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Slipped Tendons in Chicks

Partridge Chantecler Chick with Leg Splint

Every now and then, a chick will hatch with a slipped achilles tendon. This is a fixable issue, but it is critical to help the chick within the first couple days of life, or the condition might become permanent and debilitating.

Please note that we are not medical experts and the following should in no way be considered medical advice. We always recommend consulting a veterinarian.

If you see a chick unable to walk after it is dried off and all its hatch mates are getting around well, it might have a slipped tendon. By looking closely at the chick’s elbow, you can usually see the tendon bunched up weirdly on either side of the joint, instead of over the joint where it’s supposed to be. Sometimes the joint will look swollen or even bloody, but not always.

When we see a chick with a slipped tendon, we very gently straighten the leg backwards. That is sometimes enough to pop the tendon back into place, but sometimes it needs to be carefully rolled with our fingers. Once it is back in place, we put the chick down and watch it to see whether it stays. If it does, we just keep monitoring the situation. If it doesn’t, we have to splint it.

For splinting, we have tried a huge variety of tricks that we found online, but the absolute best for us was just an idea that we had while rooting through our junk drawer – taking a paper or plastic straw, cutting it to the full length of the leg, splitting it all the way down the center, wrapping it around the leg, and gently taping it in place. It should be tight enough that it won’t fall off but loose enough that the chick’s toes still have blood circulation. In a day or two, we remove the splint. So far, this process has done the trick for us every time *knock on wood*

We have had a few chicks hatch with this issue lately, and it’s always the Partridge Chanteclers. We are starting to suspect that it might either be genetic or that our feed is missing something necessary for our PCs. We are done hatching for the year, but our plan is to switch up our breeding groups for next year. If we see the problem again, we’ll try a different feed. Everyone seems to be thriving on it, though, so that will be our Plan B.

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