As I mentioned before, one of our chicks hatched with a foot problem. The toes on one foot were curled into a fist that remained closed even when the chick started hopping around.
There are two potential causes of what’s known as “curled toe paralysis.” If toes on both of your chickens’ feet are curled up, chances are the bird is suffering from a riboflavin deficiency due to a malnourished mother hen.
The solution in that case is to provide a vitamin supplement to that
chick immediately, which in many cases will cause the toes to naturally
If your chick has curled toes on only one foot (meaning it probably injured itself in the egg) or if you provide vitamins and the toes don’t uncurl, you’ll need to splint the chick’s foot. Splinting is best done as soon as you notice the problem — I waited until day 3, but think I would have seen even better results if I’d splinted on day 1. Mark helped me by holding the chick still during the operation and I highly recommend you find a helper before trying the procedure as well.
I’ve seen various splint methods on the internet, but the one that worked for us was to use two pieces of 3M Transpore tape to sandwich the chick’s toes into a flat position. Various people have had good luck with using bandaids and cardboard, but I didn’t think the bandaids were sticky enough, so I opted for the breathable but stickier Transpore. The extra stickiness made it easy to uncurl one toe at a time, laying each one against the tape to stay in place while I worked on the next.
The first day we splinted the chick’s foot, we learned another lesson — make sure the tape covers every bit of his toes. Our chick wasn’t pleased to have one foot turn into a flipper, so he pecked at the tape, which prompted his siblings to follow suit. I had left the end of one toe exposed and that spot was soon slightly bloody. Wrapping the tape all the way around the foot worked much better the next day.
We replaced the splint 24 hours later, at which point it was clear the toes were starting to uncurl but
weren’t there yet. The second splint stayed on for two days, which seemed to be just long enough to make sure the chick was able to walk flat-footed rather than on a fist. His toes are still slightly crooked, but the deformity doesn’t seem to slow him down — I have to sit and watch the brooder for five minutes before I can even pick him out. I’m glad to have been able to save such an intrepid chick!