How to Treat Bumblefoot in Chickens

Plantar pododermatitis (or (ulcerative pododermatitis) is a serious avian condition and when untreated it can spread deeper into the soft tissue, including the bone and can be fatal in chickens. Bumblefoot can occur when bacteria, such as Staphylococcus, invades an open or broken skin area and causes an infection beneath the skin of a chicken’s foot, causing an abscess. When veterinary care is unavailable, at-home surgery may be an option.

Steps

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    Know the causes of bumblefoot. Chickens (especially free-range) like to fly up at night to roost, scratch, jump, run and dig. A minor splinter, cut or scrape can be an entry point for any bacteria to penetrate, and is usually caused by direct contact with fecal matter or wet bedding.
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    Soak the infected foot. Place it in a mixture of 1/2 gallon distilled, warm water, 5 drops Betadine (or Oregano Oil) and 1/4 cup of Epsom salts until the visible scab has softened.
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    Dip the scalpel into a mild solution of 2 drops Betadine (or Oregano oil) and 1/4 cup of distilled water.
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    Gently, make a superficial cut in the foot pad. It should be just about 1/4" outside the circumference of the scab, (do not attempt to remove the scab. It is attached to the heart (AKA: core, kernel, plug) of the Staph infection.
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    Place fingers around the foot. Position one thumb at either side of the surgical punch (cut/slit), and gently push down (careful not to break or fracture any toes or tiny bones). This is a very painful procedure for the chicken, but the chicken will remain calm.
    • With continued pressure, the entire staph infection with scab and heart will rise out of the foot. You may notice some blood, but there should never be a stream of blood loss.
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    Remove the entire Staph (including heart) using a dry, sterile paper towel. Double check that the entire heart has been removed.
    • Visual inspection of heart should be either 1. appear dehydrated, solidified or a hardened pus mass. or 2. In the event the pus has not hardened, the visual appearance may be white to yellow, string-like decomposing tissue.
    • Once infected and dead tissue has been removed and only the remaining, soft, pinkish living tissue is present with some fresh bleeding, prepare the foot for final treatment.
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    Unscrew the top of the new, full enema bottle. Add 4 drops of Vetericyn (or Tea Tree Oil), and screw the top back on.
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    Flush the inside of the wound with the fortified enema solution.
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    Apply triple antibiotic gel (or Egg-Yolk Oil) to the wound surface, and around the outside of surface.
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    Apply non-stick gauze to the open wound. Wrap the gauze into place using vetwrap (or similar self adhesive bandage).
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    Double check to make sure that the wrap is not too tight. Make sure that it does not interfere with the natural circulation of the foot.
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    Once finished, place the chicken into a carry crate or kennel, lined with deep, clean, dry bedding. Provide fresh, clean electrolyte water and fresh food.
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    After 5-days unwrap the foot. Check for natural healing and if it looks good, apply liquid bandaid (or a drop of honey). If using honey, then apply a small piece of gauze atop, and allow the wound to close and scab for another 3-days.
    • Upon final inspection, if the wound is closed, return the healing chicken to the range.

Warnings

  • The following is not veterinary advice. It is based on the author’s experience as a professional chicken-keeper. It is not meant to replace the expertise and practices of a veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your chicken is sick. If professional veterinary care is an option for your flock, seek the advice of a qualified avian veterinarian before attempting treatment.

Things You'll Need

  • Two people, wearing surgical masks, surgical gloves and protective eye wear
  • A large, clean sink
  • A clean counter
  • Proper lighting
  • Distilled water
  • Betadine (Holistic Option: Certified Organic, Oregano Oil)
  • Epsom Salts
  • Surgical gloves
  • Sterile scalpel (or biopsy punch for small infections)
  • A roll of sterile paper towels
  • A full, sterile enema bottle
  • Vetericyn (Holistic Option: Certified Organic, Tea Tree Oil)
  • Triple antibiotic gel (Holistic Option: Certified Organic Egg-Yolk Oil)
  • Non-stick vet-gauze
  • Self adhesive, elastic bandage (vetwrap)
  • Small animal carry crate or kennel
  • Fresh, clean dry bedding
  • Liquid Bandaid (Holistic Option: Raw Honey)

Article Info

Categories: Chickens | Health Hygiene