This is my neighbors chicken Fluffy (names have been changed to protect the innocent). Fluffy woke up this morning with a pronounced limp. City chicken keepers get attached to their chickens and don’t have the heart to cull out just any sick hen. So what to do? What we do often have due to the smaller flocks is time.
There are a couple of possibilities for why Fluffy is limping. For a little bit she lived in a dog kennel with a slick floor. This is really hard on chickens, they just haven’t been bred for hard slick surfaces. This can strain tendons and muscles and cause them problems. Secondly, chickens dig all day and can cut their feet and are susceptible to staff infections.
The first thing I did after my neighbor called was to survey her behavior and environment. They keep chickens of different ages in a fairly large run, and do it with some success. She is the bottom bird in order of dominance in the flock. Her tail feathers are plucked out. She was hiding in a bale of straw to keep the other chickens off of her. This means that her nutrition may be compromised a well as her hydration. The left leg is kept out away from her body when she can. I sat for a minute near her to scrutinize her to me, then gently took her into my lap. her eyes were not glazed and she seemed mentally fine so I decided she probably want egg bound. With gentle but firm pressure I started working at her types up to her hip feeling the bones and joints of the injured leg. No heat our swelling was apparent. I worked up the opposite leg to see if anything felt different. There were no obvious differences between the two legs. The bottoms of her feet looked intact and I examined the tops as well as I could. She is a feather foot which makes it difficult. All the joints bend easily and fluidly without complaint. The only complaint I received out of her was on the foot. This makes me feel it is either a cut or strain of some sort.
I took her home and put her in a small pen to restrict her movement. I padded the floor with two inches of fresh wood chips. She has chicken starter feeder and fresh water so she doesn’t have to move. Tomorrow morning I will fortify some starter with egg yolk and honey to start the day. Riboflavin deficiency is a possibility so she has fresh greens available to her. Her toes are not curled so I don’t think that is what it is. I will continue to check her progress and brought up the possibility of giving her penicillan shots if we start to see signs of infection. Hopefully, isolation, rest, and increased nutrition will perk her right up. If like to be bring a healthy chicken back to the owner in a couple of weeks. I’m feeling optimistic.