Mauled Chicks, Help Me Decide What to Do


10 Years
Jul 27, 2009
Arlington, TX
I have my chicks in a large, raised coop with hardware cloth all around. They have roosts, but most of them still hang out on the bottom of the coop at night. Last night, something terrible happened. Some animal came along and nipped off most of their toes. A couple of them are ok, but there are many of my chicks who have very nearly lost a whole foot. When I discovered this, I was almost physically ill. I have cried so much today, it's really done a number of me. I can handle an animal dying, but this is somehow worse. It's just horrific.

I put some stuff in the bottom of the coop that I hope will keep it from happening again, and I put blue kote on every chick's feet - partly to be thorough, in case there were some nips I didn't see, and partly to discourage any pecking or further nipping. I know I have to put a couple of them down. I wanted to ask you all some questions. How should I determine which ones to cull and which ones to let live? Will they ever be alright with missing toes? What about missing their back toes - will they be able to roost?

Thank you so much. I really appreciate any advice.
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Honestly? I'd give them some time and see how they adjust. Someone posted a picture the other day of a one legged duck. It looked like it managed okay. Obviously, if they appear to be suffering that may be different. I had a three legged dog and it survived for years after surgery. I suppose with a chicken it might depend on how high up it lost the leg.

It's not a big deal if the chickens don't roost. They'd always need to have a clean place to rest, though. Remember, birds in commercial situations don't have roosts. While we don't want to copy their husbandry styles (or lack thereof) chickens don't have to roost to be healthy. (My old blind rooster sure never roosted. He couldn't see to fly up there.) For any that have difficulty roosting, you could provide a wide (six inch wide maybe) board at the lowest level. They could then sleep near the other birds. You might have to show them that this was their night spot for a while, though.

Raised coops can be a problem like this. I've seen stories of animals getting under and biting off the legs from rabbits, etc. If you haven't done so already, enclose the entire bottom of the cage in a way that no animal can get underneath at all.

How old are the chicks?
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Chickens can survive some horrible injuries, and adjust to disabilities. For years my chickens didn't have roosts, just lived on the floor. Rozzie is right, give them a chance, if you can.

Imp- and don't be too hard on yourself. Learn and make sure it can't happen again.

Sorry you have to deal with this.
Nothing much to add, I agree with the others. Mostly just posted to say hang in there.

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