New to chickens! Bumblefoot? Frequency of "issues"?


In the Brooder
8 Years
May 29, 2011
Twin Cities, MN

We have owned our Red Star Hens for about 11 days now. They are maybe 8-10 months old and have been laying every day so far.

One girl, Goldie, has not laid for 2 days now. She has been laying around alot in the corner of the run. We separeated her from the 2 other hens last night and put her in a kennel. We wondered about sour crop or maybe she is egg bound. Those things could still be a possibility but we are having a hard time figuring things out since this is our first experience with chickens. We don't think we feel an egg inside of her but...??? Her crop might be kind of lumpy but it is hard to tell. I tried tipping her upside down and massaging her crop but nothing happened. I put her in a warm bath with mineral oil for 20 minutes today then washed her up with soap to get the oil off the feathers. She LOVED the bath. After the mineral bath she pooped and it was pretty runny. Then, after the soap bath she pooped out a super ball sized piece that was very hard. She seems to be eating and drinking a bit but not as much as normal.

Now we noticed that she has a callused black circle on each foot! I'm assuming it is bumble foot.
I checked the two other chickens and one other girl, Henrietta, has a tiny black spot on her foot too! When we brought Henrietta home she also had a broken toe! That seems to be better now though (we wrapped it for about 5 days). What do I need to do with bumble foot? Do I really need to start cutting feet open and pulling out infection? Does anyone have an idea of how much a vet would charge to do this? We have a farm vet that comes to the house for our dog but I can't get a hold of her today. I really don't know that I have the ability to to surgery on their feet.

SO, I'm suddendly questioning my decision to have chickens.
Are they really this much work on a regular basis? How common is bumble foot, sour crop and stuck eggs?!?!? I am really hoping it is NOT common so I can keep these girls. I just spent most of my weekend caring for and troubleshooting chickens instead of interacting with my family (hubby & 7 little kids...including a newborn). Not cool.

Thanks everyone!
I forgot to mention - My hens have a coop and I use straw for bedding. Maybe not the best choice? They are "free-range" as much as possible. Pretty much we leave the coop door open whenever we are home. I am a stay-at-home mom so that means it is open most of the time.
If she has eaten, there will be stuff in her crop. The best time to check the crop is in the early morning after she slept all night and before she gets up to eat. The crop should be pretty empty at that point. Impacted crop is a full crop with a hard mass in it. Sour crop is squishy and usually smells foul. Sour crop is what happens when impacted crop is not treated and the stuff stuck in the crop rots.

It sounds like she may have been eggbound and the bath helped her release the mass (the egg frequently goes soft and unrecognizable). A warm bath is a good treatment for an eggbound chicken. Give her oyster shells if you aren't already. You can try to give her Polyvisol without iron (liquid vitamin drops for infants you can get at the pharmacy) to help fix any vitamin deficiency she may have suffered from not eating well.

For bumblefoot, see this post for information on using Tricide-Neo powder to treat.
I just noticed about half my flock has small black scabs on their feet. So I put "bumblefoot" in the search on the top right hand corner. It seems alot of peolpe find these callouses on their chickens feet. Seems a watch, wait and see attitude may work here. At least that's what I'm planning....along with washing eveyone's feet, cleaning the run making sure any sticks or rocks are removed.... But I might get betadine and vet wrap to have on hand just in case.

Spmetimes I think the same as you. I got chickens because I thought they would be easy keepers. I lost one to sour crop and now this....

Good Luck. Don't give up just yet!!!
Straw is not the best choice. It is not absorbent and can mold and mold is bad for chickens. I recommend pine shavings and prefer the large type like for use with horses. It is less dusty. Good brands like Statesman even sift their shavings to reduce dust even further.
Thanks for the help! I'll have to change the bedding out tomorrow. Would the "egg" look like poop though? I'll have to look at your link about bumble foot and hopefully we can get by without cutting things open. That really doesn't sound fun. I'm off to give her another bath because the feathers under her body are still oily and the other hens are pecking at them.
Why are you putting mineral oil in the bath. It should be just warm water for possible egg bound issues. I don't know where you are but mine have slowed down with the laying just now with the sudden onset of the heat. Sometimes when you buy older than baby chickens you can be buying someone else's problems. Do check them well to make sure they don't have any bugs on them. What are you feeding them?
Here's a tip regarding bumblefoot: Even if they have a scab on the bottom of their feet....if the area isnt red, swollen or they arnt limping...dont do minor surgery. Just observe them for those signs I just mentioned. If you do the minor surgery without those signs, you wont find anything at all... just blood, a stressed chicken and alot work for nothing. Sometimes those scabs disappear on their own.
Thanks dawg53. I'll keep an eye on things and maybe do the soaking that was mentioned previously. We did buy "used" chickens that are 8 months old. I really didn't feel that I was ready to try out baby chicks since I am busy with babies of my own.
It sounded like too much care for our first time around. Also, our city only allows 3 hens and we wanted eggs sooner than later.

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