Thursday, July 23, 2015

Spraddle Leg

We are dealing with a new adventure on the farm right now. Good news, there is a happy ending here.

For the first time, we have had an outbreak of Spraddle Leg on chicks that are over 2 weeks old.  Spraddle Leg is more common in baby chicks, typically due to slippery surfaces in their incubator when they hatch.  We see this more often in baby turkeys.

It does require some Physical Therapy, and they can recover. As baby chicks, you just need to stabilize their legs until they can grow into them a little.

A little bandaid around their feet to stabilize and they will be right as rain. I usually keep towels down in my incubator to prevent this, but some turkeys still just hatch a little wonky, and need some help straightening out their hips. I can't blame them. I, myself, was born with a dislocated hip and had to wear a special brace as a baby, until my hip could stay in alignment on its own.
We have a different issue here - our birds are 2 weeks old and just started showing signs of Spraddle Leg. There are 4 main causes of Spraddle Leg - slipping of the feet from being on smooth surfaces, neurological damage, vitamin deficiency, and slipped tendons.
Our guys are in our brooder with wood chips, and have been since we received them. This is not the issue. They were originally all brooded in one brooder together, and fed organic feed, until I had enough room to separate them.
I left a bunch in the organic brooder, and moved some out for conventional feed. Their organic friends show no issues, and as a matter of fact, all got moved outside last weekend.
This tells me it isn't neurological, either. Nor is it slipped tendons. It wouldn't happen to so many, and it wouldn't be isolated to the conventional feed, either.  So we have a deficiency in our feed. We buy in bulk, and have been feeding our meat birds this conventional feed for many weeks. We did recently receive a new delivery, but we butchered conventional birds just a few weeks ago, and have another batch outside, eating the same feed, and getting ready to be butchered in another couple of weeks. We can only assume that the nutrients missing in our feed are available in the bugs and grass the outdoor birds are eating.
We separated the immobile birds and put them into a separate brooder. I gave them the vitamin pack that typically comes with baby chick deliveries. I also tossed in some lamb kidneys and hearts. WE got a chance to head to the store, and did find a vitamin supplement to give to the birds. We switched their feed to a bagged game bird feed, super high in protein. And they all seem to be recovering fine now.   Not everyone is back to good condition, but we will be moving the very mobile birds outside this weekend, and continuing the vitamin feed to the ones that are still doing the splits.