Just done bumblefoot surgery - advice/reassurance please!


9 Years
Feb 4, 2010
Glasgow, Scotland
Two hours ago I found one of my chickens hopping on one leg. When I examined her, she had a horrible case of bumblefoot - really swollen and puffy, with it extending up her ankle too. I phoned my friend who is the local vet for some supplies and after reading through the surgery threads on here, had a go at removing it and sorting it out myself. Here's what I did:

1. Soaked foot in hot water for ten minutes and scrubbed dirt off
2. Cut off scab and squeezed and tweezed out as much gunk as I could
3. Soaked again in hot iodine solution for 5 minutes
4. Dried off and sprayed with terramycin antibiotic spray
5. 0.1ml injection of Pen & Strep antibiotic (on vet's instruction)

Then I gave her two drops of Ivermectin on the back of her neck, and louse powdered her too, cause I saw a few little beasties

She looks okay now and she's eating some cat food mashed up with layers feed, but I'm worried I didn't do it right. Once I'd finished squeezing and pulling gunk out, there was blood filling up the hole so much that I couldn't really tell if I'd got all the muck out. I didn't want to squeeze too hard cause she was squeaking and struggling and I was worried I was appling too much pressure and I might do her some damage. But there didn't seem to be much gunk in there considering how swollen her foot was. And when I was finished, there wasn't a big hole in her foot or anything...

So, how do I know if I've got it all out? And if I haven't, will I have to do the surgery again? My vet told me to give her the antibiotic injection every day for five days, so hopefully that will help clear up any bits that I didn't manage to get out, but I'm still really worried I might have botched it and given her a lot of pain for nothing...
It sounds like you did everything right, I know it helps to cover their body and head with a towel to keep them from struggling. You can always check her foot in a few days to see if the swelling has gone down, and if not you can go back in and try to get more of the infection out. I hope she heals up quickly!
It sounds like you got all the infection to me. Usually when they start to squirm and squeak, that's when you know it's pretty much cleaned out, then you know you're working on "good" tissue and it's time to stop. My concern is any increased swelling in the foot or leg. Your vet gave you very good advice giving injections to stop the infection. I would follow his instructions as directed.
Thanks guys. I did have her covered up with a towel, but she still did a fair bit of squawking and struggling. Right from the start too, so I don't think it was just cause I'd got all the infection out. I've got her separated from the flock in a clean box just now, as I don't have any bandages or vet wrap to cover the wound with.

I'm going out to work tonight, but I'll check on her first thing in the morning to see if the swelling has started to go down yet. Of course, I squeezed and mashed her foot about so much I wouldn't be surprised if I'd caused MORE swelling. Aaaaarrrggghhh.

And I'm not even sure if I did the injection right either. This hen has a bad crossbeak so she's a skinny little thing. I try to feed her separately and give her extra treats, but she's still always a bit underweight. It was hard to find a proper meaty bit in her leg to give her the injection in...
You can cut up a clean rag or old washcloth with scissors and put an antibiotic ointment on the rag, and wrap it on the wound...ensure the antibiotic is on the hole. You can use some sort of tape to wrap it. Duct tape works great, I use it and they cant get it off. You really need to prevent her from getting her poop in the wound when she steps on it while caged, other debris as well or you're just wasting your time.
Point taken! I now have it covered over with clean kitchen towel sprayed with terramycin and held on with sellotape. It'll do for now till I get hold of some vet wrap or duct tape. Thanks again for your help Dawg.
I just did the same surgery a few days ago. I felt the same way. scared to death i would hurt her! yup, mine had some blood as well, but i just used a clean towel to blot it away and keep working. Sound like you did good. Mine had a definite 'plug' to it and a hole once i got the plug. I am not sure if that's the case with them all.

Dawg? your opinion on the plug?
I am not an expert on chicken wounds etc, but for human wounds, or to clean wound before stitching I used tap water, droped little bit of iodine so water turns slightly yellow and then clean skin with it. Problem with soaking in pure iodine is that iodine will kill good tissue and healing will take longer. But again, I am human doctor not a vet. But it sounds like a lucky chicken that you did surgery on her foot
Fishnet - Yup, that's the same guide I used. I wouldn't have known what to do or where to start without it!

Ilona - Sorry, I didn't explain it very clearly. I didn't soak in pure iodine, I poured a couple of capfuls of it in a big bowl of warm water.

Well, I just got back from work and checked on her straight away, and while she's looking bright eyed and alert and chowed down the bowl of food I gave her, she's also barely walking on the foot and is holding it up off the ground most of the time. I felt it and it's very hot right up round her ankle area. I'm still worried but I think I'll wait till the last day of antibiotic injections to see if they help to clear up the infection before I even think about trying to cut into her foot again...

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