Is there a way to splint this baby chick's crocked leg? *see pic

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by landonjacob, Sep 3, 2014.

  1. landonjacob

    landonjacob Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello my chicken friends! Need your help again. I just hatched 5 blue ameraucanas and the last one to hatch seems to have some sort of crooked leg. I've seen people splint splayed legs and crooked toes, but not something like this. Any help is greatly appreciated!

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  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Hard to say, but that seems like a broken or dislocated knee or hip to me, are you absolutely sure it hatched that way? If it did, there's a chance it's a serious deformity, it's certainly not spraddling caused by genetics, deficiency or injury either.

    However it holds its leg up and in the correct position in the second pic, without support --- that's very hopeful.

    Looks like a little cockerel, too, but of course very early to be guessing.

    In the last pic that's a physically impossible position it's got its leg in, for a normal chook, but I'd guess you know that!

    I would put him/her in a little separate area with feed and water, but within plain sight and hearing of the others, and try to restrict its movement for a little while, so it can build strength. Splinting may be useless in this case, very difficult for sure to splint above the knee.

    Is it able to stand at all? Can you describe what happens when it tries to move?

    Best wishes.
     
  3. landonjacob

    landonjacob Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the advice!
    Yes, it was definitely born that way. I noticed it couldn't stand up in the incubator and that the leg was "stuck" behind her (if it's a pullet).
    She can't stand, but she can waddle around where she needs to. Yesterday I kept picking her up and putting her leg underneath her, if it was behind her that is. Seems like she doesn't keep her leg behind her at all today. When her leg is underneath her her right foot crossed over her left slightly, which I think she trips over when she tries to step.
    Thanks again!
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Well, that's more hopeful than not being able to move at all.

    The waddling around on the hocks needs to be minimized or it'll cause overcompensation damage to the good leg; the good thing is that this ability to hobble around means the upper leg issue is not a completely crippling one for the whole leg. Babies are very 'plastic' in every way and able to overcome injuries etc adults are far more likely to die from, and overcome them to live long and capable lives as well, as though there had never been an issue at all, in many cases.

    He/she needs to be restrained to a small area where it can more or less practice standing and moving slightly for a few days at least, an enclosure that keeps its leg under its body in the correct position, before it tries to cover distances.

    The longer it spends doing incorrect movements, the less likely it is that the chick will ever be able to function normally. They can and do learn to move wrongly if left in that state. Their bodies become completely destabilized, muscles and tendons pulling the skeleton out of shape due to unnatural movement patterns and stresses, if they're left to struggle to get around for too long in such a crippled way.

    The chick may be able to be rehabilitated, but it will take some time and TLC, and if you're not up to it then killing it is kinder than letting it try to survive without help as it almost certainly won't make it without the right sort of help though it can and likely would struggle on valiantly but vainly for months, even a year, with no hope of ever living a normal life, before succumbing to the progressive damage to health that being so crippled causes.

    If you do decide to cull it, it's worth remembering that in future you may end up with a prize breeder or pet chook or other bird with the same type of disability and you won't know how to deal with it, having passed by the chance to learn. It's up to you, whatever your choice is, hope it works out for the best.

    There are some good little home made sling or walker blueprints you could rustle up if you look for 'handicapped pet' or similar image search titles on the internet. Giving the chick time to strengthen its ability to stand may help but if you leave it waddling around it's almost certain you'll end up having to put it out of its misery, once the damage is allowed to progress like that it can destroy much more than the one good leg. Time is of the essence with these cases. Poultry Podiatry is another term to search for helpful info.

    Best method of killing a chick is ...Possibly distressing to some people so if you don't want to do so, maybe skip this paragraph... Anyway the best method is to rip the head off; unlike almost all other methods it's a simple and instantaneous death, and 100% effective, it's not hard at all to remove a baby chicks' head. Sounds gory but compared to putting them in the freezer, or putting them in a box under tissue and spraying the tissue with toxic aerosols, it's kindest. As long as you're quick about it. Takes very little strength, mainly just some speed. Don't extend the neck to its furthest point before tugging, and don't pull so to speak, just yank really hard and far and fast, holding its body securely in one hand and the head in the other. The head will come off, there will be very little or no blood and no suffering.

    Best wishes to you and the little one.
     
  5. landonjacob

    landonjacob Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks again! Your advice is very helpful.
    I'm fine with taking a good amount of time to see if we can give this little guy a full and healthy life. We (my wife and I) nursed a chicken back to health from a nasty dog attack, so we're up for the challenge.

    I put the chick in a bandaid sling/split earlier today, and the chick was able to stand after a few hours! But the right leg was still turned inward, and she would trip over it when she tried to walk. I'm trying to figure out a harness that will rotate her foot outward. The closest this I came up with was a pipe cleaner apparatus, but she couldn't walk at all. I switch to a brace made from a dense sponge material. We'll see how that works.

    I've had to remove bird heads while pigeon hunting, so I'm familiar with the technique. Hopefully it won't come to that, but I agree, that's probably the least painful.

    Thanks again!
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Good to hear you'll give it a go. :)

    I think this chook will require spending most of its time in a sling for at least a week. Perhaps with a splint on as well. It's going to take a fair bit of strengthening it before a splint will be anything more than an encumbrance which can cause further damage if the chook is left out of the sling with a splint on.

    The sling will be the main thing to help it in all likelihood, and may well be all that is required to rotate the leg outwards, as the muscles strengthen the chook will develop muscle memory concerning balance, leg position etc and will compensate safely over time.

    Sounds very promising though, what a rapid reaction. Might be a 'goer'. :)

    I had a rooster once who introduced genetic spraddling, back when I was new to chooks and didn't know the warning signs (misaligned leg scales, very hard to find info on that, even now when I draw people diagrams they're usually like 'what?' and don't get it)... Well, inevitably chicks began hatching with outwards or inwards leg spraddling in both legs usually, sometimes just one, as dictated by the scale patterning. Some took a few days longer to learn to compensate, others over a week, some cried out so often while struggling to compensate that it was obvious that they suffered. Culled that trait out really quickly. Point being though, even with significantly destabilized/misaligned bodies from hatching onwards, deformities as it were, they could and did learn to walk and after that bad start you'd never pick them from normal chooks.

    Best wishes.
     
  7. landonjacob

    landonjacob Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks so much! Could you possibly find a pick of a splint that would help rotate the leg? I can't think of a design that would help.
     
  8. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    I don't yet have any concrete idea of what's wrong, where, and how badly, with the chick and my stance on splints is 'only if absolutely necessary' --- quite often they're more risky than just letting the chook heal in a restricted place.

    If a splint goes wrong, it goes very wrong. Irrevocably wrong, in many cases, i.e. might as well cull the animal kind of wrong.

    Without a very clear idea of what's wrong I can't suggest anything much. I would give it more time in the sling, for about a week, or two, and then you'll see probably much more clearly where a splint needs to go, and what sort, if a splint is still needed. I think perhaps a corrective foot brace may be needed in a week or so, but again I really can't suggest anything without a better idea of what's wrong. If you can get photos of it in its sling, this would help.

    I've never seen an injury or deformity just like the one this chick has, so if it stood up for a bit after some time in the sling, whereas pre-sling it was unable to stand at all, I expect enough time spent in the sling will do the job. It will correct the rotation over time as its muscles strengthen, in all likelihood.

    Best wishes.
     
  9. landonjacob

    landonjacob Out Of The Brooder

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    ::UPDATE::
    Thanks CHOOKS4LIFE for all your help and support. The chick DID make a recovery, much to my surprise. [​IMG] It's not a full recovery (see lower pic, leg still sits behind sometimes), be he can walk around, fly, eat, drink, and play with the other chicks like there's no issue! Pretty sure he's a cockerel. Seems to be on the top of the pecking order even though he's had that minor deformity.

    Another oddity I've noticed is that a few feathers on the wings lay very out of place (see first pic). Could this somehow be related to the previous injury?

    Thanks again!

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    Below an older picture of the "split" we used to fixed the leg. We are thinking it must have been dislocated or something similar. Not your regular crooked leg scenario (as can be seen in the original post).

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    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  10. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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