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Profile of sefton
My Breeding pair of Java Doves are now quite elderly. Over the last year, the female has been laying only 1 egg at a time instead of the customary 2. Is this an age thing? The last 2 chicks to hatch have both had "Spraddle" - In the U.K known as "Splay leg".

While the condition is easy to remedy, my vet attributes the condition to the nest being too big for a single chick and the deformity caused by the parents sitting too heavily on the baby. Would I be wise to separate the parents, and give up on breeding, or have I just been unlucky?

Steve Anderson
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Sefton, Here in the USA we refer to it as "splay leg" as well. Your Vet is correct about the cause. You can avoid this by providing a smaller a small teacup shape and size. If you change the nest while the parents are sitting egg they may abandon the egg, so I would wait until the baby hatches and then transfer it to the smaller nest.

The idea is to have the inside bottom of the nest small enough to so that the babies legs stay under the baby. You can roll a paper towel into the shape of a doughnut and put in the current nest with the baby in the paper doughnut.

The age of the parents doesn’t effect or cause splay leg but if your breeding pair is getting older you may consider getting another breeder pair and giving the ones you have a rest. Breeding and rearing the young take a lot out of the parents. Feel free to pm me if I can be of any help.


P.S. Don't separate the pair you have.... as they are a "pair". Just remove any eggs that are laid.
Dave Scribner
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Steve is correct. Doves mate for life so please don't separate your pair. Female doves are born with a specific number of eggs which grow during their lifetime to become layed eggs. As they grow older, usually the frequency of laying decreases but when the number of eggs is depleated, that's all there is. If you are into breeding and want your doves to lay eggs for raising, then you need to start looking for a new pair to carry on.
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Autumn Morning Star
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Dave and Steve are right. Keep that pair together!

You can prevent splay leg by making sure the nest has enough material to support the baby. There is also a washable nest pad sold by Foy's Pigeon Supply that keeps the baby's legs from going splay (click and scroll down):

I would place this nest pad in a dove-sized nest (like the European Plastic Nest Bowl you see in the photos from the Foy's Pigeon Supply link). With all respects to your veterenarian, I would not suggest a tea cup. The slippery surface only contributes to splay legs. It is like doing the splits all day and trying to get your footing on a slick surface. The inner leg muscles get stretched out too far and become weak. Nest material keeps the legs from spraddling out.

The single egg could be due to diet or could be age. How old are your birds? Doves can live into their twenties and breed into their late teens.
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Doug Henning
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Many thanks for all your replies. My latest chick hatched a week ago and does seem to be o.k. However, I will take all your advice about providing a smaller nest for future "productions" etc.
Thanks again,
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