Pheasant Chicks with Messed Up Feet

Discussion in 'Pheasants and Partridge (Chukar)' started by BackyardDove, May 22, 2017.

  1. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This year is my third attempt at trying to raise the supposedly "easy to breed" Red Golden Pheasants and this year has not started off any better than the last two. The first pheasant I had try to hatch died trying to hatch. The second pheasant did actually hatch but has a messed up foot, and I have a third who's still trying to hatch. I can't upload a picture because this site decided to change everything and it's not working right, but basically, his right foot is fine and his left foot's toes are half crippled. He cannot walk properly.

    I feed the parents the recommended percentage of protein in their diet. I offer them leafy greens(though they only eat a little). They're given more than enough space and clean water. I had this same crippled foot thing happen to me last year when I incubated the pheasant eggs via a Silkie hen, and was told it may have been due to them being incubated at a slightly higher temperature than what they need. So this year I incubated them with an incubator, something I do when I breed my Silkies but don't have a broody hen on hand. I've had lots of success with this incubator and have no reason to believe anything went wrong during the incubation process. Is there ANYTHING I can do to help the chicks that hatch this way? What might I be doing wrong? If there's nothing I can do to help this chick, I will be humanely euthanizing it on Thursday. I saw what happened to the chicks last year who had this crippled foot condition - they slowly lose function in both legs and are forced to squirm around on their belly and I will not force these chicks to do that again this year.

    Also, this may be a factor in why so many of the chicks are being born with a crippled foot(some are born normal, by the way), but I recently found out the parents are related. The breeder I bought them from only had one female and two males, meaning at the very least my pair are half siblings. But I do not want to skip straight to that conclusion if there are other possibilities for why I've been hatching crippled pheasants.
     
  2. TwoBFlying

    TwoBFlying Out Of The Brooder

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    It sounds like you have tried a variety of incubating options (Artificial & Natural) and maintained the temp and humidity. If you feel confident for incubation process is accurate it would seem to indicate the problem is due to them being related. Two most common causes for this type of abnormality is incubation problems or genetics, normally from being to closely related. I would try to get a new blood line to see if this corrects the problem. I'm sorry to hear of the difficulties you have encountered. I enjoy raising pheasants also and these problems can be very disheartening. I hope this helps.
     
  3. 007Sean

    007Sean Overrun With Chickens

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    Sorry to hear about your difficulties. I too, have a few chicks that hatch with this problem. I think and it's not scientific, just my observation but the longer it takes the chick to get out of the shell, the more likely they have crooked toes or have difficulty in balance. None of my birds are related, as far as I know.
    To correct crooked toes, tape their toes in position and straight as soon as possible. Usually in 2 days the tape can be removed and the toes will be straight. It is extremely hard to tape their toes, because of the small size, helps if you have another person around to help hold the chick while you apply the tape. HTH good luck
     
  4. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your help. I do still plan to replace my hen, but I've made some slight modifications to my incubation in hopes that maybe these issues I'm having are not all related to genetics. I was reading and found that the standard temperature for chicken incubation, 99.5, is adequate but not the best for pheasant chicks. So, I went ahead and bumped up the temperature in my incubator to 100.2-100.5 to see if I get different results that what I've been getting. I don't expect this to solve my issue completely, but maybe it'll mean some of them turn out okay!

    Thank you for your advice, but I believe you may have faced an issue with crooked toes that stem from a different issue than mine? I know crooked toes can be a somewhat common, natural occurance that can be easily fixed. However, when I try to fix my chick's crooked toes, one of two things occurs. First is that, no matter how hard I try to straighten their toes, doing all the tricks they say to do a day after hatching, not only do the toes never straighten, but the chicks also eventually lose function of their legs. The loss of function happened to the ones I didn't tape too. Second is that they completely give up the will to live. I had that happen once or twice last year, but the chick I was referring to in this post died shortly after I placed tape on it's toes. It was energetic before being taped, and seemed to be doing better immediately after, then just laid down and gave up trying.

    As for your observation, that does sound logical and probably does apply to most issues, but for my chicks that isn't the case. The chick with the crooked toes hatched on time and without an issue, meanwhile yesterday I had to assist another pheasant chick in hatching because it was two days past it's hatch date and it still only had made a small hole. Both eggs were supposed to hatch on the same day, but the chick that was late and had to be helped has toes that're perfectly fine. It did show some side effects of taking so long to hatch, but those have since cleared up.
     
  5. 007Sean

    007Sean Overrun With Chickens

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    Are you hatching in the incubator or in a hatcher? What kind of covering do you have on the bottom of the unit, 1/4" hardware cloth or a rubberized cupboard type material? I use burlap in bottom of my hatcher. Keeps them from slipping around on slick surface, which, can cause splayed legs and make it difficult for the chick to stand or walk. This too can cause crooked toes.
    As far as a genetics issue, there would have to be multiple generations of line breeding(if it goes well) or inbreeding(if to goes bad) for these chicks to have the problems from a single breeding of sibilings. In a nutshell, if the person you got them from continued to breed year after year, daughter to father or sister to brother, then that could be a huge problem. Also, if that's the case, then they would also have other deformities. If you can rule out any of the other factors and still have these issues, then I would look into getting some new blood.
     
  6. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In an incubator, with a hardwire cloth bottom. The incubator is definitely not the issue. I've hatched 50 or so chickens using this incubator and only one of those developed any sort of leg or foot issue. As for inbreeding, I know the breeder did not inbreed, but I do not know about the breeder he got his pheasants from, and so on. There is a lot of inbreeding in Red Golden Pheasants due to a lack of pure lines, thanks to breeders crossing them with the Lady Amhersts many years ago. So though normally sibling inbreeding wouldn't be too bad, which was my hope for my pair, there's no telling how many instances of inbreeding there is in their lineage. I did have a chick hatch with a slightly crooked neck, but that was my first instance of that and I'm not sure if it's crooked because he took too long trying to hatch.
     
  7. 007Sean

    007Sean Overrun With Chickens

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    Ok, one last comment on this subject. You said that your feeding a high protein feed. High protein is fine but if the feed isn't balanced with vitamins and essential minerals, it could be the cause for the defects, im not saying that's the case but should be looked into...lack of B vitamins, vitamin E and Selenium to name a few can cause various defects, they are essential to the good health of the birds. Also, alot of feed manufactures use Soy as their main source of protein. Im not a big proponent of soy as a protein source in feed. Im not going to promote any specific brand but do your research and find the best you can find available in your area. You may have to get your local feed store to order a particular brand that you want; ie: expensive but in the long run you'll be happier knowing your birds are being supplied with a healthy feed.
     
  8. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have tried looking into what all Red Golden's need in their diet to thrive, but all I've ever been able to find was that they need a very high protein diet. I'll have to see if anything new has come up since then, or if there's something I missed.

    I am going to replace my hen regardless, though. Them being so closely related probably isn't helping. I bumped up the temperature in my incubator to a slightly higher 100.5 degrees just to see if that made a difference, but no, the first egg to hatch 21 days after I made this change hatched with crooked toes. The three pheasant chicks who did manage to survive and be healthy(though one had a crooked neck...) died yesterday. All at once, all suddenly. The two silkie chicks they had been being kept with, one of whom was smaller than them, were perfectly fine.
     

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