Bumblefoot in your Flock

Bumble foot is an infection in a bird's foot that, if left untreated, can lead to crippledness or death.
By cluckcluckgirl · Sep 18, 2013 · Updated May 25, 2015 · ·
  1. cluckcluckgirl
    Bumble foot is an infection in a bird's foot that, if left untreated, can lead to crippledness or death. Bumble foot is usually caused if a bird externally injures their foot (scrape, irritate, minor cut) and then bacteria get in the wound and cause an infection. But in order to treat it, first you have to know if it is bumble foot or if one of your birds just stepped wrong and injured their foot. Some symptoms include:
    • A limping in one foot while walking
    • Sitting down whenever possible to reduce pain/pressure
    • Swelling
    • A black or brown dot that doesn't scrub off on the foot or toe
    There are two brown dots, or scabs, on the chicken's feet (above). This is a more serious case. Picture courtesy of kuntrygirl.

    This is a minor case of bumble foot. If it is just beginning, you may want to delay the surgery until it develops a little more (but not as much as the picture above), so you can pull out the core. Picture courtesy of Sk8inChick(en).

    I saw all of those symptoms when my rooster had a serious case of bumble foot. If the bird has had bumble foot for a while, the symptoms will worsen. If the bird contracted bumble foot recently, some symptoms may not even be present. A good idea is to examine the bottom of your flock's feet every couple weeks so that if one has bumble foot, you can catch it early on.

    Some breeds are more likely to get bumble foot than others. Heavier chickens have more weight pressuring down on their foot, and if they step wrong on a rock or even just irritate their foot, bumble foot is more likely to occur. Nonetheless, every breed is susceptible to bumble foot.

    Now, you're probably wondering how to treat it. Well, I would not recommend this for those who get weary with blood, so if this is you, taking the chicken to a vet would be good for you. (Be sure to contact them in advance so that you know how much it will cost you.)
    If you're up for a little challenge, start taking notes (they will come in handy when you're working on the surgery).

    1. Gather up a towel to snugly (but not tight) wrap your bird up in, about 8-10 paper towels, 8 oz of warm water with a couple dashes of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt), a razor blade or incision tool, about 8 oz of hydrogen peroxide, about 10-15 q-tips, and a pair of latex or rubber gloves.
    2. Separate the injured bird, wrap them snugly in the towel with their face exposed, and place him/her upside-down on a surface that would work for you to perform the surgery on (something that doesn't have much things besides your materials on it and is in an area where everything can easily be sanitized).
    3. Put the gloves on and clean the area with a folded paper towel dabbed with the Epsom salt water. You don't have to use all the water, just enough to clean the area.
    4. Now it gets pretty bloody. This is the time when you take the razor blade or incision tool and make a small cut all around the black or brown dot on the foot. It doesn't have to be very deep, just enough to remove the dot. Pull off the scab (dot) and pull out the core. The core looks like a kernel of corn, and may even come out with the scab.If it doesn't, don't worry; you will just have to pull it out with your fingers. Small cases of bumble foot may not even have a core. (Be sure to throw the core and scab away.)
    Here is a large bumble foot core compared to a penny. Photo courtesy of kuntrygirl.

    The scab has been cut off and the core has been pulled out (above). Picture courtesy of kuntrygirl.

    5. Absorb the blood with a paper towel and dab the area with q-tips with hydrogen peroxide. This will help to kill some surface germs, and I use it to help the bird heal. As you're doing this, be sure to soak up blood that will come out. Once the area has reduced how much "foam" or bubbles that appear on the surface after each time you dab the area, that should be good.

    6. Apply an antibiotic ointment, such as non pain relief Neosporin, to the wound and wrap the bird's foot in a bandage with adhesive medical tape securing it down. You may need to wrap it a few times to ensure that it will stay on. As with a bandage on you, be careful not to wrap it on too tight.

    The feet have been securely bandaged and wrapped. Picture courtesy of kuntrygirl.
    7. If the case of bumble foot is severe, antibiotics may be necessary for recovery. A veterinarian can be seen for information about the antibiotics and dosage amounts, but many cases do not require antibiotics.

    8. Replace the bandage about everyday to keep the area cleaner. In about 1- 2 1/2 weeks, the foot should be healed and the bandage may come off. Also be sure to check on their foot for the next few weeks, to ensure that they do not have any further cases.

    9. Now it is time to dispose of or sanitize everything you used in the process. Throw away the paper towels, q-tips, and the gloves. The razor blade or incision tool and towel can be washed very thoroughly. The Epsom salt water and hydrogen peroxide may be poured down a sink. I also use disinfectant wipes and spray on anything nearby as an extra precaution.

    Happy Healing!!!
    A special thanks goes out to kuntrygirl, willowbranchfarm, and Sk8inChick(en) for allowing me to use their pictures presented in this article.

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Peach3000
    "Very helpful"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Feb 8, 2019
    Very informative and helpful Good detail too.
  2. ronott1
    "good article"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 31, 2018
    Helpful resource for treating bumble foot
  3. mrs_organized_chaos
    "Nice informative article"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jul 23, 2018
    The only thing that I think should be mentioned is that bumble foot is like a staph infection. It mentions disinfecting after performing surgery on your chicken, but sometimes people need to understand why they should be disinfecting.


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  1. Wil781
    I hope I never have to do the surgery but it is a good thing to know just in case! Thanks for the article!
  2. CheeksFarm
    my two roosters have bubble foot on both feet
    and one is worser then the other
    his is on top and its kinda big and has scab n its red
    do I have to remove the scabs they have and clean it and then try remove the core ?
    and clean the area then wrap it?
  3. cluckcluckgirl
    From what I know, bumblefoot can occur on any part of the foot.
  4. susanp970
    Can bumble foot be on top betweeen my chickens toes? I had a case of BF last year, a bit of surgery and all is good; but this (differenthen)hen has what looks like BF on top
  5. susanp970
    Can bumble foot be on top betweeen my chickens toes? I had a case of BF last year, a bit of surgery and all is good; but this (differenthen)hen has what looks like BF on top
  6. Sowelu
    I have a Sex Link that I have treated but, it is not healing >> it has a scab,, it looks fine ( the color ) it has been scabbed for 4 wks now .... how do I know I got it all ????? Help !
  7. Sowelu
    if the bumble foot stays scabbed after treated.....does that mean it is still infected ?? the foot looks good, just not healing completely !!
  8. Sowelu
  9. Mountain Peeps
  10. ADozenGirlz
  11. cluckcluckgirl
    You're welcome.
  12. ELauraD
    yikes~ I look at my chicken feet but haven't checked the bottoms. I sure hope they don't have this issue. This article highlights the need to handle ones chickens more, at least enough so they are willing to be handled. Thanks for sharing.
  13. blondiebee181
    I've had to do a surgery before...not a fun experience.
  14. cluckcluckgirl
    Thank you and you're welcome.
  15. Mah1Mah1
    If this is helpful don't forget to click the thumbs up
  16. Mah1Mah1
    Thanks so much for posting this, I was worried my smallest hen had it but she just had a sore foot. This article will be helpful if they ever get it (which I hope will NEVER EVER happen). Thanks again
  17. cluckcluckgirl
    I've just put a bandage on them securely and let them out to their normal home. When my rooster had it, he walked worse before the surgery than after it. It healed up just fine.
  18. chickens4pet
    It can also be the result of a roost placed too high.
  19. wickedhens
    Should the chicken be kept in a kennel or small cage away from the flock while the bandages are on and healing? None of my chickens have had it before but I want to be prepared because I know it will happen someday!
  20. cluckcluckgirl
    I would suggest posting that in the "Emergencies, Diseases, Injuries and Cures" forum. As far as I know, bumble foot is only located in a foot, but I haven't heard of something like what you described on a wing.
  21. clawstar
    I think my quail has "bumble wing" (she is deformed is alot along spine)
    She has big pink bump jutting out and I haven't seen a dot there YET but I don't know what it is...
  22. cackleberrycam
  23. cluckcluckgirl
    Bumble foot can occur in any bird. I've heard of ducks having it.
  24. bigredshaverhen
    Just wondering, can quails get it? My hen might possibly have a slight case of it...
  25. cluckcluckgirl
  26. sammy7100
    It amazes me how much chicken doctoring can be done without a vet. These article really help me. Keep them coming!
  27. cluckcluckgirl
    I've owned over 20 chickens through the years, and (so far) only 1 of mine has ever had bumble foot. But that one chicken had a lot going against him in terms of not getting bumble foot: he walked oddly, he was heavy, and he scraped his foot a lot. Bumble foot is just something that can occur under the right circumstances, like a cut or irritation on the foot being exposed to germs. The best ways to reduce the chance of bumble foot are to clean the coop as needed, make sure there are no things that may irritate the foot (i.e. a perch that may irritate the foot, a floor that may have nails sticking out, etc.), and to check your chickens' feet regularly. Similar to infections that humans can get and the advice doctors give to them to prevent the infection, just make sure that the coop is cleaned regularly and anything that may cause the infection is either fixed or removed. :)
  28. PhatChicks
    I am just starting my flock; I have 7 4-month old Isa Browns/Easter Eggers and am sooo worried about this, I keep reading about bumble foot and I wonder if it really is common or if it just happens that it is being talked about right now? I understand it is an infection but I would love to hear more about how to prevent it in the first place rather than waiting until I have to figure out how to do surgery on one of my birds which won't happen because I will pass out/puke at the sight of blood). Thank you for your helpful information.
  29. cluckcluckgirl
    I'm sorry about that. I deal with a lot of stuff that doesn't smell too good, so my nose probably didn't detect it very well. Hopefully your post will inform people about the smell. :)
  30. Kadjain
    You didn't warn us about the smell!! ! I just took out a bumblefoot kernel from each of my L. Brahmas feet. She has had them since I got her. There was no scab or surgery involved I just pushed the kernels out from the lumps between her toes. OH that smell was so gross!
  31. sayga
    I know my pet rats are also susceptible to bumblefoot, and apparently it can be caused by walking on wire (among other things). I imagine this is true for chickens as well. If the run floor is covered with wire, make sure there is something on top of the wire (sand, pine chips, grass, etc) to keep the little feet safe. Perches should also be wide, not narrow/skinny like a parrot perch.
  32. cluckcluckgirl
    I haven't heard of that before, but if the perch irritates or causes injury to a chicken, bumble foot could occur.
  33. TDY in E Texas
    Thank you!! Have never had one of these cases... but I know I will eventually. I was told that the wrong kind of perch can cause this... is that true?
  34. cluckcluckgirl
    I haven't see any signs of pain during the surgery, but chickens tend to hide their pain for defensive purposes.
  35. shi1807
    Does the chicken appear to be in pain when this is taking place?
  36. cluckcluckgirl
    Thanks everybody!
  37. roostersandhens
    Great article! I will use it if I ever need to! (hopefully I won't)
  38. youngchooklover
    Thanks i needed this
  39. mmmeyer
    I believe the infection can be spread through your flock so if you can disinfect perches do so.
  40. BYC Project Manager
    Your article is featured on the homepage carousel! Thanks for submitting it to the BYC Article Contest. Congratulations!
  41. ChemicalchiCkns
    My Dorkingtons always had this.

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