I recently incubated a batch of my own eggs and got 23 baby chicks out of the deal! Sweet! It’s so exciting to see new life being born. And let’s face it, baby chicks are super adorable. My only problem was that I had a baby chick born who had curled toes and spraddle leg. That was heartbreaking. So I’ll let you in on a little secret on how to fix spraddle leg and how to correct curled toes in baby chicks.
What are curled toes? They are just what they sound like. They are toes that are curled to the inside of the foot, not straight.
Are curled toes the end of the world? No, absolutely not. In fact, curled toes in baby chicks is a relatively easy issue to solve. All it takes is a little bit of painter’s tape.
So, like I wrote about in how to fix spraddle leg, I’m going to give you the solution first to correct curled toes in baby chicks and the cause of curled toes second.
How to correct curled toes in baby chicks:
The supplies that you will need to correct curled toes is painter’s tape and a pair of scissors. You are going to make a cast for the chick’s foot that will force the toes to stay in place.
It is imperative to make the cast as soon as possible once the chick has been born or once the problem has developed. The chick’s bones are still forming and hardening after hatch. Creating a cast keeps the toes in place, forcing the toes to grow into the correct position.
As an aside, your chick is going to scream and cry while you are creating the cast. Don’t let that bother you. Be strong and don’t let your mother’s heart be concerned.
Put a piece of painter’s tape down on a hard surface with the sticky side face up. You can put the ends of the tape down on the surface to keep the tape in place.
Take the chick’s curled foot and place it onto the tape. Ensure that the toes are spread into the correct position and that the toes are straight.
Take a second piece of painter’s tape and stick it on top of the chick’s foot, with the sticky side down. The two pieces of tape should stick to each other.
Using a pair of scissors, trim around the chick’s foot to cut off the excess tape. Take extreme care not to cut the chick’s foot.
That’s it, you have created a cast to correct your baby chick’s curled toes.
How long does it take to correct curled toes?
My little chick took two days and nights with the cast on to have its’ curled toes corrected. Once the chick has its’ cast on, you can keep it separate from the others in a box that has access to water and food. In the alternative, if your chick is able to move around freely with the cast on, you can keep it with the other chicks.
My chick that had curled toes and spraddle legs was not able to move around, so I had to keep her separate in a little box. Her curled toes corrected itself faster than the spraddle legs.
What causes curled toes in baby chicks?
This is a loaded question as curled toes can be the result of several issues. Curled toes in baby chicks usually occurs after being hatched in an incubator.
Too much room in the incubator:
The first cause of curled toes is that when the chick was born, there was too much room in the incubator. This means that the chick couldn’t use anything to help it stand up, causing its’ feet to curl. Solve this problem by partitioning off sections of the incubator to create less room for the chick to move around in.
The second cause of curled toes could be a slippery surface. When you put the chick into the brooder, you should put a flat, non-slip surface down as the flooring. Instead of using wood chips, use paper towels or non-slip cabinet liner. This allows the chick to gain purchase on the floor, which helps them to stand correctly.
Fluctuations in heat and humidity in the incubator:
While incubating, there may have been too much change in the temperature or the humidity. Constancy and consistency is key while incubating eggs. Make sure that the incubator humidity is set between 45-55 degrees for days 1-18 and 65 degrees for days 18-21. The temperature should be kept at 99-99.5 degrees.
Injuries while hatching:
The chick may have had a difficult hatch. This means that the chick struggled to hatch from the egg and injured its’ feet in the progress, causing curled toes.
The chick may had vitamin deficiencies if the curled toes occurred after hatch while in the brooder. Make sure that you are using medicated chick feed. Also provide electrolytes in their water.
Curled toes in baby chicks is a condition that can easily be corrected with the right treatment. After getting her cast off, my little chick is running with the others. You can’t even tell that she had curled toes before. That makes my momma’s heart happy!