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Slipped tendon is a generalized skeletal disorder that causes leg deformities in young, rapidly growing chicks. The condition can be the result of a nutrient deficiency or an inherited defect in many chicken breeds that are raised for food purposes. It involves the growth plate of the long bones, resulting in the development of short, thickened, misshapen long bones that are frequently accompanied by an enlarged hock joint and relocation of the tibiotarsal end of the bone.
Slipped tendon is a significant cause of lameness in broiler chickens. Affected chickens are often seen in a hock sitting position with their toes directed ventrally. In severe cases, the bird's Achilles tendon slips from the groove formed by the condyles of the tibia, pulling the leg out of shape to appear very crooked (valgus deformity). When both legs are affected, it results in bowing of the legs (varus deformity). Increased incidence has been associated with rapid growth rate of modern heavy chicken breeds, mineral/vitamin deficiencies, infrared brooding, and exposure to certain toxins.