Wherein I Splint a Chicken Toe

I think I need to take a minute here to ponder the twists and turns in my life that brought me to the point in time where I was sitting on the floor of my spare bedroom with an unhappy chicken tucked under my arm while I try to put a tiny little splint on her toe, one-handed.

I just. Yeah. Not. I don’t quite know, actually.

I don’t even know where this story starts, except that at some point Saturday I noticed that my biggest, most active pullet had a toe that looked like this.


Yeeeeaaaaah. Did you just faint? Sorry.

So here’s the thing, I’m pretty sure this is a new development, but I can’t say for sure that I ever examined the right foot of this particular bird before this and that it looked… not crooked. I’m a bad chicken-caretaker, I know it. I think this is something I would have noticed sooner if it was a genetic defect (which I learned can actually happen once I started frantically googling “crooked chicken toe” after this discovery), and this is my adventurous chicken… the first one to grab treats out of my hand or to run out of the cage when I leave the door ajar and tries to roost in the most inappropriate places possible. Like the side of a paper bag.

It’s entirely possible she got her foot caught in something when I wasn’t looking or had a hard landing off the roost in the cage. It’s also possible it just kind of grew this way (which makes me worried I did something wrong in the raising of these girls so far). She doesn’t limp, favor it, or let it slow her down, so I had a big internal debate about whether or not I should leave it be, or, you know, try to fix it.

Fix a chicken toe. Neither of my degrees covered this.

But, you know, this is a part of the whole farm deal, and since I don’t know if it’s actually broken or not, I figured it was worth at least splinting it for a week to see if there is some improvement…


That’s a pipe cleaner and a couple of cut-up bandaids. My MacGyvering skills know no bounds.

She’s still walking just fine and the toe is straighter with the splint, but still hangs at a funny angle. I’m going to check it after a few days and see if this is an improvement or just, you know, general first-time chicken-owner craziness.

Holy shit you guys, I am so unprepared for this. I feel like I need to take some veterinary classes. I don’t want to be a veterinarian, but I also don’t want to fight the urge to faint when I have to deal with a crooked chicken toe on my own. God forbid one of the farm animals needs a shot.

We’re not even going to talk about that actually. Let’s talk about some things I’m doing right instead, like employing my miniature donkeys as lawn mowers.


After the Great Escape last week I decided it was time to start taking the boys out on the leads so they would get familiar with the rest of the property. Luckily their new halters came in last week, and look at my little dudes…


Handsome, aren’t they?

We’ve been working about an hour a day outside of the pasture and we’re finally at the point where I can let them “go free” without the leads, and they still come back when I call…


Or at least they don’t run when I come up to them. They are such good boys, and I feel like we’ve made great progress in the last week.

Every day I’m surprised at how much more of an adventure the last few months have been, now that Liberty is feeling more “farm-like.” Sunday, when I was feeling a little worn out, I walked out into the middle of the pasture, kneeled down, rested my face on a soft donkey-nose, and let me tell you… no matter how many chicken-toes you have to splint, feeling that warm donkey-breath on your cheek will remind you that you’re right where you’re supposed to be.

And the garage full of power-tools doesn’t hurt either. More on the chicken-coop and raised-garden-bed fun later this week…

19 Responses

  1. I’ve only recently discovered your site and enjoy it immensely. I live in Australia so we have different wildlife issues to you, but yeah – I hate it when the cats bring lizards inside too.
    ummm… not to be picky or give your beautiful lads body issues or anything, but….. I can see all the way from the other side of the world that they might just be leaving their svelte waistlines behind and could just possibly, maybe, perhaps be approaching fatty boombah territory. Maybe its just their short legs making it look this way?? They are very handsome, smoochy boys and its wonderful to see them so loved. Cheers

  2. The new halters are lovely! I think you should frame the picture of the boys standing in front of the barn – the red of the halters and the red of the barn makes an amazing picture.

    Have you ever read Cold Comfort Farm?

    1. Isn’t it brilliant?? I feel like Kit should name her next batch of chickens after the cows – Feckless, Graceless, Pointless and Aimless!

      Also, I wish the Higher Common Sense was actually real =D

  3. Hiya, darlin! I’m a long-time reader, first time commenter, so first lemme say thank you for bringing the power-tool-tom-foolery that I know and love! I’ve always been a powertool girl (just like my Mama) but my fiance and I rent so we’ve been limited in our projects so far. Check em out at Sunshine Press!

    But back to why, today, I was determined to comment. One of the best performance poets in the world, Buddy Wakefield, also has a passion for chickens. He put together a magazine on the subject called Hen House. (http://buddywakefield.com/journal/henhouse-is-home/) You probably have other resources as well, but I thought this one might be informative AND hilarious. Look at that cover! There’s an article called “Coops! There it is!”



  4. I know that the halters weren’t purchased for, you know, anything other than perfectly practical farmin’ and livestock wranglin’ reasons. But red? Squeeeeeeee! The cute is killing me.

  5. Yes small halters aren’t easy to find… Come winter if you find a decent (read inexpensive) source for small horse blankets please let me know. I’ve done as much surfing the web as I can stand the last few years and have yet to find anything I can afford in the right size. And my donkeys DO NOT like to be cold. They start whining loudly in October when the temperature dips. Fortunately last winter was pretty mild here so they survived. It’s now the time of year I have to watch their grass intake very closely so they don’t get sick. They were running around the pasture like spring lambs today though!

    1. I’ve never blanketed donkeys… my girls and the boys seem to do okay with their barn and winter coats. I bet you could find some the right size online though!

  6. Here’s a blog that I started reading many years ago, because it was a DIY blog, but grew to love the posts about the farm animals, particularly the chickens. The owner no longer owns a farm, but still has animal posts from time-to-time and I think you’d really enjoy it. http://frontporchindiana.blogspot.com/

  7. Hey there. Curly toe / twisted toe its fairly common in young chicks. Frequently it’s a riboflavin / b12 deficiency. We went to tractor supply and got a powdered vitamin mix, and mixed it into our chicks water for several weeks, which eliminated all our toe problems. Not until I spent a whole afternoon crafting splints out of craft foam and batman bandaid, though. If I remember right, it ended up being 1/16 ts per gallon, or the color of dilute urine.

    1. Nora, you’re a lifesaver! Nothing came up about vitamin deficiency when I was googling. I immediately got them some vitamin powder and we’ll see how that works!

  8. I’ve recently run into this same situation, not knowing if it just happened or if I’ve been missing something throughout the life of my bird. I am super curious to know how your splinting worked and if your chicken’s toes are straight again!

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