Amputated a chicken's leg today

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ruth, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    I've had a Barred Rock that has had a twisted deformed leg since she hatched Feb. 14th. When she was just a tiny chick I tried everything such as bandaids, rubber bands, string, etc. to try and fix the little leg that just kept going straight out from her side. Nothing worked. As she aged she lost more and more control of the leg and the toes were always all twisted up together. The "knee" joint was fused together and just kept getting bigger. I named her Sweetie and she has been freeranging with everyone else all this time. No one has picked on her.

    However lately she has been staying in the coop and losing mobility more and more. The leg sticks straight out from her side, sometimes over her head, and has been catching in everything - cages, wires, feeders. I go and check on her several times a day and often would find her caught up in something because the curled, knarly toes were caught in something and she could not get free. She has been flopping around and using her wings to help get free and has worn all feathers off the right wing. She was looking pretty pitiful and could no longer get to food so I would always take some to her.

    Today I decided I either had to put her down or amputate the leg. I chose amputation. I've often examined her leg and she seems to have no feeling or blood flow to the foot, or not much.

    I shaved the area above the deformed "knee", boiled a large pair of wire cutters on the stove, tied off the area above the cutting point with a rubber band, and asked DH to help me. While I held her I asked him to make the cut because I didn't know if I would have enough hand strength to make a cut, hard, first attempt clean cut. He did a great job and she didn't even squirm. In fact she was so still I had to look to see that the leg was gone. There were only three drops of blood from the bone and I held a gauze to her leg and that's all there was to it. I've wrapped her up with vet wrap, wrapped her bare wing also so she can use it for support, and have given her Penicillin as a preventative.

    She will probably have to learn to walk again now that the bad leg isn't swinging out beside her throwing her balance off and snagging on everything. But I think she will do much better now.

    It's always interesting around here with all these chickens. Yesterday I had to do some massive sewing up on the back of a hen that the roosters ripped to shreds.

    Guess I'm posting this so others will know that these birds are amazingly resislent and that if you have to, you can do anything and everything to try and save them.

    Wish Sweetie the best.

    And, before anyone asks, yes I tried many times to get our one and only vet to do this. She would not. One time I just took the chicken in without asking hoping she would see her and change her mind. She would not. Her reason was that she knew nothing about chickens and could not administer anesthetic to them.

    Here's pics of Sweetie and her deformed leg.

    This is before she lost the ability to get around and she still had her wing feathers.



    Here's a close up of the leg.


    And here she is minutes after amputation enjoying bread on my kitchen floor. I may make her an inside chicken - just what we need around here - a house chicken.


  2. Dar

    Dar Crowing

    Jul 31, 2008
    wow you are so brave to do that i hope she can make a come back
  3. chickenlover210

    chickenlover210 Songster

    Jan 28, 2008
    the Usa
    Omg I feel your pain
    We had a crrked beaked chicken bird science Easter
    Yesterday it passed away
    He/she (not sure didn't crow/lay) was the smartest and sweetest bird ever.
    Now i can't get it off my ming
    and random words trigger me remembering it and it makes me cry.
    I feel so sad.
  4. shelleyb1969

    shelleyb1969 Star Bright Farm

    Amazing, Ruth. What an incredible story! And what a wonderful person you are to be giving Sweetie such a great chance at life. Most people would've culled her right off. I, myself, also believe in giving everything a's their right. All creatures are sent in to this world with a purpose, and it's our job to discover that purpose. Sweetie is an inspiration, and so are you for sharing your story.
    1 person likes this.

  5. meriruka

    meriruka Songster

    Oct 18, 2007
    Amazing! Keep us posted on how she's doing.......
  6. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Thanks Ya'll - wasn't sure how the story would go over. I'm sure there are those that say I should have culled her but I'm betting cutting off her head might have hurt also and would have definitely not given her a chance.

    I wanted the vet to do surgery and take the leg out from the hip. The hip is bad too and doesn't bend like it should. If the leg could have been removed from the hip she wouldn't have a dead stump sticking out and would be able to roll and dust bathe - something she has not been able to do since the leg sticking straight out prevents her from rolling in the dirt. I'm hoping that now she can at least do some things she hasn't been able to do.

    I thought about taking the leg off as high as possible but didn't want to get into cutting into flesh and meaty areas. Figured as long as I was just cutting bare chicken leg she/I wouldn't have as many complications.
    1 person likes this.
  7. KellyHM

    KellyHM Crowing

    Sep 10, 2008
    Lakeland, FL
    I wish I could have done this for my little quail. But he had 2 bad legs that stuck straight out to the sides, so I had to cull him since he could no longer got to the food or water. [​IMG]

  8. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Quote:I'm so sorry. You did the right thing. If both legs were like this, I would have done the same but she can get around by hopping on one leg especially now that the other one won't be snagging on everything as she goes by. In her case, the toes have always been curled up like that and she could not move them.
  9. meriruka

    meriruka Songster

    Oct 18, 2007
    I'll admit I was a little horrified at the thought of taking a pair of wire cutters to a live chicken, but you did what needed to be done. I hope I would have the mental strength to do the same if I were in that situation.
    I hope she does well and has a better quality of life now.
    rebrascora likes this.

  10. lovemychix

    lovemychix Songster

    Oct 14, 2008
    Moulton Iowa
    Did you give her anything for the pain? I bet that hurt.

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