Splay Legged Baby Birds

We thought we understood everything when we first began out as bird breeders. We understood all there was to know about nutrition…well, but knew they needed more than seed, we simply didn’t know why. We know how to breed them…just leave them alone; they don’t need our assistance. We understood why the parents battled all the time… Okay, that’s a lie… Nobody knows what the solution is!

We began with cockatiels and had a lot of success.

Then, all of a sudden, we were dragged back down to earth and reminded that we didn’t know nearly enough! One of our breeding pairings produced a malformed chick for us. The baby’s legs were splayed out. That is when the legs develop sideways from the bird rather than beneath it, where it may stand. We did all we could to assist it, but it died after a few weeks.

It occurred again a few months later, with the same outcomes. That’s when we started reading all we could get our hands on on the issue in order to avoid it from occurring again.

Because its owner understood what to do to repair its splayed legs, this tiny Quaker will be able to have a normal life. If therapy is begun early, the legs will continue to develop normally, and she will be able to remove the splints in a few weeks.


The majority of study on splay-legged birds seems to imply that the primary reason is… Yes, you guessed it… Nutrition. I’m not sure how many times I’ve stated this. The majority of avian issues may be directly attributed to bad diets, particularly all-seed diets!

It is thought that when parents are given an all-seed diet, they do not receive nearly enough protein and calcium. Iodine, manganese, magnesium, and many other elements required for reproduction are completely lacking in their diets. This is then passed on to the chicks.

Another possibility is that there is insufficient or inappropriate bedding in the nest boxes. Keep in mind that parents perch on their birds to keep them warm. The chicks are being pushed down to the ground, where they can’t get their legs under them, resulting in malformed legs. In certain situations, their legs or joints are broken.

Some study also suggests that this is due to a hereditary issue. This is particularly true if the parents are descended from an inbred line. With inbreeding, there is a high danger of passing on unfavourable traits that will proliferate with subsequent lines. These genetic issues are implicated in a variety of health issues in chicks.

The parents seem to already be aware that their infant is not quite right. They will refuse to care for the chick and instead focus on the remainder of the clutch. There is no visible indication that the girl has a problem! This is exactly what happened to our cockatiels. We had to start hand feeding at a young age, so we assumed the splay legged condition was our fault.

We uncovered another alternative when investigating this. Birds in the wild are constantly outdoors and in the sun (very important for health). When the chicks hatch, they are also placed in locations with direct sunshine. However, bird breeders were led to think that when you set up a breeding box, the chicks are born and grow up within. They spend their first several weeks of life…in a dark bottom corner…with no sunshine! To address this, make ensure that the parents are fed a high-quality pelleted feed that includes “active” Vitamin D3. It is present in most of the better mixes, and it is passed on to the chicks when the parents feed it.


It is far simpler to avoid splay legged issues than it is to treat them! Begin by providing a nutritious feed for your birds. Millet is often included in seed mixes. This is a particularly delicious seed that is better suited for snacking. It has very little protein and calcium, and if this is the “seed of choice” for your bird, the chicks will almost surely suffer.

The Simple Parrot System – Nutrition and Feeding

Calcium is essential for breeding birds. This may be obtained by the use of cuttlebones or by sprinkling powerful form over the dish. Tums tablets may even be used! They are high in calcium in an easily digested form and do not contain anything harmful to your bird. Tums with flavours make it more tempting for children to consume. Simply grind them up and sprinkle them over their wet meal.

If your bird is not on a pellet diet, you must begin supplementing their diet with vitamins and minerals. Even the utilisation of mineral blocks is preferable than doing nothing.


The procedure utilised to rehabilitate a bird with a splay leg will vary depending on the severity of the ailment and the age of the chick. If the chick has gone untreated for an extended period of time, it may not be curable.

It’s unfortunate that many bird breeders would not care for such birds since they are a waste of their time. These birds need extensive “special care” that might last their whole lives. Because the bird is unable to walk or move around readily, cages may need to be adapted to provide ramps or specific perching spots.

What we would like to do is find a family willing to adopt it. They must be a highly exceptional somebody who understands what the bird is going through… Perhaps another disabled person? Several of our birds were adopted by older persons with plenty of free time and love to offer.

However, this medical condition is treatable! There are several innovative and inventive approaches.

The first step is to attempt to figure out what’s causing it and then correct it. Add additional bedding if the parents are placing too much weight on the chick. Check the diet again to ensure it is enough. Attempt to bring additional light into the matter… Find a technique to provide more light to the chicks.

Curing the bird will include attempting to straighten the legs beneath the bird. In extreme circumstances, you will need to come up with some novel solutions.

Begin by placing the infant in a cup with some soft bedding, such as a paper towel, soft fabric, or cotton, and placing his legs fairly straight beneath him. This will have to be repeated for a few weeks as the legs mend.

Another approach is to “hobble” the legs together by strapping or splinting them together. It is important to take precautions to ensure that they are not too tight and will not cut off circulation or scrape up the legs. One approach is to use “vet wrap” tape (this is bandaging tape that sticks to itself, available at all drug stores). Cut a narrow strip approximately 4 inches long and wrap it around the legs in a cross pattern. This will keep the legs together without putting too much pressure on them. Remove the wrap a couple of times a day to enable the bird’s legs to circulate.

Other breeders have devised techniques for creating a “cast” for the legs out of surgical tubing or cardboard. This procedure might be preferable for bigger birds, but it may be difficult to execute with little chicks without scratching up their legs. One solution I heard about entailed cutting wooden craft sticks (like those used for popsicles) to the appropriate length and strapping them to the legs with Vet-Wrap. This maintains the legs straight and in the proper place beneath the chick.

You should also consult with your veterinarian. A competent avian vet might recommend further procedures after the severity of the disease has been verified. Traction may be required in the most severe instances. Just keep in mind that even the most effective procedures may not totally heal the bird’s damaged legs. That doesn’t mean it can’t have a long and fruitful life.

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