Chick with funny looking toe

by Heather
(Mobile, AL)

Question

Chick with funny looking toe: We just noticed today that our 5 week old chick has a very funny looking toe. It is bent backwards. We don't know if it’s broken or not since there is no swelling.

She seems to be walking fine too. Do we need to try to splint it (and how is that done and for how long) and if we do nothing, will she be able to roost?

Answer
There are often genetic toe deformities in different blood lines of chickens. It’s possible it was dislocated some how. Either way it might benefit from a bandage helping the toe to stay in the correct position.

It shouldn’t have too much trouble roosting, as long as all other toes function correctly. I prefer flat roosts for chickens, usually 2” x 4” lumber.

Some of mine are set so the 4” side is the top and some the 2”. The chickens can choose which is more comfortable for them. (They all seem to prefer the 4” side up.)

It’s really hard to bandage bird’s feet so the bandage stays. They usually pick at it trying to figure out why it’s stuck to their foot.

(No amount of explaining seems to help.) You might be able to use a tooth pick section for the splint and take a normal band aid apart, pressing the sticky flaps together to make a tooth pick and chick toe sandwich.

Try to trim the flaps so it can walk and check it often for cleanliness. You didn’t say which toe, but, if possible you might want to use a toe in the proper position next to the funny looking one, inside the bandage as well.

This may help bring the funny toe into alignment. You have to watch the chick after bandaging and make sure it can still get around. Not being able to get to food and water when it needs to can harm its health.

Another good thing, if you can, would be to do a little physical therapy with the toe each day. Gently move it to the position it should be in and beyond, if the chick can tolerate it.

A nice leg and foot massage might help too. Sometimes a joint can pop out of place and regain “memory” when circulation and nerve messages flow properly.

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