Fractures (broken bones) are a type of traumatic injury which are very painful for the bird. Fractures mostly occur as a result of a high force impact or fall. However, chickens with underlying illnesses and conditions that may weaken their bones have a higher risk of fractures. For example, ex-battery laying hens often suffer from osteoporosis as a result of excessive egg laying. The bird might also have an existing infection or a tumor.
Fractures can occur in any bone in the bird's body. There are also a number of different types of fractures, and several ways in which a bone can fracture. One that damages surrounding skin and penetrates the skin is known as a compound fracture or an open fracture.
Treatment for Chickens with Fractures
Bone healing is a natural process, treatment revolves around giving the bone optimum conditions to heal itself. Some chickens may require surgery, while others may only require bandaging/splinting and a period of rest and physical therapy.
Open fractures are more at risk of a secondary infection, resulting in osteomyelitis
. If fractures are properly aligned correctly by an avian veterinarian early on this will reduce the chances of them healing improperly. Most fractures will heal within 2 to 3 weeks.
Types of Splints
- Figure-of-eight wing bandages: This method is best used for fractures of the elbow or carpal joint, or in small or very young chicks. It is important not to apply this bandage too tight.
- Schroeder-Thomas Splint: This method is best used for fractures involving the tarsometatarsus (shank) and hock joint. It is developed from a wire or rod material, used to produce two right-angle bends next to the ring at the top of the splint, so that it runs parallel to the long axis of the leg.
- Robert Jones Bandage: This method is best used for simple fractures involving the hock joint. It required heavily padded leg bandages that can be used with or without additional splinting material. Materials used for an external coaptation device various, however to be effective, it must be firm enough to provide support, and can include human orthopedic molds (orthoplast, hexcelite), wood applicator sticks, tongue depressors, aluminum rods, or similar such material.