Can a chicken have a good quality of life with just one leg?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by lbartsch, Nov 7, 2011.

  1. lbartsch

    lbartsch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2011
    Hello BYC Community:

    As some of you may have read, we have a chicken that we've been working hard to save after a raccoon attack. Her leg was hurt very badly and we've been working hard - along with our vet - to save her and save her leg. Well, it's not looking that good today and we should know in a few days whether we have to make a choice to put her down or amputate her leg. One of the vets at the emergency center where we first took her said that they can get a long ok with one leg. I just can't imagine it. Our chicken vet also said that birds just don't do well with one leg. While we've been working very hard and spending a lot of time and money to save her life, we don't want to make her suffer for a low quality of life.

    Do any of you have experience to share that might inform our decision if we're forced to make it?

  2. lynn~z.

    lynn~z. New Egg

    Nov 7, 2011
    Wow, i just registered today and was gonna wonder almost the same ?.......only our hen seems to have a broken leg and only realized today that it was actually broke. Our son told my husband yesterday, but he didn't take a good look at it until this morning and sure enough.

    So, my ? is, can we actually do anything to help her - a splint?.....don't have the finances to take her to a vet. She is eating and drinking and even layed an egg today. We have her separated from the other girl's for now so she can rest, but i think at the same time we need to get her up and about a little - so i will try tomorrow. She will stand on the other leg for a little, but it seems a little hard for her to get about. Though i did find her on top of the roost area this morning.......... i really don't think it will heal - it seems to be broke above the "elbow" area. She seems alert and not crabby.....this is a hen that is very people orientated, very friendly, so it is sad to see her injured, especially for our son. He prayed for her tonight.
    So, i too, would like to know if anyone has experienced this and what advice is there other than putting her down.......which may be the case. [​IMG]

    Lynn~e Z.
  3. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    lynn, if her leg is broken, she needs to be kept quiet and inactive. A dog crate is a good choice. I doubt you can splint it if it's in her thigh or drumstick. 1/4 aspirin in water can help for pain.

    I'm so sorry for your chicken, Ibartsch. I don't know if they can live well on one leg or not, but I'd at least give her a chance if you have the resources to spend on her.
  4. Sjisty

    Sjisty Scribe of Brahmalot

    May 18, 2009
    We had a hen with a bad leg from birth. She hopped to her food and water but didn't wander the yard like the others. She never was able to scratch and never dust bathed. The biggest problem was she was a target for every roo we had to just take her whenever they wanted. We had to keep her separate from the other chickens for her own good and finally gave her to a woman who made a very spoiled pet out of her until she died at about 3 years of age.

    If I had it to do again, I think I would have culled Hoppy before we became attached to her. I guess she was happy, but how can you know for sure?
  5. goldeneggtees

    goldeneggtees Fluffy Butt Nut

    Mar 11, 2009
    Long Island, NY
    i have a friend who has a hen without a foot. she hobbles around quite well considering. but she is def not as fast as the others. i wonder if she doesn't wander as far too. my guess would be that she stays closer to the coop.
  6. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

    May 11, 2010
    I've had one legged game chickens that did very well. Game chickens are a smaller framed athletic bird so they can compensate for the lack of one leg, but they have to be watched for being bullied. Large, heavy breed chickens, however, are another story. They lack the athleticism to adapt to one leg, and eventually lose the ability to forage and defend themselves.
  7. chickensbythesea

    chickensbythesea Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2011
    My uncle just told me about one of his friends, and their hen Peg. As in, Peg leg.

    She only has one foot, and was getting bullied, so she's now a house chicken. She has a sling she can rest in if she's so inclined, and seems to do fine, but not as part of a flock.

    I'd guess if you can isolate her with some really friendly hens, she'd probably do fine, but not in general population.
  8. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    I did have one that had an injured leg as a chick that took a long time to heal. She was pretty old before she was able to scratch but she was smart. She'd lurk where the others were scratching and bolt in and grab things they dug up. She can scratch now but she's for sure the smartest of the bunch even if her status isn't the highest lol.
  9. confetticrafts

    confetticrafts Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 6, 2011
    Hi, I have been reading a lot about chickens with injured legs the past few days, since we found one with a badly damaged foot. The vet just amputated yesterday, and said chickens will learn to get along well on one leg, and will learn to use their wings as props. I was very encouraged to read dozens of inspiring stories on this website about chickens that had good quality of life with just one foot. The bird may be a bit slower and a little more vulnerable to predators, or might in some cases require significant extra care or living indoors, depending on the injury. But I do think there's hope! Some people have written about using a prosthetic for chickens, and we may try to rig a replacement foot/support for our hen to give her better mobility. We're going to try to give our Rocky a chance to live a good life, after her suffering.

    Here is a post about successful splinting of a broken leg:

    You can search 'amputation' to find more posts about one-legged chickens, but here are a few with encouraging stories:

    Good luck to you and your bird!

    Edited to add 2 more links to stories
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2011
  10. ChickieBooBoo

    ChickieBooBoo Cold Canadian Chick

    Dec 2, 2009
    A chicken with one leg wouldn't be able to live in a chicken coop with other chickens. Chickens are cannibles, they would see it as a weakness and I doubt she would survive very long.

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