Bumblefoot How To Treat Your Chickens With Surgery Graphic Pics

Bumblefoot surgery - with pics and "how to" Graphic but Informative Pics
By BYC Support · Jan 10, 2012 · Updated Mar 18, 2012 · ·
  1. BYC Support
    Bumblefoot surgery - with pics and "how to" Graphic but Informative Pics - By 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.

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  1. Sandiemouse
    How do you know if you got all the infection out. I got a plug out but I don't know if what I see is tissue or still infection still.
  2. UtahLisa
    I just wanted to say that as a new hen mom stuff like this has given me the courage to take on the challenges face on. My hen had a bad infection in her foot. I though for sure it was bumble foot and was scared to deal with it. I waited a few days to see if it would go away but it continued to enlarge and swell. Then on the third day I noticed an abscess protruding from the top of her foot. I figured it was the infection pushing through the top of her foot and toes. I figured I had to deal with this at this point. I went to my office and picked up my suture kit, and other instruments. Came home and sanitized my sink, counter and "work area". I again sanitized my instruments and got a lot of cotton product available for absorption of fluids. Not really knowing what the heck I was doing. I had a pretty good idea I'd be dealing with an ugly infection. I brought my hen and soaked her for 15 minutes to see what I was dealing with. Upon my first inspection I could see the swollen area on top pretty clearly. The abscess looked like a eraser size mole. It was gross. As I started tying to wash it the dirt off it I could feel it loosening. I realized it was in fact the fluid coming though and hardening there. UGH - Gross! I wiggled it a little and it pulled off. Leaving a clean pock hole. I realized then it was a puncture that had gone through her fool entirely.

    At that point I picked her up and wrapped her in a towel and turned her over on her back slightly. I began cutting into the base of her foot with a round tip scalpel. This made it very easy to remove the plug on the other side with was rather large on the base. I could see a black round circle and kept removing that area until it would see pink tissue. I was correct, I realized that something had gone through the base of her foot and exited to top of her foot. Poor girl! During the whole procedure she didn't even move her foot. I was shocked. I cleaned up the area and there was a little blood starting to pool so I rinsed it with clean water and damped the foot down again. No more blood. I put a triple ointment on the foot and encased it with an non stick pad, then with sports tape and securing each end with surgical tape.

    I was shocked that I could actually do the procedure but I kept telling myself that if I didn't it would continue to get infected and potentially travel into her blood. Not to mention the continual pain.

    SO - from one hen mom to another....It's people like you that have posted these forum pages and pictures that have truly helped me find the courage I need to help my girls. This really made me feel great and I put her back with the other chickens and she went right to her business of lounging in the sun and eating. I tried putting her in the hen hospital but that just made her angry.

    So, I'll check on her later today and before I tuck her to bed to make sure the bandages are still secure and give her a few days of rest. I hope this post gives others the courage to do what they must and well...cluck on.

    Thanks again Utah Lisa
      FluffTheDuck likes this.
  3. Karen powers
    okay poor rhoda went thru surgery as I posted day before yesterday and then last eve I went out and she still has infection in that darn foot so I did it all over again but can see she still has infection , I am gonna do it again today Rhoda had been a perfect patient can tell it is feeling good to do what I have done , I just wish someone had a way to suggest to draw the infection on down the cheesy looking substance first mentioned was lots the total was as much as a hard boiled egg yolk, if anyone has a trick any suggestion to draw that infection to the open hole I would appreciate it, thank you so much all my babies are pets and I have mostly Silikies but this one of my Rhode island reds
  4. Karen powers
    thank you so much I attempted and feel really good about how it went although there was a whole lot of almost cooked yolk that came out quite a bit but by the end it was running pretty clear when i was pressing on it, but I was amazed at how much of the yolk hard boiled yolk looking mess came out about as much as the yolk of a hard boiled egg, the only thing I am going to do differently is the wrap I done I used neosporin but just wrapped gauze around and medical tape, gonna check tomorrow and wrap with the wrap you used thank you
  5. redblack10
    Very well-written article. I am adding this to my just-in-case memory. Thanks!
  6. adrikeen
    Great article and just what I needed! Found my hen limping tonight, inspected her feet and found those black scabs on both feet. I am following the directions above and we'll see what happens!
  7. gracies 4 girls
    Excellent article and great pictures. I thank you for this great information since one of my hens has this bumble foot and I will do this procedure as soon as I can catch her....thanks again.
      Karen powers likes this.
  8. YardBirdMom
    I've always vetted my horses and cows, which took years to master, because I was coached/taught by licensed vets.
    There are things I can do and things I know require a vet. I am grateful for articles like this that show me how I can take care of some situations by myself :) Thank you!
      redblack10 likes this.
  9. ChookBook
    I have just performed this on our dear chooks Molly and Audrey. both have scaly mite and whilst soaking their feet in flea wash and dettol, we used cuticle scissors to ease of the muck around her toes from the mites, when we look underneath there was the tell tale black dot on her foot pad. After the soaking, the scab/ plug came out easily. Antiseptic applied and some medicream (has lignocaine to numb). Will check again in the morning. Chooks patience with me was wearing thing.
  10. Chicken Goddess
    My poor chickie has bumbles foot. But thank god that this shows me how to cure it, otherwise i would have to take her to the vet and pay thousands of dollars. thankyou to whoever wrote this. :)
  11. bokbokbacok
    Ok....I know that I posted about my hen...Peck Head way back in October but she has done well. She still limps but the area seems to have healed. Oddly enough...we are having a record melt today but yesterday I noticed two more limpers. I don't understand because I don't see any problems on the bottom of their feet!?!?
  12. 5th chick
    We have for chicks, and three of them have Bumble foot. Have done one foot on our Brown Leghorn. Removed the cheesey gunk from the bottom of foot, and a couple of weeks later, she got a large bump with a scab on the top of the same foot. The surgery we did on that looked "text book". Big black plug came out leaving a clean hole which we irrigated profusely. However the knot seems to still be there. Our Dominique has a large bump between her toes with no brown scab and all we get out of it is blood. She has a scab on the bottom of the other foot, which we will work on today. Our RR has scabs on both feet, but her pads are still soft and she is walking fine. Do we cut her anyway?
    the big question is what is causing all of this? We live in Arizona and part of our back yard has decomposed granite. They free range most of the time but we don't think that is affecting them. We had a very long, hot summer and the girls spent a lot of time standing in large saucers of ice water. Did that make their feet too soft, and susceptable to injury? These four chickens are costing more $$$ and taking more time than a dog. Help.
  13. bokbokbacok
    Okay...I JUST performed this on my hen, "peck head". Yes, she is at the bottom of the pecking order. I hope I got all the yuck out. I soaked, cleared the hole, then packed with neosporin. I covered it in a bandage and taped. I have her seperated into a larger cage for observation and so that the others don't bother her. I hope she will be ok.
  14. Thuebner
    OK, I can say I cannot do this surgery. I'm a light headed/blood baby. Cannot do it. I am sure one of my red sex link hens has this. I'm going to check the foot tomorrow. I guess I'm going to the vet...unless there's a chicken lover reading this that lives by me in Princeton MN!
    I just performed this surgery today. I want to thank you for the information. I have a beautiful little easter egger and she has two bumblefeet. One significantly worse then the other and as soon as i found this page i pulled her in the house and performed it immediately. The great news is she didn't flinch or show any sign of pain. It bled a lot and there was a lot of gunk in her foot but it cleaned out well and only took about half and hour. She limped around for the rest of the day and by the next day she was walking normal. I am excited about this and i appreciate the help.
  16. Judybyc
    I've soaked a hens foot for over a half hour in very warm /epson salt water (changing water often to keep very warm) and after a while, the entire glob will just come out in one piece. very gross. By soaking for a much longer initial time, it requires much less surgery because the edge around the 'lump' comes loose and it can be drawn out with less effort. The hen and I watch tv during the foot soaking :).
      sandra Joyce likes this.
  17. e martin
  18. vjosmon
    We just returned from an 11 month absence- we had a house sitter that was taking care of our 8 backyard chickens. I noticed right away that our welsummer chicken wasn't laying. Then I noticed her poor feet- they were puffy, even between her toes. One pad had two spots and the other had one large one. We attempted the first one that had the two smaller spots today. We worked for an hour- soaking and squeezing and probing. Her pad was still puffy and we couldn't tell if there was anything left. We were afraid that we would ultimatly hurt her. We packed her with neosporin and wrapped her up. \
    My question is - how do you know if you have gotten it all? We were amazed how much they do bleed, and we were thinking that the plug would come out with all the cheesy puss right behind it (easily). But getting that stuff out wasn't too easy at all. What course of action should be take next?
  19. allygb99
    wouldnt that still hurt them?
  20. allygb99
    wont it still hurt the hen?????? i mean if someone was diggin into my foot whal i was awake, well;]
  21. willowbranchfarm
    Thanks this was great!!! I just found out I have a good amount of chickens with this but hopefully I can do this.
  22. lizablair
    now...how long after antibiotics are done are her eggs ok to eat? Guess I will be blowing turkey eggs with my grandkids
  23. lizablair
    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...
  24. lizablair
    my 40+ lb. pet turkey has this problem...how can I manage doing this procedure alone?
  25. krazykatz13
    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?
  26. Happimtn
    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.
  27. RIRMOM
    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....
  28. questions543
    wow amazing post! my only question is what causes this?
  29. DeannaOR
    You can get Terramycin at the feed store.
  30. SaltyClucker
    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.
  31. moodlymoo
    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
  32. jtotherow
    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.
  33. little egg
    what about PAIN
  34. far149
    Very informative. Appreciate the post.
  35. 1shotcleaner
    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
  36. pikeechickee
    What causes this?
  37. Elissa
    neosporin is the brand name of an antibiotic cream or ointment available at any drug store.
  38. Chicken Lover 1
  39. Martine
    What is NEOSPORIN? Is it a cream? Thanks for the very informative post! Martine
  40. chickenquail
    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
  41. dmclalin
    Wow! Very detailed information.
  42. Sandy2370
    excellent information!

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