Slipped tendon in chick, anyone ever try to fix this? Experiences?


6 Years
Apr 14, 2013
New Hampshire
I have a 3 week old chick with a slipped tendon, had her at our vet today and the vet said it seemed like it's been like that too long for her to be able to get the tendon into place so she could wrap it. She really took time trying too. Is it hopeless, or with lots of trying do you think it's possible for me to get it and get that leg wrapped?

I know you're suppose to rub the hock between your fingers and you'll feel it go into place, but where on the chick's leg is the tendon suppose to be {from where to where?} ? I'd hate to think I got it and then wrapped it only to be wrong.

If I can't get it back into place, can this chick live? I hate not trying to do something to help and just take it day by day with her. She gets around okay, a little wobbly but never falls over and she eats/drinks fine. I divided the chicks just now and have her and two mellow friends in a separate brooder than their four more rambunctious buddies. I was thinking if she is able to make it, then I'll just build a separate coop/run for these three from the rest since she'd be handicap and doesn't need the drama of integration or the weight of my rooster on her someday.

Any thoughts, experiences, recommendations, how to's would be greatly appreciated. Here's a pic of her leg.

Fix Slipped Achilles Tendon in Hock Joint

Click here to read one little chick's success story of recovery from a Slipped Tendon & Perosis.
Click here to see a video of movement patterns of one chick with Perosis. Editor's note: The video says Perosis can't be treated after 24 hours, but I have not seen any other source say this, so I don't know that is true.

Note from Editor: I have had no personal experience with a Slipped Achilles Tendon being treated successfully, though a number of people have. Information below is from what I have read & tried to analyze myself, but may not be sufficiently informed. Please do additional research to ensure best treatments. [If you have a success story, photos, or treatment tips, it would be very helpful if you would Contact PoultryPedia so they can be shared to help others!]
  • Slipped Achilles Tendon is a condition that results when tendon that runs down through the groove on the back of a bird's hock has slipped out of place off to the side.
  • This problem causes a serious form of Splayed Leg that cannot be corrected until the Achilles Tendon is put back in place. It may also lead to Twisted Leg and other problems if not treated soon enough.
  • This problem frequently occurs in conjunction with Chondrodystrophy / Achondroplasia & Perosis, conditions in which nutritional deficiencies in parent bird's diet keep chick's bones from developing properly to hold tendon.
    • See "Ensure adequate nutrition to prevent Perosis" section to be sure that your chick feed has appropriate amounts of essential nutrients, and try supplementing in extra if your chick is showing a problem.
  • Symptoms:
    • The back of the hock will look flat (Compare to other legs to double-check).
    • The bird won't be able to fully straighten its leg by itself.
    • The bird will likely exhibit pain at least the first few days after injury. Birds may peep or cry repeatedly.
    • The joint will become swollen after a while.
    • Hold the joint between your thumb & finger and roll it back and forth. If the tendon has slipped, you will feel it snap back into place (and back out again, if the bone is not sufficiently developed). If you don't feel the tendon pop in, your bird may instead have a rotated femur, which requires surgery.
    • One leg may rotate out to the side or twist underneath the bird (showing Splayed Leg), depending on whether the tendon has slipped to the outside or inside of the leg.
    • If the tendons are slipped in both legs, the bird will stand & walk hunched down / squatting on its hocks ("elbows"), and may use its wings for balance.
  • Treat this problem as soon as possible, so the joint doesn't swell as much (making healing more difficult) and the tendon does not end up shortened or deformed.
    • If the tendon has been out of place more than a few days, it may be unbearably painful to the bird to try to fix it or may cause damage. You could try gradually stretching the leg the leg a number of times a few days to lengthen the tendon, & then try correcting the placement.
      • This is especially true of young chicks because their legs are growing so quickly. Various bones, tendons & muscles will have done a lot of growing in just a couple of days and may have become too short, long or twisted so they can't allow the Achilles tendon to be back in the correct location.
  • To reposition the tendon into the correct place: Gently pull the upper part of bird's leg a bit behind normal position and then carefully straighten the leg as though bird were stretching its leg back in a pretty normal stretching motion. Press gently against the side of the tendon if needed, and it should pop back into place pretty easily and cause little if any pain. Gently release the leg and it should return to a normal bent position.
    • Some sources recommend pushing the tendon back in place just by pressing with your finger. However, stretching the leg back is a much less painful method.
  • Sometimes a tendon has a hard time staying in place. It may have been out of place for too long or a chick's hock groove may not yet have developed enough to hold the tendon well (Be sure to provide very good nutrition to support optimal bone growth at this time. Do NOT give Calcium or other nutrients in excessive amounts, however--that could cause other problems.).
    • You can repeat the repositioning of the tendon additional times. This may help the tendon gradually lengthen & shape correctly, while the bone is also growing enough to hold the tendon better.
    • You can put the tendon in place & then ***wrap the joint area with sports tape*** or other tape to help hold it there. Use a thin strip of tape wrapped several times around the joint. Change the tape after a few days to ensure it doesn't restrict circulation too much.
    • It will also help if you put the bird in a Chick / Chicken Sling or Chair and/or put its leg in a cast (such as one made from a bendable drinking straw) for a few days (~5) while re-alignment stabilizes.
      • (Note: There is some debate on whether it is better for feet to not touch the ground--as recommended below-- or to touch the ground a little. Please research further when making the choice.)
      • It is important for the legs not be able to reach the ground. The bird needs to be suspended with its legs just hanging freely or in not-too-tight casts shaped in normal bent angle. In this position, the chick won't try to use its legs as much. Its legs need relaxed rest in their normal position until the tendon(s) have stretched and adjusted back to the right place and shape.
  • Even after the tendon is back in place, the bird may continue to have some problems walking for a few days. If so, use a Hock Cushion(s) to protect its hock(s) from chafing & bruising during recovery. Limber the leg by gently stretching the leg several times a day, as you did when repositioning the tendon (Check to make sure the tendon stays in place.). If the chick struggles to figure out correct movements, Physical Therapy or short sessions in a Chick Cup (More info to be added.) may help.
  • You can try Surgery for a tendon that won't go into place or won't stay in place, along with other treatments. Click here to read one little chick's success story.
  • If there is swelling on hock:
  • If infection is part of what is causing joint to swell, you will find pus. In this case, recovery is almost always impossible, and would be EXTREMELY difficult. In almost all cases the bird should be put down to avoid additional suffering.
  • If swelling was just caused by displacement that has now been fixed, swelling will go down in 2-4 days.
Ensure adequate nutrition to prevent Perosis leading to Slipped Achilles Tendon &/or Twisted Leg

  • Perosis occurs in chicks that are at least one week old and can be in one or both legs..
  • It starts as Chondrodystrophy / Achondroplasia (cartilage & bone development problems) and can involve slipping of Achilles Tendon and twisting of long bones (condition called Twisted Leg)
  • Symptoms: Enlarged, flattened hocks and short, bowed legs, along with slow growth. Chick may look dwarfish. One leg may stick out to the side, or there can be a variety of other leg angles.
  • Treatment: Deformities will not necessarily be completely eradicated but may be lessened by adding appropriate balanced supplementation and/or switching to Chick Starter or Grower Feed that has been commercially formulated.
  • Choline, biotin, manganese, &/or zinc can be factors in Perosis & may need to be increased. Pyridoxine, folic acid & niacin deficiencies may also affect, and need to be corrected.
Physical Therapy for Trouble Standing and Walking

  • Use to treat Splayed Leg or other problems with chick holding legs incorrectly.
    • Can be done even while chick is wearing Leg Hobbles.
  • Helps the chick "practice" walking correctly. The main purpose is to reprogram its brain patterns, but therapy also helps develop needed muscles.
    • It is better for a chick to spend time sitting or lying down than using its legs wrong.
  • Support chick's body a little while gently pointing its legs forward and extended the way they should be while standing. Try to lessen your support of its body for a moment or two and hopefully the chick will push up with its legs and find out that leg angle and position is a good one for balancing.
    • If it's 5+ days old, you can also hold up a treat above its head to encourage it to increasingly push up with its legs to grab the treat. It's okay the chick's legs and balance will be wobbly at first and that it falls over sometimes--just catch and steady it with your hands.
      • Good treats: Very small piece of bread, tomato, strawberry, banana, lettuce, spinach, grass, etc.
        • Be sure to add a bit of chick-sized grit (tiny stones or coarse sand) to chick's diet if offering treats.
  • Within a day or so of starting therapy, add in some walking therapy. Hold its legs with your fingers and move/step them forward one at a time so the chick learns to take steps and walk correctly. Try the best you can to arrange your thumb & fingers so you can push the rotated hock out to the side so that leg points forward pretty straight like it should as you're doing . This is tricky!
  • Number of sessions for newly hatched chick:
    • Days 1-3: Minimum of six 30-second to 2 minute sessions per day.
    • Days 4-5: Minimum of nine 1 to 3 minute sessions per day.
    • Days 6-7: As needed.
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When I purchased my first peafowl I started out with chicks and yearlings so I had a good year to dream about breeding, hatching, and raising these glorious birds. Finally a year past and I found myself on the crest of my first breeding season.. I had five cocks and eight hens that had turned two years old and I was ready to start raising peafowl! Visions of fat healthy chicks more beautiful than their parents danced in my mind. That first year I hatched fifty two chicks and at the ages of two and a half to four months had successfully raised forty eight of them. I couldn’t have been more proud if I had laid the eggs myself. About that time disaster stuck. It started out with a beautiful loud pied chick about three months old. I noticed him limping and upon closer examination realized his leg was actually twisted at the joint in his hock. My first thought was that he had injured himself and dislocated his leg. I started talking to breeders with more experience than I had and was told he had a slipped tendon that could not be fixed. Further examination proved them right. I could actually find the tendon and the groove in the hock that it had slipped out of. Taking my thumbs I could manipulate the tendon back into place, but by his second or third step it would pop right back out. Not one to give up easily I tried taping it in place, I even put him in a sling for a few days to take the weight off his leg. As time progressed his leg actually rotated around almost backwards and he appeared to be in great pain .After more consultations with people who knew more than I did, including my vet, the decision was made to euthenise him. Meanwhile several more of the chicks were displaying the same symptoms. Fearful of finding another crippled bird, made going out to the pens a dreaded chore instead of the delight it used to be. I was told by several breeders their feed had to much protein for their age and to go from a game bird starter to a game bird grower at about two months of age. I immediately switched to a grower but by that fall I had lost twelve of my forty eight chicks to slipped tendons. A quarter of them!

My first year was almost my last year of raising peafowl. I didn’t want to deal with the pain and suffering, mine and theirs. I became determined to learn everything possible about slipped tendons. I called two universities and talked to professors in their poultry science departments. Both men told me too much protein in a diet could cause multiple problems in the health of any animal. It could cause deformities and could also affect the health of internal organs, particularly the kidneys. They also said they knew of no controlled studies in peafowl specifically to determine the proper amount of protein.
They both also mentioned the problem could be a nutritional lack of certain vitamins and minerals. As I continued on my search for answers I came across a publication that has been a life saver on numerous occasions; The Poultry Health Handbook by Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. In a chapter on nutritional and metabolic diseases Dr. Owen Keene discusses perosis or slipped tendon. He describes it as a deforming leg weakness with clinical signs of flattening and enlargement of the hocks which is followed by slippage and lateral rotation of the Achilles tendon out of the condyles of the hock. Dr. Owen goes on to say this disease is caused by a deficiency of the mineral manganese and that choline,niacin and biotin are also involved. He acknowledges that there is no treatment for chicks already affected but correcting the diet prevents new cases. He states that the rule of thumb on perosis morbidity is that when five or more of a thousand birds are affected the manganese level in the feed should be checked. Poultry require between 35 to50 ppm in their feed to prevent perosis. When dealing with perosis the level should be increased to 75 ppm. Manganese contents higher than 100 ppm will be wasteful. Armed with this information I made a few changes the next hatching season. I had been using a game bird feed manufactured at a local feed mill. When I compared the ingredient list to a more expensive name brand I noticed the name brand had a higher percentage of some vitamins and minerals including manganese. I decided to pay the extra dollar a bag and switched to the name brand. I then started looking for a vitamin mineral supplement that contained the needed ingredients. I did not want one of the products made for convalescing birds that contains electrolytes because these are usually high in glucose or some form of sugar, and I wanted a supplement that would be good for their health long term. I finally found a multiple vitamin with antioxidants and trace minerals called Polt Pak Vitamin Concentrate. It contains all of the supplements mentioned in Dr. Keene’s article to prevent perosis. The product is a water soluble powder that I purchase from Cutler’s Pheasant and Poultry Supply in Applegate MI. I start the chicks on it at birth and leave them on it until they are six to eight months old. The directions say a four oz. package does 128 gallons of drinking water. I use about ½ tsp. per gallon of water, or until the water turns the color of pale lemonade. Has this helped? I have gone from 25% of my chicks afflicted with perosis to less than 1%. Last year I raised 128 birds and lost only 1 chick to perosis. It was a four month old white hen that developed the problem on the day we caught her and moved her from a wire floored pen to the ground, and I think her problem was an injury that happened while moving her.
I am not a veterinarian, nor do I have a degree in nutrition or animal sciences. I am merely a fellow peafowl aficionado who loves the birds and loves raising them. I am sharing this information in the hopes that it may prevent someone from having to go through the heartache of destroying their birds due to a disease caused by a nutritional problem. Once again I am anxiously looking forward to a new breeding season with visions of fat healthy chicks more beautiful than their parents dancing in my mind.

I have treated this successfully in an adult rooster. If you cannot feel tendon while rolling between fingers,try running thumb down back of leg from hock to shank press down while doing this you should feel tendon,it will feel loose/springy. When you press down you should feel it snap back into place. You can also do stretching exercises,gently stretch leg back(like chick would do while normally stretching)this helps to stretch tendon. You can wrap to keep tendon in place. I did not wrap what i did was snap tendon back into place several times a day,i also encouraged walking for my rooster as i did not want tendon to stiffen up. Took about 2 weeks before he was back to walking normal.
I've been trying to get it back in, but just can't seem to. I can feel it, but I'm not sure if I'm not doing it firmly enough {her little leg is so little, fearful of breaking it}. I've been keeping a figure 8 vet wrap on her changing it often and doing stretches with her multiple times a day, I figure the wrap will give her a bit more support, help keep the tendon a bit more stretch {I think it might have tightened up and that's why the trouble getting it back in} and help reduce the swelling in her hock a bit. Maybe once the swelling goes down it'll pop in easier. I noticed since putting the little wrap on her she's been stretching that leg out behind her more often, which hopefully will help too.

Should the leg be stretched back or in a normal position when I'm trying to get it back into place? Is there anything I can give a 3wk old chick to help reduce the swelling in her hock?
Yes,stretch leg back just like chick would do while stretching. You could try a warm water epsom salt soak for swelling,small cup will work for this. When you have pressed down,can you feel tendon snap into place?
I can't get it to snap into place, nor could the vet {there was more swelling then}. I keep trying, but it's just not happening... I'm not even sure I'm doing it right or how much pressure I should press down with.
I'm having the same trouble with a chick that is close to two weeks old. I have no clue how to fix it, and I'm afraid to break her little leg. I wish I could see a video of how this is done, then maybe I could follow along, reading the info is good and all, but I would love to see it done. Just wondering how it's going for your little chick???

I had my chick looked at by two different vets, there's no fixing my chick's leg. I find wrapping it with vet wrap in a figure 8 wrap helps her more than anything. She'll be handicap for life, but I have her with two buddies and they're getting their own "handicap accessible" coop. There's just no way she could be integrated in the flock without getting majorly hurt. She's never had a problem getting around, or anything else going on. I have her on poly vi sol vitamins, I soak her leg in epsom salt once a day then once her leg is dried from that rewrap her. There are videos on youtube of how to snap the tendon back into place, it just couldn't be done with my little one.

I started a thread here on BYC about her and her adventures, there's pics and video.

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