Chicks standing on hocks


Chicks standing on hocks: About two weeks ago we hatched two dozen eggs. All seemed well, the chicks looked great and were active cute little guys.

Then we noticed that one chick at about 7 days old was laying down a lot with its legs straight and minimal muscle control of its feet. If brought to water it ate and drank but it spent more and more time laying with it's legs out.

We culled it. A few days later we noticed another chick walking around on it's hocks and then doing the same thing. Now there are 4 chicks walking around on their hocks and spending most of their time laying down.

We did some research and thought maybe they were vitamin B deficient and have supplemented their feed but it seems to be getting worse. Any ideas? They are in a cardboard box with about an inch of shavings, they are not slipping etc.

We have raised numerous chicks but this is the first time we have noticed this. This is the first batch of Marans chicks we have hatched though. Thanks! Any advice would be welcomed.

It’s been my experience, in raising birds of many varieties, that nearly all leg weakness and deformity in chicks is directly related to the nutritional health of the hens that laid the eggs; though sometimes it’s caused by in-breeding (brothers to sisters, sons to mothers, fathers to daughters, for too many generations).

If you know your chickens are getting in-bred, it’s time for a new rooster from a unrelated blood lines.

A hen with mineral deficiencies, especially calcium, can’t possibly infuse her eggs with enough elements to form a healthy & viable chick, within a shell that requires much calcium.

In raising sheep there is something called “flushing”: a time prior to breeding season, where the females are offered higher amounts of quality food and supplements.

This not only promotes multiple healthy births (increased ovulation in response to calories and other nutrients), but strength and health for the mother and all her body will go through in 5 months of pregnancy, birthing and nursing for 6 weeks to 6 months.

Though chickens tend to make it look easy, egg laying draws on every strength of a hen from the trace minerals to water quality, to major minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats, vegetation, well exercised muscles, and sturdy skeletal structure.

If you’re using a breeder feed (if the parent birds are yours), I would recommend upping the quality and looking into vitamin and mineral supplements for your breeder birds, especially the hens.

Higher quality chick start may help. You may be able to salvage these chicks with supplemental minerals, and vitamins. Now that they are putting on weight, it’s possible their little leg bones and muscles just don’t have what it will take to support them.

It’s rare for disease to strike such little ones and cause this leg weakness. Make sure the brooder temperature is correct for their age.

When I raise chicks, in a box or brooder, I always put down some form of welded wire on layers of news paper and below the shavings.

Half inch hardware cloth or 1” x ½” gives good grip and is easily cleaned. Cardboard is very slick, especially with shavings on top. Good grip can help them have better posture, but may not correct this problem.

Sadly I believe you need to consider the viability of this group of chicks; if they can become healthy adults, with all they need under their feathers to lead active/productive lives. Getting some calcium into them for a few days should tell you if they can recover.

Hope this helps.

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