Spraddle Leg

Spraddle leg, sometimes called splay leg, happens when a newly hatched chick cannot get good footing or traction after hatching. Paper towels or newspaper in the brooder are notorious for causing spraddle leg. Too slippery! We have found that rubber shelf liners (the ones with holes) work great for newborn chicks. They are not slippery and the holes give them something to hold onto. We use pine shavings in our brooders as they get a bit older.

This is one of our little silkie chicks that had spraddle leg. At the time, I was a novice Chicken Mama and you can see I have pine pellets in the brooder. Very hard to stand and walk on! I didn’t know any better at the time. This chick’s legs are sticking out on each side. It cannot stand up. If you see this, you have a chick with spraddle leg.

So what to do? Thankfully spraddle leg is correctable if you start right away. I’ve had many chicks with spraddle leg (usually it’s the silkies) and have successfully corrected each one.

There are a couple of things to try.

We like the bandaid method. Use a small (3/4 inch) bandaid. The middle pad is a good width to keep the chick’s legs the proper distance apart. Cut the bandaid in half lengthwise and wrap each side around one of the legs.

The chick might have a hard time getting around at first, but that’s completely normal. It will gradually gain strength and start moving around normally. We usually leave the band aid on for several days. Getting it off can be a bit tricky (especially when they have feathered legs!), but it’s worth it.




You can also use a rubberband. Get a very thin rubberband and cut it so you have a long string. Tie one end around the ankle of the chick, leaving a piece hanging out. Tie the other end around the other ankle leaving about an inch in between the legs and also leaving a piece sticking out. Tie the two pieces from each knot together. This prevents the knots from coming undone as the chick moves around.


I find the bandaid is easier to put on and works just as well. Use whichever you like! The important thing is to get the chick up and moving again! Good luck!



  1. for a beginner like myself these tips really help out a lot thanks! you helped me saved a chick!

  2. Ok, just did the bandaid treatment on a 11/2 day old chick that was hatched in an incubator. I’m praying it works for my little guy!

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