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.