curled toes in 'adult' bird


Aug 10, 2015
Hello - I work at a wildlife clinic and we have chickens around, just because chickens are nice. We don't really accept chickens as patients - our patients are wildlife. However, Last night, the animal warden organization dropped off a chicken, with no information. It appears to be an adult hen, maybe a 'bantam' (?) because it's so small. This poor creature's nails were so overgrown and curling under. I took off about a 1/4 inch and didn't hit the quick. The chicken was found somewhere in the inner city.

However - she is walking with her toes curled under. I've seen how 'shoes' can be used to correct this in young birds but what about adult birds? We have hospital facilities here for her to be indoors for a while. It appears she was kept in a very small, innaproproiate environment. I really want to help her - I don't care what she looks like, just so she can walk without pain. I especially want to help her because it seems humans did this to her.

Is there ANY chance of using these corrective shoes/sandals on a full grown bird? What about very gradually (ie starting with a 'ball wrap' (a ball of bandage inside her foot) gradually graduating to a flat shoe?) Or do I have to euthanize her?
Thank you!


Team Spina Bifida
6 Years
Feb 25, 2014
Northwestern Wyoming
My Coop
My Coop
I can't help you with answers to your specific questions, but we had a young chick who got his feet wet at the waterer and they froze. Nothing I or his broody hen mama could have prevented - our temps had been in the 60s then plummeted to -17 in 26 hours. So I brought him in and treated his frozen feet the best I could. But in a couple of weeks they curled, and they curled very badly. I tried the bandage/splint thing on him but even as young as he was it had no effect.

He grew up to be a beautiful rooster, and he was a good rooster as well. His feet didn't stop him - he just learned different ways to do all the things the other chickens did. He could fly up onto the roosts and back down again. He could scratch. He could even mount the girls. And brother, could he run!

I guess I'm saying that imperfect doesn't mean unloveable. I hope you give your little gal a chance. If you know she's in obvious pain, then yes, euthanasia would be the kind thing to do. But I'm so glad we didn't cull Scout when we thought about it - I would have missed so much not watching him grow, and he added so much to the story of our flock and our place. He wasn't in any pain, though. He just had no feeling in his feet at all. I have a 4 year old granddaughter born with Spina Bifida. Kendra also has deformed feet and no feeling in hers. I can't imagine our lives without her! Imperfect doesn't mean worthless, either. Is your facility set up to maybe bring her back to good health, observe how she does things, and then maybe give her a special place as a mascot? I dunno, grasping at straws here, but Scout opened my eyes to so much.


BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Mar 21, 2011
New Mexico, USA
My Coop
My Coop
Curled toes can be caused from genetics, vitamin deficiencies or being kept on improper flooring. And long toe nails don't help the situation. Good that you were able to trim the claws! Many times birds kept in small inclosures on wire floors can develop curled toes and long claws. All of these conditions can cause weakness and painful walking.

You might start with getting more riboflavin in the bird. A riboflavin deficiency will cause curled toes. So some extra scrambled or hard boiled eggs and or even cooked meats like ground turkey are a good source. Not too much, but as a treat each day for several weeks.

You can also use boots on the feet. Not all adult birds can readjust their stance, but it is worth a try. The bumblefoot boots work really well for these types of cases. Hen Saver makes some nice boots....

Keep her claws trimmed and keep her on soft bedding so walking is not painful.

You might also use probiotics and in the water. If the bird digests it's food better, it gets more nutrients. 70% of the immune system lies in the gut as well. Good bacteria keep the bad pathogens from taking hold, which the gut is where many of them start up.

Vitamins in the water as well can't hurt. She may be lacking in all kinds of vitamins, especially if this is genetic.

Good luck with her and keep us posted!! I hope you can get her healed up soon! :)

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