What is Bumble Foot and how do you treat it?

What is Bumble Foot and how do you treat it?

May 06, 2024angelique van zuylen

What is Bumble Foot?

Ulcerative pododermatitis – or bumblefoot as it’s more regularly known – is a condition that occurs when a wound on the hen’s foot pad becomes infected. It earned its name from the hard, abscess-like kernel or ‘bumble’ that forms in the infected area. 

What does Bumble Foot look like?

First signs of bumblefoot can include a shiny, reddish dot; small black callous or raised rough patch on the bottom of the foot. Foot pads that appear swollen or are hot to touch can also be an indication of the presence of bumble foot. Use the back of your finger to gently check the temperature of your hen’s foot pad for elevated heat. 

What causes Bumble Foot?

In most cases, bumblefoot is caused by random injuries that happen whilst your hen goes about her daily activities. Cuts and grazes may be caused by the rough edge of a perch, for example, or an accidental landing on a sharp stone. 

It’s more common with barn or free-range hens where they’ve encountered rough or stony ground or an uneven perch, but any hen can contract bumblefoot in her lifetime. 

What can I do to prevent Bumble foot?

During your weekly routines, check all perches for splintering or rough areas to reduce the risk of your hens puncturing their feet in the first place.  

Ensure toenails are not too long as this can also be a cause of dirty scratches and wounds. Hens will normally wear their nails down evenly so just make sure they are not too long. 

Keep an eye on your hens, picking them up and checking their feet and legs for anything unusual. Monitor them for abrasions, bruises, scabs and swelling. The more you do this the more you will become familiar with what is normal and what isn’t.  

The more you do this, the more likely you will be to notice bumblefoot at an early stage and prevent infection. 

How to treat Bumble foot?

1.Treating the infected Area

Fill the sink with warm water and Epsom salt. Bring your infected chicken into your house where it is nice and warm. Fill the sink about halfway with water that is a little warmer than room temperature and add in a few spoonfuls of Epsom salt. The Epsom salt will help ease inflammation. If you need to remove a scab, that will be easier after soaking the foot.
You can use any sink to bathe your chicken’s foot, but the bathroom might be a good choice. That way you can close the door and help your chicken feel more secure.
You can also use some soap to clean the foot while it soaks, but that is not necessary.

2. Wrap your chicken in a towel and soak its feet in the bath

Wrap your chicken in a towel and soak its feet in the bath. Secure your chicken in a clean bath towel to keep it from flapping its wings or scratching you. If your chicken is pretty tame, you can just wrap the towel loosely around it. Soak the infected foot in the sink for 10 minutes.

  • Wrapping your chicken will help it feel safe so it’s more comfortable soaking its feet.
  • If you have a more excitable chicken, ask a friend to help you hold it during this process.
  • Try talking in a soothing voice to the chicken if it seems agitated.

    3. Cut out the scab with a scalpel, if necessary
    Cut out the scab with a scalpel, if necessary. A brownish-black scab indicates that the infection is advanced. If that’s the case, you’ll need to perform minor surgery. After soaking, the scab should have softened considerably. Use the scalpel to gently scrape the scab away from the chicken’s foot.
    • If you don’t have a scalpel, or simply don’t feel comfortable with one, you can use a gloved hand to try to gently remove the black area. Gently wiggle the scab loose and pry it away. If it doesn’t come off easily, try soaking the foot for 10 more minutes to loosen it more.
    • You don't need to remove anything other than the scab itself. There's no need to dig deep into the foot or to try to remove the skin around the scab.
    • If you catch bumblefoot early enough, there will simply be a red, inflamed area rather than a scab. If that is the case, you can skip this step.

      4.Dry the foot and spray with Nettex Poultry Wound Spray.
      After the soak and scab removal, pat the foot dry with a clean towel. Vetericyn is a wound and skincare product for animals. You can purchase it online, or at a pet supply shop. Follow the directions on the bottle and spray it on the clean, dry foot.
    • Alternatively, you can cover the wound in honey, which acts as a natural antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal. You'll wrap the foot after applying honey, so no need to worry about it making a mess.

      5. Wrap the foot with gauze or vet wrap 
      To make sure the wound has a chance to heal, keep it covered for several days. You can use either gauze or vet wrap. Wind either material around the wounded foot and fasten it with medical tape. It should be snug and secure, but not so tight that it is painful for the chicken

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