Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chicks with Slippers

It's now the second day since we've had chicks in our brooder, and we've already got our first concerns for them. Some of the chicks are walking around with their toes bent, and not looking too comfortable about it. A little bit of googling brought me to a site on curled feet, which details a similar problem and even better - a solution.

Apparently curled feet can be caused by a genetic disposition, or conditions in the hatching environment. When the chick hatches its feet are curled up, and sometimes it doesn't manage to open it properly. The solution I found was to make slippers for my chicks. This isn't really my cup of tea, but fortunately my wife is gifted with an obsession for crafts, so this kinda thing is right up her alley!

Here are some pictures of the magic she worked on one wee chick. Firstly, you need to straighten the toes of the affected foot and place them on a small piece of cardboard.

The idea is to make a slipper that will work as a splint to keep the foot straight while the bones are still soft and developing, so that they develop good and straight. The next step is to make sure the foot is going to stay attached to the splint-slipper. To do this we used little pieces of plaster, so they wouldn't damage the chick's foot when we pull it off (not too sticky).


We wrapped the plaster in sellotape to make sure it doesn't come off, and then had a little test to make sure the chick could still walk. She could walk well enough, but she has temporarily lost her climbing ability. She used to be so cute - when you put your hand down they climb up for the warmth. It'll take some time til she can do this again.
Here she is with her finished slippers. All the others are very jealous.

One other consideration for your chick's slippers - try and make them as boring looking as possible. The last thing she needs is the attention of her siblings who only know how to do one thing - they'll peck at her feet every time they come in sight!

Have you made slippers for your chicks before? I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and a link to a picture if you have one.

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