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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