My entire flock has BUMBLEFOOT-Why Why Why?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by jengacat, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. jengacat

    jengacat Just Hatched

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    Hi all! Newbie here and desperately seeking advice re: what appears to be mild cases of bumblefoot in my flock of 5. I have of course gone through the bumblefoot threads and let me just say, it was terrifying! I need to know if I am handling this correctly because I don't know if I am equipped to perform the bumblefoot surgery!!! I apologize for the length of this!

    I have a small flock of 5 hens--3 English Orpingtons (2 are between 9 months - 1year old and 1 is approximately 2.5 years old) and 2 Ameraucanas (between 9 months - 1 year old). The Orpingtons are big girls--with the heaviest being 8.5 lbs and the lightest 7 lbs. The Ameraucanas are between 3-5 lbs. NO ONE has shown any signs of lameness or pain but ALL (with the exception of one who was already treated for bumblefoot) have black scabs on the bottoms of their feet.

    The way I discovered the bumblefoot was when the oldest, heaviest girl (Julia) was at the vet (egg yolk peritonitis is suspected, but after a Luprin shot, 3 weeks of antibiotics, and 2 weeks of MetaCam, she is laying regularly and seems back to normal, fingers crossed!) and I noticed a black scab on the sole of one foot when the tech was holding her for her shot. At the direction of the vet, I soaked Julia's foot multiple times (she was in and out of my basement "chicken hospital" for 3 weeks), washed her feet with dilute chlorhexidine solution, picked the black scab off, applied silvadene cream, and bandaged her foot. I went thru this process about 6 times. After about 2 weeks, I pulled off the scab again and there was healthy skin underneath. That was about a month ago and her feet are still scab free.

    Now...the other day I noticed one of the other girls has a black scab. I started looking at EVERYONE and found out that they ALL (except for Julia) have some degree of this condition, with the heavy girls being worse than the lighter ones. The obvious conclusion here is that something in their coop or run is causing this. However, I can't figure out WHAT. They have a brand new elevated coop that is 4x5 feet, bedded with about 4 inches of hemp bedding. I scoop the poop every morning and change the bedding once a month. Their roost is a 5 ft long flat board about 7 inches wide, approximately 23 inches from the floor of the coop. The nest boxes are 12 inches tall and under one side of the roost. In the morning, I hear most of them jumping directly from the roost to the floor with a thump, although some of the heavier ones use the nest box as a ladder when getting on the roost for bed. They have a ramp leading from the coop to the run and most of them do use the ramp but then jump to the ground from about 1.5 ft up. They have a secure run attached to the coop, 5ft x 12ft with a dirt floor. I use chopped straw in the run and scoop poop multiple times a day and change it all out about once a month or if it gets wet. The run has a roof over it and I use drop cloths on the walls of the run when needed as storm/rain protection, so the bedding stays reasonably dry. I let them out to free range about two hours every day. They love digging around bushes, trees, and in the compost pile. I have a bad hawk problem here so I have to be out there at all times with them. I'm constructing a temporary fence (since I'm in a rental situation here) that will enclose their coop/run and give them about 1250 sq ft of space with aviary netting over it, so they can get more time out of their run during the day. At night they are safely locked in their coop.

    Just today, after finding the black scabs, I took the other two Orpingtons, soaked their feet, used chlorhexidine, pulled the scabs off one of them (she seems to be the worst--I used an Exacto knife blade to excise one of the scabs and some hardened tissue), applied silvadene, and bandaged. I'll probably do the Ameraucanas tomorrow but I can tell by looking at the scabs, they can't be pulled off as they are just circular flat black patches.

    Ok, now here's a twist. I moved to a new state last fall and while I was moving the woman I bought my chickens from kept everyone for me because I didn't have a coop at my new place. Once I got here, it took the guy I hired forever to build it too. My girls were at this other place for 4 months. I was in Kentucky and they were in Virginia. They got a lot more freer range time there and I don't know what type of roost they were using or how high it was.

    Questions:

    Is it possible that this condition started while they were at my friend's place, due to a high roost or some other factor (I hate to speculate, but possibly less sanitary accommodations than what I provide here) and is just progressing very slowly?

    How quickly does bumblefoot normally progress? I have had them in their current set up for 3 months.

    Is there anything about my current set up that I need to change? I'm planning to make the nest boxes external, leaving more space in the coop, and I can re-do the roost and make it 18 inches from the floor. I also have some thick gym type mats that I was planning to put under the bedding but never got around to doing. I was also considering sand for the coop and run but haven't taken the plunge--we'll be moving when our new house is done in about 9 months and I don't want to deal with tons of sand in the back yard here when I move out.

    Do I need to take them to the vet for anything, or since I have the silvadene and chlorhexidine, try that first and see if there is any improvement? Again, no one is limping or showing signs of pain (although I know they can be stoic). They all run around the yard like crazy, scratch for bugs and worms, etc.

    Lastly, I did recently put them on a diet and cut back on the treats. I thought possibly obesity was a factor but the skinny girls have it too! They eat New Country Organic Layer feed, mealworms, fresh veggies and fruit, a handful of scratch (when it was colder), and whatever bugs and worms they find. Could any of this be a problem and causing the bumblefoot?

    Ok. Thanks for taking the time to read this! I would really appreciate any advice or maybe just reassurance that anyone is willing to provide.

    Who knew chickens could be so complicated?!?! :barnie
     
  2. CascadiaRiver

    CascadiaRiver Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is it possible that this condition started while they were at my friend's place, due to a high roost or some other factor (I hate to speculate, but possibly less sanitary accommodations than what I provide here) and is just progressing very slowly?

    It could be, you can always ask them to see what the coop was like, and how high up is your nesting bar/perch to the ground?

    How quickly does bumblefoot normally progress? I have had them in their current set up for 3 months.

    I've had it take a few months and others a few weeks so I'm not too sure, they tend to heal up pretty fast thank goodness.

    Is there anything about my current set up that I need to change? I'm planning to make the nest boxes external, leaving more space in the coop, and I can re-do the roost and make it 18 inches from the floor. I also have some thick gym type mats that I was planning to put under the bedding but never got around to doing. I was also considering sand for the coop and run but haven't taken the plunge--we'll be moving when our new house is done in about 9 months and I don't want to deal with tons of sand in the back yard here when I move out.

    Maybe try having the perch lower so that your ladies don't quite have to jump down but more like take a large step?

    Do I need to take them to the vet for anything, or since I have the silvadene and chlorhexidine, try that first and see if there is any improvement? Again, no one is limping or showing signs of pain (although I know they can be stoic). They all run around the yard like crazy, scratch for bugs and worms, etc.

    Bumblefoot never effected our biggest ladies (9lb welsummer and two 7lb cochin ladies) until it got really bad, so I would only take them into the vet if you don't see any improvement or it gets significantly worse.

    Lastly, I did recently put them on a diet and cut back on the treats. I thought possibly obesity was a factor but the skinny girls have it too! They eat New Country Organic Layer feed, mealworms, fresh veggies and fruit, a handful of scratch (when it was colder), and whatever bugs and worms they find. Could any of this be a problem and causing the bumblefoot?

    I'm not sure, our small ladies have gotten it too, I think its the jumping thing that really gets my flock at least, though we're modifying it to fit them better. Though can't quite stop a little bird from trying to fly I suppose!
     
  3. Hishigata

    Hishigata Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It could have been conditions at the other person's coop but really any tiny cut or abrasion can develop into bumblefoot. My lightest girl, an easter egger, gets is every other summer. She never limps or complains but I check all my girls every so often for overall wellness and find it occasionally in my most active foragers. I suspect they get it from scratching around in the wooden mulch around my vegetable garden. Wood bits can lead to splinters or small abrasions on the foot pad that are easily infected. Aside from providing soft bedding and reducing the impact from jumping out of roosts or nesting boxes there isn't much you can do. Bumblefoot is just an occasional nuisance, but it seem you are adept at handling it and probably don't need a vet.

    I did a review of a non-invasive treatment method the vet used on my girl the first time it occurred. You can check it out here. The bumblefoot pictures in that post had developed over the course of 1-2 months. It doesn't take long after the initial wound for an infection to develop.
     
  4. Clucksworth12

    Clucksworth12 Just Hatched

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    Apr 25, 2017
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    Well, you sound like a pro to the chicken world! Ive seen the bumble foot surgery procedure many, many times. Though mostly on ducks and geese. Mt top concern is your roost. I think they may or may not be getting scratched on the roosting poles then, when the get in their waist, germs get in the wound creating an infection. But this hypothesis can be quickly determined true or false, what type of wood is their roost made of? (Also, I doubt it was from their visit to your friends coop, unless her/his flock is enduring the same conditions as yours is)
     
  5. coach723

    coach723 Chillin' With My Peeps

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  6. jengacat

    jengacat Just Hatched

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    May 26, 2016
    Central Kentucky
    Thanks for the links and to all who replied--it's nice knowing I'm on the right track and that this is something manageable that others with chickens deal with frequently. I'm definitely lowering the roost ASAP plus putting those cushiony mats on the floor under the bedding. The roost is two unfinished 2x4s (pine) bolted together side by side to create a board approximately 7 inches wide so it's not splintery or rough. I've wanted to paint it or seal it somehow to help with cleaning--coach723, I'll make the new roost painted and use the vinegar--great suggestion! I hate the current roost because it has a seam down the middle that is impossible to keep clean. I think the dude building my coop was trying to save money by piecing together two 2x4s instead of using a 2x6!! And I will also email the lady who kept my girls and ask about the roost height there....
     

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