So just exactly what is splayed or Spraddle Leg? It’s a condition in which the newly hatched chicks can’t bear weight in their legs. The legs will look like they are gymnasts doing the splits. The poor legs just spread out to the side and the chick can’t walk. If not corrected early it can cause permanent damage. It can be caused by slippery surface in the incubator or brooder and by temperature and humidity too high or too varied during hatching. It can also be caused by a chick or keets having a rough time hatching. Fortunately if caught in time it’s a fairly easy fix.
Two of our guinea keets had splayed or spraddle legs. It looked like a few more but they got stronger quickly. I suspect that their extremely hard eggs and difficulty hatching may be part of the cause. The guineas seemed to have more trouble walking in the incubator after hatching than our chicks ever have. I believe the incubator surface was slippery for them. Next hatch we will put shelf liner in at lockdown to help prevent it. Our brooder has a wire bottom but it also has a rough cardboard insert that is not usually slippery. This always helps and keeps little chicks feet from going through. This is our first guinea hatch so we quickly discovered that the surface wasn’t right for them. They were slipping. So we tried paper towels but that didn’t work either. An old towel did the trick for them and all but the two are doing great. Shelf liner would have worked as well.
We put a brace on the legs of our two that were struggling. We tried cheap bandaids first and they didn’t stick so we moved on to the vet wrap bandages and they didn’t stay in place. The brace or hobble kept slipping. So we went with the expensive flexible cloth bandaids and they worked great! Just an fyi though, guinea keets are fast and very squirmy so hold on good once you catch them.
To put on the hobble or brace we cut the bandaid in half lengthwise and wrapped it above the joint on one leg. The bandaid is then folded back to the padded section in the middle. Repeat on the other leg and then you have a brace that looks sort of like a sideways 8. If your brooder is crowded or their condition is bad you will want to separate the chick or keet. Our case was mild and not very crowded so we monitored to be sure they didn’t get picked on or trampled. Most people recommend keeping the brace or hobble on 24 hours and then removing and reassessing. Some remove and assess more often. We follow the 24 hours advice. It usually takes a few days and they are good as new!