Culling deformed chicks

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goatlady
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Culling deformed chicks

Post by goatlady » 03 Apr 2014, 06:14

I have two chicks in what was otherwise a very good hatch at the weekend that each have one useless leg (one right, one left, as it happens). The leg in question is bent at the hock but seems paralysed, and both chicks are shuffling around and not walking properly. I tried to straighten the leg out a bit, but it obviously hurt the chick, and so I stopped.

I have two questions:

Does anyone know whether this is more likely to be genetic than to result from incubating conditions or some other external problem? Both chicks are Speckled Sussex. I only had one other Speckled Sussex in the hatch, and this one has come out OK, but two out of three is a high proportion. All the other chicks are fine.

I don't think these two will ever be able to walk properly, so I was wondering what the best and most humane way would be to dispatch them.

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Re: Culling deformed chicks

Post by ladyplumber » 03 Apr 2014, 07:23

I had a similar result from an experiment I conducted last year. I'd heard that by increasing the incubator temp by one degree or so, the resulting hatch should be a majority of females ....... no. The result was again almost 50/50, and of the chicks that hatched and survived all the males had bent legs and were culled. Hatching seemed to be speeded up too .... some literally burst out of their shell before the yolk had been completely absorbed.

I'm not saying that temperature is the cause of your problems goatlady, just that this is my experience of that particular defect.

I'll pm you regarding culling, I don't want to upset anyone :)
1 BlackRock 2 Speckledys 1 Black Brahma 3 Light Sussex 1 Auracana 1 (noisy) Silver Laced Wyandotte 4 Marans x Cream Legbar
4 Barnvelder x Cream Legbar 1 Blue Splash Orpington 2 Chocolate Orpington 5 Gold Laced Orpington

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Re: Culling deformed chicks

Post by goatlady » 03 Apr 2014, 07:56

Thank you for that ladyplumber, and for the pm. I'm putting it off, because they're eating and drinking and don't appear to be suffering - but they are, quite literally, being walked over by the other chicks, so I will have to do it soon.

The Sussex if anything were a day late hatching, so I don't think it was caused by too high an incubation temperature.

Talking of male-female ratios, six out of the seven Cream Legbars are male! I hope that the Barnevelders redress the balance a bit.

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Re: Culling deformed chicks

Post by MrsMopp » 03 Apr 2014, 11:44

I believe you can splint legs but its not something I've ever encountered (with sussex or any other breed) and I don't know if you are supposed to do it very soon after hatching in order for it to work. Perhaps have a bit of a google to see what you can find? If there is nothing to be done, then I cull chicks using a sharpened cleaver. Its instant and you know you've done it properly. Be warned, there will be flapping and eye movements for a few seconds even though the head is separated from the body. I'm sorry if this offends anybody but keeping chickens requires that some are hatched, and inevitably there are some problems or an excess of males. Hatching requires responsible despatching and this is one of the best methods I know. Alternatively, if you know a reptile or raptor keeper you could pass them on as food.

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Re: Culling deformed chicks

Post by drfish » 03 Apr 2014, 11:57

From my reading up after having a chick with splayed legs last year (who inevitably died at day 3), splinting needs to be done asap after hatch, or muscle memory becomes ingrained with the chick using the leg the wrong way, and it can never revert back to 'normal' once the leg is repaired. Probably better to cull now than to prolong it, unless you're absolutely sure it can be rectified.
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Re: Culling deformed chicks

Post by ladyplumber » 03 Apr 2014, 13:24

We're not talking about "splayed" legs here - that's usually easily rectified. We're talking deformed or twisted legs which can't be rectified by splinting. :)
1 BlackRock 2 Speckledys 1 Black Brahma 3 Light Sussex 1 Auracana 1 (noisy) Silver Laced Wyandotte 4 Marans x Cream Legbar
4 Barnvelder x Cream Legbar 1 Blue Splash Orpington 2 Chocolate Orpington 5 Gold Laced Orpington

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Re: Culling deformed chicks

Post by goatlady » 03 Apr 2014, 13:30

Oddly enough, I did have two with splayed legs (almost certainly because I took them out of the incubator too soon), but they are now walking normally following the appropriate treatment. The two Sussex are a different matter altogether, and they definitely need to go.

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Re: Culling deformed chicks

Post by drfish » 03 Apr 2014, 14:42

Yeah, I know we're not. But my point still remains. Once the muscle memory has formed of adapting to work around the issue, it's very difficult to get it to do anything else. Be it splayed or twisted/deformed. The first few days the chick programs it's brain to learn to walk, and this remains hard wired.

And why can't a twisted leg be repaired by a splint? Surely if it's not the actual bone that's twisted, then it will be tendon and muscle causing it, which can be repaired with a splint on any animal I would imagine. Or at least the problem can be alleviated.
Giving power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to a teenage boy - P. J. O'Rourke (thanks Jessie)

It's amazing that people can believe everything is predestined but they still look both ways when crossing the road - Stephen Hawking

1 Wife, 3 children, 1 Staffie Bitch (RIP Marley), 1 Chi-Chi, 1 Tuxedo Cat, 1 part Maine Coon cat, male bearded dragon, Horsefield Tortoise, 2 White Silkies, 1 Frizzle Pekin, 1 CLB, 1 Appenzeller Spitzhauben Cockerel, 1 blue laced Wyandotte, 3 Appenzeller x Wynadotte pullets, 1 Call drake, 3 khaki Campbell ducks, 4 (2 male 2 female?) Aylesbury x Campbells, a breeding colony of Dubia cockroaches.

And a lot of Ibuprofen.

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Re: Culling deformed chicks

Post by goatlady » 04 Apr 2014, 11:50

In the end I realised that I could reduce the opening in my wall-mounted dispatcher to a size small enough to guarantee the result, and so that's what I did. But I prevaricated for two days before plucking up the courage.

I still need to know whether the problem is genetic. It didn't happen last year, but I have introduced two new hens since then. I suppose the only way to find out is to try again, and see if I get the same result.

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Re: Culling deformed chicks

Post by laffinfowl » 04 Apr 2014, 12:15

It certainly seem as if that could be the case,new blood is carrying a defect somewhere,maybe try giving them some sort of tonic before trying eggs from them again.
I'm a great believer in HW's modus operandi that if they are,nt up and running under their own steam after 48 hours then unfortunately its cull,i don't think its fair to let them loll around getting trampled and bullied by their stronger siblings ad find they normally fade and eventually go down hill so its kinder to despatch them sooner rather than later.

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Re: Culling deformed chicks

Post by kated » 04 Apr 2014, 13:34

Whether this is the case or not, I was told many years ago that it can be inbreeding or lack of sufficient vitamins in the parent birds which causes deformities in chicks. I Just pass this on as a possibility.

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Re: Culling deformed chicks

Post by goatlady » 04 Apr 2014, 16:33

I've just learned that there are so few people breeding Speckled Sussex in my part of France that my birds are most likely related, even though they came from different places. I think this might be the cause of the problem.

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