Contracted Tendons in New Born Cria – to splint or not to splint.

Contracted tendons in new born cria is a  relatively common condition and usually is apparent in the front legs. The tendons are unusually tight preventing the legs from straightening properly. Depending on the severity of the contracted tendons the legs can appear severely malformed.

If you run your fingers down the back of the affected leg the tendon will feel like a tightly drawn band, which prevents the leg from straightening.

We had our first case of contracted tendons over 25 years ago and have dealt with a number since that occasion. The advice from our vet was that the most common cause was that the cria had been mal-positioned inuetero and that although the condition looks serious, there was no requirement to splint affected legs unless the cria was unable to stand to feed from the mother.

We have never had the need to splint an affected cria and generally the condition rights itself within 2 – 3 weeks of birth. In severe cases we yard the mum and cria and manually stretch the tendons in an attempt to get the tendons to relax, in all other cases we have found  allowing the cria to walk around, no matter how awkward they look, will cause the tendons to relax.

We always recommend that if you are uncertain of the cause of the limb deformity that veterinary advice be sought, especially when a cria is unable to feed normally from the dam, as there are a number of other conditions that can present with similar symptoms and some of these conditions can be fatal to the cria if untreated.

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