Unheard of Leg Problem in Chick


5 Years
Sep 30, 2014
Pewamo, MI

So I have one Rhode Island Red, only 3 days old and he's been doing this weird thing with his leg. I couldn't get a picture, so I drew it.

He's hyperextending the hock joint at the knee, which makes his ankle overextend as well. I could not find reference to this anywhere.

I have given him a splint for splayed legs (it was the closest thing I could find), it seemed to help to begin with, but now he's turning his entire body in order to hyperextend the knee and rest on it.

This chick is the only one that constantly shudders when I pick him up (is that a pain signal?) the leg has full normal range of motion plus some abnormal flexability. No swelling or redness. However, he is constantly "Alarm" chirping.

What can I do? Should I put him down? If I do have to put him down, what's a good, humane way to do it?

I don't want to end up with a chick killing itself or being in pain, I'll put him down if I need to.
I'm no pro.
But I'd probably just hang with it, and see how it goes.

Can he walk, and get to food and water?
If so, I'd just leave it alone.
Seriously. It's a chicken, you want to take it in for corrective surgery or something?
I also am no expert, I would keep him in the hatcher for a couple days by himself, with no splint, in case the splint is making it worse, If he could not walk ina few days I would put him down. I have had some with splayed legs that seem to straighten out on there own. I have no idea about the pain. Good luck with whatever you do. Do not second guess yourself.
It sounds a lot like a slipped tendon allowing the leg to hyper extend or extend in the wrong direction.
Not sure if it can be fixed without some kind of surgery.
I do know that as long as the chicken has the ability to get to food and water on its own it may learn to function with the disability.
I have a 5 year old BO hen that has a bum leg. It swings out wide to the side and then directly under the middle of her as she walks. She cannot run nor can she jump. She can get to food and water as well as scratch a bit in the yard. She is large as most BO's are and gets around really well. She sleeps in the nest box and is able to get in and out of the coop using the pavers I set up as stairs for her. No step is over 3 inches high except the 4 inch height to get into the nest box. She shows no signs of being in pain either.

I would give your little one time and see what happens in the coming days.
I thought it might have been a slipped tendon, so I took the chick out and tried to put it back into place using instructions from a website I found. I could not seem to feel anything out to place nor did I feel the tendon itself move back into position. I could be doing it wrong as well, I have no idea.

The splint seems to be helping a little bit, but yeah, I think only time will tell on this one.
As sad as this one is. You can prepare for it, The ones that get to me are the ones that seem healthy and happy and then just wake up dead!

I feel with them I missed something or did something wrong. With yours you are trying everything fiscally possible for it.
It might just have bad tendons and needs time to repair.

If I were in your shoes, I would try to splint the leg so that it is in a more "normal" position. I like masking tape for splints. If the chick is shaking it is probably cold, hungry, or in pain. Is he able to walk around at all?

If you have to cull him, I prefer using the ether method. You can PM me if you want details.

Last week I had a chick hatch with bad leg problems. He is fine now, but it was touch and go there for a while. I'm wishing you luck!
I'm gonna have to cull the little guy. The splint helped the hyperextending, but he twisted his leg so it sits naturally pointing directly to the right, away from him. Then I took the splint off and his leg is worse than ever. He's gonna have to go, poor guy. I did everything I could think of to help him, it just didn't work out I guess.

Thanks for the help though!

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