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Slippery brooding surfaces can cause spraddle legs in baby chicks. Newspaper, wood, plastic, and other slippery surfaces where baby chicks walk can cause excessive leg problems. You should provide a soft absorbent litter and a surface where the birds can get a good footing and traction. Textured paper towels, old cloth towels or burlap work well for the first few weeks. After 2 weeks of age you should use a 3 inch base of pine shavings, chopped straw or peanut hulls. Do not use corn cobs, sawdust or any material which can become packed down as it will get moldy if it gets wet.

See Splayed Legs: Hobbling Chickens. Chickens and other fowl who are overcrowded undergo a significant amount of stress due to a lack of feed and water space. When there are too many birds in a confined area many of the birds cannot even find the feed and water. Crowding at feed and waterers causes undue stress on the bird's legs which can result in hock disorders. When birds walk on damp litter a lot they can develop cracks tender foot pads which makes them prone to bacterial and fungal foot problems. See How to treat fungal foot infections in Chickens Wet litter can also cause the birds foot pads to crack and get infections which lead to Bumblefoot which has a scab on the pad of the foot which when removed has a pussy core which can cause swelling and cause the bird to go lame if left untreated.

Birds raised on gravel, concrete floors, hard packed ground, or mowed areas with hard weed stubble, also tend to get bumble foot. Be sure that the mesh wire floors are small enough that the birds feet or hocks do not get stuck in the wire.


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Doorways-Should be large enough for the birds to move through easily. The path where birds walk should be cleaned regularly. Ramps-Make sure ramps have good traction. Note: If the ramps do not have them already, you can attach small boards or branches every 3 to 4 inches so that birds do not slip or fall while going up and down them. Ramps should be used anywhere that the birds have to jump more than 24" off the ground to get down from, perches, shelves, even trees if you have chickens that like to get into the trees like I do.

Perches-Should be placed about 24" off the ground, if you place perches higher than that you will need to provide a ramp for the birds to get down without just jumping off. Jumping off at heights higher than two feet can cause foot and leg injuries. Perches are not needed for heavy meat birds but other breeds such as game fowl need perches and can injure themselves jumping up trying to perch where there isn't one or jumping down from perches which are too high off the ground.

Always supervise your chickens when children or other pets are around. Especially around young birds who tend to get scared or run right under peoples feet. It is not uncommon for baby chicks and young birds to get accidently stepped on. Sudden scares, forced exercise, and running in fright can result in pulled muscles, slipped joints, and lameness. It is best to keep children and other pets out of the coop and run where young chicks and pullets are kept for the safety of the birds and to reduce the chances of young children contracting salmonella.

35 Stretches to Stretch Out From Head to Toe

A fall from any distance for a baby chick could be fatal and could cause severe injuries to young birds and adult birds, especially heavier birds and chickens that cannot fly or are taken by surprise and didn't have a chance to. Chickens, ducks and other birds can be severely injured when people chase them and while catching them by their legs. Chasing birds and catching them by their legs especially waterfowl who have especially tender legs and joints can severely injure them and cause them to go lame very easily. Scaly leg mites bore underneath the scales of the chickens legs and feet which causes the scales to enlarge, get rough, raise up and become infected.

Scaly leg mites must be treated early or the bird may go lame.

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Soak the birds legs in oil or cream to suffocate the mites every 3 days for 2 weeks to get rid of them. Allow the lame birds to get rest for a week or so and most times they will recover. Do not put back with the rest of the flock until the lame bird can move easily and freely. If the bird has badly straddled legs This means if you save and breed from fowl with leg and foot disorders, your problems could continue to get worse over the years.

Odd reasons your chicken might be lame

So cull birds showing these disorders. By taking proper management precautions, you can prevent leg and foot disorders from ever occurring" Clauer, Swelling at the joint. One leg may rotate to the side or twist underneath or to the outside. Bird walks or stands as if it is hunched down or squatting on it's hocks and may use wings for balance. Bird peeps a lot or cries out in pain first few days of injury. Every type classes of poultry can get scaly leg mites.

Treatment is important to maintain good health, well being, and improve the appearance of your chickens. Find out about scaly leg mites, signs, symptoms, treatments, old fashioned treatments, herbal remedies, and how to prevent your chickens from getting scaly leg mites plus watch our featured video: How to get rid of Scaly Leg Mites.


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Go to Scaly Leg Mite Treatments. Cheryll Tickle, a professor of developmental biology at University College in London. She said Dr. Niswander's study would be important in untangling the various chemical pathways in which B. In some stages of development, B. But they have other roles as well.

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As if nature's machinery was not already complex enough, researchers have found that other genes are also involved in limb development. In the April 26 issue of Science, Drs. Olsen of Harvard Medical School described how they had traced a human deformity called synpolydactyly -- webbing accompanied by extra digits -- to a mutation of a so-called homeobox gene. Homeobox genes were first found to control development in the fruit fly: a mutation in one such gene can cause limbs to sprout from the head at the place where antennae should be.

Since the discovery of homeobox genes, corresponding genes have been found throughout the animal kingdom. Mundlos said his group's research might help answer some puzzling questions about the very different ways in which limbs can develop. Homeobox genes produce molecules called transcription factors that turn other genes on and off. The extra fingers and toes of synpolydactyly seem to arise when a mutation causes the homeobox gene to insert too many copies of an amino acid, alanine, into a region of the transcription factor that seems to be involved with growing digits.

Mice -- and people, with their five-digit paws -- have a stretch of 15 alanines in the homeobox protein. Chickens have 9, while zebra fish have none. Mundlos said it was not yet clear how his group's results on limb development were related to the recent findings about B. View all New York Times newsletters. While homeobox genes produce transcription factors, which work within the cell nucleus, B. A homeobox signal might tell a gene to make a B.

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Or, conversely, a B. It is all part of the complex orchestration of development. Niswander's trick of turning chicken feet into duck feet was inspired by research in the last five years showing that genes are busy manufacturing B. Scientists at several labs established this with a technique called RNA in situ hybridization. After a gene is turned on, its genetic instructions are copied into messenger RNA molecules, which ferry the information to the ribosomes outside the nucleus, where proteins are made.

To determine if a gene is active, one simply has to look for its messenger RNA. To carry out the search for active B. The manufactured RNA was then given a chemical tag so it could be easily tracked down and identified.

When the scientistsbathed a chick or mouse embryo with the manufactured RNA, it sought out and latched onto its complementary, or mirror image, mates. The researchers then used antibodies to the chemical tag to zero in on just where in the body the RNA molecules were congregating. These were the places where the B. Scientists suspected that in most animals, B. When signaled by the B. In ducks, and apparently in people with syndactyly, this does not happen. Niswander decided to see what would happen if she blocked the cellular suicide signal.

Molecules like B. When the B. To cut off the B. Niswander and her colleagues used a kind of reverse gene therapy. First, they caused a mutation in the gene that makes B. They inserted the mutated gene into a retrovirus, which smuggled the altered gene into the cells of chick embryos.

The embryos with the mutated gene produced defective B. Sure enough, the chicks developed ducklike webs between their toes. Then, using the hybridization technique to find out where the B. The scientists also found that the lack of B. Scientists believe that during development, certain cells are capable of taking on different identities. If left alone, they become feathers. If nudged by B.