Splayed legs is really common in guinea fowl- it’s basically when the legs splay outwards as they are unable to hold the body weight of the animal.
It can be caused through all sorts of factors- humidity, protein levels, slippy flooring, but what I have found is if you don’t fix them ASAP then unfortunately the keet, chick or duckling just won’t survive as they are unable to fend for themself.
I have had many baby animals struggle with this and over time tried many of the options out there. I found elastic bands to be the most useless- I could never tie them tight enough and I always find they slip off or come undone.
I like to firstly use a pipe cleaner- it was really hard to photograph so hopefully my explanation will make sense.
- At the one end fold the pipe cleaner around one leg to create a loop.
- With the long bit of pipe cleaner that is left create a second loop around the second leg leaving enough gap in the middle so that the bird can stand and the legs are positioned as you would expect them
- If you leave too much the bird will be stood wide legged and fall over, too tight and again they will effectively be feet together and fall over. The best way to think about is as-if you are stood feet shoulder width apart- thats what you want the meet to be.
- Once you are happy with the positioning just twist the pipe cleaner on each loop a couple of times to ensure it stays in place and snip off the excess.
- Funnily enough they do not like this being done so they will wiggle and you will feel a bit cruel. However if its not corrected they will not survive so it is a cruel to be kind scenario.
Once they have there legs bound all I find they want to do is wander about. depending on the severity I find most chicks will inevitably fall over so I create a bed.
- Find a pot or Tupperware that is bigger than your bird
- Using kitchen sponges I then cut pieces to create a padding around the edge
- Using some material- I used an old duster in this case, line the bottom of the Tupperware
- Put your bird in the Tupperware and make sure he is stood up correctly
- Use your sponge pieces to prop the bird up in the desired position
- Once you are happy they are stood up correctly with weight on their legs in the correct position lay the material over the back of the bird and sellotape the material down to keep them in place
- Again this may seem cruel but if you don’t tape them in place they will struggle and end up either escaping or moving the position of their legs
- Once in place I leave them in this ‘bed’ for 24 hours, keep them in the incubator if they are born with the issue, or under the heat and ensure you are offering them food and water on a spoon throughout the day
- After 24 hours I find the bones have started to strengthen and they are often able to stand up much sturdier
- A few extra bits- if they are in housing with more able chicks they will likely get knocked over so it may be worth separating them until they are strong enough. If they still seem unsteady put them back into the ‘bed’. Although it may feel like a long time, without strong legs they can’t fend for themselves so it is essential if they are to survive.
My guinea was born with splayed legs so he stayed like this for 48 hours. Once stronger I put him back with the others on a non-slip mat. You can see he doesn’t quite stand up as tall as the others but he is more than able to move about, get food and fly!
He has now moved outside with the others but you can see him on the below video at three weeks old running about as able as ever!