My Hen is Limping. How to Fix it a Lame Chicken.

A couple of weeks ago I came outside to see the most pathetic sight (other than any of the Kardashian shows) these two eyes have ever seen.

There, dragging herself through the chicken run, was Norma.  The gimpy chicken.  While all the other chickens ran at break beak speed to come and see me, Norma hobble-limped halfway towards me, gave up and then laid down.  At which point all of the other chickens sensed a weak member in their flock and attacked her.  Just like that they turned on one of their own.  Again, not unlike the Kardashians.

I immediately went into medic mode, strapped a flashing red light to my head, screamed out some surprisingly loud siren sounds and made my way to Norma.

The first thing to do in assessing a chicken injury is to LOOK.

So I gently picked Norma up and gave her a thorough once over.  I looked for broken bones sticking out, wounds and thorns.  She looked fine.  But it’s hard to see through all of those feathers.  The next thing I did was flip her over and take a look at the bottom of her feet.  I was checking for Bumblefoot (a potentially deadly infection on the underside of a chicken’s foot).  No Bumblefoot.

The second thing to do is feel for warmth.

Like with other animals an easy way to check for pain or infection is the gently feel around the body parts.  An injured area will often feel warmer than the rest of the body.  No such luck with Norma.

The third thing to do is start guessing and eliminating.

The one thing it could possibly be was a case of Norma being egg bound.  I wasn’t convinced this was the case because it really looked like a sore foot or leg, but I wanted to be able to rule out the possibility of her being egg bound (also life threatening).

So I did what you’re supposed to do to make her feel better.  I put her in a bath and got ready to stick my finger up her bum.  No idea if this applies to the Kardashians as well.  I suspect it does.

Norma was incredibly cooperative.

 

Sick Chicken 1

 

 

I sat her in the kitchen sink filled with warm water and went about my business in the kitchen.  She didn’t seem to have any desire to move.  She just sat there quietly, waiting for me to get her out.

Sick Chicken 2

 

The kitchen was a bit cool and Norma was wet, so I wrapped her in a towel which made her warm, dried her off a bit and had the added bonus of making her look like a superhero.

 

Sick Chicken 3 B

 

Aftercare involves keeping the patient quiet and allowing them to rest.

 

Sick Chicken 4

 

Once the patient is able to eat and poop, they can be discharged.

 

Sick Chicken 5

 

I took her outside and gently put my finger in her bum. I was carefully checking to feel if there was an egg stuck in there.  I didn’t take pictures of that.  I tried.  But it’s kindda awkward to hold a camera, a chicken and a suppository.  Just kidding about the suppository.  It was my actual finger that went up her bum.  This is why as a chicken owner you should a) be brave and b) own an entire box of surgical gloves.

If you’re desperate to see a chicken bum, which is also called the vent, you can see one here.

Norma was relaxed, there didn’t seem to be an egg stuck in her and I was back to square one.  There were two possibilities.  She could have had a stroke.  Or … she could have just jumped off the roost a bit wonky and twisted something.

If a chicken has an injury that’s causing them pain the easiest and most effective thing you can give them is 1/2 a baby aspirin.

So that’s what Norma got.  One half of a baby aspirin.  If the limp went away that would let me know it was just a twisted ankle or pulled muscle.  If it didn’t help it could mean it was a stroke.

This is all random guessing of course, but that’s what you do in these sorts of situations.  Hell.  It’s what your doctor who went to a real medical school and everything does.

I held out the aspirin in the palm of my hand and she gobbled it up right away.  I kept her away from the other chickens so she wouldn’t be tormented and came back an hour later to check on her.

This is how she looked.

 


 

No limp. Or very little limp. So I knew that the injury was probably a muscle or inflammation issue, not a stroke. It isn’t always great to mask the pain on an animal because as far as they’re concerned as soon as the pain goes away, it’s hokey pokey time. A free for all of running, jumping and playing hopscotch. They don’t know the pill is masking the pain and they still have an injury they need to be gentle with. The simple truth is they just aren’t smart enough (insert your own Kardashian joke here).

So with animals you have to use a bit common sense. If I left Norma with her limp she’d be more careful with her injury … but only for the next 16 hours or so, until the other chickens devoured her alive.

Chickens can spot weakness faster than a schoolyard bully looking for lunch money. And they can take down your average 9 year old quicker.

So that’s why I opted to give Norma half an aspirin until her leg healed. The injury lasted for about 5 days so I prescribed 1/2 a baby aspirin every morning.

And now you’re going to think I’m weird. A loon. A bit of a softie. Since I helped Norma I’ve noticed she’s become much friendlier with me. She’s no Cuddles, but she lets me pick her up and look her over without a single squawk. Once she even asked me how my day was.

I told her it was O.K. I mean, I couldn’t keep up with the Kardashians. But who can?

168 Comments

  1. Pamela Sage says:

    I have a baby chick with a limp. No visible things wrong with the leg. Can I give her a tiny amount of aspirin?

  2. Lj says:

    This is one of the more entertaining as well as informative articles I’ve read. Loved your sense of humor. Well done.

  3. Wendy says:

    I recently rescued a huge flock of game roosters and hens. One of the roosters was loose and had a limp we caught him and checked both legs no breaks no swelling he does stand on one foot with one up but he doesn’t favor either more than the other. He hops up on his perch which is just a couple feet off the ground. I have noticed he kind of crosses his legs when he is on the perch sometimes kinda weird.?.. I’m gonna try the aspirin to see if it helps. Thanks for the story.. quite nice. Wendy

  4. Vicki Parker says:

    I have a rooster that has a limp, he was introduced to the original flock him and his 4 hens. He was a heavy handed or heavy beaked roo with his 4 hens.He was the boss. They are Brahma and they original
    flock is New Hampshire Red, Americana and 1 silkie who is low girl in the pecking order of they original flock. When I introduced the new flock to the old 1 1/2 weeks in a wire run that ran alone the wire run of the original flock, than I moved the newbies into the run in their own run so the older ladies couldn’t get at them and I left them for a 1 1/2 week. Than I let them go with the older flock and they immediately stated chasing the new kids and they seemed to be double teaming the rooster my worst one was the little silkie and one of the NH Reds. So I supervised and tried to control some of the chasing. But my rooster developed a limp so now I separated the rooster from the flock during the day I put one of his hens with him and swap off every day with his 4 hens I think he’s getting better. At night I go out and open the door that separates the roo and the original flock at dusk . One of the new hens joins the original flock in the coop put the rooster and the other 3 hens get on a roost in the outside run and refuse to inside the coop at night. It’s getting cold outside at night. I put the rooster and the 3 hens in the coop and shut the door. And at dawn I go out open door for all the chickens only they original flock goes out the newbies stay inside I have to get the rooster and put him in his safe place with one of his hens and they other eventually come out eat and than get on the roost and spend a lot of time there. Should I keep going out and putting the chickens in or leave the coop door open all night and they will go in by themselves. Why is my rooster a cowardly lion? The more he runs the more they chase. Please help…….

  5. JoAnne Barco says:

    I have a 1/2 Bantam hen, Little Girl, in a dog crate in my garage right now. We noticed she was limping pretty bad about 4 days ago. We checked her out thoroughly, and do not think her leg is broken. I have given her vitamin B 12 and Nutridrench in her water. I’ve also given her lots of mealworms and a boiled egg one day. She is eating and drinking and even lays her pretty little egg so I know she is not egg bound. She definitely has not improved but has not gotten worse. She is trying to get out of the crate every time I open the door. I feel so bad for her. But I know the others would trample her if I put her back in the run.

  6. Amy Schmitt says:

    I have a beautiful bird just like Norma, she has been limping for a few days. I have separated her from the flock and she has been enjoying her stay in a dog crate in the garage. She hasn’t shown real improvement, so I will be trying your 1/2 baby aspirin trick tomorrow morning. Hope she comes around! Thank you!

  7. Carlena says:

    You’re the best!! Not only at writing the story with humor during our stressful times but a huge help on what to do! Thank you for sharing!

  8. Laura says:

    thank you for this article! I’m going to try this out today. and I love your writing style.

  9. Alice Lister says:

    I would just like to say oh, I’m having the same problem I don’t think I’m going to go, how was it put , in the anima route. But I’m going to try the other ways and see what I can come up with because chickens really are ruthless they will pick the other ones to death I actually named my rooster, Manson as in Charles!! I loved the story!!

  10. Misty says:

    This was so helpful! Thank you so much!

  11. Laura S says:

    I have a feeder chicken named Bertha that has been limping for quite a while – no bumblefoot, no real pain, she eats & drinks just fine. She also holds her leg out to the side when she sits around the hoobaku. Now she is too large across the breast to fit into our eglu, so she has been outside more often than not. During an exam & bath, what specifically should I be looking for?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura. Just look for the same things you would if the chicken were a person. Scabs, scratches, redness, swelling anywhere or warm to the touch. If she’s older and has gotten quite big it could just be old age and weight causing her to stiffen. ~ karen!

  12. Chibueze says:

    can I give a chick DAT is not up to 1month aspiring?

  13. Jana C says:

    My husband and I cracked up at your Kardashian comments!! I agree 100%!
    We are new chicken owners and have a gimpy chick right. Your article was helpful. I can’t wait to read more!

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