Lesson 593 – A limping chicken

I recently got the following question from one of my readers:

Hi, I have a chicken with a limp and happened to stumble upon your blog.  I just wanted to know how your chicken turned out that had the limp.  I have heard a lot of remedies, and just wanted to see if time was the best.  Any help would be great!

(Am I the only one who giggled at a guy who’s asking about a chicken limp while he, himself, is stumbling? :-) )

It’s not that unusual to find chickens limping in the summer. Think about it, first there are lots of physical things like newly emerged plants and twigs that can embed or get caught in the foot (much like the splinter in the lion’s paw, a twig can bring even the strongest bird down.) Even if it doesn’t cut the skin but is only stuck between toes, a twig can cause any bird to start limping.

Of course there are also medical reasons for a chicken to limp. They might have gotten a tiny cut that then got infected. Or they might have a boil (which is a deep infection in the tissue) that might need to be lanced.

Another reason for chickens limping is fungal infections and skin that has degraded from them walking around on wet ground. This is one of the best reasons there is to elevate your water feeder so that the birds splash as little as possible on the ground. This is also the reason why we *stopped* using chicken nipples. We found that too often they got clogged open which led to incessant dripping on the coop floor. Wet wood chips do not make for a healthy ground cover.

Assuming that Zach was talking about an adult chicken that just started limping (as opposed to a chick who limped due to a birth defect) I wrote back with the following information-

We’ve also had adults who have started limping. Upon inspection (look for boils, open sores or splinters sticking out) we found nothing and so let the birds be and just kept an eye on them. In a few days it all resolved and the birds got back to walking normally.

Advice? Inspect the foot carefully, if you see something take care of it (a boil? lance it and wrap – and don’t forget the antibiotic ointment. Degraded skin from being wet? fix the water situation and let the foot literally dry out.) If you don’t see anything, give the foot some time, it could be something as simple as a sprain (hey have you seen how chickens explode from the henhouse in the morning? It could happen.)

I would also add that you need to make sure that a limping chicken has constant access to food and water. If necessary remove her to your dog crate (you have one, right?) for a few days to keep her quiet and protected from the other chickens who might be tempted to peck her.

Keep an eye on those beautiful feet and see how things go.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Lesson 593 – A limping chicken

  1. nicky

    can you help me my chicken has a limp for about a week now

    it still not getting any better i need help

    • Wendy Thomas

      Nicky,

      Have you inspected the foot? Is there an open wound? Swelling? Are any of the toes deformed or broken?

      You may have to lance a boil, dress a wound, or splint a toe, it’s difficult for me to give you advice without having more information.

      In the meantime, I would isolate the bird and make sure she has access to food and water. Keep her bedding area clean.

      Let me know how things progress.

      Wendy

  2. Jonathan Lemisa

    Need Your Help Wendy Thomas
    i had initially 200 commercial layers and i had 30 mortalities.for the majority i do not know the cause but what i can say is that some are having a white discharge from the vent and later on develop a limp without any signs of trauma or injury.i contacted the local veterinary who thinks it could be peritonitis.What are your thoughts

    • Wendy Thomas

      Jonathan,

      Although I might have some ideas as to what it going on (I’d put money on a virus as opposed to a bacteria) I am in no position to diagnose members of your flock over the internet.

      With such a significant loss you need help. Contact your state co-operative for advice and if you send me email (link is at the top of the page) I will connect you with an Avian vet who would be willing to help you.

      Good luck and best wishes for success with the flock.

      Wendy

      On Mon, Dec 29, 2014 at 8:33 AM, Lessons Learned from the Flock wrote:

      >

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