Chick Born Missing a Leg

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by chippy99th, Dec 17, 2016.

  1. chippy99th

    chippy99th Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 17, 2016
    Hi, I just had a hen hatch out a batch of 7 chicks. Here's the facts:
    • Breed: the mom and all of our roosters (the potential dads) are game bird mutts descended from bantams our neighbor let get out of control & now there are feral game bird-ish chickens all over our neighborhood (that's another story). Anyway, they are small, slender, athletic-type birds and tend to be much hardier than our purebreeds and heavier breeds. Have never had a deformed chick hatch before & I know it's not genetic, since its feral predecessors had to survive or die & I'd have noticed a 1-legged chicken around the neighborhood.
    • We only found them late today but I think they may have hatched two nights ago or at least last night.
    • The mom, Princess, is taking good care of the babies and has not obviously singled out the crippled one, although my roommate reported she was pecking/nudging it gently, maybe trying to get it to walk??
    • I didn't take a super close look at it (it's cold out & it clearly wanted to go back to its mom) but I did see that it is not completely missing its limb. That is, the foot is still there -a deformed foot, anyway, very short toes -but no leg to speak of beyond the body.
    • The chick was actually using the leg to "stand" -sitting with the good leg, standing on the short foot -not just resting its tummy on the floor, unless it was asleep.
    • My roommate reports it was hobbling around/hopping with the others, albeit slower. (They were already asleep when I got home.) When I held it, it was active, protested loudly at being picked up, etc.

    I will post pics tomorrow, if I can figure out how. :)

    I don't want it to suffer but for all my experience I've never had to cull a baby before, as we usually just buy babies & all our "home-hatched" mutts have come out healthy.

    I guess I'm just asking, has anyone had any experience with this? Do you think it will learn how to hop? I read stories about that, but they all involved losing the leg later in life...I am perfectly willing to give this baby extra care if necessary, I've done it in the past for less severely disabled babies. Should I leave it with momma? Should I cull it?

    Sorry for the long post & thanks in advance for any advice.
  2. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    Cull the chick.. It can never be a real normal chicken. Save your efforts for the best chicks.
  3. TroyerGal

    TroyerGal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Animals can adapt SO well. Have you ever read those news stories about the dogs who have to walk on their hind legs, or get prosthetics? Give your baby a chance at life!!! Thats what I would do. If its not obviously suffering, why kill it? It could have a great personality, it could lay eggs for you, and it maybe could even touch yours or someone elses life. Think of it... Therapy chicken in a childrens ward at your local hospital.
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    2 schools of thought here:

    Disabled people and animals are able to adapt, and do so remarkably well. Hubby recently showed me a video of a dog that was born with only 2 front legs. The hind legs were barely there, and totally non-functional. The dog was shown romping on a beach, and playing with his dog friends. Big old goofy dog, running, chasing balls, romping. To look at the front end, you'd never see anything amiss, except for his wierd posture, doing a bit of a hand stand to balance his body over those 2 front legs. My dad showed me a pic of one of my uncles with his 3 legged chicken. ((and no that chicken couldn't run faster.) You could give the chick a fighting chance, and see how it progresses, being ready to cull if needed. But don't let it play in the gene pool.

    Or. You could cull, knowing that this chick will not be as mobile as the rest of the flock, will struggle to keep up, may be singled out for elimination by the rest of the flock. She will be more prone to predator attack. Knowing that you will not want to hatch any of her eggs if she's a pullet. Unfortunately, this is the route I'd likely take. If you do cull, sooner is better than later. And choose a method that is sudden, not taking a long time to do the job. I simply use a pair of sharp garden clippers, and use paper bag/paper towel so there is no visible blood. You can cradle the chick right up to his last moment, which is instantaneous.

    Your call, your flock, your choices based on your management style. No choice is wrong.
    2 people like this.
  5. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 19, 2016
    34.560847, -81.154203
    My Coop
    Love the donating to a hospital ward idea! Imagine that, a therapy pet the kids could actually identify with!
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Good idea, but I doubt it would be allowed due to infection control issues, especially on a pediatric ward. Many of those children are immunocomprimised.
  7. chippy99th

    chippy99th Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 17, 2016
    Thanks for all the responses, they are truly appreciated. After considering it and getting a better look at the chick, I have decided to give her (if it's a her) a couple weeks' trial to see how she does. If, by the end of that time, she hasn't at least made some progress on learning to stand & hop, I will cull her. Also if she starts really struggling or having problems before then.

    For now, Una (that's what I named her, hehe) is living in a brooder inside the house, along with one of the other chicks for company. They have settled down nicely and both of them are eating and drinking, and of course sleeping and pooping plenty. The mom was trying her hardest, but Una just couldn't keep up with her once the sun came up and she started walking around. Una is alert, doesn't seem to be in any pain, and has been getting around as well as she wants to. When she sits, she seems to balance on her good foot and lifts the deformed one up where her "elbow" would naturally be if she had a real foot to sit on. She hasn't really stood yet without help, but it's early days yet. Here are some pictures (we'll see if they actually show up):

    Her on my kitchen table, sorry for the dirty dishes. :p It's hard to tell, but she's actually not resting that foot on the ground at the moment.

    A better view of her foot. It's got a bit of a "heel" and some toes with tiny little claws, pointing backwards.

    Side view.

    She seems pretty alert and content. I want to give her the best shot, but if it means helping her get away from pain or a bad struggle then I guess I'll do what I have to. Besides managing the large flock for my parents for eggs, I mostly keep chickens myself as pets and I don't have the heart to put her down yet. Of course, if she makes it (or he), Una will never be allowed to be a parent, and she'll live in the secure smaller coop with my silkies for protection.

    Again, thanks for all the input. It's good to know someone else gave some thought to my baby. :)

    *PS I loved the therapy animal idea, too! lazy gardener is probably right, I don't know if it would be allowed in a hospital...but maybe at physical therapy/rehab centers, or to visit schools. If she makes it, that would be amazing!
  8. BritneyBell

    BritneyBell Just Hatched

    Dec 15, 2016
    aw poor think! I hope she adapts to the one legged life!
  9. GardenWren

    GardenWren Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2015
    Manchester, TN
    Poor baby! She's a little cutie! We had a little Duckling a while back who had neurological issues. (his motor skills and overall carriage reminded me of an old friend of mine from my younger years who had cerebral palsy) I couldn't bring myself to cull him, so he ended up living in my brooder room in the house and we fashioned him a Ducky diaper for his play time in the living room. As he got older, he slowly adapted to his disabilities and actually began to thrive (with much help and support from us.) Even though he was never "normal" and couldn't quite keep up with the others, he eventually did end up being successfully integrated into the flock aND did well with them. If you don't mind the extra care she'll require, I'd definitely give her a chance. Animals have the amazing ability and drive to overcome, especially with loving assistance. You never know, she may just surprise you. Either way, I commend you for the care and compassion you've shown in seeking advise for the little one. Good luck with her!
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
  10. LadyVictorian

    LadyVictorian Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2016
    Back when we had our Bantam mutts we had a chicken who lost his leg when he was very young. He learned to hop around on one leg and when running used his wing to speed himself up. We named him Dread Lord Pirate Peg Leg Penny. YES, that was his whole name. Of course we raised them all for meat so we lived until the end of the year when we processed the all. He got along just fine and was even breeding hens. I imagine though if we kept him around for more than one year he would have been easy for predators to pick up. That would really be the only concern. I think having it be a therapy animal would be amazing though. A chick who can make disabled children feel like they are not alone. My aunt had a therapy dog with three legs and the kids loved him. He made them feel like they could overcome what life had given them because he had overcome being hit by a car, left or dead, and losing his leg. Chickens, particularly hens can make great therapy animals as well so long as you handle them young.

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