I was born into chickens. We always had them. I learned traditional tips and as I “aged” began to integrate animal behavior and cognitive research into understanding the birds. I also use “feel”, and have always had an ability to understand other animals. I use my ability to read the chickens more than anything else – the science supports the intuition.
How did you meet Cicely?
We initially didn’t think about a leg for her. I assumed she would have to be euthanized – her condition was so severe. The vet (Dr. Knafo) at Tufts gave us two options – put her down, or amputate and create a 3-D prosthetic. We were thrilled and went with the amputation! She informed us this would be groundbreaking. No one had created a full leg for a gallinaceous bird before.
The first leg did not attach properly, so they are designing another. The leg will be engineered at Tufts University. It is designed from images and measurements based on her good leg. The prosthetic will be made on a 3-d printer.
Where was the surgery done? How long was it and what was the recovery like?
Her rehab will be long term. Cicely never walked, so she has no understanding of how to walk. She is perfectly happy bouncing around with one leg! She does everything a normal bird does except roost. She is happy, enthusiastic and keeps up with the flock. I have started showing her that she can put weight and rest using the training leg. She has begun to use the leg as a prop! Her muscles are atrophied and she will require a looong schedule of therapy to rebuild the leg muscle above the hock. She will also have to learn how to walk.
Dr. Martin is available through her website for poultry consultations and advice.