Topics:  animals, chicken, editors picks, farming

Double drumsticks for newly hatched chick

THERE would be a lot less fighting for drumsticks around the dinner table, if there were more chickens like this.

A Pioneer Valley man was shocked earlier this week to discover a four-legged chicken had hatched from a brood in his incubator.

Kev Brooks said the yet-to-be-named chicken hatched on Thursday morning.

"I couldn't believe it," he said.

Double drumsticks for just hatched chick
Double drumsticks for just hatched chick

One of the chicken's legs is healthy, another is curled up, and the other two hang lifeless out of the side of its body.

"Hopefully his leg will come good and he'll be able to walk around," Mr Brooks said.

"If he doesn't, he'll be a farmyard pet and we'll hand-feed him and look after him."

The deformed chicken is a cross between a rhode island rooster and an isa brown hen.

Mr Brooks, who has been breeding chickens for 18 months, said both parents were healthy and he hadn't fed them anything unusual.

Mackay Veterinary Hospital vet Rowan Pert said it was likely the chicken had either formed the extra legs by usurping the yolk of another in the egg, or through a genetic mutation.

He said similar mutations happened in the wild.

But it was rare for affected animals to survive.

"Often the abnormality is life-terminating, even before the animal is born," Mr Pert said.

But he said there was a chance the animal could survive with help from people. In the hours following its birth, the chicken had been feeding slowly and was able to crawl across the incubator.

"He looks pretty healthy going from one end of the box to the other but it's crawling, not walking," Mr Brooks said.

"The other leg will get stronger hopefully."

Reader poll

Have you ever seen a genetically deformed animal?

This poll ended on 21 July 2013.

Yes

57%

No

42%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.



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