Adult Duck With Splayed Legs, Potential Further Issue With Hock Joint

Herder Of Ducks

In the Brooder
Sep 30, 2019
Just over a month ago we added two more adult female Pekin ducks to our flock. Not sure precisely on age, we were told this season, they're fully sized and feathered, the one in question is not laying yet. She has Splayed legs, when she arrived she shuffled instead of walked like the others do, and frequently would stumble and fall onto her front. However she didn't seem deterred from walking around, and for the most part would try and keep up with the others. From day one of her being here her lower legs looked a little rotated unnaturally, however a couple of weeks back her right lower leg appeared to be rotated more pronounced than before, the hock joint appeared more swollen, and she held the leg out more away from the body, as opposed to them both being pointed inwards previously, this made it difficult to determine whether the lower leg was actually rotated more or just appeared so due to different positioning. She began walking with a pronounced limp instead of shuffling, which actually seemed to make walking easier, and with my interpretation of ducky behavior she seemed to be in less discomfort this way aswel. So i wasn't sure what to make of it. However a few days ago she was no longer able to get out of the pond that she was previously able to, so i'm concerned there is an issue beyond just the initial splayed legs, the lower leg rotation seems more pronounced than before and she is walking as much on the leg bone as the foot, unlike previously on the heels of the foot. Unfortunately our vet is unavailable for atleast a month, and finding another locally is proving very difficult. I'll post some pictures and video links of her walking below that hopefully provide better context to my description. My main concern is if this is a new issue that will require active treatment, manipulation of the leg in some way to "put it back in the right place" etc. I don't know enough about the hock joint anatomy to know if it is supposed to have some rotational range of motion in that way, the best description i can give is that if the axis ran the length of the lower leg bone, it appears to be rotated on that axis. Any opinions/advice are welcomed. Also if anyone has any experience/advice with an adult duck with splayed legs i'd welcome it, as almost all information seems to be about ducklings. We have been applying a CBD cooling gel to her hock joints, to reduce pain and inflammation, in the hopes this would help reduce any discomfort she's in. We have only been applying this AFTER the rotation issue in question had started, so it shouldn't be a contributing factor. However i do wonder if anti inflammatories are a good or bad thing given her condition.

The picture where she is clean and facing the camera is from the first day we got her, the ones where she is dirty having been playing in the muddy puddle are from this week, so are the videos.

Video 1

Video 2

Jessy 4.jpg Jessy 2.jpg Jessy 3.jpg Jessy Leg 1.jpg Jessy Leg 2.jpg Jessy Leg 3.jpg Jessy Leg 4.jpg
Last edited:


𝘉𝘢𝘣𝘺 𝘋𝘶𝘤𝘬
Premium Feather Member
Sep 30, 2020
The way she walks and her legs are crossed makes me think she had a severe niacin deficiency as a duckling, and I don't know if it can be corrected now. I'm not sure how else to help you, but hopefully Isaac can.
@Isaac 0

Isaac 0

Jul 19, 2016
Off that bat, I can't tell what exactly is going on here. It is apparent she has some serious leg issues. That is something not all uncommon in heavyweight duck breeds like Pekins. One of the most common causes of leg problems is a deficiency in niacin, oftentimes directly due to the owner feeding a low diet in niacin, which is often chick starter.

Other leg problems may include, splayed legs, varus-valgus deformity, tibial dyschondroplasia (TD), septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, trauma, along with a few more.

Given her age, and how long these problems have been going on, it's very unlikely you will be able to get her legs back to where they should be without a vet. As the bird ages, the bones become harder to correct via an external coaptation device, and when used it can lead to edema, pain, or blood loss to the leg. Surgery is the most likely path to normal, although the prognosis with that may still be guarded.

Until you can have her seen by a vet, I would set her in a soft padded area, where her underside can stay dry and clean, not muddy. This will also help prevent excessive pressure of her joints, and footpads which will ultimately help prevent Bumblefoot, or infection from occurring. Start administering B vitamins to help with leg growth, and structure, and try to get her in clean/deep water at least once a day. An addition of Epsom salts to the water every few days may help reduce swelling.

Herder Of Ducks

In the Brooder
Sep 30, 2019
@Isaac 0 I have updated the video settings so they should now work properly.

I did a fair bit of research when she first arrived and my layman's conclusion was that Splayed Legs was the most likely culprit, I'll do some more in depth research on the others you mentioned in case i overlooked any of them at the time.

My research had come to the same conclusion as you mentioned, given her age it seems unlikely such a condition can be fully resolved, and attempts at correcting Splayed legs at that age leads to more problems than solutions. My understanding is that even a surgical option is unlikely to be successful at this stage. I have resigned to the idea that most likely this is an issue she will have in some form from now on. So barring any vet recommendations, the best course of action is to make adaptations to provide the best for her needs, many of which we have already done.

Since arriving she has been on the same Layers feed as the other ducks, with the addition of a supplement that includes the B vitamins recommended. She spends the majority of the time in the duck house, which has a rubber non slip floor and thick layer of bedding to keep her clean, dry, comfortable and warm. The other surfaces she has access to are a soft astro turf in their all weather pen, and grass in the good weather pen. She is prohibited from hard surfaces barring rare exceptions such as out of necessity to take the pictures and videos above. Being so muddy is also an outlier due to specific unavoidable circumstances on the day the pictures/ videos were taken. She gets at least one or two long swims a day in the deep pond we have for them. I have some Epsom Salts on hand so can give that a try.

Thank You for your contributions. Hopefully we can get her to a vet soon.

Herder Of Ducks

In the Brooder
Sep 30, 2019
@Isaac 0 An update on Jessy the duck. Fortunately our vet returned a couple of weeks earlier than planned, so we managed to get her an appointment the Friday before last. He said that she had some infection in the joints and that would need to be cleared up before any further treatments could be attempted, and booked her an X-Ray for a few days later, the X-Ray showed no damage to bone structure which was a relief. She has been on antibiotics and painkillers since the initial appointment; as a result the swelling in the legs is much reduced. Her left leg (the "good" one) is looking almost normal now, the only abnormalities remaining being in bone shape and leg position as a result of her duckling development. We've just took her back for a follow up appointment and the vet said that it appears the tendon on the right leg (the bad one) is not in the right place and will need surgery to correct for her to gain full use of the leg again. However he has cautioned that the surgery carries the usual risk of all surgeries that she may not make it, also that it still may not result in her gaining full use of the leg, he was also concerned that recovery may be an issue due to her trying to use the leg too much. We've figured out a setup that should prevent her from using it too much whilst recovering, should we decide to go that route.

So now just trying to decide how the risks of surgery and potentially problematic recovery compare to the potential future issues of leaving the leg as is. I've seen detailed explanations of the surgery, it seems pretty simple (as far as surgeries go anyway). My main concern is if it results in the leg being unable to bend enough for her to sit etc. I'll post any further updates. But if anyone reading has experience with Perosis corrective surgery on a duck, please share your experiences.

Momma hen quack

Oct 4, 2017
I am very leary of any surgeries that require birds to go under anesthesia as I have very poor outcomes. I had a goose that broke it's leg and the surgery was a success, but she died a few hours later never coming out of the anesthesia. Spent a 1000 dollars and the goose didn't make it. I also had a duck that was egg bound who I also tried to save and that duck also died post surgery but likely that was due to egg yoke peritonitis as they had to break the egg inside to remove it given it was stuck to her ovary. The duck did not ever wake up following the anesthesia. Also, spent over a 1000 dollars on the duck that didn't make it. So, I would really think this surgery though as you may spend alot of money and the duck may not make it.


Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 13, 2015
Carnation, Wa
I do most medical-related things with the birds here, so can't offer much advice regarding having surgery done on them. @KaleIAm , may have some advice.
Injectable anesthesia is the only medication that has made me feel uncomfortable in avian surgery. There is a reverser, but it can take 15 minutes to see results and it doesn't reverse completely. For this reason the exotic vets I know use gas anesthesia when possible. The two types I know of, isoflurane and sevoflurane, are usually safe. The main difference I have experienced is response time in the patient. My own ducks have had surgery under isoflurane multiple times with no issues.

That being said there is always a risk whenever any animal, including people, have surgery. Birds are less likely to have a positive outcome with some surgeries, in particular reproductive procedures. If an animal is already ill surgery may be too much for their body. In general I have found that birds do very well with gas anesthesia.

Personally, if you are using a qualified exotic vet with gas anesthesia, I would be more concerned with post operative infection.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom