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Valgus Leg Deformities

Twisted Leg, Angular Bone Deformity

Valgus leg deformities is a type of leg deformity causing twisting of the legs and long bone distortion. It usually occurs in young chicks between 2 to 7 weeks of age. It most often occurs in both legs.

Chickens affected by this deformity are more at risk of developing a slipped tendon or leg fracture, due to the increased pressure placed on the deformed leg. In one study, 60% of birds affected with severe valgus developed slipped tendon. Once this occurs, the chicken may be physically incapable of getting up from its abnormal, twisted leg-like position. Without intervention, these chickens will eventually starve to death from inability to reach water or food, or from getting trampled to death by other flock members.

Clinical Signs

Legs deviating away or inward from the chicken's body
Abnormal leg stance
Lameness
Reluctance to move

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiographs

Treatment

NameSummary
Supportive careProvide a therapeutic support device, such as a sling, chicken wheelchair, etc. to help take some of the pressure off of their legs.
SurgeryIn some cases corrective osteotomy may be beneficial.

Support

Prevention

  • Feed a low energy feed. Do NOT feed a 'grower' feed.
  • Encourage exercise (the condition worsens with reduced activity).

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Large, fast-growing meat chicken breeds
  • Receiving an unbalanced diet
  • Receiving a high protein, high energy diet