Congenital leg deformities/difficulty walking in 8 week old chick


Apr 15, 2020
Hi, I have an 8 week old mottled d'uccle chick who is having difficulty walking. She is very tiny (weight about 1/2 lb). I am looking for any information from someone who may have experience in treating congenital leg/foot deformities in a chick of this age.
Long story, but to establish her history, I discovered that she had crooked toes at a few days old. Toes were not curled, but were more like flaccid and bent underneath her feet so that she walked on them. I treated one toe on each foot with bandages over a period of a couple of weeks, and thought we had resolved the problems as the toes stayed out in front, however after a week or two, one of them started turning over on its side and it gets caught underneath the toe next to it. I have continued to bandage it, just to keep it from getting irritated; I don't have any hopes that it will ever be straight because it feels flaccid.
Fast forward to last week, and I noticed Dottie having difficulty walking, as in she appears weak and loses her balance quite often. She would lie down a lot with her feet to the side, and even get tumped over onto her back by the other chicks occasionally. I fretted over her as she appeared to be getting weaker over a period of several days. Started her on vitamin supplements... gave her some PolyViSol I had on hand Saturday; went to TSC and bought Nutri Drench which I gave her Sunday; started her on Poultry Cell Monday and took her to the vet. His quick assessment was a splayed leg and did not give me any hope for improving her condition at all. I cried quite a bit, and resolved to get another opinion since I honestly did not agree with him. When she does stand, her feet are pointing forward and evenly placed.
Tuesday, I took her to an exotic animals vet who told me that she has congenital deformities of her leg and foot, possibly bilateral. The fact that her legs are so heavily feathered makes assessment of their condition difficult. She did give her B12 injection and told me to follow up with her in a few days to see if she regained any strength, mentioned possibilities of xrays or discussions of whether surgery may help her or not. I am continuing the Poultry Cell daily as directed. Her appetite is great and she is alert. She moves about the pen to stay in the vicinity of the other chicks. She can walk and run (although she waddles like a penguin), but doesn't go very far before she rests on her hocks or lies down. She is very unhappy if I try to remove her from the pen where the other chicks are, so I am just checking on her very often and assisting her in and out of the coop.
I would like input from anyone who has successfully treated or improved the quality of life in a chick with this sort of problem. Is surgery a viable option or is it selfish of me to put her through that? Is there any way I can splint/wrap or otherwise do something to make things easier for her? I am in love with this chick and I want to do everything I can to help her get better...if I can't do that I want to make life as comfortable as possible. Advice appreciated greatly!


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