19 day old chick cant walk, advice needed!


10 Years
Jun 1, 2009
Hi there,

We recently got 5 baby chicks from a friend of my moms about 19 days ago. The youngest one, Helen Keller, born on the day we got her has always had leg problems since she came out of her shell. Not having much experience with raising chickens we tried to wait it out to see if she got better, but she hasn't. We’re using towels as bedding, since we made the mistake of using newspaper at first and 3 of the chicks got spraddle legs, though with the towels they have done much better.

This is what Helen’s leg was looking like at about 5-6days

About a week ago we looked online for things to help treat her. We started treating for spraddle legs, which was when we treated the others that had it. We were hoping it would treat them all equally. The other chicks got better but she didn't.

We had a shoe on her for a few days since her toes were growing in bent from how she was walking on it and that helped that problem a bit, they sit kinda weird when she stands on them, mostly from the angle of her leg I believe. Her leg was and still is swelling when shes left to walk around on her own. We spent days making a chick chair that would suit her without her jumping out like madman, which has been frustrating for both human and chicken alike. The chair helps the swelling but we cant keep her in it all the time since the only way to do so seems to be holding on to her while shes in it.

I did check her hock to see if the tendon was out multiple times, especially after shes been in the chair, but I see no difference between her injured leg and her good one. So after treating for the Achilles tendon I'm only guessing that maybe that is not the case. We do try to massage it still every now and then just in case.

This is what her hocks look like:

Her leg juts out at an odd angle:

Before the chair:

After the chair:

Last night we tried to tape a sponge around her leg, and then tape the good leg to the sponge wrapped one. The only information we had on this was the paragraph that D.C. Townsend had given as advice at http://www.voy.com/194762/

I dont know if we did it wrong or what but she kicked it off very quickly and was "walking" around with it just taped to the good leg, dragging the sponge. It was then that we noticed that her down might be rubbed off of the underside of her legs?


Basically after spending days and countless hours centered around this chick we have no clue on what we're doing. Some things seem to help here and there but we fear that we might be causing more harm than good.

She had gotten an impacted crop after a day of us trying to give her yogurt and this vitamin supplement we got for birds that gave her diarrhea. The crop started making her choke while she was in her chair after she overate without us seeing until too late so we started giving her papaya, pedialyte and mushy foods (yogurt and scrambled eggs) in small amounts. It's also slowed down the amount of time we keep her in her chair since we dont want her to choke again. As time goes on we're weaning her back to just her normal food. Her poop is looking more and more normal.

Shes full of life and keeps trying to gorge herself when she can. She acts a lot like the other chicks that are 1-4 days older than her. We gave her a mill worm yesterday and she was dancing around with it in a sorta pathetic way chirping really happy before she ate it. She does like to sleep more than the others and walking is hard for her. She basically throws out her leg similar to how shes trying to stand in one of the pictures up there ^ and tries to balance between them, often flapping her wings here and there.

For the most part she doesn't seem to be in pain, just that shes having a hard time walking. We are trying our best to help her so that she can live a fuller life but we just dont know if what we're doing is right. Any advice is so greatly appreciated since we don’t have the means to take her to the vet.

Thank you,


Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
South Georgia
Sounds like you have researched this pretty thoroughly. I can't help but will give you a bump.

Good luck!


12 Years
Sep 10, 2007
BC Canada
Give her a vitamin supplement to go in her drinking water. You can get the powder that goes in there water at the feed store. I have heard that the lake of vitamins can cause problems like this. Hope she gets better.


11 Years
Jul 16, 2008
South Carolina
I would definitely give the vitamins and maybe try the spraddle leg splint again. I agree that her hock look fine and the tendon looks good, it would look flat if it was out, she also doesn't hold the leg bent like a slipped tendon. Pipe cleaners might give her a little more freedom but still the support. She almost looks like she has overextended the leg. There is a link to the poultry orthopedist that I will look for.
edited to add link http://www.voy.com/194762/ , I hope this helps.
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10 Years
Jun 1, 2009
Thanks for the help. We had so much trouble with that first supplement that we got from Petsmart that we've just sorta stopped giving her vitamins after that first day. I hadn't thought to look at the feed store, which now seems silly but its why I posted here for advice!

The pipe cleaners sound like a great idea too! I'm eager to try them out tomorrow to see if they help.

Thank you so much! <3<3


Human Encyclopedia
13 Years
Jan 11, 2007
The treatment from DC Townsend waas actually developed for peachicks (bigger boned) and the pipecleaner is in my opinion generally unsuitable for the finer bones of chicks (particularly very young ones)...
... after looking at your photos (and I have nothing to back this up with such as other articles etc) if it were me I would try to find a suitable (your chick size) sized "cup" form made of foam (failing that a tube which you can add to) and put two holes in it for the legs as it seems this is were the leg is spraddling from... (dont forget a hole for his tush for the poo!)
I would not massage it as that might be contributing to the swelling...
I would highly reccomend AVIACHARGE 2000 as a supplement (you can purchase online from McMurry) and in addition to that I would give three drops of POLYVISOL enfamil formulation (this is a liquid childrens A-B-D vitamin) for a week then taper off the next)
Your efforts to deal with this are admirable indeed and I do hope he gets better!
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13 Years
May 25, 2008
Meadowsweet, I am sorry for the difficulties you had with your chick and so empathize! It sounds like you REALLY tried to help your little chick.
I cared for one with similar problems until she was 5 months old. If you are interested in methods I used, I have posted info at the link in my signature.


5 Years
Jun 4, 2014
Help. I just noticed this chick today. It seems like maybe her hip is more painful that her "elbow" cause I can flex and extend it but when I try moving the hip she cheeps really loud... help?

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