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Orthopedics for Poultry Made Easy

By D.C. Townsend

These treatments have been tested and proven effective.  I developed them for peafowl but they may be used for any poultry.  The key to success is to begin treatment promptly.  In some cases delay will kill or cripple the chick.


Sometimes a peachick hatches with toes rolled into a fist.  They may straighten out on their own in the first day of life.  If they do not do so, I make a CHICK SHOE (see illustration below) from black pipe cleaner available in the crafts department at Wal-Mart.  I use black ones because bright colors are more likely to be pecked by other peachicks.

Any kind of half inch wide tape can be used to attach the CHICK SHOE to the toes, but I prefer Johnson and Johnson First Aid clear tape.  I cut a piece a quarter inch long for the middle toe.  I cut another piece the same length and split into two quarter inch-wide pieces for the other toes.  Eight hours of treatment is usually enough time to end the problem on a day-old peachick.


In the 1995 hatch, I had a number of peachicks with a kink in the outer toe of one or both feet.  They were well past a week old when I decided that I must do something about it.  I made HALF SHOES of black pipe cleaner.  I tore off a quarter inch-wide stripe of duck tape several inches long and secured the HALF SHOE to the middle and the outer toe.  Several days of treatment were needed.  Some of the HALF SHOES came off and had to be taped on again, but all treated peachicks had straight toes at the end of the treatment.  There is a young peacock that I missed treating.   Now it is too late and he will always have a kink in his outer toe.


This problem can occur even if you take the precaution of having quarter inch hardware cloth under your peachicks.  Sometimes it is caused by the struggles of a chick with its toes rolled into fists.  In that case, both problems must be treated at the same time.  I cut a piece of tape four or five inches long and from the HOBBLE BRACE with the legs far enough apart so that the peachick can walk.  The tape must go the whole way around and cover its sticky side so that it does not stick to the peachick's fuzz when it sits down.  Usually 24 hours of treatment is sufficient, but sometimes more is required.  CHICK SHOES and the HOBBLE BRACE can be used at the same time.


When the Achilles tendon slips out of the groove on the hock joint, a peachick will not be able to straighten its leg.  The problem needs prompt attention because the struggling peachick will put its weight on the hock joint which will damage the skin and cause swelling in the joint.  The tendon can be pushed back in place with just one finger or a very gentle squeeze between the thumb and index finger.   Sometimes just one treatment will give a complete cure that seems like a miracle.   Other times several treatments are needed.  Stubborn cases require advanced treatment that is too difficult to explain here.  I treated both legs of a peachick for two weeks; She grew up to be a healthy peahen.

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Oh goody you used my photo (well OH's photo - he's very good at photies).

We used a little square of card from a sticking plaster box, flattened the foot onto this and used strips of clear sticking plaster from inside the box over each toe to hold foot onto the card. We trimmed the pointy corners off cos he kept tripping over them with the other foot. And also stuck some kitchen towel to bottom of card,with double sided sticky tape blue peter stylie, as the little chap was finding the shoe a bit slippy and this made is all nice and grippy.

Hope this makes sense. Bent toes is doing really well now and enjoys charging over the top of everyone sleeping and splatting them with his big foot


(the above is courtesy of Harrie and her OH)

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Here's a site with blow by blow pics to help with the spraddle leg
Sad Looks like one of the hens has a Broken leg, not sure exactly how it happened, but we had a BBQ last weekend & someone let them out. We think they tried to get them back in run & trapped one of the legs in the door.

Really, really p155ed off.

But the good news, As we are known as Mr & Mrs Heath Robinson, we looked in the old pre & post war books for advice & made a splint from a wooden clothes peg & small cable ties. Thought I would share the advice as after 5 days of the Mrs separating, hand feeding & watering it looks as though the hen is now able to put weight on the leg & can get water & food from the feeders.

Hopefully the splint has worked & we are looking at taking it off in about 2 weeks.

I WILL take photos before the splint is removed & post them for those interested. But I thought that I would share this one, as it is a lot more humane than the inevitable culling that we were expecting.
Well done - what makes you think it was broken rather than sprained?

The mrs & family used to be in the butcher trade. She looked at it (The actual leg was bent), felt along the bone & she could feel the bone where the break was.
OK managed to upload them, hope it works

If you want mere details, give me a PM & I will send more photos of the splint

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Coming up to 3 weeks now, so I though that I would give you an update.

Still limping so we are leaving the splint on another couple of weeks before reassessing it. She is putting weight down on the leg now & things are slowly progressing.

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Latest update

Cut the ties holding the split on the leg this afternoon. Snipped the cable ties with fine wire cutters no complaints from the hen.

But unfortunately we did not realise that the bottom of the splint had been slightly digging into the ankle as she had been exercising it more over the last couple of weeks. She did not complain as it came off, but it started to bleed & there was a small flap of loose skin, so we added animal anaethetic cream onto the cut & put a couple of regular sticking plasters on it. :001_smile:

It looks strange, but I dont care as it works well

The plan is that if the plaster lasts less than a week, we will put another one on it. otherwise the dressing will come off next weekend.

Anyway. as you can see from the pictures she is digging & feeding fine, so I don't think there will be any problems. I will just watch out for infections in the leg.

For those technicians among you. the picture of the pegs shows a couple of small notches in one side which has held the cable ties in place

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