Spraddle Leg & Easy Treatment Options

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

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

 

How To Stop A Rooster Attack

How To Stop A Rooster Attack

A common question I get from chicken owners is how to stop or retrain a rooster from attacking them or a family member.

 

Now, I’m not going to lie. This isn’t the easiest thing to do in the world.

 

When a rooster attacks, it’s called “flogging” (how’s that for a wonderfully descriptive, not-very-much-fun term).

 

Roosters CAN be retrained (we’ve had to do it a few times) but it takes some time and, dare I say it, gumption on your part. You need to be vigilant and consistent (while also being compassionate – he IS doing his job after all).

 

Here’s a video where I explain why roosters attack their people and the best way I’ve found to retrain them:

 

Why is my rooster being such a f@%!er and other nursery rhymes from the farm.

Posted by I Love Backyard Chickens on Monday, January 15, 2018

 

So, why do roosters attack anyway?

In a nutshell, it boils down to “they’re programmed to do it.”

 

What does this mean? Well, once upon a time, roosters didn’t have people and coops to protect them. They had their wiles and their limited ability to fly. Meaning, they didn’t have many defenses against hungry carnivores.

 

So to avoid being dinner for some predator, roosters learned they protected their ladies by attacking whatever invades their territory.

 

Similarly, they learned that if they wanted to be top dog (and reproduce the most), they needed to ward off potential rivals.

 

In other words, flogging amounts to a rooster’s version of a bar fight.

 

Wondering can chickens lay eggs without a rooster? If you keep a rooster and chickens, you'll need to know this backyard chicken for beginners idea!

 

Your floggin’ rooster is programmed to think of himself as “cock of the walk,” if you will, and you’re competition for top of the flock.

 

He might get worse if he’s been he only rooster and suddenly there are other, new, faces added to his flock. You might also notice he turns into a jerk when it’s spring and the hens start laying again. In these cases, it might just be a temporary behavior.

 

And there’s also the possibility that he’s a young rooster just feeling his oats, and when he gets knocked down a peg (figuratively speaking), he’ll realize he’s not at the top of the flock.

 

Ok, so how to I stop this negative behavior?

I explain it best in the video, but you need to convince Mr. Rooster that you’re the head of the flock. This isn’t a bad thing – animals like to be lead, and by leading them, you’re giving them a sense of security.

 

With a long stick or broom (one reader says she uses a broom), gently sweep the rooster away as you enter the coop area. You’re entering his domain, but he needs to understand there should be space between you and he, and that you control that space.

 

Never hit or hurt the rooster – he’s just doing his job. YOUR job is to just make sure he understands he has his space and you have yours.

 

 

Don’t be afraid (you are MANY times his size after all), don’t show fear, and definitely never turn your back (he’ll think you’re running away or take a prime opportunity to peck you while you’re not paying attention), which could undo any work you’ve done with him previously).

 

It’s important to remember that while it’s unnerving having a rooster come at you, he’s not likely to do very much damage (compared to a dog, for example), so even if he makes contact, you won’t be harmed very much.

 

Understanding this gives you the confidence to help him realize his place.

 

If your rooster has just started attacking, or he’s young and testing out his place in the flock on you, you can try separating him from the flock for a few hours to see if that helps settle him. He might just need to be put in “the naughty chair” for a time out.

 

If he’s been attacking for a while or definitely is old enough to know better, then separating him might not be the best solution or work long term.

 

 

Can you ALWAYS retrain a rooster?

Honestly, in some cases, it won’t work out. I’m not going to sugar coat it or try to convince you that you should try again and again and again.

 

I do believe these cases are rare, however, and given enough time, most roosters will come around.

 

If you don’t have the time, or the rooster is really attacking your family and you feel it’s not a good situation for you or the rooster, you can always rehome the bird. There’s no shame in making that decision, and you have to do what’s best for your unique situation.

 

We had one rooster on our farm that was just a real pain. He constantly fought with the other roosters, picked fights, and distracted the roosters from eating their food. He was just plain miserable to be around. If this is your situation, then you need to make the best decision for yourself and your flock.

 

By and large, however, we’ve had roosters who were the attacking kind but with the right training, stopped being such pains in the butt.




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Create The Best Chicken Brooders For Baby Chicks!

Create The Best Chicken Brooders For Baby Chicks!

Heard of chicken brooders, but not sure what the fuss is about? Getting chicks, and not sure which brooders are best? In this article, we’ll give you all the details so you can pick the perfect home for your newest pets!

Chicks! Little balls of down that are so adorable you just want to eat them up! Or maybe that’s the family cat, we’re talking about… So maybe eating them up is a terrible idea. A good idea, however, is bringing them into the family. Soon, these day-old fuzzy butts will grow into amazing full-sized chickens: hens of the greatest laying potential and roosters whose protective skills are without peer! 

The question, then, is how to ensure that these chicks do reach adulthood. What can we do to protect these helpless little bundles of cute? Where can we keep them until they are ready to join the flock? What tips and tricks can we utilize to ensure that the cat stays away from them long enough to get big enough to defend themselves?

The answer to the above questions is quite simple: you need to get yourself a chick brooder. 

What is a Chick Brooder?

A brooder is a safe environment where a group of baby chicks can stay warm and comfortable until they’re ready to join other chickens in the run. All told, a chick will spend about 8-10 weeks in a brooder. It is a relatively short, but incredibly important part of their lives. 

Anything can serve as a brooder, from a plastic bin to a pre-fabricated brooder sold on Amazon. I personally just use a plastic tote bin because they’re cheap and easy to clean. 

You can see my brooder set up in this video:

Why Have a Brooder?

In the wild, chicks have a very unique personal defense system that they do not have in the adoptive world of your family. That defense system is called a mother hen. The mother hen digs or builds a nest for her chicks and there, she sits on them, defending and protecting them from all manner of dangers: from predators to chill weather. When a person decides to take on chicks and raise them, that person volunteers themselves for the role of mother. It’s obviously not a good idea for you to sit on a clutch of chicks for several weeks – we don’t have quite the warm, protective tail feathers that mother hens have (in addition to being far too heavy). As a result, we need a safe place to keep our developing chicks. That is where the brooder comes into play. 

What Size Brooder Should I Have?

It goes without saying that those cute little chicks will grow. Because of this, you’ll want to consider two recommended sizes for a good brooder. The smaller brooder should be about 12 inches tall, and should be large enough so that each chick has about 6 inches of space when they’re day olds – 4 weeks old.. This smaller brooder will become obsolete, however, at or around week 4 of their lives. At this stage of their development, you’ll want to upgrade them to a 24-inch tall brooder that gives them 1 square foot each. This will keep them safe and in check until they complete their developmental phase.

 It is possible, however, to forego the smaller brooder for the larger one. Your chicks will outgrow the smaller one, after all. If your resources are limited, then there is much to be said for that option. 

Where Should I Keep My Brooder?

A brooder is a safe place for your chicks. You’ll need to keep it in a secure place that can hold heat and protect your hatchlings from any and all of those great dangers just lurking out in the wider world. You could put it in a barn, a workshop, a garage, a basement, or even right in the house. The key is to keep it very safe from predators, such as cats, raccoons, opossums, and rats. 

Because you will need to provide your chicks with heat, a reliable power source is key. You’ll also want your brooder to be easy to get to, as you’ll probably want to check on your chicks at least a couple of times per day. I would also strongly recommend putting some kind of cover over your chicks – a mesh one for warmer weather or a piece of insulation in colder weather. 

Chickens are birds, after all, and once their wing feathers start coming in, they just might succumb to the urge to test out those flight enablers. The other reason for a covering your chicks are the curious whims of the family cat. Or dog. Or child. As much as we might love the other beasts in our menageries, they might not have the best interests of your chicks at heart. 

How Many Chicks Should Be In A Brooder?

I personally only put between ten and fifteen full sized chicks into a brooder at a time. This helps to ensure that there is enough space for each one, at least 6 inches of space per chick. Ten to fifteen chicks is easy to keep track of (for example, if one gets sick, it should be easy enough to identify that one.) It is also small enough to start getting to know the chicks’ personalities. If you’re like me and hope that these chickens become family, then it’s best to start familiarizing yourself with them sooner rather than later. Why not start right from the brooder?

If you’re going to have a clutch of bantams, up to 17 chicks is a good number. This is mostly just to help them stay warm, as being smaller chickens, they could use just a touch more heat. But the clutch should be no more than that. Otherwise, your chicks might squash each other.

At farm stores, you sometimes see there might be 50 chicks in a big bin. Farm stores do that because the chicks aren’t going to be there for that long. Many stores sell out in a day! 

So most farm stores don’t need to worry about whether a chick has long term access to food and water. At home however, if you have a lot of chicks in your brooder, you can’t guarantee that everybody’s getting the food that they need. So stick to a smaller clutch size, and get more than one brooder if necessary.

It’s harder to keep track of everybody and everybody’s health when a lot of chicks are in one brooder. They’re all running everywhere, and you can’t look at everybody really closely. 

Smaller numbers in your brooder make it easier to keep track of everybody’s condition. Is everybody getting the food that they need? Is everybody developing correctly? Is everybody warm enough? Does somebody look too cold?

If you use apple cider vinegar, it’s easier to make sure that everybody gets access to that. If you have one waterer and a large number of chicks in your brooder, maybe not everybody’s getting enough water or the apple cider vinegar in the water that they need. This is all the more reason to keep numbers manageable in a brooder. 

What Do Chicks Need In A Brooder?

For a brooder to be 100% effective, it will need a few key components. The first is warmth. Newborn chicks are covered in down, which is lovely and soft, but not that great at providing your precious little ones with the warmth they need to develop strong, hale and hearty. In their first week of life, the ideal temperature is about 95 degrees F. You will want to adjust this as your chicks start to feather out, as feathers provide them with natural insulation against the cold. 

The 95 degrees that was good in the first week might be too hot in the second week. If your chicks are too hot, they might start panting or moving far away from the heat source. Having a thermometer on hand will help you identify whether or not your heating source is too close to the clutch. When you test the temperature, be sure to be on the same level as your chicks. You want the readings to be as accurate to your birds’ experience as possible. 

Next comes food and water. A chick has to eat, right? Provide your clutch with a couple automatic waterers and feeders. If you put them in the corners of the brooder, it will help to reduce how much waste your chicks will deposit into the feed or water troughs. Most will spend their time in the warmest sections of the brooder – especially on colder days – and will then have to disperse to fill their other needs. The water and feed should be changed daily. If your chicks are especially messy, then this could be upgraded to twice a day refilling. 

Countless chicken lovers will tell you that waterers could use an anti-drowning preventative. Chicks are just getting their legs, so to speak, and as such, they might have a mishap or two with regards to how they drink. Shallow as their drinking troughs are, there is still a risk of drowning. To prevent this, put a number of marbles into the trough. This will give your chicks full access to water, but it will prevent them from dunking their heads.

The final thing your brooder will need is bedding. Chickens of all ages have the potential to be terribly messy. 

The Best Options For Flooring And Bedding

It seems like the go-to for bedding across the USA is pine shavings. This is very similar to what horses get in their stalls, and it tends to be light, fluffy, and holds chick waste quite well. In the first couple of weeks, it will need cleaning and changing every couple of days, but as your chicks get bigger, they will start producing greater quantities of waste. If pine shavings are unavailable in your local farm store, other options include straw, shredded paper towels (for the first week at most), or newspaper. Of all of these options, pine bedding works best for absorbency and overall comfort. You’ll need between an inch and three inches of bedding for your chicks. 

What Types Of Heaters Are There?

There are a few varieties of heaters to use in your brooder. The most common are a heat lamp and heating pads. A simple heating lamp can be clamped right onto the side of the brooder or dangle above it. These then produce powerful localized heat that spread out quite well over a general area. This actually provides both hot zones and cooler zones within the brooder. In the event that the weather shifts in your brooder’s shelter, your chicks will have temperature escapes. However, I don’t personally use or recommend heat lamps. They’re very dangerous.

Heat lamps produce tremendous heat. That much heat concentrated over wooden bedding is a fire hazard waiting to happen. When setting up your heat source, be sure that it cannot fall – secure it thoroughly with clamps or a bungee. 

Heat plates are a solid pad that is elevated off the ground and provides a surface area of warmth. Their height is adjustable so that your chicks will not bump their heads on the pads. These pads more closely simulate the localized warmth of a hen sitting on her clutch, but they tend to be far more expensive than heat lamps. 

You can also use space heaters.

Is There a Do It Yourself Option for a Brooder?

Brooders are remarkably affordable or easy to make. They require some basic and easily accessible materials, and can be quite durable, usable season after season. The simplest ones can be made from a large plastic tub or a large wooden box or coop. 

When Should I Get a Brooder?

It is imperative to get your brooder before you bring your first clutch of chicks home. You will want to set it up and test it out for any problems that might arise before your chicks get into it. You can trouble shoot anything that might hinder your chicks’ development or cause them undue stress. You can also check that  there is enough bedding, the heat lamps are secure and safe, and their water and feed is all set up. The latter is very important because when your chicks arrive. You’ll want to orient them to their food and water by dipping the beak of each one. This will ensure that they know where their essentials are.  

Sharing your home with a clutch of chicks is a truly amazing experience, and it all starts with having a good brooder for them. It’ll ensure they’re healthy and safe from predators. You’ll also get lots of hands on experience with your new pets! 

What’s your best chicken brooder tips? Leave a comment below!

Answers To Every Question You Ever Had About Baby Chicks

Answers To Every Question You Ever Had About Baby Chicks

If you just got chicks for the first time, you probably have a million questions. Last year, I did a free YouTube series that answered the most common questions I get about raising baby chicks. Below, I’ve compiled all those videos into a single easy-to-use resource!

This page is easy to use. Just use the table of contents to scroll to the best spot, and watch the video that answers your specific question!

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered yet, please reach out to us at [email protected] and I’ll make a video especially for you!

Feeding Baby Chicks

Can My Chicks Eat…..

Giving Water To Chicks

Nutritional Supplements For Chicks

Brooders & Keeping Chicks Warm

Common Health Questions

When Can Chicks Go Outside With Adult Hens?

Are My Chicks Male Or Female?

How To Raise People-Friendly Chickens

Protecting Chickens From Predators

When Do Chicks Start Laying Eggs?

Where To Buy Baby Chicks

FAQ