hen has a broken leg

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my 6 year old hen seems to have broken her leg, it just swings when I hold her off the ground, the claws don't seem to have any feeling or movement, and she can only manages to hop on the other leg for short distances. It may have happened when she flew from her perch yesterday morning. I found her lying on the ground unable to walk. Will it heal naturally, or with assistance from a splint etc., or should I put her out of her misery?

-- joe smith (maxnmitz@bigpond.com), September 12, 2001


Joe, Six years is really old for a chicken and she might just be going downhill. It has to be painful for her. You know elderly folks that have broke hips usually do not fall and break their hip, the bone breaks or crumbles and they fall. This could be what happened to the hen. I hate to say it, but, you might be doing her a favor by putting her down. Sorry.

-- Karen in Kansas (kansasgoats@iwon.com), September 12, 2001.

I suppose it depends on how you feel about saving the chicken and what bone is broken. If it is the tibia, it will be hard to do, if it is the tarsometatarsus (long straight section above the actual foot) you maybe able to split it and let it heal. You can fashion a splint for the leg using a piece of garden hose that is split down one side, cut to length, slipped over the leg (straightening bones so the ends align), and then taping it securely.

I have kept and raised cage birds and had to have the wing amputated on one due to tumors, got advice from THE leading avian veterinarian in the U.S. (he works over the phone consultations) and his input when I asked about pain management was that 1. Pain kept them from making the injury worse and 2. That in all the studies that they have done, giving pain medications actually seems to have little effect with birds and can actually interfere with healing. He did say to keep the patient quiet and calm, in clean surroundings, and supply supplemental heat to combat stress if needed, which for a chicken seems to be caging her seperately from the others,and sufficiently warm, and bed her down on a lot of clean straw to take her weight off it.

Good luck.

-- julie f. (rumplefrogskin@excite.com), September 12, 2001.

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