Your outside tending to your chickens as routine, and then you spot it. One of your chickens is limping and has a noticeable lump on their foot. This bump is called bumblefoot. It is prevalent in many household pets, including chickens. But don’t panic! There are ways to cure it, and your chicken will be good as new soon. We will answer what is bumblefoot in chickens and how to treat and prevent.
What Is Bumblefoot In Chickens?
Bumblefoot in chickens is also known as ulcerative pododermatitis. The infection itself forms from a bacteria called staphylococcus. Staph is a common bacteria found all around us. While it is not harmful most of the time, it can cause illness in certain conditions.
What Causes Bumblefoot In Chickens?
Numerous things can cause bumblefoot. The most common point of infection is through small cuts or splinters in your chicken’s feet. These minor lacerations look harmless, but when the staph comes into contact with it, bumblefoot emerges. Another common reason bumblefoot is so prevalent in chickens is dirty bedding. If your coop’s bedding is moist and not cleaned often, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
In most cases, bumblefoot results from a combination of these two reasons. If your coop is dirty and a chicken cuts their feet, bumblefoot is more likely to appear. But these are not the only way. Bumblefoot in chickens can also be the result of obesity and hard landings. If you have larger than average birds, when they fly or jump, they make harder landings. This ungrateful thud can cause soreness on their feet, sort of like blisters on ours. With repeated hard landings, your chickens could develop bumblefoot.
What Does It Look Like?
Bumblefoot in chickens is unmistakable. In less severe cases, your chickens might have a slight limp and a sore on their toes. In more severe cases, the foot will swell and have dark scabs on them. Some common characteristics of bumblefoot are:
- redness and swelling of the feet and toes
- puss-filled lumps
- black or dark brown scabs
- difficulty walking
So, if your chicken has any of these symptoms, it’s safe to say that they have bumblefoot.
How To Treat Bumblefoot In Chickens
Depending on the severity of the case, there are different actions to take. Most cases of bumblefoot in chickens can be treated at home, and others require a trip to the vet. In any case of bumblefoot, you might want to isolate them until their feet heal. Bumblefoot is not contagious, but keeping the area dry and clean will speed up the healing process.
A minor case of bumblefoot in chickens is redness with minimal swelling. These cases have not formed the infamous ulcer type puss-filled pockets but will get there if not treated immediately. There are a few things you will need to handle these minor cases.
- Unscented Epsom salt
- Two bowls (one for saltwater and the other with clean)
To treat, wrap your chicken in the towel so that their wings can not get free, and their head is covered. Next, soak your chicken’s foot in a warm bath with Epsom salt in one bowl. The salt will help soften the sore area, and the salt helps with disinfecting. You will need to soak the foot for at least five minutes. Once the scabs and the infected regions soften, gently peel back the scabs. Taking the scabs off will help any puss to drain. Then rinse it in the second bowl filled with clean water. Finish with a spray of Vetericyn 2-3 times daily.
If you are looking at how to treat bumblefoot in chickens naturally, this is your best route to go. This method doesn’t use medications, prescriptions, and is not invasive. It works on most bumblefoot chicken cases if caught early enough.
A moderate case of bumblefoot in chickens is swelling and scabbing of the foot. In most cases that have gotten this far, there will be a noticeable “core” where the infection is. The foot will look disproportionate, and your chicken will have difficulty walking. A moderate case happens when minor cases have gone unnoticed. But there are a few things you can do at home. This task is not easy, and you will need help.
Here is your list of supplies needed:
- Epsom salt
- Two bowls (one for saltwater the other for clean)
- Chlorhexidine 2% Solution
- Disposable Punch Biopsy
- Self-Adherent Tape
As in the first method, you will want to wrap your chicken and soak its foot in a salt bath. But this time, after the foot has soaked, you will need to wash the foot with Chlorhexidine. This solution will eliminate any debris and bacteria that might still be on the outside of the foot. You will want to wash the foot thoroughly in Chlorhexidine for this next part. Next, you will need to use a biopsy punch to break the skin of the infected area. We recommend the punches above because there are so many different sizes.
It would be best if you centered the biopsy punch around the core of the infection. Once you finish the punch, you will want to drain all of the puss from the wound. Once the puss has drained, you should see a “core” in the foot. This core can look like a piece of corn and is hard. You can then remove it with tweezers.
Now that the hard part is done, you can start cleaning up. For safety, you should clean the area one more time with Chlorhexidine and then with Vetericyn. Then you will need to pack it with gauze and cover with self-adherent tape loosely. We love the wrappings by VNDEFUL because they are thin and quickly wrapped around any area of the chicken’s foot. You will need to spray the area with Vetericyn 2-3 times daily and replace the gauze for aftercare.
This procedure can be hard for some people. And that is entirely understandable. Your chickens are your babies, and doing something that potentially causes pain can be too much. If it is too much for you, a vet will gladly do the draining for you.
Sometimes, at-home treatments do not work. Your chicken’s foot could become worse, and the infection spread throughout the body. In severe cases, your chicken should go to the vet. A vet will likely perform minor surgery to remove all infected tissue in the foot. Your chicken will have pain medications and antibiotics for bumblefoot in chickens.
It would be best if you never tried self-prescribe over the counter antibiotics yourself. Antibiotics are a tricky thing. If you don’t give the right dosing or correct type of antibiotic, your chicken could get worse. And with some antibiotics, the eggs are not safe for a while after the medication has stopped. Not to mention that the more antibiotics a chicken takes, the more immune they are to it. There is so much that can go wrong. It is best to leave the medications to vets only.
Now that you have gotten over the worst of it, it’s time to talk about prevention. There are specific steps you can take to make sure that your chickens never get a severe case of bumblefoot.
The first thing you should do is check your chickens daily. Checking every chicken can be difficult with them running around. We recommend checking each one within the coop in the morning. You can then release them into the run when they have passed. If you notice any redness or sores, you can immediately treat with Vetericyn.
Keeping your chickens healthy benefits them in so many ways. Having a balanced diet will boost your chicken’s immune systems to fight off illness and infection easily. It also keeps their weight in check, so that hard landings aren’t an issue.
Keep The Coop Clean
A clean living space is crucial for preventing the overgrowth of bacteria. Bedding that is wet and covered in feces harbors so much bacteria that even if your chickens don’t develop bumblefoot, they could get a URI. If your chickens seem to be susceptible to bumblefoot, check out alternative bedding, like sand.
Sanded Roost And Nesting Box
You should also check your roost and nesting boxes for splintering. Anything wood should be sanded down smooth. In some cases, you might want to opt for a rounded, smooth roost instead of a 2×4. If you prefer a 2×4 perch, then take extra care to sand down the corners to make them rounded.
Check The Run
And finally, our last preventative measure is to check the run daily. Chickens spend most of their days scratching around to forage. If your coop has sharp objects or pieces of wood that could damage your chicken’s feet, bumblefoot is unavoidable. Doing a quick daily check for anything unusual will help keep your chickens safe.
Every chicken owner has to deal with bumblefoot at some point or another. This article answers the questions of what is bumblefoot in chickens and how to treat and prevent. It’s not a fun task, but a part of our backyard chicken life. We hope that your chickens have a speedy recovery.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!