Why Is My Chick Unable to Stand and Walk?

The inability to walk is fairly normal for newly hatched chicks. However, you can get a real shock if you notice your baby chicks cannot stand and move around a couple of days after hatching.

Many things make baby chicks unable to stand and walk. Vitamin deficiency, food poisoning, and diseases can make your chicks unable to stand and walk as usual.

Why Can’t Baby Chicks Stand Up and Walk?

As usual, you expect your newly-hatched baby chicks to stand up and walk hours after hatching. Nevertheless, your chicks could still be unable to stand up and walk after a couple of days. Many things can make your chicks unable to get up and walk around. Below are the reasons why baby chicks can’t stand up and walk.

Reasons why baby chicks can’t stand up and walk:

Reason Symptoms
Food poisoning
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Staggering when attempting to walk
  • Paralyzed legs
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
Vitamin deficiency
  • Curled toe paralysis
  • Overall body weakness
  • Legs not strong enough to support
  • Trouble walking
  • Inability to walk
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Shivers and tremors
  • Turned heads
  • Leg paralysis
  • Difficulty maintaining proper coordination while walking
  • Swollen and painful joints
Joint problems
  • Lameness
  • Joint inflammation
  • Swollen and painful joints
  • Wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Bruises

– Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is one reason why some baby chicks can’t stand up and walk. Baby chicks can get food poisoning from eating rotten feed and other stale food ingredients. Food poisoning can also occur when chicks eat contaminated food.

Botulism, a common type of food poisoning, can make your baby chicks weak and unable to stand. Furthermore, botulism causes a lack of coordination when your chick walks around. Chicks with this kind of food poisoning are most likely to stagger each time they attempt to walk.

Food poisoning can slowly paralyze your chicks’ legs. In addition, it can make your baby chicks to diarrhea, ultimately dehydrating their bodies due to losing plenty of body fluids. Dehydration weakens your chicks’ bodies, including legs, making them unable to stand and move around.

Avoid any foods that could make your baby chicks have food poisoning. Please dispose of the leftover feed before it becomes stale and toxic to your birds, resulting in food poisoning.

– Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin deficiency can make your chicks unable to stand up and walk. For instance, chicks with vitamin B2 deficiency risk getting curled toe paralysis. This type of paralysis makes chicks unable to stand on their feet.

Baby chicks with a vitamin A deficiency develop overall body weakness, and their legs aren’t strong enough to support them while standing up. Even for the chicks that can walk on their feet, vitamin A deficiency causes imbalance, and hence your chicks won’t walk around without staggering.

Vitamin D deficiency makes baby chicks develop weaker bones. Furthermore, this vitamin deficiency causes rickets in chicks, a condition that prevents chicks from walking appropriately. The first symptom of vitamin D deficiency in baby chicks is trouble walking.

Vitamin E deficiency in baby chicks manifests itself through the inability to walk. Moreover, chicks with vitamin E deficiency can’t walk for a long time since they tend to become weak and lethargic within minutes. You can tell if your baby chicks have vitamin E deficiency if they struggle to stand up or walk around.

Besides vitamin deficiency, calcium deficiency can also make your baby chicks’ bones weak. For that reason, their legs will be too weak to support the chicks whenever they want to stand up and walk. Toss some vitamin and calcium supplements over the chick feed if you think your chicks are unable to stand up and walk due to vitamin and calcium deficiency.

– Diseases

Your chicks could be having problems standing up or walking around due to sickness. Many diseases can attack your baby chicks and impair their walking ability. Most of the conditions that make baby chicks unable to stand up and walk usually affect their nervous system.

These diseases could also affect their spinal cord, nerves, and brain, which are vital in helping chicks maintain balance and coordination while walking.

Epidemic tremor is among the multiple diseases that make chicks unable to stand up and walk. This disease makes baby chicks have shivers and tremors, making it impossible for them to stand up or walk. A highly contagious virus causes epidemic tremor. The virus is prevalent in the chicks’ droppings, and it can spread among chicks if your chicks consume water or food that has the virus.

Baby chicks with Newcastle disease also struggle to stand up or walk. Besides making it difficult for chicks to stand and walk, this disease can also make your chicks develop turned heads. Baby chicks with Newcastle disease also have difficulty maintaining proper coordination while walking.

Furthermore, Newcastle’s disease causes leg paralysis. Separate the baby chicks with Newcastle for the healthy chicks before this viral disease spreads to other baby chicks and robs them of their ability to stand up and walk.

– Joint Problems

Baby chicks usually fall victim to various joint problems that make them struggle to stand up and walk. For instance, degenerative joint disease is among the many joint disorders that affect baby chicks in their early days. This disease manifests itself through lameness. Baby chicks with degenerative joint disease become lame from their infancy.

Arthritis is another joint and bone disease that makes it challenging for chicks to stand up and walk. This problem causes joint inflammation, which causes pain whenever the chicks try to get up on their feet.

Arthritis is also a leading cause of lameness in baby chicks. Marek’s disease also makes chicks’ joints swell and become painful, consequently making the chick struggle while standing up or walking.

– Injury

An injury can make your chick struggle to walk or stand up. Injuries in baby chicks usually result from poor handling while the baby chicks are in transportation. Predators can also cause injuries to baby chicks and adult chickens.

You can detect an injury by checking your chicks for wounds, broken bones, and bruises. Baby chicks with injuries cannot stand up or walk due to extreme pain.

How Long Does it Take a Chick to Walk After Hatching?

When I hatched baby chicks, I was eagerly waiting for them to stand up and start walking around. According to my experience, most chicks were able to walk within the first 12 hours after hatching.

However, some chicks took up to 24 hours to walk, which made me worried that something might be wrong with them. It’s important to note that chicks have different hatching experiences, and factors like temperature, humidity, and hatching position can affect how long it takes them to stand up and walk.

Factors Affecting Walking After Hatching

The hatching process involves the absorption of the yolk sac, which provides the chick with nutrients and energy to move around. Chicks that take longer to absorb the yolk sac might take longer to stand up and walk.

Additionally, chicks that experience prolonged hatching, such as when they’re struggling to hatch, might also take longer to stand up and walk. In my experience, these chicks were usually weaker and needed more time to recover before they could start walking.

Tips for Encouraging Chicks to Walk

To encourage chicks to start walking, it’s important to provide them with a warm, clean, and safe environment. Chicks need to be kept in a brooder with a temperature of around 95°F in the first week to keep them warm and comfortable.

I found that placing food and water close to the chicks also encouraged them to start walking around. As they started pecking at the food and water, they gained more energy and strength, which helped them to stand up and walk around the brooder.


There is certainly a problem if your baby chicks can’t stand up and walk after 8 to 24 hours after hatching. Get to the bottom of what could be making your baby chicks unable to stand up and walk days after hatching, and then address the problem amicably.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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