One of our hens is very personable and a favorite of the family. My youngest child was concerned she would be lost in the crowd of same breed flockmates and wanted to mark her so we could always know it was her. I suggested we get a colored 'band" for her leg. I meant "bird band" (next time we visited the feed store), my daughter had no experiance with that type of band and heard "hair band" of which she has an ample supply. Two days latter, I had a limping hen and was gut sick when I realized what had happened to her. The hair band was slipped up, as high as it would snug tight, like a child's pony tail. My child, who often wears them, had tragically misunderstood my intent. I cut her free, but the foot was already black.
I grew up on a sheep and cattle ranch and know the power of bands used to dock tails and testicals. I was much prefering we allow the poor dear to keep her feet. Before cutting it off the dead tissue, I read as much as I could find on this forum and other sites about dead feet in chickens. My concern was, do I leave it alone, to fall off as it will, and risk a gangrene type of die-back, or, give it a clean cut and risk infection and bleeding, or . . .?
The weird thing is, the line of live tissue to dead was a little blurry and I wanted to give her the benefit of anything that might be saved. Besides that, even while it was black and dead, a still attached foot afforded her some balance, much like a prosthetic, while she adjusted to a reduced mobility. I took the things I read about frostbite to heart as this injury has much the same outcome as feet too cold to circultate blood.
I couldn't find much to help swing a vote towards cutting off dead tissue, so I have left it alone and chatted with her dayly (with that same gut remorse of my own stupid miscommunication that maimed her). I keep waiting for something hot, swollen and ugly to make it a game changing day. So far, she just goes about her hopping business and manages to avoid the weakling radar of her coopmates and lay an egg a day.
It has been THREE WEEKS NOW, and the foot has not fallen off. It is still shriveled, stone frozen, and black, but firmly attached. Her leg is the curious part, it is regenerating down the shaft. She is growing new length in the healthy yellow tissue of her leg. She has regained and inch of lenght. It is bulging out thicker than the part above, or her opposite leg, but it is yellow and new.
I don't know if I am writting this as a plee for answers about how this story will end, or as a beacon of hope for someone who is starring at a black foot and wondering if suvival (and regrowth) is possible. I've learned that, at least, a little bit is.