Spraddle Leg & Easy Treatment Options

This week, we’re going to delve into another topic related to the raising of baby chicks:  Spraddle Leg. It’s a condition more common than previously thought. Yet, some people who raise chicks don’t know what it is or what to do to correct it.



So, if you’ve seen this in your chicks, or you’re considering purchasing some, here’s a breakdown of the condition and its symptoms.


Main Takeaways:

  • Spraddle leg is sometimes a congenital defect (they’re born that way)
  • It can also happen if chicks are raised on plastic or slippery surfaces
  • This is why bedding and removing chicks from an incubator quickly is important
  • You need to get the chicks legs straight underneath it to correct spraddle leg
  • A Band-aid or tape will help – tape the legs together, leaving a gap so the legs can stay straight
  • Your chick will hate this, and will cheep VERY loudly, but it will hate not being able to walk more.
  • If left untreated, your chick might not eat and drink as much, be in distress, and is more likely to die.


What is Spraddle Leg?

Spraddle Leg is a layman’s term that describes an issue when the baby chick is born and its legs aren’t directly underneath it. They may be splayed in different directions, so the chick is unable to walk very well. 

From a previous blog you’ll recall how baby chicks automatically know how to do things once hatched. Walking is one of these items. Chicks are more independent than us mammals. Thus, they don’t need to wait several days, months, or years to start walking. Basically, it’s intuition to them. 

We’ve had more than one chick born with it at our farm. Recently, one of them self-corrected its walk within a day. Others need assistance early intervention. If they don’t, then they’re likely unable to find water and food on their own.


Spraddle Leg Can Be Caused By Brooder Bedding

Another reason a chick might develop Spraddle Leg is how they are raised. For instance, bedding them on plastic or newspaper may cause their legs to splay. 

Due to their slick surfaces, the chicks aren’t able to get a grip to walk correctly. In turn, they adjust their gait to move around. 

This is the reason the right bedding is so important when raising chicks. Compare it to the way babies start to move. 

If they reach a slippery surface, they can’t create the necessary friction to motor on. The same thing for chicks – they need a firm surface to latch onto.

The solution is to use something like sawdust or pine shavings in the bedding to minimize the development of Spraddle Leg. Not only should this be done when they get out of the incubator, but in it as well. They can start spraddling unless paper towels or other gripping surfaces are placed underneath their feet.


How To Fix Spraddle Leg

Granted, not all chicks develop Spraddle Leg. We’ve hatched thousands of chicks on the farm, and we probably had less than a dozen with the condition. Nevertheless, if you encounter a chick with Spraddle Leg there is a way to fix it. 

Take a band-aid or medical tape and bind the chick’s legs together directly underneath the chick. Keep it on their legs for as long as needed. 

While it does tend to correct itself within 24 to 48 hours, you may need to bind the legs a few times for the correction to take. 

Again, this depends on the chick. Like we mentioned, one of ours self-corrected within a day. Others have taken a week to set themselves right. 


Don’t Give In To The Chirping

While its legs are bound, the chick is going to cry like you are killing it. You’re going to feel terrible when it does. 

However, you need to push through. If not, the chick will have splayed legs that prevent them from walking.

This is because they have an inherent “flight” instinct that encourages them to run away from danger. It distresses them when their legs are immobile. 

While you can try and reassure them, all you need to do is be patient until you think the time is right to remove the bindings.


Seek Professional Help

Should you feel uncomfortable in diagnosing Spraddle Leg or adjusting bandages on a wriggling baby chick, then seek out a veterinarian to assist. They will attach the band-aid or medical tape.

However, there’s every chance the chick will remove the bindings after a short period of time. Not because they’re upset. Rather, they feel they have corrected it. If this is not the situation, then work as quickly as possible to get the bindings back on. Either on your own or through a vet.


Keep Your Head With Spraddle Leg

Remember, Spraddle Leg is not a long-lasting condition. Treated quickly, it can be resolved in 48 hours. Either by binding the chick’s legs or through self-correction by the chick itself. 

If you decide to bind their legs, keep calm. You are not hurting the chick. Rather, you’re helping to restore its built-in protection and ability to feed itself.


Early Signs Your Chick Is A Rooster


Main Takeaways:

  • You can try feather sexing as early as 3 days
  • Look for prominent combs at about 4 weeks (breed dependent)
  • Crowing at an early age is a strong sign (rarely alpha hens crow as adults but not as chicks under 16 weeks old)


More reading:

7 Ways To Sex Baby Chicks


Best Chick Waterers To Prevent Drowning

From the day your chicks hatch, they will need a good chicken waterer to help them have 24 hour access to water. 


You don’t want them getting dehydrated!


There’s lots of options, which are all equally good. Whichever you decide, you’ve got to pay attention to the amount of water and the size of the waters as your chicks grow older. 


I’ll introduce the best options out there(at least I think they’re the best options), but towards the end, I’ve even thrown in another option for your consideration.


[brid video=”468197″ player=”19074″ title=”Our Favorite Chicken Waterers For Chicks!” description=”What's the best baby chicken waterer? Watch today's video & decide for yourself! Our favorite chick starter: https://amzn.to/309GTXB Curious what feeders to …” duration=”247″ uploaddate=”2019-09-17 21:37:22″ thumbnailurl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/14575/thumb/468197_t_1568756210.png”]


In this article, we’ll answer the commonly-asked question: “What is the best waterer for my baby chicks?”


(For a full review of several waterers out there, you can read this article.)


Mason Jar Waterers

Mason jar waterers are good when you have itty bitty chicks that are day-olds. I like these because they’re shallow, and with anything deeper, your chicks might fall in the water. 


Earlier this year, we actually did have somebody fall in the water (even though we use mason jar waterers). It was quite the tempest in a teapot with that chick, and although it was unharmed, it was very upset. We actually had to blow it dry to make sure that it was warm enough.


The problem with the Mason jar waterers is that your chicks will outgrow them pretty quick. But they’re cheap and easy to find at your local farm store, and they’re what I recommend using the first couple weeks of your chick’s life.


Bell Waterers

You will see bell waterers for sale at farm stores. I call them bell waterers. I’m not sure what everyone else calls them, but that’s what I call them because they’re kind of shaped like a bell. 


You can use those with day-olds, but are really good all the way up to 16 weeks, which gives them a bit more of a lifespan.


The problem with bell waterers with the day-olds is how deep they are. They’re about an inch and a half deep. 


It’s important to remember that when your chicks just come out of the incubator, they can’t walk very well. So, they can fall into it. 


The other nice thing about these waterers is its handle. You can hang them, and your chicks won’t kick shavings in their water. (The only time they’re not going to get shavings in their waterers and feeders is if you use something like newspaper, which isn’t the best bedding out there.)  


You will want to use a bell waterer if you have a lot of chicks. If you have 30 chicks, for example, the little mason jar waterer probably isn’t going to cut it after a couple of days. 


It’s just going to be not enough water and not everybody can get to it. In that case, the bigger bell waterer is better. 


Kitchen Pan

Sometimes, I have more chicks than waterers, so I need to find a pinch hitter. I’ve found ceramic kitchen pans and baking dishes to be good options. They’re also free and you won’t need to buy extra equipment.


I prefer a ceramic baking dish that’s no more than 1 inch deep. That’s shallow enough that the chicks can’t fall into it, and they can easily access the water (this works great with ducklings, too). 


If they DO fall into it, they can easily get out. Additionally, they can’t tip it over, since the baking dishes are relatively heavy. 


If we want to use a water from the kitchen, just like a bowl, that’s what we use because it’s just simpler.


Keeping Chicks From Falling Into Waterers

Yes, chicks can drown, especially if they’re weaker or they’re getting trampled. But you can easily prevent your chicks from falling into their waterer by putting a bunch of rocks in there. 


Many farm stores use rocks they found outside, but I think it’s best to use smooth river stones that you can buy at the store. Your chicks can still get to the water, but they won’t try to climb in, and if they fall in, they won’t fall very far.


You can remove the stones after a few days. 


So how many stones? Well, it depends on how deep your waterer is. 


A single layer of stones is usually enough, especially with mason jar waterers. I’ve just found that with the mason jar waterers, you don’t really have to put in as many stones. 


Personally, with the mason jar waterers, I don’t use rocks, and I’ve never had a chick drown in one of those smaller waterers. 


In some cases, it can actually prevent them from drinking, and I want my day-olds to be able to get to the water all the time. But with the bell waterers, you can do that. 


So there you have it! There’s 3 different waterers for chicks that’ll keep your new flock hydrated and happy!


Are My Chicks Too Cold Or Too Hot?

[brid video=”469198″ player=”19074″ title=”Are My Chicks Too Cold Or Too Hot?” description=”Is my chick too cold or too hot? It's easy to tell if you know what to look for! And it's important – the health of your chicks depends on it. Here's signs y…” duration=”357″ uploaddate=”2019-09-19 12:52:51″ thumbnailurl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/14575/thumb/469198_t_1568897524.png”]



Main Takeaways:

  • If your chicks are walking around, eating, etc, their brooder temperature is probably okay.
  • If they’re huddling under/near the heat source, they’re probably cold. (Might also hear loud cheeping).
  • If they’re scattered way away from the heat source, they’re probably too hot.


More reading:

How many chicks should be in a brooder


Are Chickens Good Pets?


Other Reading:

What To Feed Chickens

Treats For Backyard Chickens

Can Chickens Eat Grapes?

You might wonder if baby chicks can eat grapes.


I’ve had many chickens, and with my chicks, I love feeding them treats. Over the years, I’ve gotten a number of questions about what to feed backyard chickens, as well as queries about what treats are safe for baby chicks.



A common question I get regarding treats is “Can my chicks eat grapes?” We talked about a number of things that they can eat in another video, but I specifically wanted to talk about grapes because it seems to be a very common question now.


Before we talk about grapes, just remember that you really want to limit treats to 10% of your chicks’ diet, at most. You want them eating that high-protein chick starter that will give them all the nutrients that they need to grow. But – if you’re like me – you’re gonna want to give treats. 


In this article, I’ll answer that question, as well as provide ways to safely feed grapes to baby chicks (and what to avoid).


Main takeaways:

  • Yes, chickens can eat grapes
  • It’s best to cut the grapes up so they’re tiny or smash them
  • Stay away from preserves, jams, jellies, or any grapes with added sugar


Other reading:

What do chickens eat?

Can chicks eat strawberries?

Can Chicks Eat Grapes?

Yes, your chicks can eat grapes. Always make sure the grapes are fresh – never feed rotten food to your chicks. You only want to feed them very fresh grapes.

How to Feed Grapes

To reduce the chances of choking or impacted crop, always crush the grapes. You don’t want them getting chunks of grapes or any other fruits stuck in their throats, because that can cause the chicks to choke. 


Similarly, you also don’t want these humongous chunks of fruit in their crop, because can lead to impacted crop and other digestive issues.


I try to crush them really, really well. If you don’t want to crush them, you can chop them, but crushing them doesn’t take that much effort. You put them in a bag and take a rolling pin or a can and just roll it.


There’s really no reason that they can’t eat it other than just the size, so as long as the grapes are crushed, mushy, fresh, not rotten in any way, your baby chicks can definitely enjoy them. 


Steer Clear of Jellies, Jams, & Preserves

Fresh grapes and grape jelly are not the same thing in terms of the nutritional value for your chicks. 


Fresh grapes have a lot of vital nutrients and vitamins. Grape jelly, on the other hand, likely has a lot of sugar in it, so it’s best avoided.


Your chicks don’t need sugar, and they certainly don’t need the preservatives and feed additives in commercial grape jellies. Fresh is always best!


So yes, chicks can eat grapes. Just be sure to follow the guidelines in this article!