My Chicken has Bumblefoot *WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS*

Hope you all had a great 4th of July!

We spent our Independence Day working on projects for the farm. What better way to celebrate freedom then to exercise our freedom through farm projects that go towards celebrating our freedom to raise our own food!?

But what started out as a perfectly planned day of farm projects, changed quickly when I noticed one of our hens favoring one of her legs and limping on that same leg. I immediately noticed a large swelling bump on her foot and knew it was Bumblefoot.

Bumblefoot in the medical world is known as “plantar pododermatitis.” Bumblefoot is an infection on a chicken’s foot that is usually caused by a cut or other injury. That open wound is very susceptible to bacteria. When bacteria (such as staphylococcus) get inside the wound, it causes an infection. Signs of infection include: swollen foot, favoring (holding up) a leg, limping, or lameness. When you inspect the chicken, you will find a wound area on the bottom of the foot, which might have already scabbed up, depending on how long the infection has gone on for. It is important to keep an eye on your flock for these signs, because if the infection continues, there’s risk of it spreading to other parts of the body. Also, the bacteria could be contagious to the rest of your flock, such as with staph. The chicken is also in a lot of pain (even if they aren’t showing it), so it’s important to treat this condition immediately.

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Therefore, the second I realized our hen had Bumblefoot I started getting the necessary supplies ready to treat her. Here is how we treated our hen for Bumblefoot:

***The following is not professional veterinary or medical advice. It is based on my experience as a chicken-keeper and from various other sources. If you believe the foot is infected, it is always recommended to consult with a professional for the best possible treatment. This post is for informational use only***

Materials/Supplies:

-Towel
-Water
-Epsom Salt
-Shallow bucket/tub that can hold water (Sanitized) *I used my kitchen sink, with a drain stopper*
-Razor Blade (Sanitized) *optional depending on the severity*
-Tweezers (Sanitized)
-Hydrogen Peroxide (can also use other products, such as Chlorhexidine solution, Betadine, Vetericyn VF, etc.)
-Q-tips
-Paper Towels
-Disposable Latex Gloves
-Neosporin
-Gauze Square (2in. x 2in. is what we used and recommend)
-Vet Wrap (the bandage material that stretches and sticks to itself)

Step 1: Prepare all necessary supplies

Step 2: Wash hands and put on rubber gloves (the infection could be staph, which humans can get, so this is very important)

Step 3: Fill bucket, tray or sink with warm, but not hot water. Just enough water so that the chicken’s foot will be fully submerged. Add some Epsom salt and mix until dissolved.

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Step 4: Place chicken into the sink, make sure that the foot is fully submerged. Do not let the chicken drink the water. Leave the chicken in the water to soak for about 10-15 minutes. This soaking helps clean the foot and loosen the wound/plug/scab on the bottom of the foot. Our hen really enjoyed this part; she totally relaxed in the warm water, and even fell asleep! (I guess chickens like the spa as much as humans do! Lol)

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Step 5: After soaking the chicken’s foot for 10-15 minutes, remove the chicken from the water and wrap in a towel, with the head and feet sticking out. Turnover on its back. Once on her back, our chicken didn’t move at all. 

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Step 6: Once the chicken is on its back and calm, you can now start with the procedure. Depending on how long the infection has gone on will determine the tools you will need and how long it will take to clear out the wound/scab/plug. We caught on to our chicken’s foot early, so it wasn’t too bad and didn’t take very long to clear it. You basically want to clear out the plug or kernel from the inside as well as any tissue or infected area. Ours wasn’t scabbed much yet, mostly just infected tissue. However, if your chicken’s foot has a large hard black or brown scab, you will need to remove the scab first. If the Bumblefoot is severe, you may need to use the sanitized razor to cut around the edge of the scab to help remove it. Sometimes the plug/kernel will come out with it, if not; you will need to use sanitized tweezers to pull it out. We were able to clean the wound out without using a razor, just tweezers. It’s important to pull out any and all infected tissue that is in the wound.

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Step 7: Apply hydrogen peroxide to clean Q-tips, and then proceed to finish cleaning out the wound. We did this a few times between using the tweezers to pull stuff out; it seemed like the hydrogen peroxide helped loosen some of the infected tissue, making it easier to clean out. You could also use paper towels for this cleaning portion, whichever works best for the situation.

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Step 8: Once clean, apply the Neosporin to the wound.

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Step 9: Now apply the gauze square to the bottom of the foot. Have the Vet wrap ready to wrap with your other hand. You will probably need to fold the gauze square 2 or 3 times depending on the size of the wound, the size of the chicken’s foot, or the size of gauze you use.

Step 10: As soon as the gauze is in place. Start weaving the vet wrap around the foot and toes. I started with the bottom and alternated around all the toes and the foot several times. I then cut the wrap and ensured the end piece was securely stuck to the top of the chicken’s foot, that way it wouldn’t pull off itself when the chicken later walks on it.

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Step 11: Put the chicken back into the coop/run. We actually put our hen in her own little recovery coop so she didn’t have to walk far for food and water and wouldn’t be bothered by the other chickens.

Step 12: Continue to unwrap the bandage and inspect the wound every 48 hours. Clean the wound if need be, reapply Neosporin as needed, replace the gauze, and rewrap until healed.

This procedure went a lot better than I expected. The whole process took maybe 30 minutes. If your chicken’s Bumblefoot is worse, it could easily take longer, but it’s worth it for a happy and healthy hen!

I was so glad that we didn’t have 4th of July plans so that we were home to care for our poor hen. This is just another example of the life of a homesteader or farmer. Most of the time things don’t go as planned, and instead of going away from the Farmstead to celebrate the holiday with friends and family, we opted to stick around and work on farm projects. This may sound limiting and boring, but honestly, this is what we love to do. Nic and I love animals, and enjoy caring for them, even during the rough times, like this Bumblefoot situation. We got fulfillment by using our God-given skills to be able to help our chicken be more comfortable. So what looks like a ruined 4th of July, was actually one I will probably never forget.

I will post updates on how our hen is doing with her Bumblefoot recovery, stay tuned!

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