Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chicken Curly Toe

This is Squill. She's a Speckled Sussex, a very ancient breed from Britain. Squill was hatched March 28 and is one of six pullets (teenagers) in our flock. Look very closely at the photo and notice that Squill's outside toes are curled outward rather than facing forward. She has a disability known as curly toe.

Curly toe can be caused by dietary deficiency or it may be genetic. In some birds it can be so extreme as to cause a serious disability leading to a limited lifespan. Or it may be simply a minor nuisance. So far, Squill doesn't seem to be limited by her curly toes.

Yesterday we realized that it would be a good idea to trim Squill's nail on the curly toes, just like you would trim the dewclaws on a dog to prevent the claws from growing into the flesh. One of my trusted teen helpers has years of experience trimming animal toenails, from dogs and cats to rats and guinea pigs. In fact, it's impressive to watch her wrestle a pet and pin it between her legs, quickly trim its nails and release before trauma sets in. We've never had a problem. Until yesterday.

Squill's trimmed toenail not only bled, but squirted all over like a geyser. Just as we were frantically consulting our chicken reference books, our neighbor passed by with her dogs and knew just what to do. The neighbor loaned us a small jar of styptic powder which quickly stopped the bleeding. Squill was back to normal in a matter of seconds, although it took the humans a little longer to recover.

So that's it. If you ever trim animal nails, have a small jar of styptic powder in your cabinet. We bought one of our own today and returned the original to the neighbor. It cost only a few dollars, but it is quite valuable when you need it.

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