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Bumblefoot - How To Treat Your Chickens With Surgery - Graphic Pics


Bumblefoot surgery - with pics and "how to" Graphic but Informative PicsBy Ruth


Unfortunately, I have had to do my share of bumblefoot surgeries.  I'm often replying on others' threads that seek help and advice so yesterday while performing yet another "procedure" I thought I would document and post pics and step-by-step info:

Here's what the foot looked like from the top - notice the swelling:

From the bottom:

After cleaning the foot - notice the trademark, ever present, black scab:

To operate on the foot, lay the hen on its side with its head and body covered and they don't normally fuss or move around:

I begin by preparing a sink full of very warm, almost hot, very salty water.  Epsom salts or plain old kitchen salt will work.  I soak the foot for a few moments.  I have a sink where I can keep her on her side and still put her foot in the water.  If you don't have that, then just pick her up and hold her with her foot in the water.  Soak for about five minutes while rubbing the pad.

Then, using a sharp single-edge razor blade (or scalpel), cut away the black scab and pull it out. While cutting the scab off, cut down at a slight angle into the pad and go all the way around the outside edge of the black scab. There may be a plug of gunk attached to it.  Pull the scab and any attached gunk out. Once the scab is removed, proceed with soaking again.

Here's a pic while pulling back the scab - notice stuff attached to it:

Here's the hole left behind - notice stuff down in the hole:

Soak some more.

Pulling out a plug:

Keep soaking in the salt water and mashing/squeezing the foot while soaking.

More "gunk" squeezes out of the hole.  But please note, it is not liquid, it is a cheesy, rubbery substance and most of it will need to be dug out.  Tweezers and sharp manicure scissors work well.

I often work on a foot for close to an hour.  Soaking for a few minutes, while squeezing, then digging around some more, then repeat.  Don't worry about any bleeding - they won't bleed to death.  I have them near the edge of the sink so I can keep their foot under running warm water so that I can see what I'm doing.

When finished, you'll have a clean, deep hole.  Pack the hole with Neosporin - you can also mix a little Terramycin with the Neosporin.

Then, cut thin strips of vetwrap and wrap the foot going over the pad and between the toes. Unfortunately, company arrived and I didn't get to finish taking pics of the foot wrapped.  But when I finish wrapping, I go around the ankle/leg.  Don't wrap too tightly.

I leave the wrap on for a few days, then take it off and check.  Normally, they are healed but if not, I wrap once more for another few days.

I've never given antibiotics and I've never had a reoccurence in the same bird.

Hope this helps.


8/30/09 Edited to add:  I cleaned her foot today and changed the bandage so I took the opportunity to take pics of how I wrap the foot.

First - I cut a piece of vetwrap into three or four thin strips.  Then I wrap across the pad and between the toes and wrap around the ankle with one piece and then do the same with another piece but go between the other toes.  This way, she can have full use of her foot for scratching and roosting but no dirt can get in or under the bandage.  Again, be careful and not wrap too tightly.  I don't really stretch it at all, just wrap.

Cut strips:

From Bottom:

From Top:

You can read more and discuss chicken bumblefoot surgery.

Comments (36)

excellent information!
Wow! Very detailed information.
omfg so u just do it at home?????? great information but i dont think i could bring myself to doing it but now i think because i have knowledge i think i might be able to do it but i doubt it.
Very informative
What is NEOSPORIN? Is it a cream? Thanks for the very informative post! Martine
neosporin is the brand name of an antibiotic cream or ointment available at any drug store.
What causes this?
wow i have seen this but not known what to do thankyou you will have saved one of my chickens some day with this info
Very informative. Appreciate the post.
My chicken has both feet with bumble. Will it hurt to do both at the same time. I still don't know how she got it. 6 others are fine.
I think my chicken has this but in her back toe. How do I do surgery when it is at the tip of her toe and under the nail? Please help, I am very worried
I'm sure they must feel some degree of pain, would it help if I used a numbing spray on their foot first? Also, you said you sometimes mix a little terramycin with the neosporin. How easily can terramycin be acquired? thank you.
You can get Terramycin at the feed store.
wow amazing post! my only question is what causes this?
And I thought that my hen had hurt her leg or something....found this problem and plan on doing this tomorrow. Thanks for the detailed information....well update when done and let all know how it went. Oh yeah, would like to know what causes it as well....
I found this on Wikipedia - Bumblefoot is a common infection for domesticated poultry and waterfowl such as chickens and ducks. Due to constant walking on hard, rough, or sharp surfaces, birds can develop small wounds on the bottom of their feet. These wounds are very susceptible to infection by Staphylococcus aureus, bacteria which can cause bumblefoot in poultry and waterfowl. Treatment often requires opening the wound to drain the pus and antibiotic treatment and local application of pyodine as local dressing.
After removing the bumble and bandaging it, can she be put back in the chicken yard or does she need to be seperated until it heals and about how long to heal?
my 40+ lb. pet turkey has this can I manage doing this procedure alone?
I just took my turkey to a vet...for bumble foot. He said to make a thick paste with betadine and sugar... apply to a thick pad of cotton and put under the foot where the black scab is then wrapped in vet tape and he gave her smz tmp to take for 10 days and doxycycline for 22 days...She is too big to do the process as shown here on a chicken...
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