November 22, 2014

Bumblefoot in chickens and how to treat and prevent it.

If your chicken is limping it is possible that it has developed bumblefoot, also known as ‘plantar pododermatitis’. Bumblefoot is usually caused by a cut or bruise to the skin of the foot pad which becomes infected, causing a large growth or abscess on the bottom of the chicken or bird’s foot, although any injury to the foot can turn into bumblefoot. It doesn’t have to be a wide open cut just a small scrape or light abrasion to the foot pad is enough to cause a problem. Regular inspection of your birds’  feet is recommended.
 
Most cases of bumblefoot involve the following bacteria: Staphylococcus Aureus, E.coli, or Corynebacterium. Once the infection takes hold in a matter of days the foot and or foot pad becomes swollen, puss may develop and it will become red or black and may be hot to the touch. If the foot is swollen but is still soft to the touch you have a very good chance of curing the problem with antibiotics alone. The chicken will often limp or not rest on the infected foot. This infection can cause distortions and disfigurement to the feet and toes causing future difficulties with walking, perching and in cock birds with mating holds.
 
If you allow bumblefoot to go untreated, the chicken will likely succumb to a secondary infections and die, so it is essential it is treated as soon as it is suspected.
 
Prevention of bumblefoot
 
Obviously if your birds have free access to roam wherever they wish, ensuring that they never cut their feet whilst scratching around for food is nearly impossible. But you should always ensure that the yard is free of obvious sharp stones or items that the bird could cut its foot on. In addition any runs should be checked and all perches should be inspected regularly to make sure that they are smooth and free of rough edges or splinters top prevent the chickens injuring themselves.
 
Always make sure perches are not too high off the ground as a bird can injure its foot jumping down, especially if it is of a heavier build, such injuries can also lead to bumblefoot. If the perches have to be high, make sure there are stages the birds can use to descend. 
 
 
Treatment for bumblefoot 
 

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 as this is a bacterial infection. Treatment should be obtained quickly as this infection can quickly cause further problems for the chicken with extreme swelling sometimes leading to surgery.

The foot should be kept disinfected and this can be done using an antibacterial animal spray or the use of a measured iodine solution. Whilst the foot is healing the chicken should be kept in an isolated area with clean soft bedding to avoid further irritation. The infection usually clears up within 7 days, but if it does not appear to be responding you should seek further professional help.

 

 

 We recommend this very readable book by Gale Damerow