It’s the second time I’ve noticed this in a bird in my flock. Somehow, part of a toe seems to be missing.
It’s odd because I’ve never seen any of the birds limping, and I certainly haven’t noticed any kind of trauma or injury, and I refuse to believe that parts of toes just fall off – like some sort of mutant fowl leprosy. So what gives?
My guesses are that:
- part of the toe might have been bitten off by a predator (although I really don’t think this is the case)
- there was an infection of some sort (although again, I never saw any limping which you would see with a long term infection) which caused part of the toe to die and fall off
- the toe got snagged on something (wire?) and it pulled away and eventually off (this seems like the most likely scenario.)
I don’t know what happened to the toes, all I know is that part of it is gone.
Apparently this is not as strange as it might sound, if you do a search of chickens with lost toes, you’ll find a few (granted not many) accounts from chicken owners who suddenly find that a flock member’s toe is all of the sudden – *poof* – gone.
It makes some sense – chickens use their feet to walk, roost, and, of course, to scratch all day in the yard. There are bound to be injuries.
In our situation, the chicken without the toe is Charlie. She is our Black Copper Marans who has always had wonky feet. When she was a newborn, I had to cut her webbed toes apart and as a result, well, let’s just say that she would never win a chicken beauty contest (although she will always win my heart.) It is understandable that because of her misshapen toes, she might get foot injuries.
But last spring when the girls finally came out of the coop, we had another chicken (with perfectly normal feet) who also emerged with a partial toe.
If I had seen an injury, I would have put ointment on and bandaged it, just as I would have with any other wound. But I saw nothing. Our hearty chickens seem to be able to occasionally drop toes and still carry on as if nothing had happened.
It is a mystery. Although our chickens certainly don’t seem worse for the wear, it is a bit disconcerting to find partial toes. You can bet I’ll be in the hen house this weekend, inspecting all wires, roosts, bedding, and the coop yard in order to make sure we are not harboring any possible unknown dangers to our flock’s delicate chicken toes.
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Community Chickens, and Mother Earth News.