When raising chickens you will run into all kinds of different scenarios, health-wise and otherwise. Let’s discuss treating bumblefoot in chickens because it is something you will most likely have to deal with at some point in your chicken-keeping adventure.
Bumblefoot in Chickens Guide
What is bumblefoot?
Bumblefoot, or plantar pododermatitis, is essentially an abscess found on the footpad of a chicken. It can be very painful and potentially deadly if left untreated.
What are the chicken bumblefoot symptoms?
Bumblefoot is most frequently detected when you see your chicken develop a limp. The foot pad becomes uncomfortably painful as the abscess grows and impedes the gait of your bird.
It is a good idea to regularly check your flock for bumblefoot as it can occur more often than you think. Your bird may not exhibit a limp if the abscess is on the side of the foot and not in the direct impact zone of the foot. You will see a raised area with a hard calloused surface. There will be a black dot in the center. It will feel hard and solid when pushed on. Sometimes you will find multiple abscesses on one bird.
What causes bumblefoot?
Bumblefoot happens when the bird gets a cut on the foot and it gets infected. Here are some common ways bumblefoot can occur:
- A splinter
- Sharp ends of wire
- Jumping from the perch to the ground
- Irritated skin from walking in unsanitary conditions
- Fighting with other birds
- Frequently walking in debris-filled areas
How to treat bumblefoot
The key to successfully treating a bumblefoot infection is to catch it early so it doesn’t fester. Checking your bird’s feet regularly as mentioned above is your best way of doing just that. There are a few different methods for treating bumblefoot and which method you choose will depend on the severity of the infection.
- If the infection is small you may choose to soak the foot in warm water and Epsom salt to draw out the infection and heal the wound. Follow this with an antibacterial spray or ointment (this is one of the best I found) and wrap the foot to promote healing. You may have to separate the chicken for a few days from your flock to keep an eye on the bandage and make sure it doesn’t get pecked off. Once the infection clears there should be no remaining side effects.
- For a more severe infection, you may need to lance the abscess and remove the core. This is a delicate procedure and should only be done if you are experienced and confident in doing it correctly. If done improperly you could do damage to the tissue of the foot. If the infection is severe and you are unable to lance it yourself seek out veterinary treatment. For a severe infection, you’ll want to follow up with antibiotics to flush any lingering infection out of the system.
Keep in mind that whenever you are handling a bird with bumblefoot you’ll want to wear gloves. The abscess is a type of staph infection and can be transmitted to humans, so proper PPE is essential.
The best prevention against bumblefoot is a clean, debris-free environment.
Keep your coop and run areas free of sharp objects and litter. Make sure your perches are not too high off the ground causing high impact from jumping down off them in the mornings. Regularly clean your coop to prevent infection from feces buildup.
Always remember a clean environment is a happy, healthy environment.
FAQs about bumble foot
Can bumblefoot go away on its own?
No, bumblefoot won’t go away on its own. If not taken care of, the infection can spread to the other bones, and you may lose your chicken.
Is bumblefoot contagious to other chickens?
No, one chicken with bumblefoot can’t infect another chicken. BUT, if one chicken got it, it’s possible your run or coop has some sharp surfaces/objects and possibly too much poop that makes it unsanitary and so easier to get an infection.
Can bumblefoot kill a chicken?
Since bumblefoot is a staph infection, if left untreated it can travel up the leg and potentially kill your chicken.
Sheri Hayden has been raising chickens for over a decade and has gained a wealth of insight into her feathery friends through years of experience and hands-on interaction. She's also the administrator of a very active chicken care Facebook group called Virginia Backyard Chickens... Practical Poultry Keeping and Education