Correcting splayed legs

The chick with hobbles on

We hatched 11 Scots Grey chicks on Thursday and Friday, but one had seriously splayed legs that meant it couldn’t move about to reach the chick crumbs and water. The solution was to use soft yarn hobbles to pull its legs together while still allowing it enough freedom to walk. Within an hour of putting the hobbles on, the chick had worked out that it could walk and was away.

Close-up of the hobbles

As this chick had seriously splayed legs at both the hips and knees two sets of hobbles were needed. The first, above the knee, allow almost no sideways movement and keep its upper legs at their correct spacing. The second set of hobbles, just above the feet, have more play so the chick can walk while still preventing the legs from going sideways. Usually only the lower set of hobbles is needed. When using hobbles, it’s important to use soft yarn (or folded surgical tape if you know what you’re doing), to not use slip knots and to check the hobbles at least twice a day to ensure they’re not cutting into the legs. The splayed legs should have corrected within three or four days, after which the hobbles can be removed.

42 Responses to “Correcting splayed legs”

  1. Little chick looks cool in his red wool, it reminds me of the way they treat children with “clicky hips” with plaster and a little bar between the knees. Hope the little one gets better soon.

  2. Thanks for this information. I have only ever had one guinea fowl keet get splayed legs and it didn’t survive. But this is great information to know so thanks.
    Sara from farmingfriends in Yorkshire

  3. The wool came off after three days, leaving the chick completely healed. He (or she) is now rocketing aroound with the rest of the gang.

  4. I am a knitter, and I cannot think of a better use for a scrap of red wool. Who knew?
    Congrats to the recent graduate.
    I just found your blog through Down Shift Me. Best of luck to all and I will follow your blog with interest!

  5. Yaaaay go chicky! I’ll have to remember that trick when we get chickens again.

  6. Fantastic! I’ve just hatched 8 keets from a dozen eggs (one died shortly after hatching and two eggs didn’t make it…). Two of the keets have seriously splayed legs and I thought I was going to have to ‘dispatch’ them. Immediately on binding their legs into a non-splayed position, they were up and practically running! What a great idea – I wasn’t looking forward to the alternative…

  7. I’d like to say a HUGE thank you for this article Stoney – we hatched a couple of ducklings while David was away down south picking up a new car for me…. and they both had splayed legs… I followed your instructions and they are both just fine now. THANKS :-))

  8. I’m pleased to see that people are managing to save chicks in this way. It’s such a waste to cull animals that can be saved with such minimal, low-cost methods.

  9. thanks so much and especially for the photo. I’d tied wool around the top half of the legs but the bottom half were still going sideways. I’ve just now made the little wool hobbles for down lower. I’m very grateful to have seen your site.

  10. Great info :) I thought there was some type of excercise that would help splay legs. Nice to see it does work :)

  11. Hi,
    I have a day old chick. I have tried to sort the splay leg but not hopeful. The Chick is top heavy and sort of swims instead of walking along the ground. Help

  12. It takes three to four days to correct splayed legs. If the problem persists, then you should cull the chick.

  13. oh thanks got into a bit of a panic over splayed legs then found your info hatched thirty eggs 2 got splayed legs gonna fettle em now thanx again and kindest regards LYNDON in sunny burnley ,lancashire

  14. Good luck with them and hopefully the hobbles will work. I find they do most of the time.

  15. Wow, what a great idea (but I do wonder why you don’t have time to make paint brushes from pigs hairs)! I’ve got a turkey at the moment with a similar affliction, but so far she’s able to get around fine. I don’t think it is quite necessary to hobble her. And, this summer, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well a baby chick did recover from what I thought to be a broken leg (after an unintentional encounter with a dog). I though he was a gonner as he couldn’t even get his leg back under himself. But, because he still had some life in him, I put him in with a similar aged hatch I was raising in the garage (he was a free range hatch from a clutch on the farm). Short story, after a few days he began moving about on one leg, dragging the other sadly behind him. Within a few weeks he was hobbling on it. Today, you wouldn’t be able to pick him out from the others; only I know which one he is.

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