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Q: VVD Overview


VVD Also called
Varus/Valgus Deformity, Twisted leg, Crooked leg

Rare in home flocks; common in commercial “broilers”

General signs -
Leg bone is bent or twisted (not broken).
Cardinal or diagnostic signs -

Be sure to differentiate this from a leg that is twisted at the joint; in VVD, the bone itself is bent.

Rhode Island Red with Varus/Valgus Deformity/VVD
Rhode Island Red with VVD. Picture credit: Briana, California

Cause/s -
This is common is factory farm broilers, where the bird’s fast weight gain may outstrip what the skeleton can bear. It can also be caused from nutritional deficiencies in young chicks or pullets. For instance, a lack of B vitamins, calcium or vitamin D can cause the skeleton to be soft.

Communicability -
Not passed from bird to bird, but if your flock is eating the same diet, several might suffer. Some breeds are more prone than others. It’s common in Rock Cornish crosses (meat birds). Among layers, leghorns are more prone.

Communicability to humans -

Incubation period -
No incubation period. This is a deformity that can develop from a number of causes.


Not a communicable disease.

Home treatment and/or prevention -
Prevention: Be sure to offer a balanced feed to your birds, and don’t feed too many treats, which can upset the nutritional balance. Allow your birds into areas of natural sunlight so they will have enough vitamin D. Medictaed chick feeds with Amprol, designed to help protect against coccidiosis, work by “starving” the cocci of B vitamins. We don’t know of any studies that have shown this can increase the chance of VVD, but it won’t hurt to exercise caution. If you choose to use medicated feed, be sure to keep your birds on the medication no longer than the feed manufacturer recommends for their formulation.

Treatment: None. This is a skeletal deformity. However, if you notice this develping inyour flock, be sure to check their diet, which may help halt the deformity from developing further.

Veterinary care - Your vet may be able to provide you with insight into what the nutritional problem may be or make feed/supplement recommendations.

Recovery - Typically, no. As the bone itself is deformed, there is not a way to correct it, unless surgically… even then, I doubt there are many vets with the surgical experience to correct developmental bone deformities in chickens. In many cases, the chicken can still live a relatively normal life, even with some lameness.

Other conditions, illnesses and/or diseases with similar signs:
Marek’s Disease and botulism can cause leg paralysis. A slipped tendon can give the appearance of a deformity.

Also consider browsing through this list of other chicken illnesses with neurological symptoms.

See Also:
Airsacculitis Overview
Ascites Overview
Aspergillosis Overview
Avian Encephalomyelitis Overview
Avian Infectious Bronchitis Overview
Avian Influenza Overview
All about Blackhead disease
Botulism Overview
Can unvaccinated chickens get Marek's Disease from vaccinated chickens?
Chicken illnesses with neurological symptoms (overview)
Chicken illnesses with respiratory symptoms (overview)
Coccidiosis Overview
Coryza Overview
Crossed beak overview
Domestic Newcastle Overview
All about Egg Binding
Egg Yolk Peritonitis Overview
Encephalomalacia Overview
Exotic Newcastle Overview
Fowl Pox (Dry) Overview
Fowl Pox (Wet) Overview
Fowl Spirochetosis (Borrelia) Overview
Fowl Spirochetosis (Brachyspira) Overview
All about Heart Attack in chickens
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I got the Marek's vaccination for my chickens, but one chicken seems sick! Is the vaccination not working?
All about Infectious Bursal Disease
Infectious Laryngotracheitis Overview
All about Synovitis disease
Lymphoid Leukosis (Avian Leukosis) Overview
Marek's Disease Overview
Mycoplasma Overview
Mycotoxicosis Overview
All about Myiasis disease
Nutritional Myopathy Overview
All about Omphalitis disease
Perosis Overview
Polyneuritis Overview
All about Pullorum disease
Salmonella - Overview
All about Salpingitis disease
How do I help a chicken with vent prolapse?
What is a pasty vent, and how do I treat it?