Bumblefoot Chicken: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, & Prevention

You’re likely to encounter bumblefoot at some point if you have chickens. Bumblefoot, also called ulcerative pododermatitis, happens when a chicken’s foot pad gets a cut and then gets infected. It’s called bumblefoot because of the hard, bump-like swelling that shows up on the infected spot.

Leaving this untreated can lead to an abscess and even death, so early treatment is important.

We’ve treated more than 30 cases of bumblefoot while taking care of chickens for many years. I’m sure I can help you fix any bumblefoot problems your chickens have and show you how to stop them from coming back.

Bumblefoot Chicken: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, & Prevention

Let’s get started!

Bumblefoot is a common foot infection in chickens that starts with a small injury. Chickens are always busy scratching around, looking for bugs, and jumping from place to place. So, they’re likely to get a cut or poke from something sharp like a stick, rock, or thorn at some point.

When they get hurt like this, a staph infection can grow until it turns into a big, painful lump in their foot pad. The best way to handle bumblefoot is to catch this infection early before it gets worse. Although you can treat a big lump (and I’ll show you how!), it’s harder and can hurt the chicken.

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How Long Can A Chicken Live With Bumblefoot?

Sapphire Gem chickens are really chill and quiet, so they’re great for keeping in places where you have neighbors close by, as long as they have enough room to move around. 
Like all chickens, they’ll make some noise when they’re laying eggs or if they see something scary, but mostly, they’re pretty quiet.

Bumblefoot in chickens can range from very mild to very serious, on a scale of 1 to 5. Stage 1 is mild and hard to notice, while stage 5 is very bad, hurting the chicken a lot and can even cause death.

  • Stage 1: You could see a small, shiny pink spot or some skin peeling off. No need to do anything yet, just keep an eye on it and try some prevention tips.
  • Stage 2: The pink spot gets bigger and there’s a small scab. The infection isn’t deep yet. Start treating it now.
  • Stage 3: The scab is bigger and there might be some hard skin around it. It’s time to definitely do something about it.
  • Stage 4: Now the scab is big, dead, and goes deep into the foot, making it painful for the chicken to walk. Quick action is needed.
  • Stage 5: The infection is very bad, deep, and causes swelling. The chicken may not use its foot really well. There is a risk of death if this is not treated right away.

Chickens don’t easily show when they’re hurt, so bumblefoot can get pretty bad before we notice. This is why checking their feet regularly is so key! If you see any of these signs, bumblefoot could be at stage 3 or worse:

Laying fewer eggs

If your hens suddenly stop laying eggs, something might be wrong. They can stop laying for many reasons like it’s too hot, they’re not getting enough food or water, they’re scared, or sick. A sudden drop in egg laying means you should check your flock.

No Urge To Use Roosting Bars

If a chicken avoids the roosting bars and sleeps on the coop floor or in a nesting box instead, it may be because of a foot injury. Roosting bars are hard and can hurt their feet.

Less moving around or limping

Bumblefoot can hurt a lot, making it hard for chickens to walk or make them limp. Chickens try to hide pain, but if it’s really bad, you’ll start to see them slow down or favor one foot.

Swelling in the foot or toes

If bumblefoot gets really bad, you’ll see swelling. Check their feet if you notice any swelling. These signs mean it’s time to take a closer look and possibly treat for bumblefoot.

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Bumblefoot can be prevented by identifying the root cause. As the chickens scratch around and enjoy roaming, they always end up with foot injuries:

  • Rough and rocky ground
  • Sharp bushes – like wild raspberry bushes, which often cause bumblefoot at our place
  • Broken wood
  • Dirty or hard-packed bedding in the coop – look up the top 5 chicken bedding choices!
  • Wire floors or concrete
  • Jumping from high places like roosting bars or tree branches – check out tips for what to have in a chicken coop!

Then, other things can make the infection worse instead of letting it heal.

  • Chubbiness in chickens
  • Thin or rough roosting bars
  • Moist and soggy places
  • Not getting the right nutrients, especially biotin (a kind of vitamin B)

Treating bumblefoot in chickens means cleaning the cut, putting on medicine like triple antibiotic ointment, and wrapping the foot with vet wrap to keep it clean. You also need to soak the chicken’s foot in salt water to help fight the infection. 

The bad tissue might need to be removed or a vet is needed. In some cases, you’ll need antibiotics, but that depends on a test that finds out which antibiotic will work best.

Treating it early is key to preventing it from getting worse. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide:

Bumblefoot
  • Gently clean the chicken’s foot where you see the bumblefoot.
  • The triple antibiotic ointment is the best chicken bumblefoot medicine to apply to the wound.
  • Cover the foot with vet wrap to protect it.
  • If you can, soak the chicken’s foot in salt water to help heal the infection.
  • In bad cases, you have to take away infected tissue (or a vet can do this).
  • For serious cases, you are supposed to get a vet’s help, especially if antibiotics are needed based on the infection test.

Quick action can really make a difference in getting your chicken back to health!

Learn about worming chickens to maintain your flock’s health, essential for their overall well-being.

To stop bumblefoot in chickens, focus on treating foot injuries right away, keeping the coop clean, feeding them well, and checking their health often.

Make sure their home is tidy and dry, without sharp stuff or chicken droppings, and has smooth places for them to roost to lower the chance of foot hurts. Eating right is key for keeping chickens healthy and not overweight, which can lead to bumblefoot.

Always check their feet for any cuts or infections and deal with problems quickly to stop bumblefoot from happening. 

Also, keeping roosting spots not too high, grooming chickens to remove old feathers trimming nails, and stopping any fights can all help keep their feet safe. Doing these things will really help keep your chickens from getting bumblefoot and make sure they stay happy and healthy.

A chicken can live with bumblefoot for a while, but it really depends on how bad the infection gets. If it’s not treated, the infection can lead to serious problems or even death over time. 

With early treatment, chickens can recover and live a normal life. Without care, the timeline varies but could shorten their life significantly.

A normal chicken foot looks clean and smooth, with no cuts or swelling. Bumblefoot, on the other hand, shows up as a swollen foot with a scab or lump, often looking red and sore. 

A chicken with bumblefoot may limp or not want to walk much. The main difference is a healthy foot looks normal, while a bumblefoot foot looks injured and painful.

Even though bumblefoot sounds serious, it’s not something that can spread from chicken to chicken like a cold does.

Yes, if the bumblefoot isn’t too bad yet, giving chickens the right antibiotics, some with DMSO to help the medicine work better, and vitamins can clear it up.

We made a warm bath with Epsom salt for our chicken, Reba. We wrapped her in a towel to keep her calm, and she liked it so much that she even fell asleep! After soaking for 10-15 minutes, we carefully turned her over to check the bumblefoot better.

Leaving bumblefoot untreated is really risky because it can get worse, spread into the bloodstream, and can be deadly for a chicken.

Dealing with bumblefoot can be tough for both the chicken and the owner. I understand that treating your chicken with surgery is never simple! 

But with time and practice, it becomes less hard. The most important thing is to regularly check their feet so you can spot any issues early and sort them out fast.

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