A flock with bumblefoot: Journey back to health

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by deacons, Sep 8, 2014.

  1. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

    620
    56
    151
    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I will start by admitting my extreme embarrassment: 6 out of 8 of my girls have bumblefoot. I don't know how long it's been going on, but about a week ago, I noticed one of my Golden Laced Wyandottes limping. Did a foot check that night, and almost all of them had it. I thought I'd start this thread because in my frantic internet searching, I only turned up one other post from someone dealing with this in a full backyard flock- so I hope my experience can be helpful for anyone else unfortunate enough to find themselves in my position. I intend to keep up with this thread until the last foot is unbandaged!

    I am guessing the cause is a high roost + rocky soil in their run. The high roost issue has been addressed. But now we're on to treatment.

    The girls and their feet
    I have the following:
    -4 Golden Laced Wyandottes. 2 had very bad, whole-pad black scabs on both feet. 1 was completely clear (my perpetual broody). 1 has a fairly bad big black scab on one foot
    -2 Golden Comets. 1 had a very bad, whole-pad scab on 1 foot, other foot clear. The other has one small scab on one foot.
    -1 Barred Rock. Completely clear
    -1 RIR. 1 small scab on one foot

    Pre-Treatment
    Every night last week, I sprayed everyone's feet with vetiricyn at night as they were roosting. For those with the small scabs, this seems to be helping, as the small scabs are shrinking. For now, no surgery for them, just continued spraying. For 4 of the others, bumblefoot surgery was necessary.

    Day 1 Treatment (Sunday)
    I started with the most critical cases, who were going to need the surgery.
    GLW #1, "Ro"- Caught Ro and gave her a 10 minute soak in an epsom salt bath. Wrapped her up "papoose style" and flipped her on her back with a helper holding her still (though she didn't fight much). Both of her pads were essentially given over to scabs (sorry I didn't think to get pictures), BUT, the good news was that the edges of the scabs were quite raised and separating a bit from her feet. With tweezers, I tugged firmly on the edge of the first scab, and it tore back pretty instantly, with a large cone attached to it. Sprayed down with Vetricyn, packed with triple antibiotic, then applied a sterile gauze pad also soaked with Vetricyn and another glob of neosporin. Wrapped all that up with "CVS Breathable Gentle Tape" and some vet wrap over that. Moved on to the next foot, repeated. This one bled a lot, but the kernel that came out was much bigger, and left a really gaping hole in her foot. Flushed, packed, taped. Sent her back to the run with the others. She seemed agitated with the tape on her feet and pecked at it some, but generally went about her business as though she was feeling fine.

    GLW #2, "Robin." Robin was the one that initially tipped me off with her limping. Started again with the epsom salt soak. Her feet looked bad when I got her wrapped in a towel and flipped over. The pads were pretty swollen, and the feet were a bit hot. My problem here was that there was no way in to the scab- it had no raised edges, no area where it was torn back anyway. Essentially, I had no way "in" to the foot. I didn't have a scalpel, just tweezers. I soaked the foot some more, hoping to continue to soften it. I got it soft enough so I could sort of take the tweezers, squeeze the whole thing together (almost like squeezing a pimple) and pull away at some of the scab. I definitely didn't get the whole thing open though, and was only able to pull small pieces of the scab back in hopes of getting some neosporin down in there. Same problem on both feet. Not feeling great about her.

    Golden Comet #1, "Goldie." Goldie had a huge scab on just one foot. Gave her a quick epsom salt soak. Raised edge on the scab, so grabbed it with the tweezers, gave a twist, and the hole scab + kernel popped right out cleanly. Flushed with Vetericyn, packed with neopsorin, and sent her back with the rest. She did not like the feeling of the bandage and did a bit of a hop/limp, but she zoomed around like normal.

    GLW #, "Pretty Girl." Put pretty girl in the tub to soak, and she fought every step of the way and escaped. She managed to allude capture for well over an hour, at which time my helper was no longer available. So she will have to get her scab removed today.

    Day 1 "Recovery"
    Robin was looking really uncomfortable afterwards, way more "ouchie" than she had ever been before the attempted surgery. She would take two small hops at a time, using her wings as crutches, and then just lay down, refusing to move. This continued all day, and she looked absolutely pathetic. I decided to try another epsom salt soak, knowing I definitely didn't get the foot drained properly. I ran into a big problem when I went to unbandage her feet- the CVS tape was virtually impossible to get off- I do NOT recommend using it for this purpose! I had been running low on vet wrap, which is why I used it, but it was a disaster, I had to cut it off. Got some more vet wrap and will use that exclusively now.

    Anyway, got Robin's feet unwrapped, plopped her back in the epsom salt soak for 15 minutes, still no luck getting any more of the scab off after that. Her feet were really hot and swollen looking. I rebandaged after spraying again with Vetericyn and adding neosporin. Worried that the heat means I spread the infection- is that possible that poking/proding made it spread?

    Because she was so sore, I put her in the large dog crate deeply bedded in hay with her own food and water. She fought it at first, but I covered it with a towel, and she looked pretty pleased to carve out a little nest for herself. Her color looked good and bright, and she is eating and drinking.

    Because of the disaster with the too-adhesive CVS tape, I grabbed Ro and Goldie and changed their bandages. I also had to cut the tape off of them, but figured would be easier to just get it over with now rather than waiting. Both of them were looking great- no swelling, heat, or redness, just clean little holes. Took the opportunity to flush and repack with neosporin, then rebandaged with only vet wrap. Both roosted with the flock for the night. I am planning on an every-other-day bandage change with these two unless things go south.

    Here are a few pics-
    Medical supplies (I followed directions from the many bumblefoot threads here, plus the Chicken Chick's popular thread)
    [​IMG]

    Poor Robin, walking a little right after the surgery, but she quickly refused to walk much more:
    [​IMG]

    Ro and Gold on the roost- excuse the poop on the roost, it is kept clean but both headed there immediately after being released from surgery and had some "nervous poop" that I cleaned off.
    [​IMG]
     
    2 people like this.
  2. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

    5,291
    626
    318
    Jan 27, 2014
    Central Oregon
    EXCELLENT!! You "done good" girlfriend! [​IMG]

    You know, I sometimes think that improper roosting bars has something to do with bumblefoot...I don't know for sure, but it always comes to mind for me. My roost bar is a 2 x 4 laying flat that I had my BIL sand/smooth and he also routed the edges slightly so it's really smooth on their feet. I mean I know that while they're out and about during the day they can pick up a sliver of something, etc., but bad roosting bars always come to mind. Again I applaud your efforts...your girls have a great chicken mama! [​IMG]
     
  3. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

    620
    56
    151
    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Oh, thank you for the encouragement, I was actually feeling quite the opposite, like the worst kind of "chicken mama" that would let things get this bad. I really needed a little encouragement.

    The roost bar in the coop (plus the daytime "loafing" bar in the run) are both flat 2x4 that have been sanded and edges rounded. They do free range a couple of hours a day, and go through all kinds of rough, brambly terrain. But since they all have these problems, I really think the heart of the issue is that the roost bar was too high- I originally had a big straw bale in the coop that they used as a "step up" to the roost, but I took that out because I was fighting mites. When it rains, it pours I guess!
     
  4. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

    5,291
    626
    318
    Jan 27, 2014
    Central Oregon
    Quote: I think you may have inadvertently solved your question as to why they tend to get so much bumblefoot! They are most likely getting little thorns/slivers of sorts in their feet as they wander around...had you thought of that as a possibility?
     
  5. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

    620
    56
    151
    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I did think about this, for sure. They love my neighbor's wood pile (hellloooo....splinters) and there are some serious raspberry/blackberry brambles all around our property. Could definitely be possible, though I think I read somewhere that you would probably not see multiple infected feet on multiple birds if it was just the occasional pricker from free ranging. But I'm certainly no expert!
     
  6. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

    620
    56
    151
    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Day 2 Update (Monday)
    Started the day by checking on Robin who I had bedded down in deep hay in the "sick cage" last night. She was still laying quietly in the crate, didn't really show much interest in getting out, so I left her there for the morning. Her color was good though, and she was chatty. She had eaten some overnight, but hardly drank anything as far as I could tell.

    Let the rest of the girls out of the coop, and both Ro and Goldie had kept their bandages on overnight and were moving around just fine. Looked good.

    Went back to check on Robin around lunch, and...surprise...she greeted me with an egg that she had laid in her bed/nest! I couldn't believe that after the stressful day she'd had, she still laid.
    [​IMG]

    I decided she must be feeling better, so out she went to get some exercise with her friends (you can just make out her wrapped feet).
    [​IMG]

    Ro was looking a little footsore on the gravel parts of the driveway, but she was happy to stick to the grass and stay along the edge of the woods:
    [​IMG]

    And here she is running!
    [​IMG]

    I had big treatment plans for the evening. Three items on my list:
    1. Change Robin's bandages on both feet and check to see if the heat/swelling went down
    2. Catch Pretty Girl (who escaped treatment yesterday) and pull her 1 scab/treat
    3. Take another look at Goldie #2, whose one scab was a little bigger vs. smaller this morning

    Goldie #2 actually came back to the coop earlier than the rest, so I scooped her up. She's generally very docile, so I thought it should be pretty quick to pop off the raised edge of the scab and then bandage her up. Unfortunately, she put up a serious fight, and I had no helper so was on my own. I think my big mistake was not taking the time to soak the foot first (that's what you get for being in a hurry)- I couldn't get a great grip on the edge of the scab with tweezers, so I just sort of poked at her and made her fight harder. I had to give up. I also got pooped on for my efforts! [​IMG] So unfortunately, all that I was able to do for her was the initial squirt of Betadine solution and some Vetricyn. Will have to try her again tomorrow to be sure I didn't make things worse.

    Next up, I grabbed Robin. I had trouble again getting the bandages off her feet, but eventually was able to cut them back. I'm a little confused about her-the heat was gone, and the black scabs were looking much less black, and more like when a person gets a blood blister (you know, a little purplish/reddish under the skin, a little angry looking but more like a blister than a scab). Maybe that's a good sign? But, the pads of the feet were still VERY swollen- I couldn't necessary feel a hard center to them, but they were definitely bigger than they should be. She was really fighting me too, so I didn't do any more digging around on the feet, but applied more antibiotic and Vetricyn and rebandaged. Put her back on the roost with the others tonight, I didn't think she needed to be in the sick cage again. I think another long epsom salt soak will do her some good, but may skip a day with her so she gets a break from me messing around with her.

    By the time I was done with these two, it was dark and everyone else was roosted, so Pretty Girl eluded me again. I really need to take care of her tomorrow.

    And one more picture from today just for fun.
    One of these things...is not like the others:
    [​IMG]
     
  7. welasharon

    welasharon Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,949
    73
    218
    Jun 28, 2010
    North Florida
    I put a towel on my legs and lay the chicken on her side with wings held firmly to sides. I can them flip a smaller towel over their head and then I can operate on them by myself. You need to get a scalpel. It makes it easier.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

    620
    56
    151
    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Thanks for the advice. I have been trying to use a towel to calm them down, though they still seem to fight hard and try to flap their way out of it. Just need to perfect my technique I guess. I will have lots of practice.
     
  9. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

    620
    56
    151
    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Day 3 Treatment (Tuesday)
    Tonight I was able to grab Pretty Girl as she was headed to the roost. Checked her feet, and the scabs were just too dry and accessible looking not to have a go at it. I initially thought it was just the left foot, but it actually was both. So off we went to the "surgical table."

    She wanted nothing at all to do with it. I had her wrapped in a towel, and she flapped really hard and fought the whole thing- she knocked off all the supplies I had neatly arranged, which was really frustrating. She pooped everywhere. I eventually managed to get her on her side in a semi-comfortable position, and got started on the worse left foot. I sprayed it down with betadine solution, and then grabbed onto the scab with the tweezers, and gave a little twist. It pulled right away, with some extra stuff attached to it. This is the first foot where I could clearly see what people mean when they talk about the white, stringy stuff under the scab. There was some of that in there, so I squeezed and dug and got as much as I could out. It did leave a pretty big hole. I packed that with neosporin, then wrapped her up as quick as I could. She was getting restless, and I was trying to cut up the wretched vet wrap as I went because she had knocked all my supplies off the table, so it was definitely not my neatest wrapping job. I think it is secure enough that it will stay on. I then had to get her rearranged so I could do the next foot, but I managed to repeat the process. This one wasn't as bad as the other, and I think I got as much out from under the scab as I could. Wrapped that one up (also messy), and we were done.

    I initially planned to put her back on the roost with the others, but she seemed a little overwhelmed and unsteady on her "new" feet, so I was worried about her managing to stay balanced on the roost, so she went into the sick cage in the garage (deep straw, covered with a towel). Hoping she'll be doing ok in the morning.

    As for the rest of them, not much to report. I didn't mess with any of the existing bandages, and everyone went on about their normal business today. I did spray the ones with smaller scabs with vetricyn as they were roosting- I can't say I really see any difference, but who knows- I was a bit flustered and it was dark. I am thinking that tomorrow I need to try to do a bandage change on the original three and check to see what's going on under there. I'll see if I can accomplish that- it seems like I'm really able to work at the pace of one major thing per one chicken each day.

    Also, they are all surprisingly still laying- I've continued to get 7 out of 8 eggs throughout this whole thing.
     
  10. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

    620
    56
    151
    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Day 4 Treatment (Wednesday)
    Started the day by checking on Pretty Girl in the sick cage. She looked perfectly content in there, all bedded down in the hay. I've noticed that both of them who have spent the night in there have not pooped at all- I wonder if being on a "nest" instead of a roost sends their minds into broody mood and they keep it neat? Anyway, got her out and let her in with the rest of the flock, and she seemed ok. I caught her a couple of times just standing on one foot, so maybe she's a little sensitive today. Will keep an eye on her.

    Also did bandage changes on Ro and Goldie.

    Started with Ro. I was a little disappointed to see how dirty the feet were under the bandages. I thought I had done a pretty good wrap job, but there was still a lot of dirt under there.

    Ro has both feet bandaged. Removed all the wrap, washed out with betadine solution. One foot seems to have a lot of dirt embedded in the wound- I really flushed it out, and scrubbed with a gauze pad, but it still looked like it had dirt in there. I am not sure if this is just really deep dirt, infection that I didn't get out, or scab:
    [​IMG]

    I'm thinking maybe she'll need it soaked on the next bandage change?

    Her other foot looked good though- here it is after the wash. I did bandage it back up with neosporin, but I am betting the next bandage change, this one can be left unbandaged.
    [​IMG]

    Here is the patient looking unhappy after I finished re-wrapping both feet:
    [​IMG]

    And looking a little more dignified:
    [​IMG]

    Goldie only has one foot bandaged. Her feet were really dirty under the bandage too. I was having trouble with the light taking a picture of the healing progress, but she looked really good under the bandage after I cleaned it out. I think she will also probably be able to go without the bandage after a couple more days.

    She was not super thrilled about what she went through- she was very squirmy and tried to flap out of the towel the whole time, but here she is after she's all finished:
    [​IMG]

    I also caught the RIR to take a look at her one foot that had the small scab, and that one really does look like it's shrinking with just the daily verticyn sprays. Feeling good about her.

    Tomorrow my plan is to give both of Robin's feet a long soak and see where she is.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by