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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22434
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Customer Question

Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 4 years ago.

Hello & welcome. I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today.

In regards to your question about what can cause splay leg, there are a range of potential factors can induce this issue in young chicks.

In the individual chick, we can see splay leg arises secondary to mechanical injury from abnormal twisting and lateral force upon the hip-femur joint. When this occurs, it leads to distortion and an outward bend of the joint. Often this is attributed to exposure to slick floors in their pen.

Further to this, we can see this type of joint distortion associated with injury and difficult hatchings. For situations where multiple chicks are affected, then we’d again have to consider floor composition but also consider temperature fluxuations during incubation, bird overcrowding, and dietary/vitamin deficiencies (ie low calcium, low vitamin D3, and/or high phosphorus).

Overall, splay leg is a condition that can be multi-factorial. If you have affected chicks, the first step would be to double check what substrate they are on (potentially offer easier to grip surfaces like corrugated cardboard, even old carpet or a wash cloth if you have the bird in a small cage). From there you want to ensure they are not overstocked and that birds are not at risk of injury (ie catching their toes/feet on mesh, etc). As well, do double check your incubation temperature flux (if they are artificially incubated) and the mineral/vitamin contents of the diets you are offering to ensure this is not a factor affecting them past day one. And if you do have severely affected ones that still struggle once you have addressed these issues, then you may consider applying hobbles (More Information) and close monitoring them.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best and happy holidays.

Dr. B.


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