Bumblefoot

Bumblefoot

Does your hen look as if she is wearing over-large carpet slippers? If so she might have Bumblefoot.

Bumblefoot normally starts out with a small hard black spot or raised rough patch on the bottom of the foot. In extreme cases all the toes and even the lower part of the leg can blow up like a balloon. The cause is usually a small puncture wound or cut from the rough edge of a perch or an accidental landing on a sharp stone.

The condition doesn’t seem to be painful but this can vary from hen to hen with some hens going lame. The tissue becomes inflamed, pockets of hard pus build up and often the only way to resolve the condition is with surgery. Some hens can improve with antibiotic therapy and soaking the foot in Epsom Salts. Exercise will also help.

Symptoms

  • Swelling in and around the toes, bottom of feet and occasionally legs.
  • Stretched and baggy skin.
  • A black spot on the sole of the foot can be an early sign.
  • Pus build-up in hard pockets which can burst through the skin.

Causes

  • Injury caused by uneven perches.
  • Environmental conditions such as uneven or rough ground.
  • Muddy, flooded or very hard ground.
  • Overgrown toenails causing injury to the foot.
  • Poor husbandry (bird kept on soiled or wet bedding).

Guidance

Note that this home remedy is not intended to offer a cure or replace veterinary treatment, but may alleviate symptoms where no professional support is easily available. The suggestions are based on experience gained with our own hens.
  • Soak the infected foot with antiseptic solution repeating 2-3 times weekly.
  • Encourage increased exercise.
  • Veterinary debridement (surgical procedure involving removal of the infected matter – see below).
  • Apply bandaging to encourage exercise, keep any wound clean, and provide comfort.

Prevention

  • Check all perches regularly for splintering or rough areas.
  • Ensure toenails are not too long (hens will normally wear their nails down evenly).
  • Practice good husbandry in your hen coop.
Bumblefoot
Figure 1: Swelling in and around the toes is a key symptom of Bumblefoot
Bumblefoot
Figure 2: A black spot on the sole of the foot can be an early sign of Bumblefoot
Bumblefoot
Figure 3: Skin has burst showing pocket of infection
Bumblefoot
Figure 4: Veterinary debridement removes the infection
Bumblefoot
Figure 5: Foot after debridement and suturing
Bumblefoot
Figure 6: Bandaged footfollowing debridement

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