Possible broken leg on 4 week old chick. Video

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by TripMomma, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. TripMomma

    TripMomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi guys. Still dealing with my "drunk walker"...I took a couple short videos and showed some people who have chickens...they think a leg could be broken. She is still walking on it...though quite unsteady, still eating and drinking. Is there anything to be done about a broken leg? I don't see any breaks, blood, swelling...so the break is likely not a bad one. Thoughts?[​IMG][​IMG]
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Whoa, that's unusual. Poor thing.

    I don't see any evidence of any broken bones, not even fractures. What it looks like is very weak or very damaged joints.

    Both knees are bad. However her 'bad' one appears to also go out sideways, not just flex in the wrong direction.

    In the first video, around 1:05, you see her 'good' leg doing the same overly and unnaturally forwards movement as the bad one --- their knees do not naturally move that far forwards at all, not by about a good inch. The second video provides abundant examples of the severely abnormal flexing occurring in both legs simultaneously.

    This is pretty serious, sorry to say. If the joints are too weak to support such a light bird without flexing uncontrollably and dangerously out of natural alignment, as the videos clearly show they're doing, then her chances of having functioning legs as she gets older and heavier are not good at all.

    I don't know why this is happening, but there's a few general possibilities. Poor diet fed to the mother (and father to a lesser extent) --- neither of them should be on layer feed while breeding but too often chicks get leg problems and other developmental deformities due to this. Could be a genetic trait, leg problems aren't too unusual including necrosis of the tendons. To occur in such a young chick though it would be an unusual and acute case, I've not heard of a parallel even in meat breeds which are notorious for leg problems.

    I can't think of the type of accident offhand that could cause her legs to get torn in that way, but it's not impossible of course. Do children have access to them? Or inexperienced people? Could she have been caught in mesh, or between something mobile and something hard, at some point?

    If this is a case of deficiency disease it's unlike any I've ever seen or heard of. Possibilities include low magnesium, low calcium, low selenium, low vitamin E, and low vitamin D. Does she get any sunshine? Contrary to the common claim, synthetic vitamin D is not as good as sunshine. If she gets no sunshine I would make sure to change that, if she were mine.

    To be honest I think you may need to take this bird to a vet to get to the bottom of what's happened there.

    Has she been showing improvement since you restrained her to the smaller cage? (I don't know her past). Did this occur suddenly or gradually?

    Good luck and best wishes.
     
  3. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Just thought to add... I don't know what you're doing for her so please forgive any useless/baseless assumptions, but I would restrict this baby more than what you've done there; normally this is the right way to go for weak legs, but she looks like she needs even more restriction.

    Perhaps look into getting supportive wraps, like vet tape or something, possibly even splinting, to stop the legs flexing the wrong way. Not the sort of splinting that stops the joints bending entirely, just stops them from bending the wrong way. So, for example, the handle of a milk carton, or a bit of hose or pipe, cut and shaped in such a way as to provide the natural 'stop' she's missing. The tendons, if they've been torn, can't heal while the legs are being used like that and repeatedly stressed into abnormal positions. She's at serious risk of wrecking whatever good joint material she's got left.

    If the tendons have atrophied or never developed correctly though, the case is more dire, it may not be salvageable. Depends what's wrong. However, sometimes animals do surprise us and prove they don't need thighbones or this or that anatomical apparatus one would have thought indispensable.

    Depending on how much she's got working for her and how strong it stays, and how well she learns to compensate, she may be able to cope with this for life. But the risk of severe and permanent injury to whatever tendons she has left is a serious one and this chook should not be provided with things to perch on or trip over, or anything more than the safest flat environment. I'd even take out the food bowl and give her something she can't possibly step onto or trip over, just in case.

    You may want to look into making slings for chooks, basically it's akin to a 'walker' or 'bouncy harness/chair' for babies, to allow them to exercise their legs while supporting their bodies. Time spent in a sling has saved the knees and legs of a few animals of mine in the past.

    The only time I've seen knees go so completely in the wrong direction, it's been the following examples... A bottle raised lamb kept in very restricted quarters, with knees so weak they bent the wrong way; a human with destroyed kneecaps; a Boer goat bred badly so its hind legs were abnormally flexible at the joints and overly tense at the same time; and badly bred dogs. Heaps of canine examples.

    Best wishes.
     
  4. TripMomma

    TripMomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much for the reply. You have given me a lot to think about. This did just start over night about 3 days ago, it has not improved much. I can't think of how she could have injured herself, but with such an overnight onset I would lean toward injury.

    The splint or sling ideas sound good, I just don't know if I am talented enough to make something that would work. I will give it a try.

    I do see your point about this getting worse the larger and heavier she gets...I think I will give it a week or two, and then seriously consider culling her if there is no improvement :(
     
  5. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    I'd give her longer than a week or two, personally, because whatever this is, if average time for healing joint damage is anything to go by, it's fairly unlikely to fix up within a week or two. About a month, perhaps. Maybe two. With a sling, the weight gain won't be too much of a problem. Only leaving her unsupported would be an issue.

    The longest I spent on a leg injury in a chicken (a cockerel doing the involuntary splits, due to pelvic injury with secondary weakening of legs due to overcompensating then getting stuck in the wrong position) --- was 6 months. (!) But he did walk again.

    Obviously he was growing during this time because he was injured as a chick only a few weeks older than yours, and his recovery was made slower by me not knowing to use a sling back then; instead I kept him with his legs in the correct position for lying down, in a box. How could he strengthen them that way?! Very slowly is the answer... He made it, but with a sling I think it would have taken less than a month.

    While this is serious, her legs have sufficient structural integrity left that I don't think it's a worst case scenario. Unless she actually has necrosis in there but it doesn't really look like it, I'm leaning towards this being a drug reaction more than injury or genetic disease. I've seen chickens with worse legs recover but of course it's still a serious case and one of the best things you can do is limit how much more damage they can do. I was wincing watching the videos, because she's teetering nonstop on the brink of worsening her injuries as her legs just fluctuate wildly and uncontrollably out of normal range of motion.

    Still, it's hopeful that she retains ability to stand and even walk at all.

    With a sheep I have, her front knees fused into a bent position as a lamb; in less than 48 hours she was recovered. So it can vary widely. Joints usually heal slowly but the lamb had fused joints, not broken or strained joints, so with better circulation and positioning things corrected very quickly. However I was expecting to spend the next two weeks to a month daily putting her in the sling and massaging her legs. Didn't occur.

    I wish we lived in the same country, I'd be keen to lend a hand and see if this little one can get back into functional status. If you really don't want to cull her but can't help her or don't have the time or resources or know-how or whatever, someone may take her off your hands to try to help. Some people (myself included) love the challenge and reward and education of rehabilitating.

    As for how to make her a sling, I'll link you to a website that may help, but asides from that it's pretty simple; you need two holes for her legs and one for her to poop out of, (if the sling is in the way, depends on the design) and the material needs suspending so that she can't climb out of it, and can rest her legs, or take her weight on them, as she feels the need or ability.

    I'd feel around under her after putting her in the sling, to see whether the fabric is cutting into her circulation anywhere, but really birds are pretty simple to make slings for. Making a sling for the lamb was a headache, especially because she'd bolt up out of there and over the fence of her rehab pen when I tried to leave, bent legs notwithstanding; I ended up putting her into baby clothing, sleeves and all, to keep her in there. ;)

    Here's the website:
    Quote: It's got a lot of suggestions, lots of good info, and some very generalized info because it's impossible really to specify when you don't know the case intimately. And different things have worked for different people so some things are contradictory or conflicting.

    Sorry to offer you a whole page of results, but here's a wide variety of chicken slings people have made for a whole spectrum of leg and other problems:
    Quote: Hope this helps. If she recovers from this, she'll be one sweet and trusting little pet. While I personally wouldn't breed her in case her issue had some genetic link, just in case, I'd still value such a hen, they can be good taming influences on the rest of the flock. Good luck!

    Best wishes.
     

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