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Spraddle Leg

Hopefully you will never have to worry about a chick with spraddle leg ( also called splayed leg), but as is the case with everything else chicken-related, it's always best to be prepared ...just in case.
 Chick being treated for Spraddle Leg 
 Spraddle Leg is a condition that a chick is either born with or develops within the first few hours of life whereby one or both legs slip out to the sides making them unable to stand or walk.
 Chick having trouble walking on newspaper 
 Spraddle leg can occur during incubation or the hatching process if the temperature is too high or varies too much during the incubation period or if the hatch is difficult for the chick. A less common cause can be a vitamin deficiency. The more common cause is an incubator or brooder floor that is too slippery for the chick to grip, which causes the legs to slide to one side. As a result the chick's legs muscles don't develop properly because of the lack of traction.
 
To try and prevent this condition, a sheet of paper towel or rubber shelf liner should always be put in the incubator just before the lockdown.
 Shelf liner on bottom of incubator 
 Newly hatched chick gets a good grip on shelf liner 
This will give the newly hatched chicks something to grip onto.
  
In the brooder box, newspaper alone should NEVER be used as the only floor covering.  Especially when it gets wet, it is too slippery and the main cause of spraddled leg.  Instead, I cover a few layers of newspaper with a sheet of shelf liner.  The rubber surface, just as in the incubator, provides a nice textured surface for little feet. 
 A few layers of newspaper covered with shelf liner and pine shavings 
 I change the newspapers and shelf liner out as needed, rinsing the shelf liner off and reusing it, and after a few days, add a layer of pine shavings on top.
 
Spraddle leg is easily correctable, but if not addressed quickly, the chick might not be able to get to feed and water and can die.  
  
What you need to do is hobble the chick's legs.  The easiest way is to cut a thin piece of vet wrap (approximately 1/4" wide and 5" long) and loosely wrap it around each leg, connecting the ends in the middle, about an inch apart, in sort of a figure eight. 
 Vet wrap loosely wrapped in a figure eight 
  The chick's legs should be about normal shoulder-width apart when extended. If the chick can't stand up, you can make them a bit wider apart for better balance, but then bring them a bit closer together each day. 
 Position legs about shoulder width apart 
 You can wrap some First Aid Tape around the middle to keep it secured.
 You will need vet wrap medical tape and scissors 
  Then be sure the chick has something it can easily walk on like paper towel, a bath towel or shelf liner.  At first the chick will have trouble standing up, but soon will be able to get around.  Ensure the chick has easy access to feed and water, but a shallow water dish with marbles or small stones in it is required so the chick doesn't fall in and drown.  Also it's best to keep the chick separate from other chicks at least until she learns to stand so she won't be trampled.
  
At first it is helpful to support the chick and just let her try to stand and get used to having her legs underneath her.  Helping her get her balance will be beneficial and hasten her recovery.  
 Help the chick to learn how to stand up first then walk 
  Unwrap the legs and check the chick's progress once or twice a day.  Leave the hobble on until the chick can stand and walk on its own. This could take from a few days to a week.  You should see results fairly quickly and soon your chick will be up and about.
 Several days later the chick can walk unaided 
  Then make a solemn vow - no more chicks on newspaper !