I currently have two and a half chickens who think they’re penguins. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
Reginald is the first one to permanently adopt the upright stance and waddle of a penguin. For the first three or four months of his life he was to all intents and purposes a perfectly normal chicken. Then, pretty much overnight, he began to stand like this.
I did some research. I found a Daily Mail (yes, you may spit on the ground now) article from 2014 about a chicken in China who walked upright and gathered a huge internet following. Its owner reckoned it’s weird stance was due to osteochondrosis.
Off I went to look that up but I’m not sure it fits for Reginald. Osteochondrosis is usually found in broilers that are forced to grow, by overfeeding, quicker than nature intended. The bones aren’t strong enough to support the weight and deformities ensue. Our Reg has free-ranged since coming out of the nursery and led a very healthy, normal life for a chicken. His legs are good and strong. He’s actually a very robust fella.
Another possibility was ascites. This is where fluid accumulates in the abdominal cavity and drags the stomach down and thus the chicken’s body tilts back. Reginald doesn’t have such fluid, and thank goodness as this is a nasty disease for the bird concerned.
I’ve also ruled out chondronecrosis and enterrococcal spondylitis because these would result in Reg being a poorly, splay-legged critter.
One of the next set of Brahma chicks (some cross-bred, some pure) suddenly started showing symptoms, and at a much younger age than Reginald. Here’s Pingu. Again, he’s a feisty, robust fellow (or possibly fellowess, still a bit soon to be sure) who appears healthy and happy, just not the right shape for a chicken.
I’ve noticed one of his siblings occasionally showing the same stance too.
So since all three have the same father, Chickzilla, I suspect it’s a genetic problem. There’s apparently a tendency for Brahmas to develop cataracts (and we’ve had one with definite vision problems) and crooked toes, but neither of those cause such penguinism. I shall have to invest in a new Brahma cockerel. Fortunately the chicken show season is about to start so I should be able to find one in the coming months. Cute as Reginald and Pingu look, and as pain-free as they appear to be, it’s neither a good idea nor good husbandry to keep breeding youngsters that might develop this condition.
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