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Dr. Pat
Dr. Pat, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 3596
Experience:  25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
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My chicken is lame with no obvious cause. She lumps badly

Customer Question

My chicken is lame with no obvious cause. She lumps badly even using her wing to stabilize herself.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the request.

There are many, many reasons for limping, and they need to be sorted out so we can help her.

What is your geographic location and local weather?

Can you tell me more about the chicken?​

How long has this been going on?

How long have you had her?

Where is she from? Hatchery, friends, etc?


Any accidents or trauma?

Interactions with other birds/pets/children/guests?

What is the usual diet? has it changed recently?

Has the bird/flock gotten into anything?

Do you have a rooster, and is he nice to the hens?

You can examine the bird thoroughly again, including opening the mouth and having a good look in there for mucus, redness, masses or anything else unusual. You can take the temperature gently with a rectal thermometer. Anything above 105F/40C is significant. Palpate the tummy for an egg, fluid, lumps or anything else. Check all the joints for swelling, pain, and mobility. Check the bottoms of the feet. Limping from trauma can be the result of head, spinal, pelvis, hip, leg, foot, joint or nerve injury.

Move the bird indoors to an aquarium, box or carrier with soft towels or hay in the bottom, no perch, and food and water in low bowls that can be reached easily. Keep her partially covered, warm and quiet.

The bird, bowls and unit must be kept very clean.

Do not try to force food or water. You can offer warm cooked rice, pancakes, cornbread, grapes, melon, greens in addition to normal food.

Pain control and cage rest may be the easiest options for her recovery, if the limping is the result of trauma. But the kind of injury will determine what kind of pain medication is best, ***** ***** vet visit is necessary.

I know it is expensive, but you may not have many home options, because the first thing you need a vet for is to find out what is going on. Treatment is only as good as the diagnosis. If you call around, you may find a vet to work within your means.

She needs to see an avian/poultry-experienced veterinarian ASAP for complete examination, diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Check click on "find a vet"

for members of AAV in your area. If you are not in North America, I can provide links to your geographic area as well.

The expense for this is going to be a lot less than inefficient, ineffective, dangerous treatments, guesswork, and loss of the flock; not to mention possible implications to human consumption of tainted eggs. There are a number of infectious diseases that can cause lameness, and there are tests for most of the common ones. Many states/governments have poultry diagnostic labs that charge very reasonable fees to test for common diseases.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I live in Virginia. Hot humid summer is the weather. I have had her less than a year. I bought her from the hardware store when she was less than a week old. The rooster is rough with the hens. She did lay an egg today. She eats and drinks when I put it in her reach. She is grooming herself.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No change in diet. The limping started on Thursday, two days ago. At first I thought he middle toe was broken. I know of no trauma.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Maybe the toe is broken. No idea.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She eats layer pellets and worms and tomatoes as treats.
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 1 year ago.

can you upload a photo of the toe?

Does it look swollen or painful?

Usually a toe is not enough to make them use a wing as a crutch. Either there is more going on, the other foot/leg is injured, etc. Sometimes if they get a toe caught an pull back, they can fracture spine, pelvis, upper limb. Catching a toe can also cause nerve damage up higher in the leg.

Can you palpate anything higher up? or any painful areas?

Putting her in a safe area/pen/carrier will help recovery regardless of injury, and remove rooster attention. If she has a special hen friend, they can go together.

She can have 1 cc childrens' ibuprofen (MOTRIN not tylenol) twice a day for pain and inflammation, but really best to have a vet examine her.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry for the delay. I stumbled into a nest of yellow jackets. She is walking better. I will try to send a short video.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The video can't be sent. She has a rolling gait now. I picked her up and she bicycles her legs when I do. I am going to keep her in a cage separate this evening and keep her separate from the rooster tomorrow.