Help- aged hen walking on "ankle"


8 Years
Jan 13, 2012
I noticed the aged hen was limping and walking on her "ankle" so looked for bumble foot. I did find the tell tale sign of a black scab, did the surgery (yuck) from a web search on how. That came out fine, but then discovered the next day when I was watching her it was the other foot that she was turning under!

I have been keeping the hen in clean shredded newspaper in a cardboard box at night and letting her out on the lawn in a enclosure (4X4) during the day. I have been soaking her feet in warm water with Epson salts daily.

The surgery foot site closed the first day (I did not think that good) but appears to be fine. I had at the time of surgery packed the hole with neosporin and then bandaged. The hen's bandage was changed for two of three days and then since the there was no opening stopped bandaging the foot.

She is eating normally, poop is normal, comb a bright red. She is an aged bird in a backyard flock of 10 birds. This is the second aged hen that has had a similar foot problem. The other one lived with it for over a year, I did not treat the other hen in any way other than place her in a small area alone with food and water. Her hospice lasted a long long time!

The flock gets layer pellets, kitchen scraps, oyster shells, grit and has access to a closed run of about 12X 12 plus a closeable coop.

Could it be diet deficiency? I palpitated the entire leg, foot and toes and the chicken did not flinch at all. I was sure to do it from all the way from the hip joint to the tip of the toes.

Thanks for any suggestions

There are a number of things that can happen. It's quite possible even a vet couldn't tell you. She could have arthritis, gout, a degenerative disease of the bone or joint, a tumor -- so many things. As humans age, they don't absorb nutrients as well, and I don't see why this would be different with chickens.

Lots of folks give their chickens kitchen scraps, if for no other reason than not to waste the food. Be careful that it is not a huge amount or represent an unbalanced diet.

You could try switching feed from layer to something with a little more protein, preferably with some fish meal or other animal protein. You already offer oyster shells so the smaller amount of calcium in the feed should not matter. You could try giving her two or three drops of a human infant vitamin formula (without iron, I keep reading here) each day. You could give a probiotic to up her good intestinal flora. A tsp of yogurt every day, at least for a while, would work. Feed stores often have a probiotic/vitamin preparation you could give, or you could order something like this online. You'll find all sorts of things people supplement their diet with mentioned here. Of course, there's a fair chance that she'll continue to do this, but you may want to try.

You are a kind soul to provide this sort of end of life care for your flock. We have a lot of members who consider their chickens pets and would understand. (I have a crippled chicken, myself.)

Here are a couple of links I keep bookmarked that might help, or just give more information about possible causes:

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