Poultry Podiatry
Treatments for Leg Problems in Chickens & other Poultry
Below are measures that can be helpful in treating Splayed Leg and other problems relating to poultry podiatry, orthopedics and foot and leg conditions & injuries.
Many of the methods are useful for a duckling, duck, gosling, goose, peachick, peacock, or turkey, in addition to chickens.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is gathered from many sources and presented by a lay individual. It may not be accurate or complete. It should not necessarily be considered expert advice, & research through additional sources is also recommended. Some medicine uses listed are off-label or not approved in some countries, and a veterinarian's advice may be needed.

Chlorine Dioxide has been used for chicken coops for years to sanitize and combat diseases, Learn more about disinfecting air & surfaces with Chlorine Dioxide products during COVID-19.

Use baby oil to gently and easily remove sticky tape. Then use waterless instant antibacterial hand cleaner/sanitizer to amazingly easily clean off baby oil. Note: You SHOULD NOT USE DUCT TAPE, but if you do, try using a cleaning spray such as 'Goo Gone' to remove the tape. Then wash the legs with dish soap & rinse off.
If you are not careful how you remove tape, you can cause a chicken pain and damage. The bird likely will also become reluctant to put pressure on places where the skin has become sore. It may then develop more problems with distorted standing and walking patterns, and troubles with deformed bones.

Good Flooring

Baby chicks good flooring for brooder to prevent splayed leg
  • Do not put any young chicks or chickens with leg problems on any kind of slick, painful or hard surface! This includes newspaper, cardboard, linoleum, concrete, flooring with sharp points, etc.
    • Small wire mesh can provide traction as a floor, but gives chicks a higher risk of getting chick leg problems from getting bruised and hurt when stumbling around trying to walk.
    • Don't use hay or other materials the bird is likely to trip on.
  • Good Flooring is needed to provide adequate traction and cushioning, and decent sanitation.
  • It is critical for ALL newly hatched baby chicks, so they do not slip while learning to stand, and develop leg problems. Appropriate flooring keeps a chick from slipping and developing Splayed Leg (where the chick turns one or both legs out crookedly or straight to the side & has a hard time walking), and helps prevent bruises, scrapes & bone injuries.
    • For very young chicks: 1 to 2 inches of pine shavings with paper towels laid over the top (Paper towels keep chicks from eating shavings while they're trying to figure out what they should and should not eat the first few days. Don't use the paper towels more than 4-6 days or they may cause your chicks' toes to twist from standing on such a flat surface too much.). Bumpy, rubbery kitchen shelf liner is also good. A soft washcloth is ideal for a lonely chick to snuggle next to.
      • For healthy sanitation, frequently change out paper towels or clean (& thoroughly dry) washable flooring.
    • For chicks at least 4 days old: 1 1/2 to 2 inches of pine shavings. Clean dirt also works. Wood floor is alright if it isn't too slick, and there are places with bedding for resting.
      • For cleanliness and sanitation: Change out shavings as they become dirty, or sprinkle a layer of fresh shavings over top.
    • For chickens with leg problems: 1 1/2 to 2 inches of pine shavings. Sand or dirt that is deep, fairly clean & loose dirt may also work.
      • For a chick that has a sprain or a painful sore on foot, putting one layer of paper towel on top of bedding will keep it from needing to raise legs as high when walking.
      • For setting a bird down temporarily outside its normal home: A smooth-texture folded-over towel is good, or a grassy lawn, as long as you are there to help catch the bird when it stumbles.
        • Note:  When separating one bird from its group for more than a couple days, keep it where the others can still see it. Otherwise they will treat it like a strange newcomer when it returns.

Toenail Trimming

  • Useful if a chick's or chicken's toes are getting caught in flooring and causing the bird to stumble, excessively long nails are causing the bird's toes to turn sideways, or people are getting scratched when holding the bird.
  • For chicks: Use a nail file to gently smooth the ends of chick's toenails so they don't snag as easily .
  • For chickens: Trim toenails using fingernail or toenail clippers, or small wire cutter pliers. Use a nail file or metal file to file off any too-wide flares on the toenails and to smooth edges.
  • If you accidentally cut too close to the vein in the center of the toenail, you can press your finger against the end of toenail to stop bleeding. Other helpful methods are putting cornstarch, white flour or Blood-Stop powder on the cut nail.

Correct Feed and Supplements

  • It is IMPORTANT to give chickens poultry feed that has been formulated with essential nutrients for their stage of development.
  • There are some 'homemade' Feed recipes that can give you ideas of poultry nutritional needs at:
  • Commercial Feeds: Each brand's feeds differ--check the feed bag to see for what age a particular feed is designed.
    • Chick Starter: Usually 0 trough 6-8 weeks (Check feed sack label)
      • Scientific formulation helps prevent Perosis (leading to Slipped Achilles Tendon) and other problems.
      • Has appropriate amount of Calcium for chicks. Very high levels of Calcium in some adult feeds (esp. Layer feed) can cause problems.
    • Starter / Grower: Usually birth through laying age
    • Grower / Finisher: Usually 10 through 18 weeks of age
    • Layer Feed: For hens of laying age (4-6 months and older)
    • Breeder Feed: For roosters and hens of breeding age (6 months and older)
      • Helps prevent birth defects in resulting offspring.
    • Scratch Feed: As a partial feed for mature birds (6 months and older)
      • Scratch Feed is NOT supplemented and is NOT suitable as a complete feed. It should NOT be fed free-choice, and should only make up about 10% of chickens' diet.
  • Essential nutrients include:
    • Calcium (in appropriate amount--Adult feeds can have too much calcium for chicks), Vitamin E, Selenium.
    • VITAMIN B IS VERY IMPORTANT for leg health. Just adding powder from Vitamin B Complex pills (the kind sold for people) to a chicken's food will cure some leg problems.
  • Supplements
    • Supplements of vitamins, electrolytes and small amounts of sugar can help a struggling chick have the energy and nutrition to grow well, have energy, and better deal with the stresses of receiving treatment.
    • BE CAREFUL about giving supplements with minerals to chicks. Some minerals (especially calcium or iron) in excess can cause serious problems in chicks.
    • Supplements at a feed store:
      • Small pouch of vitamins and electrolytes supplement powder for poultry (~$5). 
        • Caution: Some supplements don't taste good and a chicken won't eat as much if you sprinkle on food. Instead, stir into drinking water and chicken will usually drink fine. Only a tiny pinch is needed for about 3 cups of water.
      • Bottle of liquid Poultry Nutri-Drench for nutrition and energy.  (~$8) *Does contain sweetening, so use with caution if bird has a fungal infection.
    • Supplements at a grocery store:
      • Bottle of children's PolyVisol or other brand of liquid vitamin supplement without added Iron (~$4). Give 2-3 drops per day to a chick.
    • Supplements at a pet store:
      • Calcivet. Give 1-2 drops per day to a chick.
      • Baby parrot food. Powder to be mixed with water (Be sure to allow water to be absorbed before feeding to chicken). (~$10).

Separate from Others

  • Keep weak or injured birds away from others that may pick on them.
    • Be extra careful! Putting a divider to keep a chick separate in the same brooder with other chicks can be risky. The chick may not have enough room left to regulate its temperature enough by getting close to or moving away from brooder lamp as needed. Chick may also get snagged or pinned by the divider. However, if you can set up safe way for chick to stay visible in same brooder, this will prevent other chicks from picking on it as much when reintegrating it fully with the others later.
  • It is best if an injured bird can have 1 or 2 buddies as companions so it doesn't get so lonely. Choose ones that are not aggressive.
    • Choose female companions, if the birds are old enough to tell gender. As it matured, a male companion would likely try to breed an injured female or pick fights with an injured male.
    • Choose smaller or same-size chickens. Larger chickens may unintentionally tromp on or knock over an injured chicken.
    • It may be good to only put companions with an injured bird part-time. If so, make sure visits are frequent so they don't feel the need to re-establish the pecking order.

Prevent Drowning in Water Dish

  • A bird is at particular risk for drowning if it:
    • Drops its head forward into a water dish when going to sleep.
      • This is a particular risk with a Chick Chair, and for very young chicks.
    • Stumbles or tips into a water dish, and poor coordination or weakness or restraints / braces the bird has on make it difficult for the bird to get out of the dish.
      • This is a particular risk with Leg Hobbles, Chick Shoes, and a Foam Leg Brace.
    • Has a water dish that is too low to the ground, or too deep, or difficult to get out of.
  • Choose a method to help keep the bird safe:
    • Offer water only when you are supervising. 5-6 times/day for chicks (This is the safest option until a chick is a few days old). 3-4 times/day for older chickens.
    • Fill the bottom of a shallow dish with marbles. Add water up to the top of the marbles. The chick can push up against the marbles if it falls in. Check regularly to make sure water isn't all gone. (Note: This method can still be risky for very young or weak birds.)
    • Position the dish so the rim is raised high enough that the bird can still drink easily but can't possibly fall in such a way that its head or body will end up resting in the dish. A good height is usually just a little lower than the bird's back
      • Ways to raise a dish higher: You can use a non-empty food can as a steady base to put a water dish on to raise it higher (tuna can for older chicks, soup can for small birds, etc.).
      • Hard-to-tip dishes that have a high rim: An empty mushrooms can is useful for watering older chicks. A ceramic mug is good for some small birds. (Place the dish in a corner where it is less likely to get knocked over.)
  • Always make sure a bird can easily reach food and water on a regular basis, without having to put too much strain on its injuries.

Leg Hobbles to treat Splayed Leg
treatment for chick leg problem

** Splayed Leg needs to be treated ASAP and consistently!
CAUTIONS for treatment: A young chick wearing Leg Hobbles can't get up easily or stand easily. It can fall & drown if it stumbles near a water container. See "Prevent Drowning in Water Dish" section.
KEEP IN MIND: You need to help a chick daily by gently scratching itchy spots that the Leg Hobbles prevent it from reaching with its feet. If you don't scratch places for the chick like the back of its neck where it cannot scratch itself, it will be pretty miserable and can develop a terribly itchy, swollen welt from lack of normal skin stimulation.
Splayed Leg (also called "Splay Leg", "Spraddle Leg",  and "Straddle Leg") occurs when a newborn chick younger than a week old is having trouble learning to stand and walking. While experimenting, the chick starts rotating one or both legs outwards at an incorrect angle. The chick rotates the leg so that foot points mostly to the side instead of forwards, and the chick often becomes sort of "knock-kneed" because the hock on the rotated leg almost touches the other hock. This leg problem may look like a birth defect or deformity, but often it is not to begin with.
The rotated foot slips a lot when the chick tries to use it that way, so the chick will shift most of its weight onto the other straighter leg & mostly use that to support itself while standing, hopping along, or pushing itself along the ground. The chick may also push a wing out against the ground to help balance itself.
The chick usually shows problems in only one leg at first (the most rotated leg), but the straighter leg will also become deformed over time.
  • VERY, VERY IMPORTANT: Check your bird to see if it also is suffering from Perosis (which can relate to nutritional deficiencies) and a Slipped Achilles Tendon.
Spraddle Leg is usually started by slippery flooring such as newspaper, but can be caused by hatching problems, high incubation temperatures, a painful leg or foot injury, a Slipped Achilles Tendon, or too many baby chicks being crowded in the brooder while learning to walk.
Even chicks that are born perfectly normal physically can develop Splay Leg in a non-optimal situation. In a large number of cases, Spraddle Leg is not initially caused by physical abnormalities. Instead, it develops from a chick learning incorrect mental patterns about how to walk. The chick's body then develops deformities as the chick practices movements that become damaging.
  • THE BRAIN MUST LEARN ONLY CORRECT MOVEMENTS. You MUST prevent the chick from getting much experience at moving wrong or it will cement that movement in its brain and you won't be able to fix it.
    • When a chick is first figuring out how to move & walk, if normal movement efforts are unsuccessful or painful, the chick will experiment with alternate ways of moving. If it finds movements that are temporarily less painful or more effective, the chick will program its brain to move in the alternate ways, which are very damaging over time. This quickly builds habits which then cause muscles, ligaments and bones to become deformed by the unnatural positioning & pressures.
Leg Hobbles (also called "Hobble Braces") help keep a young chick from trying to incorrectly twist a hip and leg out sideways, by keeping a chicks' legs from spreading too far apart. These leg braces are made of material wrapped comfortably around each leg & connecting across the gap between the legs.
  • Hobbles should be put on lower legs (below hocks) and allow enough room for the chick to stand with its legs just a little farther apart than normal standing position so chick can balance and practice walking.
  • Hobbles can be made from a variety of materials:
    • White cloth-type sports tape is probably the most ideal, but you can use Band-Aids, Scotch tape, masking tape that has strong stickiness, etc. Be sure to see Special Note on Removing Tape from Legs.
      • For sensitive or feathered legs, put a little piece of paper towel (to cover the tape's stickiness) on just the section of the tape that wraps around the chick's legs. Yarn might be another good material to try--It helps minimize catching on fluff. Watch out for hobbles slipping too much
    • You can also use attach one tiny plastic zip tie to each leg, leaving them a little bit loose to allow for growth. Tie the zip ties together with string & adjust length over time. This method may particularly be helpful for feather-legged birds.
    • You can make adjustable hobbles from Velcro. Make sure only soft side of material touches legs.
    • If you use a small elastic or hair-band in figure-8 around legs with tape wrapped around section between legs, there is greater chance of the hobbles slipping up on the legs, plus the band might stretch too much to be helpful enough. It is not as reliable of a method for treating Splay Leg.
  • Make sure wraps around the legs are secure enough that they won't come untaped on their own nor slip up above the hock joint. Make sure that circulation isn't restricted, which you can sometimes detect if feet start looking reddish.
  • Be sure to check & change Hobbles as needed at least every 2 days since a chick is growing fast and wraps will quickly become too tight to allow growth & circulation.
Once the chick has Hobbles on, it will usually experiment with turning its legs forwards (like it should) instead of twisting one leg or both legs out to the side. The little chick will gradually wobble less and not use its wing for support as much, and will try stepping ahead. Once the chick learns that correct walking is the most effective motion and the chick reprograms its brain, you can begin leaving the Hobbles off.
  • Leg Hobbles have the best chance of being effective if put on within 1 to 3 days of hatch, and usually correct Splayed Leg within 4 to 6 days of treatment in a newly hatched chick. If the chick is 4 days old or older when you start treatment, the chances for reprogramming the chick's brain are slim and the problem likely can't be cured.
  • Do not leave hobbles off AT ANY TIME before the problem is cured (except briefly for Physical Therapy if you choose to do that).
  • Continue to keep the Hobbles on most of the time for a minimum of 1/2 day after chick seems to be walking pretty correctly. Watch closely for a few days after & put Hobbles back on if chick needs help again.
  • If you want to really help ensure continued recovery when chick seems better, instead of completely removing hobbles, at first just cut across the middle connecting section so legs can move freely for 2-5 hours. Then tape the middle section back together for 1-4 hours. Then completely remove hobbles (See Special Note on Removing Tape from Legs) if chick walks correctly, or repeat this process another time or two if needed.
  • If you remove Hobbles too soon, the chick may revert to previous problem within a couple days. The older a chick is and the more time a chick spends using its legs wrong, the more difficult it is to fix this problem.
Chick Leg Hobbles with stiff center for chick leg problems
  • If the chick wriggles out of Hobbles, use a single vertical wrap of sports tape (or masking tape or sticky section of band-aids) around the section between the two legs to more firmly tape the center section together.
  • If chick keeps standing with its hocks too close together, you can experiment on added solutions. This may be especially needed for chicks 4 days old or older.
    • Physical Therapy can be a very helpful added treatment.
    • A technique that's proven some success: Add a second hobble on upper legs above hocks.
      • See "For feathered legs" above to deal with fluff on thighs.
    • A technique you may test out that may have positive or may have negative results: Reinforce center section of brace to add extra stiffness to help keep legs apart. Use extra sports tape wrapped vertically, pipe cleaners, thin piece of taped-on cardboard, etc.
      • You need to be extra careful on tightness for these. Keep watch that it isn't so loose that it slips where it isn't supposed to be (such as slipping over hocks) nor so tight that it cuts into muscle.
    • You SHOULD NOT try to correct long-time twisted legs or severely twisted feet in ADULT BIRDS. (Although, kinks in toes can sometimes be gradually corrected if the foot hasn't become too twisted.) Adults' bones have finished developing & hardened--it would be unsuccessful & very painful to try making any significant changes. Changes would also throw off balance, and adults are extremely likely to persist in trying to walk in habitual distorted way which will re-create and worsen the deformities.
      • Kinks in somewhat mature birds' toes can sometimes be gradually improved if the foot hasn't become too twisted. However, most toes with minor twists do not cause any significant problems, so they do not need any treatment.

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.
Editor's note: My limited personal experiences with trying to treat Slipped Achilles Tendon have not been successful. Some other people report they have had several successes. However, from my research, it sounds as though the majority of people find that if a few manipulation attempts don't correct the problem, additional attempts only cause significant unnecessary suffering and don't help the chick. Information listed below 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 on this page 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:
    • One leg's hock joint 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.
    • The bird's leg will be constantly bent, and the bird won't be able to straighten the leg much.
    • The bird will not be able to use its muscles to bend its ankle correctly.
    • The bird will likely exhibit pain at least the first few days after injury. Birds may peep or cry repeatedly.
    • The back of the hock will look flat (Compare to other legs to double-check).
    • The joint will become swollen after a while.
    • The bird will not be able to use its muscles to bend its ankle correctly.
    • 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), bones don't become twisted, and the tendon and muscles do not end up shortened or deformed.
    • If the tendon has been out of place more than a few days, it will almost certainly be unbearably painful to the bird to try to fix it and you will probably cause more injuries.
      • 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.
      • If you catch the problem soon after it occurs, 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.
  • 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, holding the joint between your thumb & finger and rolling it back and forth gently. If the tendon has slipped, you will feel it snap back into place (and back out again, if the bone is not sufficiently developed). 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.
    • If the slipped tendon occurred recently but won't pop into the hock groove, there is a small chance your bird may instead have a rotated femur, which requires surgery.
  • 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.
  • If the tendon does not go back in place, and you just want to help the bird have some more stability in the joint temporarily, you can try wrapping a soft bandage in a "figure-8" twist on the leg above and below the joint.
  • You can try taking the bird to a veterinarian for a tendon that won't go into place or won't stay in place. The veterinarian may try surgery or other treatments. Click here to read one little chick's success story.
  • However, costs can be expensive with various vets, results are not guaranteed successful, and the effort involved is significant. It is appropriate in almost all cases to instead put down the bird.

  • If there is swelling on hock:
    • If infection is part of what is causing joint to swell, there will be pus in the area, though it may be hard to definitely identify beneath the skin. In this case, recovery is usually not possible, 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.
    • If there is non-infected swelling & initial attempts to put the tendon back in place aren't successful, you may try putting the bird in a Chick Chair for a day or two while giving nutritional supplements. This can allow swelling to go down before trying again, and possibly allow the groove to more fully develop correctly. Be sure to regularly stretch/extend the leg during this time to help the tendon lengthen.
      • *Be aware that Chick Chair treatment requires a lot of work, and it may not be successful and may only prolong suffering.

    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.
    • Manganese, 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.

    Chick Cup or Chicken Basket for Trouble Standing and Walking

    • Used to treat birds recovering from Splayed Leg, a Slipped Achilles Tendon, a Broken Leg, or weak leg(s) and/or tipping over caused by various conditions.
    • This is a physical therapy treatment that helps the bird develop correct muscles and correct mental programming of movement patterns.
    • Place the bird in a vertical container that confines the bird such that its upper body is held fairly upright and its feet are spaced slightly wider than a normal standing position. For a young chick, use a container such as small drinking glass. For an older bird, use something such as a small trash basket.
      • It may be helpful to put something on the floor of the cup that will provide traction for the bird's feet. A circle cut out of rubber shelf lines or a washcloth may help.
    • The bird will try stretching upward to reach out of the container. (You can also offer a couple treats above its head to help encourage this.)
    • Give the bird regular sessions in the Cup or Basket perhaps 30 minutes or an hour a few times a day. The rest of the time the bird needs to be prevented from developing incorrect mental programming and muscle shapes by keeping it in:
      • Leg Hobbles
      • Chick or Bird Sling (or Chair)
      • Chick Donut
      • Chick Playpen

    Ensure adequate Manganese to prevent Chondrodystrophy

    • Developed while chick is in embryo are noticeable as soon as chick hatches. Caused by insufficient Manganese in  parents' diet.
  • Symptoms: Short, thick legs & short wings. Rounded head. Slow feathering. Stomach bulges out. May cause "Star-gazing" posture.
  • Prevention: Feed adequate Manganese to birds that are used for breeding.  

  • Increase Niacin to treat Hock Abnormality

    • Symptoms in Chicks: Enlarged, flattened hocks and bowed legs, along with slow growth.
      • This abnormality usually does NOT result in a slipped Achilles tendon.
    • Treatment: Add Niacin supplementation and/or switch to Chick Starter that has been commercially formulated.

    Increase Vitamin D3 and/or adjust Calcium:Phosphorus balance to treat weak bones

    • Symptoms in Chicks: Rickets and weak legs. Chicks stop to rest every few steps, and squat on their hocks & often sway from side to side. Beaks & claws are overly pliable. Chicks develop slowly & have poor feathering.
    • Symptoms in Laying Hens: Osteoporosis, bones soft or brittle & easily broken. Lameness, swollen hocks. Produce thinner eggshells & fewer eggs.
    • Treatment: Increase Vitamin D3 in diet and/or adjust ratio of Calcium to Phosphorus (Research recommended levels on internet or by calling feed manufacturer.) in diet. Recovery in chicks varies.

    Remove String or Tight Leg Bands

    • Symptoms: Bulging & sore areas on toes or feet may be the result of reduced circulation caused by scraps of string that have become wrapped around a bird's feet. Bulges may also be caused by a leg band being too tight or in an uncomfortable location.
    • Prevention:
      • Strings: Minimize the use of string or baling twine around chickens & replace any that becomes frayed before shreds end up on the ground. Regularly watch out for strings on the ground or wrapped around birds' feet.
      • Leg bands: When you put a leg band on a young chicken, mark your calendar for when you probably will need to check it. It will need to be replaced by a larger size as the chicken grows. If the bird is a male, the leg band will also need to be shifted up the leg to make sure it ends up above the spur as it develops, so the leg band does not get crowded down against the foot.
    • Treatment: Carefully remove the string or leg band. Apply triple antibiotic ointment. The foot will probably heal alright if the problem hasn't been going on too long.

    Remove Constricting Tissue from above Toe Bulges

    • Symptoms: When a bird has Constricted Toe Syndrome, a toe has a bulge in it with a tight area of skin just above it. It looks similar to when a toe is constricted by a scrap of string, but in this case the constriction is caused by fibrous tissue or a scar. The cause may be hard to identify, but low humidity in the brooder, nutritional deficiencies, or an injury may have contributed to the problem.
      • If the problem is not treated soon enough, the end of the toe may die from inadequate circulation.
    • Treatment: Apply Bag Balm ointment to soften skin. Use an exacto knife/scalpel to make several small incisions across the band in the direction of the toe. Remove any scabs or scar tissue. Apply more ointment and wrap the toe gently (not tightly) with paper towel or gauze and vet wrap.

    Diagnose & Treat Articular Gout

    • Symptoms: Swelling, warmth & bulges on toes and one or both feet, and possibly on comb or wattles. Shifting weight from one leg to the other. Bird might crouch or sit, and may be depressed and lose weight.
      • Causes: Urate deposits (which look like ricotta cheese inside) in tissues may be caused by dehydration, Vitamin A deficiency, too much baking soda, kidney damage, blockage in ureter, Mycotoxins from mold in feed, Infectious Bronchitis, excess Vitamin D or calcium in proportion to phosphorus, excessive salt (such as from feed with high amount of fish meal), or too much protein.in diet. Young chicks may also develop it from extended stay at hatchery or overheating.
      • Note: Some Gout and Bumblefoot symptoms can be similar. Review further info and photos to help ensure you make a correct diagnosis of your bird's problem.
    • Prevention: Keep clean, fresh water available at all times. Do not feed excessive protein (especially <30%), such as in some game bird feeds. Avoid feeding Layer Feed to young hens not yet laying or to roosters, if possible.
    • Treatment: Mix in a little apple cider vinegar into drinking water 1-3 days per week. Provide electrolytes and A, D3, K and B vitamins. Lower protein amount in diet. Soak affected joints in very warm water with apple cider vinegar or Epsom salts mixed in. Feed cut up cherries (unsweetened).

    Give Painkiller

    • CAUTION: Do NOT give Ibuprofin (Advil, etc.) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc.) to birds! Those are harmful to them.
    • Buffered aspirin (such as Bayer, etc.) can be used for a chicken to help reduce:
      • Stress, listlessness, discomfort, pain
      • Fever
      • Swelling / inflammation.
        Aspirin thins blood and keeps it from clotting as quickly as normal.
        • You should wait until internal and external injuries have begun to heal before using aspirin.
        • Birds bruise more easily when on aspirin.
        • Aspirin carries risk of some damage to digestive system lining. The risk is higher if old, non-buffered, or broken-up pills are used; or if given in high or frequent amounts.
      • Note: A standard baby Aspirin is 80 mg, and a standard adult Aspirin pill is 325 mg.
      • Dose for chickens: Approx. 25 mg per pound of chicken's body weight each day.
        • Examples: For a 6-lb. Large Fowl Leghorn rooster, give 1 baby aspirin or 1/4 of a regular aspirin for a morning dose, and the same amount for an evening dose ( = ~150 mg total per day).
                              For a Bantam 1.6-lb. Bantam Leghorn rooster, give 1/4 of a baby aspirin for a morning dose, and the same amount for an evening dose (= ~40 mg total per day).
      • To administer:
        • To give immediately or in individual administrations: Crush up and split dose up into 2 or 3 administrations per day. Sprinkle the powder on a small tasty treat such as fruit or yogurt and give to the chicken.
        • To have the chicken self-administer throughout the day: Crush up the total daily dose and dissolve in the approximate amount of water that the chicken drinks each day. Pour into chicken's drinking container.
    • Never give a chicken any kind of painkiller with 'caine' in the name. These are EXTREMELY toxic to chickens if overdosed.
      • Exception: Procaine Penicillin injectible is not as risky because it is rarely overdosed.
      • Do NOT use a Triple Antibiotic Ointment with "Pain Relief" or Painkiller because almost all include '-caine' ingredients.
        • Exception: Neosporin with Painkiller products usually only use Pramoxine HCl as the painkiller ingredient, and that is alright for chickens.

    Avoid Problems from Too-Rapid Growth

    If a young chicken's size grows too fast, its body may be too heavy for its still-developing bones to support well. Leg bones can become deformed, which can lead to mobility problems. Meat bird breeds are genetically programmed for over-rapid growth and over-high appetite. Problems such as congestive heart failure, fatty liver disease, etc. can develop from too high a percent of protein in feed or overly limiting opportunities for exercise.

      • Limit available feed to reasonable amount and feed lower protein levels to help reduce problems. Provide room for birds to exercise & an interesting living environment.

    Increase Thiamine for Progressive Paralysis & Stargazing / Wry Neck

    • This Progressive Paralysis progresses from toes to legs to wings to the neck. An affected bird will end up in a "star-gazing" stance with its neck bent back and beak pointed skyward.
      • When birds are given the medication Amprolium (to treat Coccidiosis, etc), shortly afterward they are especially vulnerable to experiencing a Thiamin deficiency.
    • Increase Vitamin B1 in the bird's diet immediately to help promote recovery.
      • Give a Multivitamin and/or Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) supplement, or
      • Feed foods that are rich in Thiamine, such as sunflower or sesame seeds, pork, wheat or peas (fresh or cooked), or enriched white rice.
        • Note: If you are treating a young chick, use only soft foods that are easy to digest, and sprinkle a little tiny, chick-sized grit on food.

    Increase Riboflavin for Curled Toes

    • In Curled Toe Paralysis (also called Curly Toes), chick walks on tops of curled toes & toenails (vs. Twisted Toes, in which young or old bird walks on sides of twisted toes). Chick will become unable to stand, and often rest or try to walk on hocks to relieve pain of toes.
    • Caused by Riboflavin (Vitamin B12) deficiency.
      • If caused by chick diet (feed that is out-of-date, formulated poorly, or not formulated specifically for chicks), toes start curling within 1-2 weeks.
      • If caused by diet of mother hen (such as solely Layer Feed--without access to Riboflavin-rich foods such as certain greens, etc.), toes start curling within a couple days of birth.
    • IMMEDIATELY increase Riboflavin in chick's diet. Give supplement or multi-vitamin drink with high Riboflavin (Vitamin B12), or Riboflavin-rich foods such as paprika, dried coriander, spearmint, parsley, ground almonds or sesame seeds (you can grind these with a hammer), dry roasted soy (NOT fresh soy), Romano or Swiss cheese, some types of fish (Mackerel, Atlantic Salmon, Trout), etc.
      • If treatment started within couple days of chick being unable to stand, toes will straighten within a few days usually.
      • If treatment started later, toes may not recover & bird may need to be put down or die within 3-4 weeks.
      • Chick Shoes (see below) might also help.

    Chick Shoes for Twisted or Curled Toes

    • CAUTION: A chick wearing Chick Shoes can easily drown if it stumbles near a water container. See "Prevent Drowning in Water Dish"section.
    • Use for splinting and correcting Twisted Toes, or sometimes to help with Curled Toes. (With Twisted Toes, an adult or chick walks on sides of twisted toes. With Curled Toes, a chick walks on tops of curled toes.)
    • Cut out a small, flat triangle a little larger than the size that the chick's foot should be when toes are spread. Position each toe correctly and then use a small piece of sports tape to tape the toe to the cardboard.
    • A different type of chick shoe splint can be made from pipe cleaners (or flower arranging wire and thin padding, for older chickens).
    • If treating young chick: Important to put on new shoe at least every 1-3 days while feet growing fast.The chick will likely need to wear the shoes a total of 4 days to 2 weeks, depending on the severity of the problem
      • Make sure shoe size increased regularly so foot doesn't outgrow shoe. Toe Taping (See below) may be better for treating some problems.
      • Notice and correct sooner if chick wiggles toe into wrong position, before deformities are caused.
    • If treating older bird: You may want to treat moderately twisted toes if causing problems. Do not try to correct long-term, severely twisted toes. Bones, muscles & ligaments are mature & may not be able to be reshaped, or will change more slowly.
      • Aim for gradual reshaping.
      • Check regularly that there isn't too much debris sticking to shoe, & that toes haven't slipped loose.
      • Change the shoe at least every 4-7 days.The bird may need to wear the shoes and/or have its toes taped (See below) for 2-5 weeks.
    • *Be extra sure to follow Special Note on Removing Tape from Legs, Feet & Toes instructions.

    Toe Taping

    • Can be done on any age chicken to help fix individual Broken or Deformed Toes or improperly rotated back toe ("Duck Foot").
    • Sports tape works well.
    • When repositioning toes, make gradual changes. Be careful that tension from tape doesn't cause excessive pain or damage skin.
    • Change tape regularly to monitor for infection and chafing, and so that tape does not inhibit healthy growth or restrict circulation.
      • At least every other day for young chicks.
      • Every 4-5 days for older chickens.
    • *Be extra sure to follow Special Note on Removing Tape from Legs, Feet & Toes instructions.

    Duck Foot
    Chicken rotated forward back toe Duck Foot

    • Condition where the back toe is pointed forward instead of backward, creating balance difficulties. One or both feet can have the problem.
    • Treatment is gradually rotating the toe to correct position using toe taping and/or chick shoe.
    • This young cockerel's left foot had duck foot that corrected in less than 2 weeks with treatment.

    Chicken hock cushion bandage for leg injuries

    Hock Cushion

    • Use when a chicken has a leg problem that causes it to fall on its hocks, especially if the chicken is older and heavier or will be on poorly cushioned flooring. Can be particularly useful for heavy "broiler" chickens that often develop leg problems.
    • Prevents injury when bird falls back or scuffles along floor.
    • Should be taped only to the lower leg and should cover only the back of the leg. This permits continued free movement of the hock joint.
    • For young chicks, use soft padding such as gauze or disposable all-cotton round (face cleansing pad for removing make-up) that is secured by sports tape.
    • For older birds, make from thicker, sturdier cushioning such as a thin square piece cut from foam-type cushion that is secured by sports tape.
    • *See Special Note on Removing Tape from Legs, Feet & Toes.

    Chick Doughnut

    • Used for injured chicks and chickens that are having problems staying upright.
    • Twist a soft washcloth or similar cloth into a coil and place it in the brooder in the shape of a doughnut. Place the injured chick in the "doughnut" hole and adjust the doughnut so its body is supported.
    • Remove the chick and "fluff up" and reshape the cloth once or twice a day to help prevent the chick from developing "bedsores."
      • Sprinkling a little baby powder or corn starch on the places where the chick's body rubs might also help??

    Chick Playpen

    • Used for chicks that are having leg problems or other problems tipping over.
    • The Playpen helps in treating Splayed Leg by restricting sideways travel, and encouraging chick to push up with legs and develop correct muscles. It also helps keep the chick from getting picked on or trampled by others, while allowing it to still interact some.
    • A chick being put in a Playpen to treat Splayed Leg needs to also wear Leg Hobbles.
    • Place a 16-oz. plastic container (such as the smaller ones used for cottage cheese) in the brooder a couple inches further from the heat lamp than the other chicks are staying. There the chick won't be too hot or too cold.
      • Caution: If the temperature in the room will vary more than a little during the day, you should NOT leave the chick in the Playpen unless you will be there to move the Playpen nearer or further from heat lamp to adapt.
    • Place a soft cloth in the container. Crumple it so that there are high spaces and low spaces, where the chick can prop itself up.
    • Remove the chick and "fluff up" and reshape the cloth once or twice a day to help prevent the chick from developing "bedsores."
      • Sprinkling a little baby powder or corn starch on the places where the chick's body rubs might also help.
    • Another chick may occasionally climb in, too, and that is alright. When the recovering chick has built up enough leg strength, it will climb out of the playpen, also.

    Chick or Bird Sling (or Chair)
    * KEEP IN MIND: You need to daily gently scratch potentially itchy spots that the Sling prevents the bird from reaching with its feet or beak. If you don't, the bird will be pretty miserable and can develop terribly itchy, swollen welts from lack of normal skin stimulation.

    * CAUTIONA bird in a Sling can drown if it drops its head forward into a water dish when going to sleep. See "Prevent Drowning in Water Dish"section.
    • Used for injured chicks and chickens. Especially helpful during healing time after you put a slipped hock tendon back into place.
    • A variety of designs can be used.
    • Depending on design, Sling keeps chick either from bearing much weight with legs and walking, or (usually) even being able to touch the ground with its legs or feet.
      • If your chicken is recovering from Slipped Hock Tendon, it may be important for the legs not be able to reach the ground (There is some debate on this). The bird may be suspended with its legs just hanging freely or in not-too-tight casts shaped in gently 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.
      • If your bird is recovering from a Broken Leg or Foot, it is important for the legs not be able to reach the ground, so that the bird does not practice using its legs until healed enough that it can use them equally. A bird that uses one leg a lot more than the other will OFTEN develop Twisted Leg, which is usually progressive and is not curable.
    • A plastic container or Kleenex box can be used for the suspending frame. Cut holes in the sides to allow you to see the legs to check that they haven't gotten caught in "seat" part of Sling.
    • "Seat" part of the Sling is like a hammock. It should be hung in a hole cut in the center of the top of the frame. Seat should be lined with something soft-ish. Cut out a hole for each leg and a poop hole. Seat should be simple enough that the bird's legs don't get twisted around a lot when putting the bird into the chair.
    • You may want to add a flap that fastens across the chick's back to help keep it from squirming out of the Sling.
    • Check chicken periodically for "bedsores." Reposition the chicken slightly every so often and also possibly dust lightly with cornstarch to help prevent discomfort & chafing.


    Treat Bumblefoot Callous &/or Infection
    Note: People who care for raptors (birds of prey) often call thick foot callouses "bumblefoot," though poultry keepers often call a foot problem "bumblefoot" only if there is infection inside a sore.

    Possible Symptoms:
    • Foot pain, swelling, lameness, thick callous spot on skin, internal pus that looks "cheesy", internal lump ("bumble"), and sometimes red or darkened area, scabbing or crack in skin on feet.
    • Note: Gout symptoms can look somewhat like Bumble foot, so do research to be sure which problem your bird is having.
    • Usually caused by cut or bruise, often from landing too hard because of a too-high perch or rough or hard ground.
    • It can also be caused by chafing from perches that are too narrow, round and/or smooth for the bird's feet.
      • Note: Chickens are not designed to curl their feet around small perches for long periods of time.
    • If there is also infection involved, it will likely be a staph (staphylococcus aureus) infection, though it may involve other bacteria or fungi. If the infection persists for an extended time, it can spread into other areas of the bird's body and may cause death. However, in some cases the pus may harden up enough that the infection will not spread to other parts of the body for as long as a several months, though the bird will be experiencing pain or discomfort.
    • Trim any excessively long toenails so your bird can use its feet correctly when landing, etc.
    • Every few months, check feet for callouses that may become problematic.
    • Provide perches that are reasonably wide (minimum of 1 3/4" for bantams, 3 1/4" for large fowl). A correct width helps chickens to not chafe or strain their feet nor slip and fall.
      • Chickens also like to balance and rest on their breastbones on the perch at night. A sufficiently wide perch allows them to relax their bodies and feet.
      • If a bird is sleeping on a perch that is too narrow, its toes do not get covered by its feathers, and the bird is much more likely to get painful frostbite.
    • If possible, use perches that have texture (such as non-splintery boards you roughen up some, or wide branches from trees).
      • When using a 2"x4" boards for a perch for large chickens, turn so the 4" side is the top side.
      • It is good to slightly round the edges of rectangular or square cut boards. To round the edges, you can use sandpaper on a sanding block, or rub each edge of the board roughly on some concrete.
      • When using 2"x4" boards for perches for large chickens, turn so the 4" side is the top side. 
      • Don't provide round ladder rungs or wood dowels for perches.
    • To prevent large birds from bruising their feet, make sure there are no perches higher than ~3 1/2 feet from the ground and that landing area has soft, thick layer of bedding (pine shavings, play sand, etc.) and no sharp objects.
    • Keep coop and perches sanitary and dry. Scrape poop off perches &/or spray with disinfectant such as Oxine.
      • Tip: You can also sprinkle perches with Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth to help guard against chicken mites.
    Treatment Options:
    • Trimming or Lancing / Surgery:
      • Watch PoultryPedia's new video: "How to hold and calm a Chicken for medical treatment or surgery"

      • Soak & gently scrub feet in warm water before surgery. Mixing some Povidone Iodine (Betadine) in the soaking water will help prevent infection during surgery & might help clear existing infection. Or, you can use mild soap when scrubbing legs & rinse off afterwards. If just trimming skin & not doing surgery, soaking is more optional.
        • When using Povidone Iodine, it is usually recommended to dilute it with a good amount of water, so the mixture looks like weak tea. Otherwise, it is likely to be too harsh for skin.
      • Trim excess dead skin from the area. The safest method is generally working in from the edges of the callous. There is greater risk of accidentally cutting into live skin if you start trimming on the top surface of the callous and working your way down.
      • Do surgery, if you think that is a treatment you will also help. There are a few vets that can do Bumblefoot surgery, but most poultry owners who use surgery to treat Bumblefoot do it themselves. Please DO NOT follow instructions or videos that tell you to use an Xacto knife internally, do a lot of squeezing, or to expect significant bleeding or pain.
        • PoultryPedia.com will soon be posting an additional video on YouTube.com showing DIY home Bumblefoot Surgery methods with a minimum of pain and risk.
      • See below for recommendations of surgery tools that may be helpful.
        • Opinions vary on whether surgery should be done, especially depending on the severity of infection & whether a hard "bumble" plug has formed at the center of the infection. Surgery may not be helpful in some cases. You might not want to lance minor infections. If you do lance, do your best to get the hard "bumble" lumps out and remove all pus.
      • Apply a Triple Antibiotic Ointment (such as Neosporin-- without added "-caine" pain relief ingredients, which may be harmful to birds) after trimming to help soften skin and alleviate infection.
      • Wrap foot with strips of paper towel or gauze, and then secure gently with tape.
        • If you want to use vet wrap, you MUST put padding (paper towel strips or gauze) underneath it. Otherwise, circulation would be too restricted and skin would be chafed.
      • Check feet after a couple days to be sure healing is going well & nothing is lodged in hole. Apply a little Triple Antibiotic Ointment and rewrap foot.
      • Remove bandage after 3-5 days.
        • You may put on a little more Neosporin, but not more than once or twice. Otherwise the skin will stay too soft and not toughen back up.
      • Re-examine feet again at least every 1-3 weeks.
        • If excess skin has grown back on trimmed areas, repeat trimming and check for cause of problem (such as too high or narrow of a perch, etc. Be very cautious & conservative when re-trimming! On the surface, callous regrowth may look about as serious as the original callous, but upon examination is likely to be much less deep.
        • If you did surgery on an area, it may still need surgery again if not all infection was cleared out. It is not uncommon for more than one surgery to be needed to clear enough infection.
      • TOOLS:
        • For trimming callouses & cutting out external dead skin, you can use toenail cutters, toenail nippers, toenail scissors, or small wire cutter pliers. An X-acto knife or scalpel is less precise and may take more time.
        • For any needed incisions through external skin, use a sharp, clean razor blade, X-acto knife, or scalpel. If there is excessive bleeding, for a minute or two apply gentle pressure with your fingers on each side of the cut, or gently press a clean Q-tip into the bleeding area.
        • For internal probing, maneuvering & removal of infection: Toenail scissors, toenail cutters that look like tiny pliers, and tweezers are good. Try to gently "tease" and pull bumble plugs loose from and out of connecting tissue rather than cut through live tissue.
        • For periodic cleaning: An especially helpful tool is a 5-cc syringe with a 16 or 18 gauge needle attached. Remove the needle and fill the syringe from a cup of water mixed with a little well-diluted Povidone Iodine (Betadine). Periodically squirt a little liquid through the needle to clean out blood & debris from the wound as you work. You can also use the tip of the needle to gently help pull out pieces of bumble infection (the same way you are using scissors & tweezers).
          • To prevent wound germs from getting into the cup, first remove the needle each time that you dip the syringe into the cup. Just refill directly into the syringe from the cup, before re-attaching the needle to go back to working.
          • Q-tips are also useful to swab out debris as needed.
          • When you are finished operating, it is helpful if you can do a final rinse with saline solution, too, to help restore natural body fluid conditions in the wound area.
    • Antibiotics: If there is much infection involved, consider giving Penicillin or another antibiotic. Penicillin injections have been shown to often be very helpful with Bumblefoot. (See "Treating with Penicillin" section.) Powdered forms of Penicillin in food or water are less difficult to administer but are more designed for digestive tract infections, and are not likely to be as effective for Bumblefoot as injections. Penicillin is better than a number of other antibiotics for Bumblefoot.
      • Peter Brown of firststatevetsupply.com also reports that Lincomycin, Doxycycline & Amoxicillin are good potential treatments. Baytril is another powerful option. Tetracycline class medications may treat some forms of Bumblefoot but in many cases will not be effective.
    • Soaking or Poultices: Soaking with warm water & Epsom salts may help draw out infection. Stand your bird in a very warm container of water 15 mins. per treatment.
    • Essential oils: An easy treatment with essential oils that was successful for one person's chickens is listed at http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/601735/is-this-bumblefoot/10#post_7963791
    • Wrap surgical wound: Use paper towels & sports tape or loosely applied vet-wrap to bandage a wound to help keep your bird's feet clean and cushioned while healing. You can also buy neoprene Birdy Bootie chicken and waterfowl shoes at http://www.hensaver.com/Birdy-Bootie.html.
    • Maintain healing environment: When first healing, it may not be necessary but may be helpful to restrict bird to an area where it will walk around less and have no or low perches.
    • Problem may not be noticed until has been present for an extended time. Even with treatment, Bumblefoot can sometimes develop to be chronic. Unfortunately, if it includes infection, it can lead to death in prolonged or extreme cases. However, some treatment methods (especially antibiotics) have good success rates.
    • Also, sometimes a bird's body will seal off connections to the Bumble Foot infection, especially if the infection is hardened. The bird may live months or longer without the infection spreading further, though may experience some discomfort or pain.

    Prevent Frostbite on Feet

    Similar to frostbite in humans. May heal if not too severe. Places on toes & feet will turn dark if gangrene sets in. 

    • When chickens hunker down to perch at night in winter, if perch is so narrow that toes are curled downward below bottom of  bird's feathering, the tips of toes may freeze. To prevent this, ALWAYS PROVIDE BROAD PERCHES so the feathers will cover all the of chicken's comparatively flat feet well. 
    • Coops without enough ventilation increase risk of frostbite, because of the increased risk from humid conditions. 'Wet' cold causes more frostbite vulnerability than 'dry' cold, and chickens' breathing & droppings can build up quite a lot of dampness in the air. To prevent problems, provide enough air circulation for the number of chickens, via small openings in the coop even during the cold of winter. The openings should be in locations sheltered from breezes (such as underneath roof eaves), and covered with wire to keep predators out.
    • Treatment: [More info needed]
    • Special shoes may help birds that lose parts of their feet to frostbite. You can contact Crazy K Farm to see if they can customize one of their neoprene Birdy Booties to fit your bird's needs.

    Give Injection
    Note: If you are giving Penicillin, also read special notes on Treating with Penicillin. I have recently revised instructions and now recommend that you use the same thickness of needle to draw Penicillin from a bottle as you use to inject the medicine into a bird. I apologize for extra difficulties my error may have caused previously!

    ~ Important: Buy needles and syringes from "people" pharmacies, rather than feed stores, whenever possible. You can give much more effective and kind treatments with these.
    Don't worry--At the great majority of pharmacies, there is no requirement for you to prove or even claim that you or your animals have any disease. Note: Wal-Mart pharmacies do tend to be difficult about selling needles.
    • "People" needles have much finer, sharper tips. "Animal" needles are suited for larger livestock.
    • The plungers on "people" syringes slide much more smoothly. "Animal" syringes tend to stick and then suddenly slide jerkily, which can cause you to accidentally squirt too much medicine or inject it too quickly.
    • "People" syringes are usually smaller. The plunger travels further through a thinner tube with measurements marks further apart, so you can more accurately see and control the small amounts of medicine you are injecting.
    • For thick medicines, a "Luer Lock" type syringe is ideal because it holds the needle tightly onto the syringe and is less likely for the needle to fall off under pressure.
    • Note: Do not buy the ~30-gauge diabetic needles. The needles cannot be removed on many of them, and are too thin for many uses.
    If you must use an "animal" needle, never use one that is 20-gauge or thicker
    Injection syringe and needle size for bird medications
    (thicker = lower gauge number) intramuscularly on any bird!!
    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
    1. Choose correct size of syringe (plastic injection tube with markings for dose amounts)
      • "cc" or "ml" numbers relate to the amount of fluid a syringe can hold.
        • Note: 1 ml = 1 cc
      • A small syringe is needed for accuracy for injections for chickens. A size between 1 and 3 cc is optimal.
    2. Choose correct size of needle. You need to know the correct thickness and length.
      • Thickness of needle
      "Gauge" or "ga" numbers relate to the needle's diameter thickness. HIGHER gauge numbers = thinner needles.
      (Ex.: 25-gauge is thinner than 16-gauge.)
      Dull, thick needles can potentially cause great pain and damage to chickens, especially if used intramuscularly.
      When possible, use one needle solely for drawing medicine from bottle, and use different needle(s) for injecting into chickens. This saves injection needle from getting dulled by the bottle's rubber stopper / lid.
      Gauge size for drawing medicines into syringe
        • Thick needles are easiest and quickest for drawing medicines, though thinner needles can be used.
        • Exception: If you are administering a medicine containing particles, the needle for drawing medicine from the bottle should be the same thickness as the needle used for the injection. This prevents overly large particles from being drawn up into the syringe through a large needle & then clogging up a thinner needle used for an injection.
      Gauge size for injecting medicine into a chicken
        • 24-gauge to 26-gauge needles are usually best for injections for chickens. 28-gauge to 30-gauge needles may be used if medicine isn't too thick.
          • Note: If you are administering medicine with floating particles such as Penicillin, you NEED to use a somewhat thicker but not too thick needle for injecting to enable particles to fit through the needle. A good size is a 20-gauge "people" needle, or 22-gauge "animal" needle.
      • Length of needle
      "Inch" numbers relate to the length of the needle.
          • Intramuscular injection: 1/2 to 5/8 inch needles are good. If you use a longer needle, be careful to not insert too deep--this can be tricky if chicken is squirming.
          • Subcutaneous injection:  5/8 to 1 1/4 inch are easiest to handle for these.
    3. Prepare the medicine
      • Pull any rubber cap off medicine bottle, and pull off the thin metal circle on the center of the bottle's rubber stopper.
        • Check for and follow any instructions about shaking bottle, bringing medicine to room temperature, etc.
    4. Use separate needle to draw medicine into syringe.
        • Take first needle (which can be a thick one) for drawing medicine. Pull the short cover if there is one off the base end of the needle, & press the base end onto the tip of syringe. Pull the long needle cover off the needle tip end.
        • Poke the tip of the "drawing" needle all the way through the center of the medicine bottle's rubber stopper. Turn the bottle upside down. Pull back the plunger until mark for desired amount of medicine is reached. Pull needle out of bottle.
            • If suction inside bottle seems to restrict flow of medicine, you can draw some air into the syringe, insert the needle into the bottle & then expel the air inside to create pressure that will help as you then pull back the plunger to draw out medicine.
              • Caution: This is not advised if needle or syringe has been used before. If you insert air or press on the syringe's plunger when needle is inside bottle, contamination from them may get injected into bottle.
        • Pull syringe's plunger back to suck in medicine out of drawing needle, plus a little air. Put long needle cover back on needle. Gently twist and pull base of needle to remove it from syringe.
        • Hold the syringe with the tip pointing up in one hand. With the other hand, tap the side of the syringe a few times to make any air bubbles float up to the tip. Then gently press plunger until air has been expelled from tip.
    5. Attach the injection needle.
        • Take a second, thin needle for injecting. If there is a short cover off the base end, pull it off. Press the base end onto the tip of syringe. Pull the long needle cover off the needle.
        • Point needle upwards. Gently push the plunger on syringe until medicine starts to drip out. Then stop.
    6. Use correct administration to inject medicine.
    7. Injections of antibiotics, vaccines, or other fluids can be helpful in some treatments. Some should be given subcutaneously (just under the skin), some intramuscularly (in the muscle), and very few intravenously (in a blood vein). The label on most medicines will tell you which injection method to use.
      ALL injection types
      How to hold struggling chicken still

      • To minimize wiggling, you can lay the chicken on its back or partly on its side and gently hold it between your thighs. (See the Rooster Spurs page for additional photo.) This position calms most birds after a few moments. It is best if you have a footstool to prop your feet up on.
      • At the injection site, spread the feathers apart so you have clear access to skin.
        • Do not twist large feathers out of place too much. The base of the quill of a feather is attached under the skin, and too much twisting will cause pain, damage & bleeding under the skin.
        • You can dampen the fluffy feathers around the spot where you are going to inject, so they don't float around as much. This will REALLY help you see through the feathers down to the skin better, which is especially helpful with subcutaneous injections. Use a spray bottle to lightly mist the feathers, or a damp cloth.
        • You can choose if you want to try to clean area with alcohol--Many people don't. If you do, the bird will likely feel a sting from the alcohol when you poke a needle through the skin.
      • The tip of a needle is slanted. For least damage and pain, rotate the needle so the longest edge of the tip is angled toward the place on body where the needle will go in.
      • To minimize soreness and any scarring, try to avoid giving injections too often in one location. Alternate giving one time on left side, next time on right, etc.
      SUBCUTANEOUS injection
        • Least painful for chicken (Chicken's skin layer sensitivity is different from humans'). Slowest and most even rate of absorption. Possibly lower potency during distribution. Distributes medicine over longest period of time. Can be a little tricky to do--It can be hard to find a spot with loose enough skin.
        • Good locations:
        • EASIEST LOCATION: Just in front of the bird's leg or in the groove just inside the front of the leg. Push the leg a little forward to help skin in area to be loose. You can lay the bird on its back & gently grip
        • In the lower third of the back of the neck.
            • Do not twist the base of large feathers around too much, nor poke the needle into the base of a feather.
            • Be sure the needle points more forward than down, to avoid poking the lungs are located in the body below the neck.
          • Near the underside of the wing in the bird's "wingpit" (similar to armpit).
            • Be careful to not pull really hard in this area, or muscles & membranes can get damaged.
        • How to inject: Gently grab loose skin & feathers between your thumb and forefinger. Lift the "pinch-hold" at an angle slightly away from chicken's body to create a little "tent" of empty space under the raised skin.
            • CAUTION: Do not pull feathers or skin away from the bird really hard, or you will tear the connecting membranes beneath the skin and cause internal bleeding.
          • Look for and try to avoid hitting any veins, tissues or masses.
          • Poke the needle just through the skin in line with the "ridge" of the "tent" (If you poke across the "tent", the needle will likely poke out of the skin on the other side.
          • Before pushing in medicine, pull the syringe's plunger backward a tiny bit to check to make sure you have not accidentally hit a vein.
          • If blood appears in the syringe, withdraw the needle, and try for a different spot that isn't close by. (If you try to use a spot close to the first spot, medicine may leak out of the chicken's body through the first puncture hole.)
          • Slowly depress plunger until dose of medicine you want to give is administered. (Watch measurement marks on side of syringe, or fill syringe with only desired dose.)
        • When you withdraw: Pull the needle out quickly and press a finger on the injection site. Gently massage the area for a minute or two to help spread medicine away from the hole and minimize leaking of medicine.
      INTRAMUSCULAR injection
        • Easier to find good injection site. Likely to cause muscle soreness: may cause limping if injection site is in leg, or some reluctance to move or eat if in neck. Rate of absorption of medicine is faster than with subcutaneous injection but slower that with intravenous injection.
        • If giving injections into a muscle (such as breast), alternate between giving in the muscle on left side of body one day, and the one on the right side the next day. This will help minimize muscle damage that can commonly happen with injections, and also reduce soreness.
        • Good locations: About 1/4 inch deep in the muscle in the chicken's thigh, or in the breast muscle a little to the left or right of the center bone (keel bone).
          • Note: The breast muscles are lower down than you might think. With your finger, follow the 'V'-line made by the top of the chicken's ribcage in the middle of its chest. The dip point in the center is the tip of its keel bone. The breast muscles where you want to inject are the area BELOW that point, as you move down the chicken's body.
        • How to inject: Insert end of needle about 1/4 inch deep in the muscle. Pull the syringe's plunger backward a tiny bit just prior to injecting. If blood appears in the syringe, withdraw the needle, and try for a different spot.  Then slowly depress plunger until dose of medicine you want to give is administered. (Watch measurement marks on side of syringe, or fill syringe with only desired dose.)
        • When you withdraw: Pull the needle out quickly and press a finger on the injection hole for a minute to prevent leaking of blood or medicine. Gently press down and massage muscle to help medicine spread well and to help minimize soreness.
      INTRAVENOUS injection
        • Integrates medicine very quickly into chicken's system, but maintains it there for only short period of time. Higher risk of medication overdose. Needle insertion is painful to chicken and may cause soreness. Risk of excessive bleeding and vein damage.
    8. Clean up supplies.
        • You can clean and re-use a syringe, and a needle that is used only to draw medicine from a bottle (unless you are using a medicine that reacts with water).
          • Rinse them out immediately after initial use. Prior to re-use, disinfect by drawing rubbing alcohol into syringe then attaching needle & squirting some inside it, and dribble some on outside of needle. Let soak 15 mins. Then rinse out with water so no alcohol remains to cause sting.
        • It is not generally advised to re-use needles used for injection, because of the  risk of accidentally mixing medicines, spreading disease between birds, & bacterial contamination; plus the needle tip gets dulled each time it's inserted and a dull tip is painful and more likely to cause damage to the chicken's body.
        • Safeguard against accidental punctures from used needles, immediately after injection.
          • Temporary measures: Put the needle cover back over the tip, or tape masking tape over the tip. Put needle in a semi-rigid container (such as a yogurt container) that you have labeled "Used Needles".
          • Permanent measures: Remove needle cover and place needle in "sharps" container that will be properly disposed of.
            • Hospitals, medical offices & pharmacies may let you put needles in their sharps containers, or let you drop off your own sharps container (which you can buy at a medical supply store). Some landfills will dispose of appropriately sealed sharps containers.

    Treat with Penicillin injection

      • I have recently revised instructions and now recommend that you use the same thickness of needle to draw Penicillin from a bottle as you use to inject the medicine into a bird. I apologize for extra difficulties my error may have caused previously!

      Optional alternatives: Penicilin G can be inactivated by acids & gastric juices so unless you are treating an infection in the digestive tract, it is not very recommended to give directly by mouth, or in water or food because little active medicine is absorbed into the rest of the bird's system. If you do decide to try a powder form of Penicillin designed for animals (or powder from human-prescribed capsules) because of the easier administration, dose would likely be 200-300 mg/day. You can also research whether Amoxicillin may be the most effective type if giving orally.
    • Identify correct type of Penicillin to use. Our Chicken Medicine Chart lists some general guidance.
      • Supplies you will need:
        • Small bottle of Penicillin ($9-$26 in medicine refrigerator at most feed stores. You don't need a prescription.)
          • At home, you need to keep it in your refrigerator.
        • One syringe for administering medicine (~20 cents, ideally from pharmacy for people). Sizes between 1 to 3 cc give best accuracy. A Precision-Glide syringe will help prevent accidentally squirting too much at once. It is STRONGLY recommended to use a syringe with a Luer-Lok tip, to prevent the needle from popping off if Penicillin clogs.
        • One needle for each bird plus one needle for withdrawing medicine from bottle. Use 20-gauge "people" needles (from pharmacy), or 22-gauge "animal" needles (from feed store) (~25 cents each). 3/8 to 5/8 inch length is best but longer is alright as long as you don't push into chicken too deep. Inject approx. 1/4 inch in a bantam, and about 3/8 to 1/2 inches deep in a full-size chicken.
      • Optimal additional supplies:
        • Small spray bottle or damp cloth to moisten feathers.
        • Extra syringe filled with water, to use to clear out any medicine particles that may clog needle.
        • Small container to squirt water into.
        • Bath towel to cushion chicken's body while you turn it onto its back. Can also wrap snugly around chicken to prevent wing flapping. Gently draping over bird's face can help calm it, as well.
        • A second person, to hold the end of the syringe & depress the plunger, while you gently hold a small pinch of skin & steady the needle.
      • To prepare shot:
      1. Remove Penicillin bottle from frig and allow to reach room temperature (Wait ~30 mins.).
      2. Attach a needle to end of syringe, for drawing out medicine.
        • Don't use a thinner needle (lower number than 20-gauge "people" needle, or 22-gauge "animal" needle) for this because the large particles in Penicillin can't go through as well.
      3. Very important: Shake bottle vigorously 2-4 mins. right before drawing out medicine.
        • Penicillin has large heavy particles that need to be floating so they go into your syringe.
      4. Push medicine-drawing needle into top of bottle; then turn it upside-down so syringe is below bottle & tip of needle is submerged in medicine.
      5. Pull back the plunger on syringe until medicine reaches mark ~1/8 cc more than amount you want (in case you need extra for back-up in case some gets accidentally spilled out).
      6. Turn bottle right-side up and withdraw needle.
      7. Hold syringe with needle pointing up, and pull medicine-drawing needle off the end.
      8. To get any air out of the syringe, point the syringe tip up and withdraw the plunger a little to draw all the medicine fully into the syringe; tap the side of the syringe with your finger to cause any bubbles to rise to the tip of the syringe; and depress the plunger until the excess air is pushed out and medicine reaches the tip.
      9. On tip of syringe, attach a fresh, second needle for making the injection. (This tip of the medicine-drawing needlewill go in more smoothly and with less pain than re-using the withdrawal needle that has been dulled by the bottle's rubber stopper.
        • If  you aren't using a Luer-Lok syringe & particles clog needle, backwards pressure of stuck medicine can cause syringe to pop off of needle, so you need to push very firmly when attaching needle to syringe.
      10. Give injection, following instructions in previous "Give Injection" section.
        • Giving intramuscularly will get medicine circulating in system soonest and is often recommended for Penicillin. Alternatively, you can choose to give subcutaneously. Don't give in vein.
          • Intramuscular Penicillin injections sting a lot for people, cats, and some other animals, but do not seem to for chickens, though they may cause soreness.
        • If particles do clog needle & stop it up, you can try the following:
          1. Have a second person push harder on the plunger; while you keep gently holding up the small pinch of skin & holding the syringe steady so it doesn't slide into the bird too far.
          2. Fill an extra syringe with water & have it sitting in an empty glass close by, ready for handling any problems. If a needle clogs, withdraw it from the bird & pull the needle off the end of the medicine-filled syringe. Attach the clogged needle firmly onto the end of the water-filled syringe. Squirt water out the needle into the glass until blockage is cleared (If syringe isn't Luer-Lok, hold the base of the needle tight against the syringe while you squirt so water pressure doesn't pop needle off.)
            Switch the needle back onto the medicine-filled syringe & push plunger just until water is cleared out of the needle & medicine is starting to dribble out.
            * If when needle clogged a significant amount of medicine got squirted externally, re-attach the medicine-withdrawing needle and draw additional medicine from the bottle into your syringe. (Do NOT insert a used injection needle into the bottle or it will contaminate the rest of the bottle.) Then re-attach the injection needle.
          3. Withdraw the needle from the bird and pull & push plunger back & forth a little to dislodge particles. Then push it forward enough to see if medicine dribbles out & it might now smoothly dispense medicine.
            • Caution: This method often does not work & the same big particle will clog the needle again.
              • Then re-inject the needle into the chicken in a different location and give the rest of the medicine.
        • Put the bottle of Penicillin back in the frig reasonably soon. If properly stored, the medicine should remain effective for future use for at least several months.
      11. DO NOT use Penicillin for less than 3-4 days (even if the bird seems better), or bacteria may get a chance to build up immunity to the Penicillin & infection may return. It is recommended that you continue to give Penicillin for 1-2 days after symptoms clear up. The best amount of time period to treat a bird with Penicillin is probably 4 to 6 days, regardless of the type of infection.
      12. For short-acting Penicillin G (with no Procaine added in), dose is 0.20 cc (ml) [ = a little less than 1/4 cc] per day for a standard-size chicken. Range of safety is good: up to 1/2 cc shouldn't hurt the chicken.
        • If using short-acting Penicillin G: For severe infections, it helps to split the dose in half and give twice a day for the first couple days, so chicken gets Penicillin more frequently added into body.
      13. Pull out needle, place your finger on the injection site, and gently massage area to help distribute the medicine. Lumps fairly commonly occur after Penicillin injections, and massaging can help reduce their formation.
      14. If Penicillin is a problem for you, do not eat eggs or meat from the treated chicken for a while after treatment.

          Diagnose Marek's Disease

          • Also called Marek's Disease Virus' (MDV), Fowl Paralysis, Visceral Leukosis, and Gallid herpesvirus 2 (GaHV-2)
          • Marek's is a VERY SIGNIFICANT cause of lameness and paralysis. It is highly contagious & often fatal, though some birds have very good recoveries.
            • Immediately separate an affected bird from the rest of the flock to minimize spread of the disease.
          • Different syndromes of Marek's have a variety of symptoms. Possible symptoms include:
            • Progressive paralysis that may affect the bird's legs, wings and/or neck. Often, just one limb is affected at first, and gradually more of the body becomes affected.
            • Weight loss, anemia, labored breathing and diarrhea.
            • Iris color changing to gray in eye, blindness.
            • Some infected birds may die without symptoms becoming noticeable first.
          • Vaccines are available for newborn chicks.
            • Chicks that have been vaccinated should be kept separate from unvaccinated chicks until they are older.
          • Some helpful info on Marek's Disease is posted at http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-great-big-giant-mareks-disease-faq and http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/mareks-virus-the-most-frequently-asked-questions.

          Diagnose Synovitis / Mycoplasma Synovaie

          • Disease caused by Mycoplasma Synovaie (MS). Also called Infectious Synovitis or Silent Air Sac
          • Symptoms: Lameness. Then lethargy and reluctance to move, hock joints swollen with cream-color fluid, stiff gait, weight loss, blisters on breast. Birds will often sit on their hocks.
            • In respiratory form of MS, birds show respiratory distress.
          • The best antibiotics for treating are generally tylosin, tiamulin,enrofloxacin, erthromycin, spectinomycin, lincomycin, and chlortetracycline. The medications are most effective if given by injection.

          Diagnose Ornithobacterium Rhinotracheale (ORT) infections

          • Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale bacterium can contribute to a variety of diseases.
            • Respiratory symptoms are found in most of these.
            • Males are more commonly affected.
            • Most common in meat birds, but also in other chickens & turkeys, and in pheasants, partridges, guinea fowl and rooks.
          • Symptoms: One ORT condition in turkeys causes leg & foot problems, while not affecting the respiratory system. It causes arthritis, osteitis and osteomyelitis, leading to paralysis. These birds' joints are frequently swollen with pus.
          • Transmission: Can also be through egg.
          • Treatment: It is important to have lab culture done to know which antibiotics will work for a particular strain. Some strains respond to Chlortetracycline or Amoxicillin in drinking water. Injections of Tetracyclines or Penicillins are effective for some strains.

          Diagnose Aspergillosis

          • Internal fungal disease caused by fungus / mold in feed, bedding or water.
          • Symptoms: Occasionally causes paralysis if disease becomes very progressed.
          • See Fungal Infections page.

          Diagnose Toxoplasmosis

          • A coccidian protozoan parasitic disease that affects the central nervous system, and sometimes the reproductive system, skeletal muscles, or critical organs.
          • Leg-related symptoms: Uncoordinated and jerky movements. Young birds may lie on their backs a lot, and struggle to get upright.
            • Check for eye injuries, which can occur while bird is struggling on the ground.
          • See article on possible treatment.

          Diagnose Equine Encephalitis

          • Neurologic disease that includes Eastern and Western Encephalitis (EEE and WEE).
          • EE is mostly spread by mosquitoes, and by birds pecking each other or cannibalising bird carcasses.
          • Symptoms: Reduced intake of feed, fever, staggering, paralysis, death. Surviving birds may have blindness, neck twisting, circling, leg or muscle paralysis, weakness, tremors.
          • Treatment: No successful cure is known. Aspirin may be risky with this disease, but might help by reducing fever. (See Give Painkiller section.)
          • Prevention: Drain standing water where mosquitoes breed, and mow 50-foot strip around coops to reduce cover for mosquitoes. Remove bodies of dead birds promptly. Vaccinate at 5 weeks old with horse vaccine (1/10th of horse dose = dose for a pheasant).

          Diagnose Infectious Tenosynovitis

          • Also called Viral Arthritis, Teno, Reovirus Enteritis, Stunting & Malabsorption Syndrome.
          • Spread between birds through droppings and respiratory contact.
          • Symptoms: Mild to severe lameness, sitting on hocks, reluctance to move. Swelling of tendon sheaths in toes and possibly in shanks and above hocks.
            • In chicks, wing feathers may stick out ("Helicopter Disease").
            • In Reovirus Septicemia form, egg production drops, birds become dehydrated and turn blue, comb becomes progressively purpleish and dark.
          • Treatment: No treament has been found that gives strong success, though there is a vaccine.
            • For hens: Tetracycline, molasses and oyster shell can be beneficial.

          Diagnose Egg Yolk Peritonitis

          • Infection caused by egg yolks leaking into the abdomen. The infection and yolks will gradually build up over several weeks and form a semi-firm ball.
          • Symptoms: A hen may still be successfully laying eggs periodically, but will spend more time sitting or crouching, and walk with legs wide apart. She will also become more lethargic and less interested in food.
            • You will be able to feel a fairly solid ball building up in her belly, which is pretty far BELOW her vent. (When a hen perches, her abdomen rests on the perch.)
              • Do not confuse this with Egg Binding, where a ball (egg) forms at about the same height as her vent.
          • Treatment: Recommendations may include antibiotics (Penicillin or others), draining the abdomen through a large needle, and careful nutrition. Chances for success vary and the condition is likely to recur.

          Diagnose Egg Binding

          • Symptoms: When a laying hen is eggbound, whe will walk with legs wide apart like a penguin.She will visit the nest frequently, straining to lay an egg, and her vent will look reddened and stick out some. She may pass white urates without poop. She won't eat or drink much.
            • Note: A hen who is Egg-Bound will have a ball inside her at about the same height as her vent.
              • A hen who has Egg Yolk Peritonitis will have a lump in her abdomen / tummy, which is far below her vent.
          • Caution: Straining may cause internal hemorrhaging or extreme exhaustion that can lead to death.
          • Treatment: Sit the hen in a warm bath up to about her middle for 30 mins. and then apply personal lubricant to her vent. This may enable her to pass the egg herself, or you may be able to help her pass it by inserting your pinky finger and helping manipulate the egg.
            • Cracking the egg inside her can create a risk of infection but does not always. In some cases, if the egg is so stuck you cannot remove it whole, you may need to tap it to crack it. Then gently try to pull out all broken egg shell pieces.
          • The problem may re-occur. Watch the hen for symptoms that she may have another egg stuck inside her.

      Increase Thiamine for Progressive Paralysis & Stargazing / Wry Neck

      • This Progressive Paralysis progresses from toes to legs to wings to the neck. An affected bird will end up in a "star-gazing" stance with its neck bent back and beak pointed skyward.
        • Birds are especially vulnerable to experiencing a Thiamin deficiency for a short while after taking the medication Amprolium (to treat Coccidiosis, etc).
      • Increase Vitamin B1 in the bird's diet immediately to help promote recovery.
        • Crush up a Multivitamin and/or Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) supplement pill and sprinkle some of the powder on food, or
        • Feed foods that are rich in Thiamine, such as sunflower or sesame seeds, pork, wheat or peas (fresh or cooked), or enriched white rice.
          • Note: If you are treating a young chick, use only soft foods that are easy to digest, and sprinkle a little tiny, chick-sized grit on food.

          Treat Botulism from eating rotten food

          • Also called Limberneck, Flaccid Paralysis, Bulbar Paralysis, Western Duck Sickness, Alkali Disease.
          • Most species of birds are vulnerable.
          • Cause: Eating certain rotten food (such as spoiled canned vegetables), contaminated maggots, or decaying carcasses or other substances.
          • Symptoms: Unresponsiveness & sleepiness. Birds may rest with eyes closed & beak on ground. Paralysis of legs & wings common in turkeys, ducks & pheasants; then limpness in neck (which may be the only muscle sign in chickens).
            • If amount of toxin eaten is too high, death will occur in 12-24 hours.
          • Treatment:
            Within short time after eating poison: Activated charcoal (NOT regular charcoal) can help absorb poisons so they can be flushed from the bird's system. You can buy capsules of activated charcoal at a pharmacy. Sprinkle in a little water & give as a slurry several times a day. Epsom salts & potassium permanganate have been shown to help flush the bird's system. However, treatments vary greatly depending on source of poison & the listed items may be unsafe in some situations. See ASPCA Tips to Manage a Poison Emergency for more guidelines. (Note: If called, the pet poison phone service listed may charge $65).
          • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin E, and Selenium may be helpful in some cases.
            Later treatment: Botulism antitoxin injections are available. Research additional treatments, such as Selenium treatments, as well.

      Identify Poisoning from other Plants or Toxins

        Diagnose Fowl Cholera

        • Symptoms: Lameness from joint infections. Fever, reduced eating, labored breathing, mucus coming from mouth, ruffled feathers, diarrhea. Joints and footpads may swell.
          • Not usually seen in chicks.
        • Use Sulfa drugs or other Antibiotics for treatment.

        Diagnose Necrotic Enteritis

        • Also called "Creepers".
        • Most common in commercial poultry ages 2-6 weeks, but also 7-16 weeks.
        • Disease is transmitted through eating contaminated feces, etc.
          • Birds are more vulnerable after diet changes, stress, eating a diet of more than 10% barley or wheat, or suffering from mild Coccidiosis.
        • Symptoms: Depression, intoxication, diarrhea, ruffled feathers, progressive emaciation. May be reluctant to move & have difficulty moving. May become dehydrated (Watch for skin darkening) but have water build-up in crop.
          • If acute, death may occur within hours. Can also be chronic condition.
          • Some symptoms are similar to Coccidiosis, Ulcerative Enteritis, and so other conditions, so carefully diagnose.
        • Treatment: See Medicine Chart for possible useful medications. Maintain sanitary conditions.

        Identify Poisoning from Plants or Toxins

        Scaley Leg Mites

        Treat for Scaley Leg

        • Chickens can develop progressively more raised scales and deformed-looking areas on their legs and toes. These are caused by Scaley Leg Mites and their eggs, droppings & dead bodies. The attacking mites and the raised scales cause soreness, irritation, pain and some lameness; make the chicken more susceptible to further injury; stress chickens; can reduce egg-laying; and can lead to infections that can reach as deep as bones and be fatal in extreme cases.
        VARIOUS TREATMENT OPTIONS are listed below that may be beneficial. Recommendations for treating Scaly Leg vary widely.
          • The goals of treatment are to suffocate, drown, poison, and/or remove mites and their eggs. Some treatments for severe cases also aim to shed old leg scales so the legs can be more thoroughly cleared of mites & eggs.
          • It is critically important to re-treat after 2 weeks, when pre-existing mite eggs will have hatched but new mite eggs will not yet have been laid. You may want to treat additional times before and after that. You may also want to treat every month or two as a preventative, also.

    • Sprinkle wood ashes into bedding, particularly dust-batheing areas.
      • Burn some tree branches (which can have leaves) or unpainted wood & collect into a bucket the ashes and charred clumps that remain. Sprinkle these into the bedding in the coop, particularly around sleeping and dustbatheing areas, and in outdoor dustbatheing areas. The ashes are strong killers of all kinds of mites.
        • You might expect that ashes would make your birds & coop very dirty, but actually you will not notice any difference as the ashes mix with bedding.
        • Do NOT include any trash, toxic plants or painted items in the burn pile, fireplace or campfire pit you collect ashes from.
        • Bonus:  Wood charcoal also provides toxin-cleansing benefits to chickens when they nibble on it.
      Soak legs in vegetable oil. (Note: This is treatment is theorized based on http://www.squidoo.com/Chicken-Scaly-Leg-Mites, but needs experimentation.) Pour a few inches of regular cooking oil into a small but broad container. Stand the chicken in the container, or submerge one leg at a time up to the hocks. Flex the toes once or twice to release air bubbles & help oil get under the scales. After 3 minutes, lift the legs out of the oil & let excess oil drip back into the container while you use your fingers to gently wipe excess oil off the legs. Take paper towels & carefully squeeze feathers on the thighs to help remove oil that may have gotten on feathers. You don't have to be too thorough in removing excess oil. The birds may be slightly messy-looking for a couple days, but will clean off.
      • Repeat this process again after two weeks, to treat new mites that hatch from eggs.
      • You may wish to give more treatments during the two weeks if you think necessary.
    • Soak the chicken's entire legs in solution made of warm water and permethrin-based insecticide for poultry. Mix up according to instructions on label.
      • Too strong of a concentration or too much time soaking can result in overdose.
      • It is possibly not good to use this method if your chicken's legs have raw places.
      • Research more first if you are going to clear out scales the same day, because the chicken's legs will get raw and insecticide residue may possibly cause pain plus potentially other problems.
    • Spray legs very well with Adams Flea and Tick Mist. Massage it in if the chicken has feathered legs. (You probably should wear rubber gloves.) [Editor's note: I still need to check up on this method more]
      • If you get the kind with Insect Growth Regulator (IGR), it is supposed to last 3 months and take care of adult mites and mite eggs.
      • If you get the kind without IGR, you need to treat again in 2 weeks.
      • Caution: This mist probably causes health concerns for eating eggs and meat. Check the label.
    • Sprinkle Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) in dustbatheing spots & nests, and on perches.
      • This is generally only contribute much in PREVENTION & will not be sufficient to clear out an existing infestation.
      • Use only FOOD-GRADE D.E. (NOT the D.E. that is used in swimming pool treatments, etc.)
    • Soak the chicken's entire legs in warm water 3-15 minutes (You can add Epsom salt if legs don't have raw places). Do not leave part of the legs above water, or mites can survive by climbing up. You can stand the chicken in a container, or many chickens are alright being left alone soaking in a few inches of water in the bathtub as long as you close the shower curtain. Afterwards, do dry off the chicken's feathers some with paper towels or a towel, but work quickly enough that legs will still be damp and soft for the additional treatments you have chosen to do.
      • Soaking drowns mites, makes legs easy to wash clean, softens scales for trimming and cleaning, helps draw out infection, and softens skin to readily absorb medicine.
      • It is very useful to soak legs prior to any other form of treatment.
    • Wash any major poop off legs. Use warm water and a little hand soap or dish soap (only if there are no raw places on legs). Rinse well.
      • This helps prevent infection.
    • Clear out scales. Skip this treatment unless the case is bad, because it is very difficult and potentially painful, and other treatments will likely take care of these areas. Especially skip steps 2 and 4 below unless you have a very careful, steady hand, because you can cause excessive pain and possible injury and infection. Note: This treatment will definitely NOT cure scaley leg if used as the only treatment method.
      1. Be sure you SOAK THE CHICKEN'S LEGS FIRST in warm water (without Epsom salts) for 2-5 minutes before starting, to soften up gunk for easier removal that is less painful.
      2. For treatment, hold the chicken lying on its back on your lap tilted slightly upside down and gently gripped by your legs. Turn the chicken right-side up and hold it close against you & pat its side/wing every so often if it needs a break. Also, if it starts extra squawking or squirming, be alert that it may need to poop and need to be turned upright for a minute.
      3. OH-SO-CAREFULLY sweep out the worst of the gunk from under, on top of, and beside raised scales. Use fingernail scissors, a sewing seam ripper, safety pin, or toothpick to push the gunk out a side edge of the scale, or use an ultra-soft children's toothbrush to gently sweep out the gunk. Try not to detach any scales unless they are shedding and very loose. Hold the leg or toe with a paper towel that you can frequently wipe your scraper on to clear it of gunk. Try to limit gunk dropping back onto the bird (You may want to place the chicken inside a small shirt, with only its head and legs protruding.
        • Tip: Bend the chicken's toes to make it easier to clean under scales there.
        • Every so often, turn the chicken right-side up & resoak the legs a minute to keep gunk easier to remove & to keep it damp so it will stick to the paper towel and not fall onto the bird.
        • If trying to remove gunk causes too much pain in an area, just leave the gunk there, so you don't cause excessive trauma or injuries. The gunk will work its way out during soaking or when new scales grow in.
      4. Trim ends off of any scales that are very long, hard and raised. (These will be only in severe cases.) Use toenail clippers, toenail scissors, or small cutting pliers such as wire cutters.
        • OH-SO-CAREFULLY dig out the gunk in the "caves" that will be revealed inside the scales. You can use a sewing seam ripper, small safety pin, or toothpick to carefully pick it out. This step particularly helps remove some well-protected mite eggs.
      5. Soak the legs again for a couple minutes to drown more newly-exposed mites.
      6. Applying Campho-Phenique, or Triple Antibiotic Ointment (without pain reliever ingredients, because many can be hazardous to chickens) afterward is recommended, especially on any spots where you might have poked through skin.
      7. Towel dry any wet feathers (or blow-dry if weather is cold).
      8. If you have Sevin dust, poultry insecticide dust, or possibly food-grade Diatomaceous Earth, lie your bird on its back afterwards and powder it to help kill any mites that may have fallen into its feathers.
    • Apply Campho-Phenique medicine ($5 at general stores, $7 at groceries. Will treat 4-6 chickens.). Hold the chicken on your lap tilted slightly upside down and gently gripped by your legs. Dribble medicine on all scaley areas of feet and legs, especially any areas that are raw. Buy an eyedropper for this (Many cheap over-the-counter medicines include one, or you can buy separately for under $1.) so you don't waste medicine, and so you can most easily apply. Put the medicine bottle in a small glass or a small yogurt container to prevent tipping.
      • This drowns & kills mites, helps prevent and cure infection, and applies safe painkiller. Editor's note: This product works great!
    • Smear petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) over entire surface of legs and toes, gently pushing it up under scales.
      • This suffocates Scaly Leg mites that are covered by Vaseline, but won't necessarily reach all of the mites.
      • This is not as effective with feather-legged chickens or if legs have developed thick scales with mites and eggs inside, but can still be helpful.
    • Smear triple-antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin) on the legs after soaking, while they are still soft and can absorb medicine well. If you use one that includes a pain relief ingredient, be sure the pain reliever isn't one with a name ending in "caine" (Those are harmful for chickens).
      • This suffocates mites, and helps prevent and treat infection.

      Give Penicillin if bird appears to have very serious bacterial infection as a result of the mites.
      Put in all-new bedding at least in areas where the chickens nest or hang out a lot. Dust those areas plus all roosts with Sevin dust (Carbaryl poultry insecticide sold at feed stores for ~$6).

      Note: Frontline or Frontline Plus tick & flea drops are NOT likely to help kill scaly leg mites, because the drops are not absorbed into birds' bloodstreams (although the drops may be used very successfully to kill other mites in appropriate circumstances).

      Correct Incubator Conditions

      • Too high of temperature can cause problems with crippling in chicks.
      • Too low of humidity may contribute to Constricted Toe Syndrome. It can also make it difficult for the chick to break through the shell, or cause the membrane to stick to the chick. The chick can develop incorrect movement patterns and muscling that may then lead to crippling.
        • In cases of low humidity during hatching, dampening a paper towel or washcloth with very warm water and placing it partly around the egg and chick may be helpful if done appropriately. Do additional research on appropriate technique.

      Diagnose Neurologic Disorders
      Cerebellar Abiotropy

      • This condition develops shortly after a chick is born creates progressive balance and coordination problems caused by brain neurons called Purkinje cells dying off.
      • It is genetic, progressive and cannot be cured.
      • Symptoms: difficulty determining space and distance, awkwardness standing and walking, hyperreactivity, head bobbing when walking.
      Cerebellar Hypoplasia and Hydrocephalus
      • This condition manifests shortly after a chick is born. It results from inadequate development of the cerebellum and fluid pressure on the brain, and causes problems with balance and coordination.
      • Some research indicates it can be caused by a Chicken Parvovirus.
      • Symptoms: lying on side while paddling with legs, diarrhea, possible death.
      Dersky's Disease (Goose Parvovirus)
      • Affects only geese and young Muscovy ducks.
      • Symptoms vary with seriousness:
        • Severe (in young birds): Lying down, reluctance to eat, weakness, death in 2-5 days.
        • Serious (in young birds): Anorexia, excessive thirst and drinking, runny eyes and nose (and head-shaking), weakness, reluctance to move, lots of white diarrhea, swollen preen gland and eyelids, possible development of membrane over tongue.
        • Chronic (in surviving older birds): Very slow growth, swollen stomach resulting in wide stance, red skin and loss of down/feathers on back and neck, swollen preen gland.
      • Transmitted through infected feces. Highly contagious, and recovered birds may still transmit disease.
      • Prevention: Don't raise young geese or Muscovies from different flocks together. Immunize twice--at day-old and 3 weeks.
      • Treatment: Antimicrobials may help reduce secondary infections.

      Breed to Avoid Birth Defects

      • Watch for birth defects that cause leg problems.
        • Broilers often develop leg problems from being bred to grow too heavy too fast.
      • Minimize genetically problematic bloodlines by discontinuing breeding birds whose offspring tend to have problems.
        • Isolate genetics as the cause by comparing other chicks raised at the same time.
      • Inbreeding sometimes can cause genetic leg problems but does not always.
        • Crossing a mother and son is usually considered less likely to cause problems than crossing siblings.
        • If problems appear, add some "outside" birds into your breeding program. If problems persist, you may have to not breed your most recent generation from your inbred line.

      Shortening and Blunting Rooster's Spurs

      • Spurs can be shortened to help with several problems:
        cut shorten and trim long rooster spurs
        • Some roosters' spurs grow so long and at angles that make it difficult for a rooster to walk comfortably.
        • Smoothing a rooster's spurs (along with trimming toenails and filing end of beak) can help make it less hazardous if it is aggressive around people.
        • When an rooster is causing hens to become too barebacked from breeding, shortening spurs (along with trimming toenails) might help alleviate damage to hens.
        • When roosters are first introduced or one rooster or is persistently over-aggressive with others, blunting one or more rooster' spurs can help minimize injuries.
      • If you shorten spurs, they will gradually grow as long again over a few months.
        • Take into consideration that in the meanwhile, the rooster will be less able to protect the flock & himself from predators or other overly aggressive birds.
      • There is a sensitive "quick"  center (similar to the "quick" in dogs' toenails) in the base section of a spur. Inside light-colored spurs, the "quick" can be seen vaguely as a darker, reddish area. The layers in the outer shell of the spur and the end of the spur are not sensitive.
      • The spur's base section where it connects to the rooster's leg is NOT designed to be flexible. When working on a spur, BE CAREFUL to not bend it toward or away from the leg--or you will create pain and possibly damage.
      • DO NOT CUT OR TRY TO BREAK OFF SPURS! Doing so would cause severe bleeding and pain. There are other methods with much less risk!

        • If spurs just need to be blunted temporarily (such as during initial introduction period between roosters), you can wrap their ends with several wraps of masking tape to round and cushion them.
        • You can leave tape on indefinitely, if wanted. If you remove the tape, BE CAREFUL to not create a bending pressure on the spur toward or away from the leg--that hurts!
        • Use wire-cutter pliers or horse hoof nippers to cut off the non-sensitive end of the spur. (Caution: Do not cut more than about 1/4 or 1/3 of length.) Then use a metal rasp to smooth and round the end of the spur.
          • Caution: If you use pliers/cutters too close to the "quick," you will pinch and bruise the quick while squeezing with the cutters, even if you do not cut the quick.
        • This is an optimal method for shortening spurs. Removing the shell results in the spurs being shorter and smaller than if simply trimmed. The "Hot Potato" technique helps minimize pain. Almost no bleeding occurs during during shell removal, though the "quick" will bleed a little if bumped within a few days after removal. Protect him from other roosters a few days, if necessary. A new protective outer spur shell will begin hardening & reach normal thickness within a few weeks. During healing, handle the rooster only with care (especially if he is large).
        • Click here for instructions and photos of the "Hot Potato" removal method. Caution: Photos are somewhat graphic.