Help Preventing Foot Injuries

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Aunt Angus, Oct 13, 2019.

  1. Aunt Angus

    Aunt Angus Crowing

    2,450
    6,451
    492
    Jul 16, 2018
    Sacramento County, CA
    My Coop
    Hi. I have a 1 yr old Cochin whose feet keep getting injured. Tonight, I saw that her toenail had been ripped out somehow. It was bleeding quite a bit, so I brought her in the house, stopped the bleeding, cleaned it off, applied antibiotic ointment, and wrapped it. Then I noticed a bumble starting on her other foot. It isn't bad yet (no swelling or redness, just a small scab). I thought it was going away with treatment, but it either keeps happening to this poor hen, or it never fully heals. I don't have pics because it's too dark currently.

    Her roost is a sanded and painted 2x4 (4 inch side up). Run floor is deep litter with pine, leaves, dirt, wood chips. Coop floor is deep bedding with super fine cut pine shavings (super fluffy and soft) over coated plywood. Roost is 18 inches up. I clean poop daily from surfaces and add stuff to the run weekly. However, because of hawks, they are in the run far more than they used to be, and I wonder if that is contributing because, y'know, poop...

    Here's what I've tried to prevent these things so far:
    • Lowering the roost from 30 to 24 to 18 inches
    • Trying different bedding (larger pine shavings, hemp)
    • Adding a longer ramp to decrease steepness
    • Lifting her up to and down from the roost
    • Keeping her foot feathers trimmed and washed, but, admittedly, it's been a while since I washed her feet because it hasn't rained
    The poor thing has not had healthy feet yet. What am I doing wrong?

    She is the only bird I have whose feet are problematic, and I have a total of 4 feather footed birds. They all eat Scratch & Peck grower (18% protein) with occasional treats and oyster on the side. They forage for approx 3 hours per day and eat lots of grass, bugs. And worms. This hen is particularly skilled at finding worms! Yum!
     
    Sequel and trumpeting_angel like this.
  2. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

    16,964
    18,301
    832
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    She's a heavy breed. They tend to get foot injuries. The toe nail damage further indicates she may be damaging her feet jumping down from a perch that's too high.

    I have three heavy girls that all share a very low seven inch high perch. It's just long enough for the three and it's portable. You might try lowering her perch even more. It sounds like you have provided plenty of cushioning bedding, but she may have a dismount technique that drives her deeper into the bedding enough that she's contacting the hard floor.

    Have you looked around outside to see if she's injuring herself on anything there? Sometimes it takes a while to notice the source of injury. It may require suspending assumptions and looking at formerly safe things as hazards.
     
  3. Aunt Angus

    Aunt Angus Crowing

    2,450
    6,451
    492
    Jul 16, 2018
    Sacramento County, CA
    My Coop
    The roost is definitely coming down lower tomorrow. The more I read and think about my set up, the more I do think it's the roost height. She always seems reticent to jump up in the evenings. I thought she was just picky, but now I wonder if she's been trying to tell me the roost is too high.

    I will lower it AND add more bedding. If I add a second board across the coop door, I can make the shavings deeper. I will just have to step over it and hope I don't end up with a hurt foot...

    Poor thing. Wish I'd done all of this before she got hurt..
     
    Sequel and trumpeting_angel like this.
  4. Aunt Angus

    Aunt Angus Crowing

    2,450
    6,451
    492
    Jul 16, 2018
    Sacramento County, CA
    My Coop
    Thanks, @azygous . I will drop their roost - poop board and all - all the way to the coop floor. It's an easy fix, and the roost will be 6 inches up, then.

    I hope her flockmates forgive me.
     
    Sequel and trumpeting_angel like this.
  5. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

    16,964
    18,301
    832
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Many of us have experienced this. I had five Welsummer pullets some years back, four that developed bumblefoot. I hate to admit it, but back in my early days of chicken keeping, I was sometimes very stupid and clueless. Maybe even more than just sometimes. My chickens have often paid the price for my learning curve.

    I lowered the perch and added bedding under it, treated the four for bumblefoot, and they've had healthy feet in the years since.

    And, hopefully, their chicken keeper has gotten less stupid and clueless.
     
  6. Aunt Angus

    Aunt Angus Crowing

    2,450
    6,451
    492
    Jul 16, 2018
    Sacramento County, CA
    My Coop
    In all this time I've "known" you, the words stupid and clueless have not once entered my mind.

    I will look around the run, too. We do have landscaping rocks around the run to aid drainage. Some might be sharp. I can pick those up. And she does like to jump onto an old chair on the patio. Jumping down onto the pavement can't be good. I will move the chair to the grassy area.

    Hopefully, the lower perch will solve many of her ills.
     
    Sequel, trumpeting_angel and azygous like this.
  7. Aunt Angus

    Aunt Angus Crowing

    2,450
    6,451
    492
    Jul 16, 2018
    Sacramento County, CA
    My Coop
    So I lowered the entire roost/poop board assembly when I got home from work this evening. The roost is about 9 inches up. I will cover that gap between the poop board and the coop floor this weekend.

    As I was doing this, I realized that this roost isn't painted It's the other roost that is, but my Cochin uses this one and shares it with my other 4 large breed chickens. It is sanded, but I'm wondering if painting it will make it even safer for her feetsies. Thoughts?

    20191014_181253.jpg
    PS: The bedding is deeper than pictured. I had raked it back while working.
     
    Sequel and trumpeting_angel like this.
  8. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

    16,964
    18,301
    832
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Looks great! I wouldn't paint it, but then I have a paranoia about paint flaking and chickens ingesting it. Latex is probably safe enough, but I don't think paint would add anything more to a well sanded perch.
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    23,478
    12,523
    696
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I have a very different angle on foot issues. Based on how my birds are kept and the pattern of foot problems realized, damage is very seldom a function of mechanical damage. My heaviest birds with males around 7 lbs roost 48" above ground that is 2" gravel. No damage there. Many of my games with a few American Dominiques will roost much higher in trees, sometimes close to 30'. The limited flight capacity of the Dominiques is not an issue for getting up owing to the numerous branches going up trunk. Coming down directly from roost has the Dominiques hitting pretty hard although American Games hit really lightly. Again no issues with feet.

    Foot problems are encountered where their a lot of moist organic matter in continuous contact with feet. Conditions are what I associate with trench foot in humans. To combat, I work to keep feet on dry ground with abrasive materials to wear pads and claws to prevent excessive growth that can be associated with lesions when tissue cracks, or claws become too long.
     
  10. Aunt Angus

    Aunt Angus Crowing

    2,450
    6,451
    492
    Jul 16, 2018
    Sacramento County, CA
    My Coop
    That makes sense, too. In fact, that's what I thought at first, too, but this is the only chicken whose feet are affected. I did rake out the run and add new material, but it's really dry - drier than I like normally. I will keep an eye on it, though. Cleaner conditions couldn't hurt!
     
    Sequel likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: