If you’ve ever had a chicken that was limping, you know that it can be quite worrisome. You may not be sure what to do about it, or even why your chicken is limping in the first place.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the reasons why your chicken might be limping, as well as what you can do to help them recover.
So, if you’re concerned about your feathered friend’s well-being, please keep reading!
Signs Your Chicken is Limping
Chickens are unique creatures and, like any living thing, can sometimes fall ill. One way to tell if a chicken is unwell is by observing its gait; when chickens limp, it usually indicates that something is wrong.
There are a variety of possible causes for limping in chickens, from injuries to infections.
In some cases, the limp may be the only symptom; in others, chickens may also exhibit reduced appetite, lethargy, or respiratory distress.
If you notice your chicken limping, it’s important to take action quickly and consult a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. By doing so, you can help ensure that your chicken stays healthy and happy.
31 Reasons My Chicken is Limping
Now, if you notice your chicken limping, it’s important to determine the cause and take appropriate action.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the most common reasons why chickens limp and share tips on how to help them heal. We’ll also suggest ways to prevent injuries from happening in the first place.
1. Cuts and Wounds
One common reason your chicken may be limping is because of cuts and wounds. When chickens walk around in the yard, they are susceptible to getting minor cuts and scratches from rocks, debris, or even other chickens.
These wounds may not seem like a big deal, but they can lead to infection if not treated properly.
Chickens have a higher risk of infection because they have a lot of feathers that can trap bacteria.
If you notice your chicken is limping and has any cuts or scratches, make sure to clean the wound with soap and water.
You may also need to apply an antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection. In severe cases, your chicken may need to see a vet, too.
2. Stiffness or Sprain From Jumping Off the Roost
If you notice your chicken is limping, it could be due to stiffness or a sprain from jumping off the roost. A roost is typically a few feet off the ground.
Chickens jump down in the morning to start their day. Over time, this repeated jumping can lead to injuries, especially if the roost is positioned at an improper height.
While it may not seem like a big deal, a limp can impact a chicken’s quality of life and ability to move around freely. If you think your chicken has a stiffness or sprain, please consult with a veterinarian.
They will be able to help determine the best course of treatment. In the meantime, you can try gently massaging the affected leg and providing your chicken with plenty of rest
3. Catching Birds by the Legs
The limping might have something to do with the way they are caught. Chickens are often caught by the legs, which can cause them to go into shock and often results in a broken leg or wing.
In addition, the chicken’s breast meat is very fragile and can easily be bruised when they are being handled roughly.
As a result, it’s important to be gentle when catching chickens, and to make sure that they are properly supported so that their legs and wings don’t get injured.
4. String Wound Around Leg or Toe
One common problem is string or other debris wrapped around a leg or toe, which can cause the chicken to limp.
In some cases, the string can cut off circulation, leading to serious health problems. A band that has grown too small for a chicken can cause the same problem.
Sometimes, the chicken will try to preen the string off, but this can be difficult if the string is tightly wound. If you notice that your chicken is limping, take a close look at its legs and toes.
If you see any strings wrapped around them, carefully remove the strings and dispose of them properly. You may need to treat the rest of the area for infection, if there is one.
5. Broken Bones
While there are several possible causes of limping, one of the most common is a broken bone.
Chickens’ bones are relatively fragile, and they can be easily broken if the bird falls or is stepped on by another chicken.
In addition, chickens like to peck at shiny objects, and this can sometimes lead to them breaking their beak or tongue.
If you notice that your chicken is limping, it’s important to examine the bird carefully to see if there is any visible injury.
If there is, you’ll need to provide some basic first aid and then take the chicken to the vet for further treatment. With proper care, most chickens will make a full recovery from a broken bone.
6. Bacterial Infections
One potential reason why your chicken might be limping is that it has a bacterial infection.
There are several different types of bacteria that can infect chickens, including bumblefoot, staphylococcus, and Escherichia coli. Among these, bumblefoot is one of the most common diseases.
These infections can cause swelling and pain in the chicken’s feet, which can lead to limping. In severe cases, the infection can spread to the chicken’s bones and joints, causing permanent damage.
If you suspect that your chicken has a bacterial infection, it is important to take it to a veterinarian for treatment. With prompt treatment, most chickens make a full recovery.
7. Arthritis and Other Joint Problems
Arthritis is caused by inflammation of the joints, and can be very painful for chickens.
Other joint problems can be caused by injuries, infections, or even genetics. Meat breeds, for instance, are more likely to suffer from these issues.
If you suspect that your chicken has a joint problem, it’s important to take them to the vet for an evaluation and treatment.
Joint problems can be very debilitating for chickens, especially older ones, so it’s important to get them the help they need as soon as possible.
Perosis is caused by a deficiency in manganese, which can lead to the weakening of bones and tendons.
Chickens with perosis often have difficulty walking, and their legs may appear malformed. If left untreated, perosis can be fatal.
However, it is easily prevented by providing chickens with a healthy diet. It is most common in meat birds and virtually unheard of in layers.
9. Toxins in Feed
Toxins in chicken feed can cause a condition known as limb edema, which results in the swelling of the legs and feet.
The most common type of toxin is mycotoxin, which is produced by mold. Mold can grow on stored feed, and it can also be present in the environment where chickens are kept.
Inhaling or ingesting mycotoxin can cause limb edema, as well as respiratory problems, digestive issues, and even death.
Other toxins that can contaminate chicken feed include pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals. Any of these substances can cause limb edema if chickens are exposed to them.
If you notice that your chicken is limping, it is important to take it to a veterinarian immediately to rule out any potential health problems.
10. Poisoning from Plants
One possible reason your chicken is limping could be that it has been poisoned by plants. Some common poisonous plants include ivy, rhododendron, and yew.
Chickens may eat these plants if they are left unsupervised in an area with them. Symptoms of plant poisoning in chickens can include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and limb paralysis.
The latter, of course, can cause limping. If limping is the only symptom, it’s unlikely that poisoning is the culprit – but if you notice other signs, you might want to rule this one out.
If you think your chicken has been poisoned by a plant, take it to the vet immediately. They will be able to treat your chicken and help it recover.
11. Scaly Leg Mites
Chickens are susceptible to a number of parasites, including scaly leg mites. These tiny creatures burrow under the chicken’s skin, causing irritation and inflammation.
In severe cases, the leg can become so damaged that the chicken is unable to walk.
Scaly leg mites are most commonly found on the legs and feet, but they can also infest the body, wings, and head. The best way to prevent scaly leg mites is to maintain a clean and well-ventilated coop.
However, if your chicken does become infested, there are a number of treatments available.
The most important thing is to catch the problem early and take action to prevent it from spreading.
12. Nutritional Problems
All chickens need a diet that contains the right balance of nutrients in order to stay healthy. If your chicken is limping, it could be due to a nutritional deficiency.
One common problem is a lack of calcium, which can lead to fragile bones and joints. A vitamin B deficiency can also cause limping, as well as weakness and lethargy.
Another possibility is that your chicken isn’t getting enough to eat. Make sure that you are providing a balanced diet and that your chicken has access to fresh water at all times. If the problem persists, consult a veterinarian for further advice.
13. Chicks Limping After Hatching
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for chicks to develop issues with their legs and feet, especially if they were shipped long distances or have spent time in a crowded brooder.
While a limp may seem like a minor problem, it can actually be quite painful for your chick and even lead to permanent damage if left untreated.
Sometimes, chicks might have genetic abnormalities leading to the limp. If that’s the case, there’s not much you can do besides monitor the condition to make sure it doesn’t worsen. If it does, the bird may need to be culled.
14. Mareks’ Disease
Marek’s Disease is a rare virus that chickens can get. Chickens that have Marek’s Disease may limp, have paralysis, or die.
If your chicken has Marek’s Disease, there is no treatment and it is fatal. There are vaccinations available for this disease.
Again, if your chicken has Marek’s, you will notice other signs and symptoms besides limping.
Pasteurella is caused by bacteria that are commonly found in the environment, so it can be hard to prevent.
The good news is that most chickens will recover from the disease without any long-term effects.
However, some chickens may develop joint inflammation or respiratory problems. If your chicken has pasteurella, it’s important to keep an eye on its condition and seek veterinary care if its condition deteriorates.
16. Spraddle Leg
There are several reasons why your chick might be limping. One possibility is that the chick has a condition known as splay leg or spraddle leg, which occurs when the tendons in the legs are not properly anchored to the bones.
This can be caused by genetic factors, vitamin deficiencies, or even simply spending too much time in a cramped brooder.
Splay leg can be difficult to treat, but early intervention is essential to give your chick the best chance at a full recovery.
Chickens are resilient creatures that can withstand a lot of cold weather, but they are not immune to the effects of extreme weather. One serious condition that can affect chickens is frostbite.
Frostbite occurs when the tissue freezes, and it can cause severe damage to the affected area.
Chickens are particularly susceptible to frostbite on their combs and wattles, which are exposed body parts that don’t have a lot of feathers for insulation.
If you notice your chicken limping, it’s important to check for signs of frostbite. This condition can also affect the feet, particularly if you are raising a breed of chicken that does not have feathering around the feet.
The affected area will look pale and waxy, and it may be cold to the touch. If you suspect that your chicken has frostbite, bring it inside and put it in a warm environment.
You should also contact a veterinarian for further treatment.
18. Slipped Tendon
A slipped tendon is a common injury in chickens. It occurs when the tendon that attaches the leg to the body becomes detached from the bone. This can happen if the chicken twists its leg, falls, or is stepped on.
A slipped tendon is most likely to occur in young chickens, as their bones are not yet fully developed. Symptoms of a slipped tendon include limping and weakness in the affected leg.
The chicken may also hold its foot off the ground or tuck it under its body. If left untreated, a slipped tendon can lead to permanent lameness.
Treatment involves resetting the tendon and supporting the leg with a splint or cast. With proper care, most chickens make a full recovery from this injury.
19. Rooster Spurs
One possible cause is rooster spurs. These are sharp growths that develop on the legs of male chickens, and they can become entangled in the feathers of other chickens, causing pain and irritation.
They can sometimes be trimmed or treated to address your rooster’s discomfort.
One common cause is Spondylolisthesis, which is a condition in which one vertebra slips out of position and puts pressure on the vertebrae below it. This can cause pain and mobility problems.
Chickens with Spondylolisthesis may have difficulty walking, perching, or even standing up. If you suspect that your chicken has Spondylolisthesis, it’s important to take it to a vet for treatment.
Left untreated, the condition can cause permanent damage to the spine and nervous system. In severe cases, it can even be fatal.
21. Necrotic Dermatitis
If you’ve ever noticed your chicken limping, there’s a chance it’s suffering from Necrotic Dermatitis. This condition is caused by a bacterial infection that affects the skin and can spread quickly to the rest of the body.
Symptoms include lesions and swelling. If left untreated, Necrotic Dermatitis can cause permanent damage. In severe cases, it can be fatal.
Early treatment is essential to preventing serious complications. If you suspect your chicken has Necrotic Dermatitis, take it to a vet right away for diagnosis and treatment.
22. White Muscle Disease
If you’ve ever raised chickens, you know that they are susceptible to a variety of health problems.
One of the most serious, though rare, is White Muscle Disease, which is caused by a deficiency of selenium and vitamin E. Symptoms include weakness, lethargy, and muscle tremors, and the disease can ultimately be fatal.
One of the first signs that your chicken may be suffering from White Muscle Disease is limping.
This is because the disease affects the muscles, making it difficult for the chicken to walk. If you notice your chicken limping, it’s important to take action immediately.
23. Infections Synovitis
Synovitis is an infection that causes inflammation of the tissue surrounding the joints. Again, this is a condition that will need to be diagnosed and treated by a vet.
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones that causes them to become weak and brittle. It can affect any bone in the body, but it most commonly affects the bones in the spine, hips, and wrists.
Osteoporosis is often diagnosed after a bone fracture or other bone injury. The symptoms of osteoporosis can vary, but they may include pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion.
Osteoporosis is most common in older chickens. Chicken are especially susceptible to this disease because their bones are not as dense as those of other animals.
As a result, they are more likely to experience fractures and other injuries. There are several ways to prevent and treat osteoporosis, but the most important thing is to get regular exercise and eat a healthy diet.
If you’ve ever found your chicken limping, there’s a chance it could be suffering from botulism. Botulism is a serious disease caused by a toxin that attacks the nervous system, leading to paralysis.
Chickens can contract botulism through contaminated food or water, or by coming into contact with an infected animal.
The initial symptoms of botulism include weakness and lethargy, followed by paralysis. If left untreated, the disease will eventually lead to death.
Worms are internal parasites that feast on your chicken’s blood, resulting in anemia and weight loss. In severe cases, they can even cause death. While there are several types of worms that can infect chickens, the most common is the red mite.
These tiny pests live in cracks and crevices, emerging at night to feed on your chicken’s blood.
Not only is this painful for your chicken, but it can also lead to anemia and reduced egg production. If you suspect your chicken has worms, take it to the vet for a check-up and wormers treatment.
Left untreated, worms can have serious consequences for your chicken’s health.
Erysipelas is a bacterial infection that commonly affects the skin of chickens. The most common symptom is limping, as the chicken’s legs become swollen and painful. In some cases, the skin may also develop red or purple patches with lesions.
Erysipelas is typically treated with antibiotics, but it can be prevented by ensuring that your chicken coop is clean and dry.
If you suspect that your chicken has erysipelas, it’s important to take it to the vet for treatment as soon as possible.
Left untreated, the infection can cause permanent damage to the chicken’s legs and make it more susceptible to other diseases.
28. Epidemic Tremors
This disease is caused by a virus and can affect chickens of all ages, causing them to limp and sometimes paralyze their legs.
The good news is that there are vaccinations available to help prevent this disease. It is caused by a virus named avian encephalomyelitis. It causes other symptoms, too, like ataxia, imbalance, tremors, and lesions.
29. Ingrown Toenail
Ingrown toenails are a common problem in chickens, and can be caused by a number of factors.
Improper nail trimming is one of the most common causes, as it can leave the nails too long or uneven.
Injuries, such as getting caught in wire or being stepped on, can also cause ingrown toenails.
Chickens with long feathers on their legs are also more susceptible to ingrown toenails, as the feathers can trap dirt and moisture around the nails, leading to infection.
If your chicken is limping, check its toes for any signs of redness, swelling, or discharge.
If you suspect an ingrown toenail, contact your veterinarian for treatment. You may be able to just clip it yourself.
30. Fungal Infections
Fungal infections can be serious, and they can spread quickly to other chickens in your flock. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to treat a fungal infection and prevent it from spreading.
First, isolate the affected chicken from the rest of the flock. Then, clean the affected area with a mild antiseptic and apply an anti-fungal cream or ointment.
You should also make sure that the chicken has access to fresh water and plenty of food. With proper treatment, most chickens recover quickly from a fungal infection.
Mycoplasma is rare, but is caused by a bacteria that attacks the joints and connective tissue.
Chickens that contract mycoplasma often have swollen joints and may walk with a limp. In severe cases, mycoplasma can cause deformities in the bones and joints.
What to Do About a Limping Chicken
Limping is a common symptom in chickens that can be caused by a variety of different factors. Here are some steps to take to address and treat the limping.
Identify the Cause
In order to determine the best course of action, it is important to first identify the cause of the limping.
There are many potential causes of limping, including injuries, chicken parasites, nutritional deficiencies, and diseases. You can’t treat the disease or injury without first knowing what it is!
Isolate Bird from Flock
Once the cause has been determined, it is often necessary to isolate the affected chicken from the rest of the flock. This will help to prevent the spread of disease and ensure that the bird receives the proper care and treatment.
Depending on the underlying cause, additional steps may be necessary, such as providing supportive care or administering medication. Having the chicken isolated will make it easier to do this.
Make a Temporary Splint
A chicken’s leg has two main bones, the femur, and tibia. These are held together at the knee joint by ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
If any of these structures are damaged, it can result in a limp. In mild cases, the limp may go away on its own as the tissue heals.
However, in more severe cases, it may be necessary to provide some support for the leg in order to prevent further injury.
One way to do this is to make a temporary splint using items that you have on hand, such as popsicle sticks or straws.
Simply tie the splint to the chicken’s leg using veterinary tape or gauze. This will help to stabilize the leg and prevent further damage until the chicken is able to see a veterinarian.
Treat it For One Week
As long as there aren’t any more severe symptoms besides the limp, you may be able to take care of things at home.
Treat your chicken at home for a week to see if the limping subsides (following the tips above, of course, as well).
If the bird gets better, great! If not, you’ll need to call a vet to further diagnose and treat the injury.
Cull the Bird
If the injury or illness is severe, the chicken may need to be culled. This decision should be made based on the severity of the injury and the age of the chicken.
If the chicken is young and the injury is not severe, it is likely that the chicken will make a full recovery.
However, if the chicken is older or the injury is more severe, it is unlikely that the chicken will make a full recovery and it may need to be culled.
Address Issues for the Future
If a chicken is limping, there are a few things you can do to help it recover, but there are then steps you should take to make sure the problem doesn’t come back in the future.
First, check the coop to make sure the floor is clean and dry and there are no sharp objects that could have injured the chicken’s foot.
Second, make sure the chicken has access to fresh water and a healthy diet. Third, check the perches in the coop to make sure they are not too high or too low.
When introducing new chickens to the flock, always make sure to have them vaccinated and quarantined for several weeks to make sure they aren’t bringing contagious illnesses with them.
With a bit of preventative care, you can often stop injuries and illnesses from occurring in the first place.
When in Doubt, Call a Vet
If your chicken is limping, there are a few things you can do to try and help her. The most important thing is to get her to the vet as soon as possible for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
In the meantime, here are a few tips that may help:
- make sure your chicken has plenty of fresh water and food
- provide a soft place for her to rest. Get her away from the rest of the flock to prevent unnecessary bullying
- if she’s been injured, clean the wound with warm water. Try to keep her as safe and comfortable as possible until you can figure out why she’s limping – and what to do about it.
Remember, many times, limping isn’t anything to worry about, but it does require prompt action if you want your bird to stay healthy and to be able to walk normally again.
Follow these tips, and you’ll have your hen up and running in no time.
Rebekah is a high-school English teacher n New York, where she lives on a 22 acre homestead. She raises and grows chickens, bees, and veggies such as zucchini (among other things).