While there are a plethora of diseases that chickens can get, I was determined to never have to deal with any of that! Hahaha but guess what? That’s not real life, and when you’re raising chickens it’s better to be educated and prepared than taken by surprise.
Last summer, I was checking my girls over from head to toe. I like to do that on a regular basis to make sure they are happy and healthy. Much to my dismay, I noticed that Reba had a case of bumblefoot. At first glance, I thought she maybe just had some dirt stuck to the bottom of her feet. But, upon further inspection, it was definitely a case of bumblefoot. What is bumblefoot you may ask?
According to poultrydvm.com, “Bumblefoot, also known as footpad dermatitis or pododermatitis refers to any inflammatory or degenerative condition of the chicken's foot. It occurs commonly in birds kept in captivity. If bumblefoot is recognized during the early stages, it is relatively easy to treat. Often all that's needed is simple management and environmental modifications.”
See more at: http://www.poultrydvm.com/condition/bumblefoot
Bumblefoot is caused by the staphylococcus aureus bacteria which can enter the chicken’s feet through an abrasion, cut, sliver or other injury. It’s most common in obese birds, birds with decreased blood supply, unequal weight bearing birds, or birds that stand for prolonged periods of time. Bumblefoot can be painful for your chickens and can even lead to death if left untreated.
The good news is that you can treat bumblefoot non-surgically! My son and I treated Reba with no problem and she’s doing great to this day.
Chlorhexidine solution, betadine, or hydrogen peroxide (little more harsh)
Triple antibiotic cream
We got a bowl of clean, warm water and added in some epsom salt. We wrapped Reba in a towel to keep her calm. She actually loved soaking in the epsom salt bath and even dozed a bit! After about 10-15 minutes, we gently flipped her onto her back so we could get a good angle on the bumblefoot plugs.
Using a tweezers, we gently removed each plug. This was kind of gross, but my son loves this kind of thing. So, he removed plugs and I kept Reba calm. If the plugs were not soft enough to remove, you will need to soak the feet a little longer. Make sure you get the entire plug as well. We cleaned her feet with chlorhexidine solution
Finally, we gently put some triple antibiotic cream over the wound. The plugs leave a hole, so you just need to be careful to keep this clean until the skin can heal from the inside out. We covered it with a steryl pad and then gently wrapped her feet. She honestly didn’t mind the process and was off on her merry way when we were finished! Depending on the cleanliness of her wrap, I changed it every day or two until she was completely healed.
Make sure you use gloves and are careful to disinfect anything you used to treat the bumblefoot. It is the staph bacteria, so you want to protect yourself a well.
Finding and treating bumblefoot is not difficult. I keep the items I need for treating our girls on hand. Keeping a clean coop will definitely help. If you’re feeling guilty over your chickens having bumblefoot or some other setback, please don’t. Chickens are busy little birds who sometimes find themselves injured or hurt. Our job as backyard chicken keepers is to do our very best for them, treat them when we can, and comfort and love them through the process. They will be back to their sweet little sassy selves before you know it!
--The Wing Lady