Baby chick can't walk

Nov 5, 2018
Birmingham UK
One of my hens is broody so I gave her some eggs. Only one turned out to develop to full term.

I noticed a lot of the time when she would get off the nest each day for her break, she would return to the wrong nest. I have four nest boxes and have never had a problem with broodies not going back to their eggs before. Even this hen hatched eggs earlier this year and did not have trouble finding the right nest.

Anyway after finding the eggs cold several times I got worried and moved the one good egg into my incubator to hatch. On day 23 it finally started hatching and seemed to be having trouble so I helped it out of the shell.

I noticed right away that it's toes were very curled under and inward and that it was very weak plus kept shivering/vibrating it's head and neck when it tried to stand.

I have given it some sugar water with poultry vitamins and made it some shoes to straighten the toes. It is now a day and a half old and it is able to stand only sort of crouching, ie not fully stretched up on its legs. Also because of the chick shoes it keeps rolling over onto its back or side and cannot get up.

Is there anything more I can do for it? Will its toes still straighten out of it is not walking on its feet and spends all the time upside down?


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I would try with splay leg ties. I like this design best because it’s easy to get on and off

If he still struggles to stand I’d try him with the chick chair in this article But you need to make sure his feet are on the floor so he can stand and build his legs up.

His feet won’t straighten and he will may fail if he can’t stand up and build muscle.
I would try putting the chick in a slightly warmed small glass or cup which can be padded and placed under heat in the brooder. It could be a wine glass or something that might help her learn to stand. If she doesn’t tolerate it, then remove it and try a chick chair. Poultry Cell would be very good to give her since it has riboflavin (B2) which is important in leg health. If your vitamins have riboflavin, those are good.
Thanks for the responses. I have been looking around the internet and am now wondering if its possible the chick has slipped achillies tendons on both legs? When I try to very gently straighten the legs the chick makes pained noises. It is able to stand with its 'knees' quite bent.

I was thinking it is the 'shoes' to correct the curled toes that are causing it to fall over and not get back up again but the legs not straightening might be a second issue.

Is the vibrating/shaking thing something to worry about or could he just be weak and cold when I'm holding him.

The vitamins I have contain B2 and vitamin E which I read elsewhere was good for tremors.
But if the chick has slipped tendons would it still be able to walk a little? Because the chick can and does walk some, but with half bent legs and usually it ends up toppling over.
There are a lot of leg disorders—splay legs, twisted legs, varus valgus deformity, and slipped tendons. I would try to get the chick up and supported to strengthen the legs for short periods. The vitamins may help at some point. It can be hard to know exactly what to do. A picture or two of the chick standing while you hold it up might be helpful. If it cannot hold the legs together anout 1.5 inches apart, a honble might help. It can take them a couple of days to get used to that. Vet wrap in thin strips can be good for that, and they can be removed and replaced as needed.
I did cup therapy with one that did have double slipped tendons splayed leg and curled toes. Along with slow easy stretching back like the other chicks and chickens do and besides light touch massage and she did fine, pretty soon she was outta the hobbles, flip flops and doing the stuff on her own. Besides giving vitamins. she's doing great now

**once she had her legs under her she was boss though
So there is definitely something wrong with its legs, probably double slipped tendons. Yesterday I tried to straighten them out, set into place and then made a chair out of a plastic cup and sock, but the chick seemed to be in so much pain when I straightened the legs and then it was so stressed in the chair. I could not bear its suffering so I removed everything. :(

Today it is able to get around a bit better, not falling over much, but still with bent knees. I will try to get photos and post later. I don't know what else I can do. Will massaging the tendons back into place regularly do any good? When I tried to straighten them last night I thought I felt the tendons moving into place. It is a tiny dutch bantam chick so it is very hard to do.

The chick drinks well when I encourage it but is not eating yet. It pecks at the crumbs half heartedly and seems unable to catch any. I've made a very soft mash and keep encouraging it to eat/offering specks of mash on my fingers, but it is not very interested.

I'm trying to get some other chicks to potentially keep it company or if it doesn't make it, to give to the broody hen who was supposed to have the crippled chick. But it will probably be a few days before I can get any. Im hoping maybe other chicks will encourage this one to eat more.

I've dealt with curled toes and a slight spraddle leg before but nothing this bad. It's very upsetting.
Sorry about your chick. I would not try to massage or exercise her legs, but just keep up the vitamins and try positioning her. Sometimes nothing helps, and it may be best to put the chick down. I has a couple hatch that that arched there backs and could not stay upright. It is very upsetting, but some are just so brain damaged that we cannot help them. I usually will try for a couple of days to help. Mine would not even eat or drink. That is why I stopped hatching chicks.

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