Fixing chick ankle problems?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by CheerfulChirp, Jun 30, 2016.

  1. CheerfulChirp

    CheerfulChirp Just Hatched

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    Hi everyone!

    I'm new to keeping quail and I've just incubated my first batch of eggs[​IMG]. I had a decent hatch rate from posted eggs (67%), but all hatched with various foot, toe and leg problems. Thanks to reading this forum, following the links to the Poultry Podiatry website, and watching some demonstrations on YouTube, I was able to look up what to do and how to fix most problems. I'm at the start of day three now, and all chicks except one have made complete recoveries. I feel like a good mom [​IMG]

    The remaining chick had had multiple problems with its feet, but thanks to vitamins, cardboard shoes and physiotherapy most problems have cleared up now. In one foot, however, there were ankle problems that I couldn't immediately fix. The ankle was contorted at a strange angle, was swollen and wouldn't move freely. There wasn't any sign of infection (no discoloration, no sores or broken skin).

    Now, the swelling on the ankle has all but disappeared, but it's still twisted so that the foot is folded inwards towards the body at 90 degrees. I can now freely rotate the ankle to make the foot *almost* straight, so the chick could probably start to learn to walk on it normally today... if only I knew how to hold it in that position. I've checked everywhere, but I can't find any advice about what to do to correct ankle position. Are there any techniques anyone has used in the past to hold an ankle straight, or does anyone have any ideas about what I can do?

    The chick itself is quite strong, it seems upbeat and has a real thirst for life. It has grown well, eats and drinks with enthusiasm, is curious and sociable, and can walk, climb, run, and jump despite its problems. I'm just worried that if I don't fix the ankle now, it will become very painful as it grows larger.

    Please help!
     
  2. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Only thing I can think of is taping both feet to the same piece of cardboard to keep the foot in the right position. It would completely immobilize the chick and I have no clue whether it would work.
     
  3. CheerfulChirp

    CheerfulChirp Just Hatched

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    Thanks for the suggestion! I tried it out, with a towel doughnut for support (feeling a bit guilty, mind) and it did kind of work. Whenever I tried to let go, the chick would immediately start straining to get out too forcefully, and looked like it was capable of hurting itself, so I had to hold it gently to prevent it from pulling upwards too hard.

    I tried this for two ten-minute sessions, because it made it easier for me to gently loosen up the ankle, straighten it fully and move it into various natural positions such as standing and sitting etc. It made a noticeable difference, and removed all the remaining stiffness from the joint, but the chick still wouldn't stand on it. So I made a modified cardboard shoe by taping two broken pieces of matchstick in an L-shape behind the ankle and on the side that wanted to twist, to keep the foot straight and the leg in an upright position. I left the pieces a bit longer than they needed to be, so it would be extremely difficult to avoid using the foot properly.

    Fast-forward half an hour and now s/he's unstoppable [​IMG], still eating, drinking and exploring everything. I'm thinking of leaving the shoe on for a couple of days, but I'll have to keep an eye on the foot to check the wood isn't irritating the skin. I'll let you know how s/he gets on...
     
  4. DK newbie

    DK newbie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Any pictures of that 'modified cardboard shoe'? I'm having trouble imagining it..
     
  5. CheerfulChirp

    CheerfulChirp Just Hatched

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    I tried to post a photo at the time, but didn't seem to be able to, sorry. I'll try posting a photo or diagram of the shoe after I've made a few more messages, because my posts still have to go through 'review' before they appear on the site. Maybe that's the problem.
     
  6. CheerfulChirp

    CheerfulChirp Just Hatched

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    Meanwhile, here's an update of how things worked out:

    I only had to leave the modified shoe on for three or four hours, because the chick (now a confident, gregarious, irrepressible hen called 'Fluff') was so active and determined to exercise her leg despite the ankle problems that she rapidly learned to walk on it correctly once the ankle was held in place. She has now made a full recovery, and in fact the day after I removed the shoe she usurped the alpha chick and hasn't looked back. This is much better than I hoped for [​IMG]
    So, if you hatch a chick with a twisted ankle joint and you have a little time to spare, you can fix it within a few days of hatching just like you can with bent feet and toes [​IMG]
     
  7. CheerfulChirp

    CheerfulChirp Just Hatched

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    If anyone else wants to try straightening a malformed ankle, then here's what I learned:

    I'd recommend using a bit of tissue paper or foam padding between the match stick and the skin, or maybe even a pipe-cleaner instead, to prevent chaffing. The swelling went down after a couple of days, and initially left an enlarged lumpy joint and a patch of slightly baggy skin on the foot, which the chick grew into over the next fortnight. Now both legs and ankle joints are the same size, with nothing to indicate she was born with a twisted joint. Now my chick Fluff is all grown up, but still jumps and 'popcorns' with excitement pretty much every day when the treats come out, plus she can kick like an ostrich whenever she doesn't want to be picked up!

    Bear in mind that treating the ankle will take up a chunk of time over a 1 or 2 day period, because you have to make sure that the twisted joint, the foot and all the toes are fully loosened and able to stretch into the normal standing position before you try to put the shoe on - if there's any tension in the leg when you put the shoe on, the chick could hurt itself when it tries to stand on the leg. Don't rush this part hoping to straighten everything in fewer 'physiotherapy' sessions, because you don't want to break the leg or ankle, or tear any of the tendons. The sessions shouldn't seem very painful for your chick. If it does, then stop and try again an hour or two later. It took me around ten eight-minute sessions to gradually persuade the joint and foot into position; then all the shoe does is hold things in place so that it sets that way and the chick can learn to walk properly. I think you have to get to this stage within four or five days, whilst the chick is still able to learn.

    Another thing to think about is that because the shoe holds the ankle joint stiffly, the foot doesn't bend to enable the chick to sit down and rest naturally. I put raised obstacles in the brooder box that were the right height for leaning on, because my chick refused to remain resting in a towel ring or glass. I put one under the heat lamp, and another one further away where it was cooler. She quickly learned to sit down with her legs stretched out behind her too. She was able to eat and drink by herself, and didn't need separating from the others.

    Although the shoe was only on for a few hours, it did look quite painful for her at the time and she called for me to take it off after the first hour. It would be a good idea to try giving suitable painkillers to your quail before fitting the shoe, but if you can't get hold of any within a few days you will need to bear in mind that if you wait around too long, your chick may become too old to ever learn how to walk normally.

    If anyone else tries this, feel free to ask me any questions, and let me know whether thing work out!
     
  8. Afterfeather

    Afterfeather Out Of The Brooder

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    I had a similar problem not so long ago with a chick that had it's foot bent back and was walking on its ankle. I used a paperclip cut to size wrapped in 3mm transpore tape as a splint and it seemed to sort it out in just a day. I'd previously tried a pipe cleaner but that ended up being too heavy for it to move about.
     

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