Chick that can't open wings/falls over and has trouble getting up again


Oct 8, 2021
Newfoundland, Canada
1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.)

9 week old chick lavender orpingtong. Purchased at 2 weeks old with 5 other chicks (2 other orpingtons). He has not grown or feathered out as the other 2 and appears to be physically lagging behind the others.

2) What is the behavior, exactly.
This chick would always be eating. The other would be exploring and pecking at the food but this particular chick would constantly be eating if he wasn't sleeping or drinking. He would scratch and circle the feeder between pecks at the food. It appeared that he had to spend more time to get a mouthful of food compared to the other chicks. Approximately 3 weeks ago, he was found laying on his side, very cold and listless. He was brought inside, placed in a box with a heat lamp and had a few days that were touch and go. He eventually began eating and drinking but still continues to spend a considerable amount of time at the food dish. Since being inside he has fallen and has great difficulty getting back up. He kicks his legs but because he is on his side, they only graze the ground. He was in a box only a foot high and while he could poke his head over the top, it was 2 weeks before he tried to jump out. When jumping I noticed that his wings flutter but do not open. I have gently tried to open his wings but there is resistance, not from the chick resisting but it feels as though the muscles will not stretch very far. When he stretches his leg back, he doesn't stretch his wing like the other do. He appears to walk fine in between his bouts of falling to his side and struggling to get up.

3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
Increased appetite - since arrival at 2 weeks
Delayed growth - noticeable at 4 weeks
Found on side in brooder - 5.5 weeks

He has been inside for 3 weeks (first in a box and now in a dog kennel (3x4 feet). He has not tried to fly out of the box and can't walk out of the inch lip of the dog kennel without falling over.

4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?


5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.

No signs of trauma.

6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.

Chick was purchased from a backyard breeder and was likely unvaccinated.

7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.

Starter and water.

8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.

Poop appears normal.

9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?

He is inside the house. Heat lamp was applied for 1 week but has since been at room temp (21c).

10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?

I have offered what assistance I can to my chick. There has been no improvement since the initial few days of being in the house. He has been separated from his "siblings" for a considerable time and now appears to be several weeks younger (but is from the same hatching). I am looking for any information as to the cause of his illness. His eventual fate is likely to be culled but I would like to know what is wrong and to make him comfortable. He eats, drinks and appears at first glance to be healthy but upon observation or comparison you can see the differences. He has a warm place in the house for as long as he needs or until his rooster antics begin lol.

11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.

No wound or trauma

12) Describe the housing/bedding in use

He was in a 4x4 brooder with 5 other chicks for 3 weeks and inside approximately another 3 in a dog kennel. Pine shavings are used for substrate
Can you please post some photos?
A video of him moving and you showing us the wings may be helpful. Upload the video to youtube and provide a link.

Eating all the time, does the chick have a cross or scissor beak? Do you feel like he can see well?
Hard to know, but if he's seemed to struggle since you got him, all of his issues may be some type of genetic/developmental disorder.

You can try increasing protein. I don't know what % your chick starter is, but giving him egg, fish or meat may give him a boost. I would also get a poultry vitamin started as well. I'm assuming you are not in the US? Check with your pet shop to see what vitamins they have for poultry or birds.

His beak is not crossed. Even after eating, I can't feel his crop. My other birds, especially the younger ones sometimes even have their crops visibly full. One of the videos is him trying to jump out of the box he was in.... his wings never open.

I live in a fairly remote area in eastern Canada... I will check for poultry vitamins but should be able to secure some pedialyte
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Well isn't he just cute! I can't help but be a little tickled over his attempts at jumping - adorable little thing.

I honestly don't know what else you can do besides focus on nutrition and see how he does. If you are keeping him for a while, you may want to weigh him now and get a baseline, then weigh 1-2 times a week so you can track if there's any change.

I would suspect some type of genetic issue, so of course, it's a given that he should not be used for breeding. Some might keep a bird like this as a pet, others would cull - it all depends on the keepers goals.

I'll tag in @Eggcessive and @coach723 to see if they have any other ideas.
I would agree that the chick may have some genetic problem or problem absorbing and utilizing nutrients. You have really given him a good chance of gaining weight and protecting him. It is sad that she cannot safely be with the others now, but he might enjoy being inside a covered wire dog crate with food and water for periods to hang out with his flock.
I agree with what others have already said, sometimes it's very difficult to know why one chick doesn't thrive while others do. Sometimes things just don't go exactly right during incubation and development. You can use a human B complex tablet or capsule if you can't find any chicken specific vitamins. The B's are pretty safe to give and are common ones to be deficient in. Whether to keep as a pet, and maybe a special needs one, or whether to cull is an entirely personal choice.
Thanks everyone. I will try giving him B complex, upping his protein and will attempt to weigh him.

For the time being he has a warm place in the house. He seems to enjoy the company of my dogs. I joke and say my shepherd mix found a bf because she will sit there with him for hours.
Does his poop look "normal"?
I notice he does what looks like a crop adjustment when he gets up. Could be a normal reaction for him, but I would watch to see if he does that a lot after eating.

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