Curled/bent/distorted toe on 3 year old emu

Ebarnes-21

Songster
Oct 20, 2015
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151
New Zealand
One of my 3 year old Emu has developed a bent outer toe. It is curling right under his central toe and he steps on it, giving him trouble walking.

It looks odd, the toenail is sideways, the tip of the toe is fat (a bit inflammed), and even the scales over the nail bed look a little wry.

I hope it is not a growth abnormality from an old injury higher up the leg as a chick. (Surely it would have shown earlier as he grew, not in early adulthood?)

I saw the toenail alone growing curled sideways not long ago ... it didn't worry me then as I've seen that in older chickens as mostly cosmetic.

But now it's including the toe itself, he is limping a little, and often sitting to graze.
I intend to trim the toenail, in the hope it is just an overgrown nail causing a distortion of the toe. But it looks wrong.

The leg in question was injured much higher up above the hock as a 1 month old chick when he got it tangled by sticking it through 1.5" mesh and wrapping it up in long grass fibers too.

The blood flow to the leg was nearly cut off due to the complete bracelet of bruising and crushed tissue. The foot swelled. However with treatment he rapidly improved.
The strip of skin around the leg died, separated (like a rawhide wedding ring) and started to constrict his leg again a few days later as he outgrew it. We clipped it off and although he has a bald ring without feathers, he has had no problem all these years.
 

Ebarnes-21

Songster
Oct 20, 2015
164
130
151
New Zealand
Do you think he might’ve broken the toe on something?
It doesn't appear like a break (or an old one) ... it seems soft and flexible.

Sometimes he steps on it, sometimes it goes down OK. It does not appear painful, just awkward.

We have now trimmed the long curled claw.

I became convinced watching him walk that the length of the claw was at least not helping ... it may be the only reason for the toe going under the foot.

It is more normal after trimming.We were only able to take about half of the excess length though because we met a small red dot showing a live quick soon.

I'm wondering (having taken photos before and after and looking closely) if he has actually torn off the scale above the nail, even damaged the quick on one side.

Could cause the nail to curl sideways towards the damaged side?
This nail would not wear down, slowly causing further turning of the toe?
20201129_155057.jpg
20201129_155011.jpg
CLAW.jpg
 

Ebarnes-21

Songster
Oct 20, 2015
164
130
151
New Zealand
Please keep us updated
About a week after a first trimming he's walking I think totally normally now.

The toe is still weird as pictured ... and the claw still has curl, particularly at the end.

But it's sprung right back down to sit more like a normal claw, and is no longer twisting the toe, which is straightening out in his pace as it should, and he is not stepping on his toe.

I think we will need to trim it again and regularly too, I think he has torn the quick growing the toenail, so it grows lumpy and crooked one side.

Possibly something that will return to normal after a healing period ... possibly also a permanent 'fault line' in the nail which we will always have to trim.

I wonder if he hurt it kicking out at another emu, or tore it on blackberry, or perhaps he got it caught between rocks or something.

They really seem to dislike our river, it is not a friendly earth-banked river, it is rocky and they cannot balance. They stumble and make a beeline for solid ground.

Although there is a place made with a earthy slope of animals, still we have had to provide a new trough in the river flats just for the Emu ... they kept coming up to the back gate by the house demanding we fill their water bucket, so we caved and did something more permanent. But we've always kept water up here for them so he did not have to go on rocks ...

We actually don't know if he's a girl or a boy yet, we have 5 emu 3 years old and they all grunt still. We think the two larger bossy ones are females, the two smaller meeker ones are males, and this one is in between sizes so we aren't sure.
 

briefvisit

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Nov 9, 2013
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' We actually don't know if he's a girl or a boy yet, we have 5 emu 3 years old and they all grunt still. We think the two larger bossy ones are females, the two smaller meeker ones are males, and this one is in between sizes so we aren't sure.'

Have a look over on the 'Toos and Vlad' thread. There's a number of posts about how to tell the males from the females.
 

Ebarnes-21

Songster
Oct 20, 2015
164
130
151
New Zealand
Thanks so much for that! There is so little info on the net about sexing Emu.

What month/ish of the year do they start courting their prospective pairs? When we bought our eggs, the first was laid on the 11/06/2017, and I remember the owner being puzzled they were late to start laying that year, so the pairing must start not long after new years?

I haven't heard anyone Boom yet, I'll feel for a vocal sac starting when they puff up all aggressive like.
How big is it? Having not seen it I'm having some trouble finding much out about it ...

We'll also download a good bassy track of female Emu booming and play it out the kitchen window to see who acts up along the fence. I've tried making the booming noise myself and thought Lady looked alert, but who knows what that means, I think the quality of her response reflects that of my imitation.

I'm glad to read about the varying ages they might choose to mate etc ... hearing 2-3 years originally, we were worried by now, at 3.5 years old, last breeding season they appeared to hang out in pairs (not always the same ones), but they all grunt like males still even today, never a single Boom (I'll go bananas when someone finally does!!)

Perhaps they physically mature faster in farmed situations, due to the intensive grain feeding? Ours mostly graze and are clearly following the 'wild' pattern.

Lady and Danny are the biggest, and most territorial. They regularly puff up, prance, hiss, and crack their beaks loudly at other emu.
Leg sometimes acts like this too, but mostly towards Cats, Geese and Chickens .... or anything else small that runs away!
Rhagar is meek and unprepossessing, just wants to stay out of trouble. You almost never get to interact with him closely.
Egg is the runt of the litter, who is also very quiet (must be it's hard to say how he behaves overall other than a fetish for pecking feet) ... but I have seen 'him?' puff up and chase other emu on his own recently so maybe He is just a small She.

We did vent sex them as chicks, with inexpert eyes guided by blurry youtube videos of kicking emu chicks!
We considered then that Lady and Daenerys were girls, and Rhagar and Egg were boys, Leg we couldn't decide.

Funnily enough that has continued to be the case 'behavior wise', but the pairings are all over the place (our longest lasting 'pair' last 'not-breeding-after-all' season would be two females, and conversely the boys appear to want to set each other's eggs!)
The one thing we (us and the Emu) can all agree on is, no-one knows about Leg.

Our original 'pair' was Lady/Rhagar, but it shifted, Lady mostly now hangs out with Danny ... and Rhagar still moons around missing Lady, but usually hangs out with Egg.
Leg is the single Emu, but being a hatch mate of Danny, Danny hangs around, and really kept him close company while he was limping on that toe.

The hatching order matters, socially: we had eggs successively added to an incubator, so Lady and Rhagar were hatched together first, then Danny and Leg 2 weeks later, and then Egg last 3 weeks later. That muddies the waters for pairing behavior while still this young, I think.


Funny thing I've noticed, I wonder if it is common to female Emu?? ... Lady has a natural sheep dog talent.

When she was 1 year old I noticed her cornering Egg against a straight fence, and it struck me how sensitive she was to the 'balance' of herding ... you know that sixth sense that townies helping you move stock somehow lack???

She now likes to bunch the geese all into a knot and then chase them around, or tromp through them. (serious consternation from big daddy ganders who just want to protect their kids, who are shaped like natural skittles to the delight of both Emu and my pet sheep's daughter)

She also 'helps' bring the sheep all together into a flock when we start to move them, but unfortunately for her the fun ends when they leave the paddock so at the gate she tries to split them and send them back in all directions!!

I can't help but think, if a cattle dog trainer saw this behavior in a raw untrained puppy, he'd be pretty excited about that puppy ...
 

briefvisit

Songster
Nov 9, 2013
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Thanks so much for that! There is so little info on the net about sexing Emu.

What month/ish of the year do they start courting their prospective pairs? When we bought our eggs, the first was laid on the 11/06/2017, and I remember the owner being puzzled they were late to start laying that year, so the pairing must start not long after new years?

I haven't heard anyone Boom yet, I'll feel for a vocal sac starting when they puff up all aggressive like.
How big is it? Having not seen it I'm having some trouble finding much out about it ...

We'll also download a good bassy track of female Emu booming and play it out the kitchen window to see who acts up along the fence. I've tried making the booming noise myself and thought Lady looked alert, but who knows what that means, I think the quality of her response reflects that of my imitation.

I'm glad to read about the varying ages they might choose to mate etc ... hearing 2-3 years originally, we were worried by now, at 3.5 years old, last breeding season they appeared to hang out in pairs (not always the same ones), but they all grunt like males still even today, never a single Boom (I'll go bananas when someone finally does!!)

Perhaps they physically mature faster in farmed situations, due to the intensive grain feeding? Ours mostly graze and are clearly following the 'wild' pattern.

Lady and Danny are the biggest, and most territorial. They regularly puff up, prance, hiss, and crack their beaks loudly at other emu.
Leg sometimes acts like this too, but mostly towards Cats, Geese and Chickens .... or anything else small that runs away!
Rhagar is meek and unprepossessing, just wants to stay out of trouble. You almost never get to interact with him closely.
Egg is the runt of the litter, who is also very quiet (must be it's hard to say how he behaves overall other than a fetish for pecking feet) ... but I have seen 'him?' puff up and chase other emu on his own recently so maybe He is just a small She.

We did vent sex them as chicks, with inexpert eyes guided by blurry youtube videos of kicking emu chicks!
We considered then that Lady and Daenerys were girls, and Rhagar and Egg were boys, Leg we couldn't decide.

Funnily enough that has continued to be the case 'behavior wise', but the pairings are all over the place (our longest lasting 'pair' last 'not-breeding-after-all' season would be two females, and conversely the boys appear to want to set each other's eggs!)
The one thing we (us and the Emu) can all agree on is, no-one knows about Leg.

Our original 'pair' was Lady/Rhagar, but it shifted, Lady mostly now hangs out with Danny ... and Rhagar still moons around missing Lady, but usually hangs out with Egg.
Leg is the single Emu, but being a hatch mate of Danny, Danny hangs around, and really kept him close company while he was limping on that toe.

The hatching order matters, socially: we had eggs successively added to an incubator, so Lady and Rhagar were hatched together first, then Danny and Leg 2 weeks later, and then Egg last 3 weeks later. That muddies the waters for pairing behavior while still this young, I think.


Funny thing I've noticed, I wonder if it is common to female Emu?? ... Lady has a natural sheep dog talent.

When she was 1 year old I noticed her cornering Egg against a straight fence, and it struck me how sensitive she was to the 'balance' of herding ... you know that sixth sense that townies helping you move stock somehow lack???

She now likes to bunch the geese all into a knot and then chase them around, or tromp through them. (serious consternation from big daddy ganders who just want to protect their kids, who are shaped like natural skittles to the delight of both Emu and my pet sheep's daughter)

She also 'helps' bring the sheep all together into a flock when we start to move them, but unfortunately for her the fun ends when they leave the paddock so at the gate she tries to split them and send them back in all directions!!

I can't help but think, if a cattle dog trainer saw this behavior in a raw untrained puppy, he'd be pretty excited about that puppy ...
This is a wonderful post. I shall nibble away at it in coming days
 

briefvisit

Songster
Nov 9, 2013
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' What month/ish of the year do they start courting their prospective pairs?'

Generally, last summer. The new pair then goes walkabout -- lots to learn here. Then begins the early-autumn business of securing territory. (Again, lots of detail here -- they have these gorgeous little trysts in the gums, and scratch at the ground where they are thinking of having a nest.)
Having secured territory, just short of mid-winter, they begin mating and laying. The mid-day of winter is a good day to expect the male to disappear*, which means their little scratch of a nest is full of eggs, and the male has begun incubating. (Ask: we have a full observation of this process, posted in 2013)


*Tooshtoosh, here this morning with this clutch, did just that: disappeared on mid-winter's day; was assumed to be incubating nearby; was not seen until mid-spring; turned up here with his chicks.
 

briefvisit

Songster
Nov 9, 2013
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'I haven't heard anyone Boom yet, I'll feel for a vocal sac starting when they puff up all aggressive like.
How big is it?'
Well, it's big -- but it's also surrounded by the puff of feathers. I'll see if I can clarify:

 

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