Fixing a Broken Chicken Leg

A few months ago we had a chicken refusing to use one foot. After a quick examination I found the problem and set about fixing a broken chicken leg.

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian and this article isn’t veterinary advice. Please consult your veterinarian when providing medical care to your animals. See my full disclosure here.

Chickens on the Farm

Chickens tend to be the creatures on the farm that have to make it on their own. We provide a nice snug coop that is protected at night. There are three roosters to look after the flock.

We provide food, clean water, oyster shells, grit, clean nest boxes, and the entire farm to roam.

Sunny the farm dog is also on patrol to keep everyone safe.

Beyond that, the chickens are largely left to their own devices. If a chicken gets sick, I’m sorry but we aren’t going to vet. The $60 vet bill is worth way more than the life of the chicken.

If and when a chicken has an ailment (like lice last year) we do our best to make things better.

When we had a chicken refuse to use its foot/leg I did my best to patch it up.

Does my chicken have a broken leg?

To determine this you’ll need to inspect the bird up close.

There are a few spots where we have seen broken bones on chickens.


This is the first place I look. Is everything straight? Gently extend each toe and look for anything that looks out of the ordinary. Toes can be bandaged, splinted, or in a worse case scenario cut off. Chickens can typically do alright minus one toe.


This is the first long bone of a chicken foot, going from what looks like their ankle to the first bend in their leg. This area can be broken. If it is, a simple splint (details below) along with isolation and special care for a couple weeks is usually enough.


This is the first bend of a chicken’s leg. Here is where our chicken had broken its leg. The metatarsus bone was loose and floppy. The toes were limp. These don’t always heal well, but we decided to try fixing it anyway.


This is the long bone going from the first leg bend (heel) up into what is their knee joint. This is basically the drumstick of the chicken. Check the straight part of this bone as well as the joints for anything that seems loose, broken, or otherwise off.


The knee of a chicken is at the top of the tibiotarsus and is tucked up against their body. Again, check for any looseness or obvious issues here.

Femur and Hip

The femur runs from the knee to the hip socket. This is the chicken thigh area. There can be breaks on the femur or a dislocation in the thigh.

anatomy ofa chicken leg rough and tumble farmhouse

How to Fix a Broken Chicken Leg

Depending on where the break is on the chicken’s leg, you’ll need to adjust your wrapping technique. Some breaks are going to be difficult to repair. It is up to you as the chicken caretaker to determine what the best treatment is for your chicken to minimize any suffering for the animal.


  • Popsicle Sticks – These are lightweight and sturdy so they make a good splint. Cut them in half before using as splints.
  • Vet Wrap – Pick a dark color, preferably one as close to the chicken’s leg color as possible.
  • Wool Blend Sock – I keep all the bands of my boot length socks. They work great for holding bandages in place. Wool blends are especially good for keeping things dry but still being soft. Cotton or some type of gauze may also work.
  • A Helper- I juggled this whole situation myself and it wasn’t easy. A helper to hold the chicken is a bonus.
  • Scissors– To cut the vet wrap or whatever else needs trimming to size.
chicken first aid equipment rough and tumble farmhouse

Splinting and Wrapping the Leg

Unfortunately I can’t show you the actual splint that I put on my chicken because she is already healed up. I’ll do my best to explain the process.

This chicken’s break was her heel. Nothing felt shattered or was poking out anywhere, it was like the whole joint just popped out.

First, I used a small piece of wool sock band to wrap around her leg where the splint will go. This is to keep the splint from chaffing.

Next, position the metatarsus so it is in the correct place. Add a layer of vet wrap once in position. You want it very snug so it stays put. Sort of spiral the wrap around the leg, so the top and bottom are sticking to her actual leg skin on either side of the sock/gauze.

Next, place a popsicle stick on either side of the heel joint. Add a layer of vet wrap to hold them in place.

Take another piece of popsicle stick and place it under the chicken’s metatarsus bone, gently pressing it into the proper position in the socket if it has shifted at all in the wrapping process.

Wrap the vet wrap around the joint, securing the supportive popsicle stick to the two sticks already in place.

Add one final layer of vet wrap over the whole thing.

farm chickens rough and tumble farmhouse

Isolate the Chicken

It is important that the injured chicken has at least two weeks of time where she can be off her foot and not stressed out.

Roosters trying to get busy, or other chickens being bossy, are not going to help her recovery.

I saw on a chicken forum (that I can’t find anymore) where a chicken had a similar leg break to ours. The owner just had a small backyard flock. They rigged up a sling and hung the chicken in a dog crate for a whole month, then did physical therapy with the bird so she could recover. It was a months long process.

Bravo to that dedicated chicken savior. I simply didn’t have the time.

We used a small side pen to our coop and set her up there with nice bedding and her own food/water.

I’ve found that birds do best if isolated with their flock somehow. So a crate, wire pen, or separate area where they still feel safe with their friends is best.

How long will the leg take to heal?

We kept the splint on the chicken for about three weeks. The first two she spent in her own pen, then she moved back in with the flock.

After I took the splint off, I had her test out her leg for a few days in the isolation pen again.

The leg unfortunately didn’t heal completely straight, so she does still have a limp.

She manages to run around, peck at her neighbors, and is even laying eggs again.

Once a leg has healed it is not unusual to see a bump where the bone has grown extra mass to heal the break. Sort of like bone scar tissue.

What if my chicken’s leg is broken along a long bone?

A break along the metatarsus or tibiotarsus can be fixed with the same procedure as listed above. However, you’ll just need to place a splint on either side of the break, no need for a third supportive splint.

How do Chickens Break Legs?

Could be any number of things. Maybe a fall, predator attack, getting her leg caught on something and pulling it out. Getting stepped on by other livestock or people is another common way for legs to get broken.

broken chicken leg rough and tumble farmhouse

When to Call It

You know your chicken best, so please make sure you are doing what is right for your animal. A bird that is clearly in pain for an extended period with no signs of improvement, or has gone off feed, is not living a happy or comfortable life.

I’ll be keeping an eye on our girl to make sure she still seems to be eating well, getting around easily enough, and living a pain free life. If any of that changes for her we will reevaluate.

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How to Fix a Broken Chicken Leg Rough and Tumble Farmhouse

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