finger and forefinger to GENTLY pull the foot as if he/she were stretching it back, like big roosters and hens do. If the foot slips into position and rotates back into place easily, your fingers will also FEEL the tendon going back into place! This 'fixes' the problem... except that you have to make it STAY that way long enough for the chick to strengthen it.
We took too long to identify the problem and solution- but we used coban/vetwrap on the hock (straighten it first) and then a tiny oval with two holes for the wings to make a 'sling' that we tied to the top of a box/cage for the chick, which was supported by a two-string of yarn. It looked insane, but it kept his full weight off the joint while the vetwrap kept it in place.
It stopped the distress peeping, and started eating and drinking.
if it ever distress peeped, I went in and gently pulled the leg back, it stopped, re-oriented the leg and went back to normal chick behavior.
Over the days, it went longer and longer between needing that repositioning.
Alas, tho, it really didn't THRIVE... it kept weight, but only that of about a four day old chick... it didn't GAIN size or weight...
It kept 'fighting' for life, so we kept working with it.
Last night it had kept the leg and was using it, for over 24 hours without any help at all-
but then this morning it slipped again, and the chick just got listless.
I know the damage to the joint was from not doing these actions QUICK after hatching, so we had already decided if it gave up, we'd put it down, which I did, kindly and gently- and then re-examined the hock to verify the diagnosis.
So there you have it. I'll try to post a picture of the still fighting and happy chick- so you can see the part that worked!
Maybe next time I will get to it quick enough to have a better result.http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/116207/curled-toes-and-swollen-twisted-hock-pics