Bumblefoot in Chickens – A Guide to Bumblefoot

Bumblefoot - Picture of BumblefootBumblefoot in Chickens – what is it and how do you treat it?

Bumblefoot is a bacterial infection of the foot found in birds, including chickens. The infection causes an inflammatory reaction with swelling and sometimes an increased temperature being noticeable with the chicken.

What does Bumblefoot look like?

Bumblefoot often presents itself as a small red swelling on the base of the foot, it may also be shiny or if the skin breaks with the swelling and irritation the area may bleed, the chicken will often limp or not rest on the infected foot.

If left untreated the area will become infected and puss may become present. This infection can cause distortions and disfigurement of the feet and toes causing future difficulties with walking, perching and in cock birds with mating holds.

Bumblefoot is serious and if left untreated can kill your hen

What causes Bumblefoot in Chickens?

The chicken’s perches can cause Bumblefoot as well as the way the chicken is perching in its coop. Your chicken’s perches need to be clean and smooth, free from any splinters or jagged edges that may aggravate the foot.

The perches should not be too high as when the bird jumps down they may injure their feet and overweight or heavy birds should be monitored, as they are more likely to injure themselves when jumping from their perches.

Another cause may be sharp objects within the run area piercing of aggravating the chicken’s feet. This allows bacteria to enter the foot again causing the Bumblefoot infection.

How to prevent Bumblefoot in Chickens

When building your coop and run make sure there are no sharp or jagged edges or flooring that your birds feet could be damaged on.

The perches within the coop should be just above the height of the pop-hole opening – ideally around 16 inches off the ground.

The perch itself should be around 2-3 inches wide and 2-3 inches deep with the edges rounded off and smoothed so that nothing catches on the chickens feet while they perch.

If you have bantams reduce the perch size by half an inch as they have smaller feet and therefore smaller grip.

You can add higher perches if you wish, but make sure the bird can jump down easily by adding perhaps a lower perch to jump to or a lower shelf before the floor height so that injuries aren’t caused.

How to treat Bumblefoot

As this is a bacterial infection it can be treated by the use of antibiotics. It is recommended that the chicken be taken to the vets for the foot to be examined where a course of antibiotics will be administered. Treatment should be obtained quickly as this infection can quickly cause further problems for the chicken with extreme swelling sometimes leading to surgery being the only treatment option.

The foot should be disinfected and this can be through an antibacterial animal spray or the use of a controlled iodine solution. Whilst the foot is healing the chicken should be kept in a controlled area with clean soft bedding to avoid further irritation on the foot. The infection usually clears up within 7 days, but it concerned you should return to your vet.

There are home remedies that some people claim to help relieve the infection without needing to have vet treatment. These include bathing the area and disinfecting as described above then applying an ointment of either Calendula cream or Comfrey cream to the area morning and evening to cleanse the infection and reduce the swelling allowing the area to naturally heal.

Forum member Muntjac suggests the following:

“Clean the foot completely with warm salty water and look for the puss spot. Lance it with a modellers knife or scalpel and squeeze out the puss if you are able or just tease out the head with the scalpel point or cotton buds.

Put some salt on it for a minute or 2 then rinse off, dry well and then apply Germolene antiseptic cream 2 times a day on a fabric plaster. Wrap the foot up as best you with more plaster strip (only where the affected by the bumblefoot) cleaning the wound each time you redress it as before. Make sure the bedding is clean where the bird is kept. You may make the infection go but the swollen bit often stays for longer.”

Although some chicken keepers swear that home methods of treatment are effective, if you suspect the infection is worsening or not improving do seek advice from a vet so that the chicken is not suffering.

Further Articles on Poultry Illnesses & Ailments

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