Black Copper Marans chicks hatching with odd foot deformity - Any advice?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Duckies Girls, Apr 13, 2017.

  1. Duckies Girls

    Duckies Girls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was given a breeding quad of Black Copper Marans. I was extremely excited to try my hand at incubating Marans, but I’ve hatched some chicks with a foot deformity and now I’m hesitant to hatch more. I was told the rooster and hens were sourced from two different lines (GFF hens and Davis/LP rooster). I’m trying to determine if this issue is genetic, a birth defect, or maybe nutrition related.

    The Marans free range every day, have a feeder with layer crumbles and a feeder with flock raiser (believe it or not my rooster only eats the flock raiser, never seen him eat the layer feed, thus the two feeders), have oyster shell and grit available, fresh water every day and one day a week I give water with vitamins. The birds will all be 2 years old this July.

    The defect is with the chick’s feet. The first hatch I set 9 eggs and had 2 hatch with what I can only describe as clubbed feet. It was as if the area where their toes connect to the shank was completely fused. There was no bend at all, and their toes were stuck curled into a ‘fist’. Imagine crawling on the floor on your hands and knees, using your fists instead of the palms of your hands (like a gorilla) and locking your wrists keeping them parallel with your arms. I tried boots, which temporarily straightened the toes, but as soon as they were removed the toes would curl right back up. The chicks could get around, they just looked like ballerinas. The next hatch I set a dozen eggs and no issues. The third hatch I set another dozen eggs and had 10 hatch, 3 of which had clubbed feet.

    To get to the root of the problem I decided to collect eggs from just two hens. One hen is one of the original 3 I was given, one is from the first hatch. I set a dozen eggs from each, my results are in the table below.


    # Eggs Set

    # Eggs Fertile

    # Chicks Hatched

    # Chicks w/defect
    Original Hen

    12

    9

    9

    2
    First Hatch Hen

    12

    7

    5

    0

    As you can see, two eggs of the Original Hen hatched chicks with clubbed feet but none of the First Hatch Hen’s eggs hatched with the deformity.

    I tried again with another Original Hen’s eggs and the same First Hatch Hen’s eggs. I set another dozen of each hen’s eggs and these were the results:


    # Eggs Set

    # Eggs Fertile

    # Chicks Hatched

    # Chicks w/defect
    Original Hen

    12

    10

    9

    2
    First Hatch Hen

    12

    10

    8

    0

    Again, no defects with the chicks from the First Hatch Hen, but 2 more from the other Original Hens eggs.

    Is there any way to narrow down what’s causing this? Thoughts on if it’s genetic, nutritional, or just a birth defect? I think it is genetic, but if so, what should I do? Obtain a new rooster and try again? It seems odd though, that it would be genetic and only occur in a couple of the hatched chicks.

    Obviously I’m at a loss, so any help/advice/thoughts/opinions on the matter are much appreciated!
     
  2. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    Did you use the same hen for the original hen and the same hen out of the first hatch? If so and the same roo covered both hens I would cross out a problem with the roo. If the same original hen was used, I'd have suspicions that it was genetic through that hen and I'd be reluctant to use her from breeding. If you still have contact with the person that you got the birds from I'd ask them if they have had any issues with any of their other birds. I don't think it's a nutritional issue, unless it's specific to one hen, or you'd be having more across the board with all the hatchlings. I will say though, if these guys are free ranging outside, you don't need to provide them with commercial grit. They will get that naturally.
     
  3. Duckies Girls

    Duckies Girls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Stamping Ground, KY
    "Did you use the same hen for the original hen and the same hen out of the first hatch?"
    No. In the second experiment, I used one of the other 'Original Hens' I was given. I used the same 'First Hatch Hen' in both experiments. She was the only female from the first set of eggs hatched from these birds, so she was my only offspring to use and see if she had chicks with the same issues. I did use the same rooster for every hatch (he is the rooster that came with the quad).

    When I asked the person I got the birds from, she just said 'Well of course you're going to have culls in every hatch'.... Yeah, this to me is more than just another cull. I think it is a genetic issue and I'm guessing it's probably due to too much inbreeding, regardless of what she said. I think I'm just going to remove the rooster and see if I can find a replacement. Maybe I just got lucky with the younger hen I hatched, and she doesn't have a complete copy of whatever is causing this foot issue. If a new rooster doesn't fix the issue, these girls will be moving in with the 'Laying Hens Only' flock and I will put this on the board as a lesson learned.

    PS - I know I said they have grit available, but in my head I was thinking of my 1/4 mile gravel driveway [​IMG] Also, thank you for helping!
     
  4. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    I have to disagree with her. Granted, I'm not hatching hundreds of birds each season, but I have multiple hatches every year, have been hatching for almost three years and do not have culls in every hatch. And when you're speaking of culls due to deformity and not because of color or type breeding to SOP, There's a problem. I can honestly say that in almost three years of hatching I've had to cull one chick from artificial incubation and one from under a broody because of serious issues that I knew they wouldn't recover from and have only had three die after hatch from complications that didn't get better. One hatched way too early and had ruptured yolk and fully active vascular system to egg, so he was gone in hours. The second I believe was a digestive issue that lived for 9 days and then took a bad turn. And the third lasted about 48 hours and cried the entire time, but no physical signs of what was wrong.

    I would very much agree with it being genetic, especially with her off handed comment. What's sad is she is probably more than aware of the issue and is passing it down, not only in her flock, but to others.

    You'll have to update to let us know how it goes changing the roo. I'm very curious to see if it solves the issue.
     
  5. Duckies Girls

    Duckies Girls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 26, 2015
    Stamping Ground, KY
    I agree. I've hatched plenty of barnyard mix chicks, around 50 ducklings, and other breeder's Marans eggs and not once have I had something like this happen. My only culls have been for bad color, or bad body type. Those I just put out to pasture with the egg layers. I had one chick that had what looked like a slight scissor beak, but shes grown now and just has a slight crook to her beak. That's about the extent of any defect I've seen until this freakiness with the feet.

    When I find another roo and hatch round 3 I'll be sure to post the results!
     
  6. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    [​IMG]
     

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