Bumblefooot Epidemic

skullgrrrl

Songster
8 Years
Sep 10, 2012
372
318
216
My Coop
My Coop
I host a blog and this is a post I wrote today. Has anyone ever experienced so many hens getting bumblefoot? And both feet? Any ideas about what could have caused it?

Do you remember my story about my meeting Laurie on New Year’s Eve to deal with Ella’s bumblefoot? If you need a reminder: it’s a hard, black circle on the pad of a chicken’s foot caused by a staph infection, which enters through a cut on their foot. If you’re lucky you can get rid of the infection by soaking the foot and applying polysporin. If not, you need to bring out the big guns: scalpels.

A few weeks ago I saw Rena’s post asking for advice about her hens’ bumblefoot. I, like others, chimed in with my two cents. She posted again this week saying they’d tried various things to no avail and would someone volunteer to do the surgery on her hens. Having had some experience, and appreciating when a total stranger came to help me, I stepped up to offer my help.

We emailed a bit and I thought she had a couple of hens with the infection. Then I realized not one, not two, but all six of her hens had bumblefoot! I’m a trooper but wasn’t sure I could stomach doing six surgeries, so I offered to do two and see how it went.

I was prepared for a long, drawn out process so I asked if they could have the ‘operating table’ and their hens ready on my arrival. It helps if you soak their feet in warm, Epsom salt water for 20 minutes to clean them and soften up the bumble.

Rena and Darren are living in their RV until they start building their house next spring. That made for some tight quarters but we worked on an assembly line: Darren did the bathing, Rena assisted me, and I did the surgery. When we got the first patient on the table (actually, their kitchen counter) I asked which foot. Rena replied, ‘both’. What? Six hens with bumblefoot and more than one bumble? Yup, turns out all six had infections on both feet. As someone who’s had many chickens over the last 9 years I’ve only seen bumblefoot in two birds before. This was an epidemic!

We worked out way swiftly through the first two, so I offered to do one more. I cut out the first bumble and Rena asked if she could do the other, under my supervision, as practice for the remaining three hens. She did a great job and felt confident to carry on and operate on the rest of the flock.

It only took an hour to excise six bumbles. I didn’t get much of an opportunity to chat with them, but before I left Rena took me on a tour of their fantastically cute coop. She asked if there was anything in their coop or pen might cause scrapes on their feet. I couldn’t see anything and we both wondered if the birds were infected prior to them getting them. They are first time chicken keepers and have only had the hens since May. Their roost bars aren't high, there are shaving on the coop floor and there is no sharp gravel in their run.

By now, all six hens will have had their surgeries and I hope that we were able to eradicate the infection in their flock. Rena promised to keep me posted and I’ll pass on her update.


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ChickNanny13

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Jun 23, 2013
8,998
12,773
967
The Big Island/Hawaii
They could be getting "injured" from the ground in their "run", looks like dirt with some pebbles? I have had bumble foot (2 feet) on couple of past chickens, I have shavings over dirt ground. They do dig up rock, so I started picking up as I sifted though the shavings. Never did anything but added more shavings.

I now have a new set of chickens, this time I keep a really thick layer of shaving & I still do pick up any rock/objects I find in their enclosure. They sure can dig, would be nice if they struck GOLD instead of all these rock, even the tiniest ones I see, I remove. :fl
I've also read it could just be genetics? Read somewhere here, there are "different" varieties & causes?
 

Kathy Golla

Crowing
Jan 2, 2017
1,089
2,111
291
San Francisco Bay Area
My experience has been if there is a pus core under the scab there was a foreign body (something like a thorn) in the foot.
If it’s just a flat scab, that’s from some type of chronic impact injury of the footpad.
Depending on what you found, investigating the root cause could go several directions.
 

skullgrrrl

Songster
8 Years
Sep 10, 2012
372
318
216
My Coop
My Coop
My experience has been if there is a pus core under the scab there was a foreign body (something like a thorn) in the foot.
If it’s just a flat scab, that’s from some type of chronic impact injury of the footpad.
Depending on what you found, investigating the root cause could go several directions.
Most of it just seemed like flat scabs. No pus to speak of, but a bit of stringy gooey stuff we picked out.
 

skullgrrrl

Songster
8 Years
Sep 10, 2012
372
318
216
My Coop
My Coop
They could be getting "injured" from the ground in their "run", looks like dirt with some pebbles? I have had bumble foot (2 feet) on couple of past chickens, I have shavings over dirt ground. They do dig up rock, so I started picking up as I sifted though the shavings. Never did anything but added more shavings.

I now have a new set of chickens, this time I keep a really thick layer of shaving & I still do pick up any rock/objects I find in their enclosure. They sure can dig, would be nice if they struck GOLD instead of all these rock, even the tiniest ones I see, I remove. :fl
I've also read it could just be genetics? Read somewhere here, there are "different" varieties & causes?
Most free ranging, and even penned birds, come across rocks. Mine do all the time and I've only had to deal with bumblefoot once before. Their birds are hatchery Hyline Browns.
 

Kathy Golla

Crowing
Jan 2, 2017
1,089
2,111
291
San Francisco Bay Area
The stringy stuff is pus...you might be dealing with both types.
They need to look at everything going on.
Roost height no higher than two feet. Roosts should be 2x4s laid on the flat side.
Look for splinters on roosts and ladders. Chicken ladders should be sanded and painted.
Weight is a cause also. Heavier hens are predisposed because of the impact to their feet. These hens don’t seem to look overweight (?)
I suspect a contributing factor is the medium in their pen. It doesn’t look padded. Any medium with stones is bad.
Are the hens jumping from high heights to the ground in the pen?
Are the hens feet chronically wet?
They need to have a very good diet with all the right vitamins.
There are some breeds or even hens that are genetically predisposed.
 
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skullgrrrl

Songster
8 Years
Sep 10, 2012
372
318
216
My Coop
My Coop
The stringy stuff is pus...you might be dealing with both types.
They need to look at everything going on.
Roost height no higher than two feet. Roosts should be 2x4s laid on the flat side.
Look for splinters on roosts and ladders. Chicken ladders should be sanded and painted.
Weight is a cause also. Heavier hens are predisposed because of the impact to their feet. These hens don’t seem to look overweight (?)
I suspect a contributing factor is the medium in their pen. It doesn’t look padded. Any medium with stones is bad.
Are the hens jumping from high heights to the ground in the pen?
Are the hens feet chronically wet?
They need to have a very good diet with all the right vitamins.
There are some breeds or even hens that are genetically predisposed.
The only thing they can think of is they started out with sand in both the coop and run. It's been changed out: shavings in the coop, soil in the run. The run is totally covered so that area is dry. They free-range for an hour or two/day - we live on the west coast so it is wet in the winter, but these birds are young and its been dry all summer.
 

Kathy Golla

Crowing
Jan 2, 2017
1,089
2,111
291
San Francisco Bay Area
It could be the sand. I have sand in the coop and it seems to have only affected one of my birds feet, but that may be particular to the bird and it’s only the coop.
It could be the surface the hens are free ranging on too.
 

dawg53

Humble
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Nov 27, 2008
27,739
14,079
906
Glen St Mary, Florida
Nice coop. I like the color and the hardware cloth. I recommend that you lower both roosts down to about 7" or 8" up from the floor. That should take care of your bumblefoot problems.
Ventilation wont be an issue unless you have hot and humid summers like we do. Simply place a fan at a vent on low speed to blow air out of the coop.
 

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