This is an update from a previous post about my little chick, Hazel who developed a curled toe at about two weeks old. A friend had offered to come around this weekend and help me try to catch Hazel to see if we could do something for her little toe.
On the way home from work on Friday, the local vet was still open (yay we all got told to go home early for Christmas) so I decided to pop in to see if she had any advice for me. I was not expecting much as most vets in New Zealand aren’t chicken experts and my understanding is that our vet training doesn’t cover more than basic chicken anatomy.
But this vet was wonderful and what’s more, she seemed to love chickens and know lots about them. When I told her about the toe, she said that these things often happen in nature and it would be best to leave the chick alone if she is moving around well and doesn’t seem to be distressed or in pain. I asked her about the skin on the toe that Hazel would be walking on and the vet said that she will develop a callous on the skin which will become as tough as the sole of her foot so she shouldn’t develop skin problems. She also said that hens (and especially bantams) are light and won’t cause too much pressure on the toe.
So then I asked about Hazel’s ability to roost and her answer was that chooks are extremely resilient and that they adapt themselves and are usually able to do everything a normal hen can do. The only thing she said to watch is that the nail might need cutting later but at the mo, it is just growing in the air and it is not digging into any skin.
So I have decided to take the vet’s advice and leave her toe and let nature take it’s course.
I spent a bit of time on Saturday morning, (well lots of time actually when I was meant to be doing housework and Christmas planning) sitting outside the run watching them. In particular I was watching Hazel. There she was, standing up on the log on one foot (the little curled toe foot) while she cleaned her wing with her other foot. She was very strong and stable standing on that little foot.
A while later I saw one of the chicks lying down having a dust bath (in the grass and spilled wood shavings from the coop) and scratching and kicking vigorously with both feet and having a lovely roll around. It looked like Hazel but surely she wouldn’t be scratching so vigorously with that little curled toe. I waited and watched and sure enough, it was Hazel Hen-Chick kicking and scratching with both feet and having a ball.
So I am now comfortable with my decision to leave her little curled toe be. I will continue to monitor her progress.