Deformed claw - unable to fix. Now what?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Fridasmum, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. Fridasmum

    Fridasmum New Egg

    Jan 19, 2012
    Simi Valley
    Hello. We received our first batch (4) of chicks in the mail three weeks ago. One of the chicks had two deformed claws and was having a very difficult time standing and walking. I had read about this deformity before the arrival of the chicks and was prepared to take corrective action.

    Soon after the chick's arrival I immidiatlly taped up the chick's claws as I had read - replacing the tape a few times to keep her special shoes clean. Thankfully 'Forest Gump's (we named her after the movie character) left claw straightened out nicely, but the right claw is slightly deformed. I placed a pic. Of Forest in my BYC album. Forest is able to run and stand okay. However, I am afraid her right claw will continue to curl as she grows.
    I have tried to tape, use craft pipe cleaners, coffee stirrers, and Popsicle sticks and they have not worked out very well.

    Has anyone had/has a chick with such a crooked claw and did s/he function normally as an adult? Any other recommendations on what else I can do to correct Forest's jacked up foot?
  2. nurse_turtle

    nurse_turtle Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2011
    Foothills of NC
    I would cut a rounded triangle of light weight but fairly stiff paper/board, etc, like the cover of a notebook. Apply a piece of tape over the straightened toes and wrap around to the underside of the rounded triangle. It shouldn't need changing until it falls off.
  3. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 25, 2008
    A "chick shoe" like nurseturtle described is what I would recommend, too. It is an ideal treatment for a young chick. The only details that I'd add would be to be sure that the toes were spaced the correct (natural) amount apart on the cardboard & to stick the tape pretty tightly to the cardboard between each toe so it keeps each toe securely where it belongs. I'm guessing you (nurseturtle) meant all that as part of the design, anyway. [​IMG]

    Forest is old enough that you will need to modify the design to make it stronger.

    I would use white cloth-type sports tape for your splint/shoe. The stickiness of other kinds of tape would probably be too weak or too strong.

    Before attaching the "shoe", wrap each toe individually to create a fairly stiff, straight cast. (You probably would want to also tape the normal toe to help keep it balanced with the two taped crooked toes, but you could experiment leaving it off & see if it starts to get twisted.) You might need to wrap 2 or 3 layers around to get enough strength. I would not wrap TOO tight, as that could cause a circulation problem or other trouble. Cut little V-shaped slits near the top end of each cast, to create notches the webbing between the toes can fit in, so the webbing isn't getting rubbed by the tape.

    *Note: Tape is shown in yellow, but would actually be white.

    For the shoe's "sole," you may need to use stiff plastic (like from the lid of a cottage cheese container) or a double layer of the thin cereal-box cardboard to keep Forest from being able to bend the shoe's "sole".

    Because Forest's feet are pretty strong by now, I'd modify the shape of the sole. Rather than a triangle, I would cut the shape to be a little bigger than the outline of how Forest's footprint should be. As in—3 toes connected by a footpad.

    Make the length of each toe outline on the sole a tiny bit shorter than the end of the toenail, so the tip of the chick's toenail can curl naturally over the end of the shoe edge a little. (But if it doesn't end up exactly that length, don't sweat it too much.)

    Then position Forest's foot on the sole & tape each actual toe to each cardboard toe shape by wrapping a complete wrap or 2 of sports tape around both of them to hold them together.
    You might also wrap some tape from the center of her foot over her sole if you think it's needed to keep it attached more securely.

    *Note: Though in illustration I showed just one toe wrapped, the other toes should also have casts & be wrapped.

    If it is very hard to stretch out her toes straight, don't force them too much. Just pull them a little straighter every couple days until they can be straightened more easily.

    If a toe can be stretched out easily, you can fully extend it for taping, & then also rotate it a little if it would help treatment. You can tape to the cardboard such that the toe is rolled a little bit to one side or the other. Just pull the tape a little more tightly one way before pressing the tape to the cardboard. Thus you can pull a crooked toe slightly opposite of its incorrect curl direction to provide extra resistance when Forest strains to curl her toe the wrong way again.

    I would have Forest wear the shoe probably 7-14 days. Watch for any tape getting loose or toes getting moved out of place & retape problem areas. Every 3 or 4 days, you should remove some or all of the shoe & cast, and loosen and make bigger as needed for her growing size. See "Special Note on Removing Tape from Legs, Feet & Toes" on to avoid damaging her toes when doing this.

    It would likely also help to do physical therapy with her after you put on the shoe, so she practices moving her legs in a correct manner where her one leg isn't twisting to accommodate the twisted toes.

    Hopefully the toe problems can be helped by this treatment.

    But if the crookedness of the toes is partly due to problems higher up her legs, or her brain has become too accustomed to incorrect movement patterns, improvements from this treatment may not last. I've tried this exact treatment on only 1 chick & this was the case with her problems.

    However, I have had somewhat similar treatments work on other birds.

    Whatever you decide to do, please let us know how things go with her!
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012

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