Thursday, July 12, 2012

Poultry Physical Therapy?

Occasionally, a chick will develop inside their egg so that they are not ideally situated. One of the results is that when they hatch, they have a condition known as "Spraddle leg". The condition can also appear when the chicks are unable to get a good footing after they are hatched. The danger of this condition is that the chick is not as mobile as it should be, decreasing the ability to get to food and water, resulting in its death. It can also increase the chances that the other chicks will peck it to death. Neither result being good to the chick or the growth of our flock.

When the condition is caught early, it can be corrected by aligning the feet properly and affixing bracing to the feet/legs. The guy pictured above is a classic presentation of spraddle leg. This chick was reported to have healed in braces over a matter of days and none the worse for it, recovered completely.

We discovered one of our chicks with this condition on Tuesday, though, our little guy presented quite differently. In our chick, the legs were not splayed so much as the joint connecting the knees were stuck in a "laying down" position. He/she moves around by flapping its wings and swimming across the bottom of the pen. Our chick has use of its feet and can move the toes, so we feel the problem is localized with that fused knee joint. We searched for solutions, and decided our best course of action would be to apply the brace (we used a band aid, cut length ways in half) to keep the legs aligned under the chick. And, follow that up with physical therapy sessions meant to articulate the knee joint several times a day. Using the pattern set by my own physical therapy for my shoulder, we hold the chick and gently move the knee joint as far as we can without causing the chick distress  and hold it there for a count of 5 and release. This is repeated 3x each session, with several sessions occurring each day. It is our hope that as the joint is worked and used, it will have more mobility and eventually we able to align to a straight leg position. When/If that happens, we will then apply a different sort of brace to help the chick to stand on its legs properly. At least, this is our hope.

The real concern now, is that though the chick is drinking and active, I have yet to see it take any meaningful quality of food. If we can't get it to eat, all this work will be for naught. Sean suggested watering down some of the medicated chick mash and offering that. It is worth a try. The little guy doesn't seem in pain and is alert and active. It would be a shame to lose him/her at this point- we are desperate that this be a "her" after all this work, I won't have the heart to rehome or eat "him" and we will be in possession of a 5th Roo, which would not do at all!

I have been playing with the video edit funtion on my computer- I did warn you. I think the video shows what we are doing better than words can. As always, we will keep you informed of Rudy's progress. We hope you will join us in rooting for Rudy's success.

Thanks for stopping by,
Sonja ♥

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