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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As some of you know, I have been hand raising baby doves for a couple of weeks now. They are both almost fully feathered, active and eating well. The older of the two is much larger, more active and bright, and is beginning to eat seeds on his own. (He was partially parent raised and so is quite a bit bigger than the younger one, who was hand fed the whole time). However, I've noticed something strange about the right leg of both of these babies.

They have quite a bit of inbreeding in their past, and I've been noticing a particular problem in the younger baby, but is present in both. The right leg of both babies seems to be... awkward, for lack of a better word. As if the whole bone or joint is out of place and therefore hangs a little bit lower than the other, and to the side. They are hard for the babies to use and the little ones tend to have trouble walking, the older one, however, can walk fine as long as he's on a slip-free surface. The younger one, however, as a bad leg problem.

His legs seemed absolutely fine when he was younger, but now the right leg sticks out to the side and out more than it should be... It looks as if its been popped out of place somehow, but he has suffered no trauma. They have been on good surfaces their entire life (especially the younger one) and have had nothing slippery to cause splayed leg. The baby is actually on a cloth at the moment, which has a lot of grip. The older of the two has begun to perch (on his stuffed santa mouse toy), but the younger is showing a lot of difficulty using the leg. He drags it behind him, trying to use the bottom of it (near the heel or whatever it's called) to gain footing. However, his wing often gets in the way and he ends up walking over his wing.

I feel so terrible about this little one's leg problems and though I know I've done nothing wrong with him, I really feel sad for him. I want to do anything I can to help him get over this or at least cope with this. I was wondering, however, if it might be a genetic problem...? These birds come from two related pairs, so they must have some of the same genetics. It is the right leg on both of them that has some issues... Could it possibly be a developmental problem that gets progressively better as they age? Would that possibly explain the older one's leg problems when he was young and the fact that his legs are now almost perfect aside from the right one?

I don't know much else to say. They're healthy, happy babies aside from these issues... I just hope it is either fixable or won't effect their quality of life...

UPDATE: I called and talked to my friend, the owner of the parents of these birds. I told her the problems and she suggested that it may be a problem relating to the bone growth, due to low calcium. I told her I've never had any problems like this, and she admitted that her birds ran out of oyster shell before these eggs were laid. However, she says, the eggs looked fine and were not more soft-shelled than they usually are. Could they just need some extra calcium in their diet...? Could this be some odd form of osteoporosis...?

Kind thanks,
Vasp
 

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Hi Vasp,


This sounds like what is usually called 'Splay Leg', which results all too easily from any Nest condition which does not afford the Baby a good 'grip', and, during their Nest time, one or both legs get accustomed to being slid out to the side to one degree or another.


If it is 'Splay Leg' it can be corrected with some mechanical constraints being applied for a few weeks...but, of course, it is best avoided by making sure any Nests allow Babys definite gripping surfaces for their little Feet...so the Baby is able to keep both legs nicely under them and not to have a leg slid out to the side.


Phil
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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Yes, Phil, that was my first instinct as well. However, the babies are not on anything slippery at all. To repeat, they are on cloths. I keep them in tiny little nests in the cloths so that their feet are right beside them. Aside from that fact, what can I do, especially for the little one, to try to correct this problem?

Update:
I managed to snap some pictures to show the baby's nest and also the state of his leg.
It seems to be 'twisted'. As in, unless you very strongly place it under him, it is on its side.


On the left of the picture is his normal leg. On the right is the odd leg. If you look closely, you can see the white of the bone on the upper part of the right leg, and how the leg is quite obviously sort of to the side rather than up and down in comparison with the normal leg.


Just an example of his little nest. He happens to now have two large balls of toilet paper on either side of him to put pressure on his legs to keep both under him. I'm quite sure this is rather uncomfortable for him, but it's the only way without some sort of brace to keep his leg in place.


Notice the state of the leg, and how odd it is. It really is rather terrible.

Thank you,
Vasp
 

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Hi Vasp,

How good is the volentary mobility/movement of the effected Leg?


Does it move as fully as the unaffected Leg, but, is just 'out to the side' sort of?


Can you check the Hip Joint, feeling it with your finger tip pad, while moving the Leg fore and aft fully? Making sure it is not dislocated?


Can the Baby stand alright using both legs?


Phil
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Okay, it seems to be in pretty bloody bad shape, to put it lightly. I can move it around almost in a full circle and it seems to be pretty much useless as for keeping him up. He can move it, but not put pressure on it enough to stand. It is certainly not in the right place as it just sort of juts out and to the side. Keeping it under him really is pointless as it doesn't do a thing. It seems like the leg itself is twisted at the knee bone. It's really hard to say but it's not in any way normal nor caused from splayed leg.

It can turn pretty much backwards and to the side completely.


The leg to the side of the body. You can see that the foot is turned towards the camera.

When the baby is sitting down, the leg can be pointing the opposite way. Basically, it's pointing up (the foot is pointing up) whilst the other leg is pointing down and the foot is against the ground. Obviously this leg is not right.
 

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If it is only a splay leg then it is quite easy to correct, but it doesn't look that straightforward to me. Maybe it is just the phtograph, but is there redness and swelling there? Are the other leg and foot normal? (the feet look a bit odd in the photo)

Pigeons can tolerate much more than doves when their legs are being corrected, so you must always take that into consideration when trying to correct a splay or deformity.

I am going to add two links: the first is to a thread about a baby dove with leg problems and the other to Terry's sticky on splay legs.

http://www.pigeons.biz/forums/showthread.php?t=15302&referrerid=560

http://www.pigeons.biz/forums/showthread.php?t=17869&referrerid=560
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
No, there is actually no swelling, and it is just as red and the same size as the other leg. The little guy does not seem to be in pain, but he does sort of breathe quickly when his leg is fiddled with. I suppose this is to be expected, as he's just a little youngster trying to get his naps in between his meals. Poor little guy! The leg is, yes, not a simple splay. Rather than going out on either side of him, it is crooked and can be turned all around, facing upwards from his body, side and of course down (though that is the most difficult). He cannot walk on it, though is able to grip fine and move it quite quickly. Other than this, the baby is a happy little chap.

I don't know when this started to occur, but it was not evident when the little guy was young. His legs were perfect and always under him. It was only really when he started growing feathers and the like that I noticed that his leg was getting progressively worse. As soon as he started to be able to stand, it got crooked. At first, I thought he was only just getting accustomed to standing, using the bottom of his leg rather than the foot, but it seems his leg is not normal.

The other leg is absolutely fine, and he uses this leg to pull the other one around behind him, basically. For both babies, there have been difficulties with the right leg, but with the older one, they are far less. It just seems to be a little weaker in the older one, though it may, dare I say it, be getting worse.

I suspect calcium deficiency due to the fact that their parents were likely deficient in calcium.
Perhaps the bones have not been developing properly?

Unfortunately, I have to be getting to bed as its 4AM where I am... However, I will be glad to talk about this in the morning. I am able to arrange a visit with a vet, however they do not have much technology here. I'm not even sure they have X-rays. They are not really trained in avian medicine, and would likely just send me off to the avian veterinarian in the next few cities over. This, however, would also be an option, if the situation calls for it.

However, I do believe the younger one is indeed suffering from some sort of calcium deficiency. When the babies are hatching, the egg shell gets softer as the calcium is being absorbed into the baby's skeleton. The younger baby with the bad leg, however, was stuck in his membrane and was not making progress. He was an assisted hatch and therefore may have not absorbed enough calcium from the already calcium-deficient egg.

Such is a very sad, but likely possibility...

Thank you for your help and talk to you tomorrow on this predicament,
Vasp
 

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Hi Vasp,


I did not see your first images, since you were inserting them as I posted my message!

I only have a little experience with 'Splay Legs', and your Baby's examples do seem hard to account for, but, none the less, they have the same appearance as Splay Legs caused from 'slippery' Nest conditions...so...


Seeing as the Leg is so far 'out'...possibly a succession of stages for the correction might be best, each stage bringing the Leg in a little more...but at this age, they are growing so fast, and overall are pretty 'rubbery', you can probably proceed through the stages fairly quickly.


Usually, one uses some 'friendly' sort of Tape, and, bringing the Leg 'in' however far, and or otherwise toward it's final correct position, one tapes the Leg either to the other 'good' one, or, somehow, tapes it so the Bird's Body is providing the basis or anchor for the tape to be able to restrain the Leg and keep it 'in'...or both.


Possibly others here with more 'Splay Leg' experience than I have, will be able to recommend more detailed methods.


I have an adult Pigeon here who has a similar Leg, and I have been vexing on whether I should see about doing this with him. I have gotten friendly with him, so he lets me pick him up and so on...so, I will be anxious to learn more as your thread continues, for his benifit, and for my own future occasions of confronting these kinds of issues.

Gotta hit-the-hay now...



Best wishes!

Phil
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I'm sorry to hear the little baby is having leg problems. It looks a bit similar to a squab I took from someone; they were going to have it euthanized since they were breeders and the squab's leg was completely backwards. It seemed to have been born that way, no actual twisting of the leg, just grew from the underside of the pigeon backwards. When he started hopping around, he dragged the foot and seemed to have no feeling. I would wrap it up with a little piece of ace bandage, kind of tucking it up against him. He was starting to hop pretty well with just one leg. . .unfortunately he was never healthy to begin with and I only had him for ten days or so before he passed away at five weeks or so old. If your baby's problem is not splay leg, perhaps something like what I did will help so it doesn't get so irritated rubbing on the floor. The end of a sock, cut off, works well for younger pigeons as it is soft and snug enough not to fall off. Just a thought for his future if it can't be corrected. . .though I hope it can. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
That sounds like a pretty interesting idea, maryjane. Do you happen to have any pictures of the baby with his leg bandaged up? I'm not sure if it's splayed leg or not, but it seems like the leg itself just isn't in the right place. I'm not sure if this little one can feel the leg or not, but he certainly does seem to just try to pull it along with him. He can use his foot quite well and will try to get grip with the leg, but it's pretty useless. If he's sitting, it can be turned all the way around so it is in the front of his body but the foot is point upwards.

I'd like to try some of the things to help splayed leg, but if that doesn't work, your idea looks like it would be good for him if the problem is inherent and incorrectible.

Update: Yes, I clicked the link in your signature and am looking at your gallery. It looks very interesting, by the way! The geese are so cute and remind me of my Moody. Especially the one asking for written consent. However, I did see a 'sock baby'. Is this little guy the one you mentioned?

Sorry for all the updates, but I keep thinking of more to say! Well, I was just wondering what sort of friendly tape you meant, Phil, because I could pick some up today and attempt to get his legs taped together in the right position. However, I really don't know how keen on this the little one would be. The sock method seems like it would be more readily acceptable, but I don't want to skip anything when it could be the way to help this problem.

Yet another update:

The circles show the top of both legs...

Cheers,
Vasp
 

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he does sort of breathe quickly when his leg is fiddled with.
This is a warning sign that the dove is suffering stress and must be taken seriously...adult doves will react the same way. Doves are much more prone to stress than pigeons are, so some methods of correcting a splay that are successful on pigeons don't work for doves...the stress can kill them.

Did you read the thread about the baby dove with deformed legs? Her legs were lifeless, pointed inwards and crossed over her chest, so it must have been a deformity rather than a splay as a result of a slippery surface. She could only tolerate very gentle correction and even now her legs point inwards, but she is able to walk and perch.

Cynthia
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes, Cynthia, I read the thread. However, this baby is able to move his leg and seems to have feeling in it as well. It would seem, however, that this is likely also a deformation. The little guy gets lightly stressed when he has to struggle to walk on it or have it touched, but I think it's partially because it's so tiring to try to walk on it. Aside from that, he is such a content little guy, learning to preen and eat already. The only thing is, his bad leg get stuck in his wing sometimes when he walks, and of course, is unusable.

What could I do for him? I tried the sock method but socks seem to be rather large for this little one.
 

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Hi Vasp,



I have been very happy with 'micropore' Tape, 99 Cents a roll, 1/2 inch width...any strip mall home-medical-supply place would have it...it is a sort of sheer, strong 'paper' tape appearently...sticks well to Feathers and so on, comes off easily so long as you gently pull in the correct direciton for whatever it is on...


Phil
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