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What Is Bumblefoot In Chickens And How To Treat It

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.

pulling infection string from bumblefoot

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?

swollen chicken foot because of bumblefoot

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.

Learn more about raising chickens

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.

soaking the chicken's foot to treat bumblefoot
  • 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. 
chicken foot bandaged after removing infection caused by bumblefoot
We wrapped the chicken’s foot after removing the scab and infection with a self adhering bandage wrap

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.  

Preventing bumblefoot

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.

how to treat bumblefoot in chickens - my daughter pulling infection out of the chicken's foot
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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 runs Virginia Backyard Chickens, a popular Facebook group about keeping chickens.

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Saturday 17th of September 2022

I saw the link takes me to Vetericyn plus wound and skin care. But I also found Vetericyn plus antimicrobial for poultry, so I was wondering if one is better than the other for bumblefoot? I'm currently treating one of mine for bumble foot in both feet.


Monday 19th of September 2022

I don't think there's much difference.

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Sunday 30th of January 2022

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