Chicken Bumblefoot Treatment ~ A Safer, Easier, Non-Surgical Procedure

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Chicken Being Treated for BumblefootWe have kept chickens for approximately 7 years and have been so fortunate in all that time to never have to deal with a serious health issue with them. Unfortunately recently one of our hens developed bumblefoot and she had two spots of it on the same foot. I was so dismayed because all of the articles I had read suggested a surgical option was the only treatment. So, I jumped on the internet once again to look for another option, because I was not going to cut into her foot. It just did not seem like the right course of treatment to me. I was so fortunate to run across this amazing article about a non-surgical bumblefoot treatment written by a nurse practitioner with wound care experience!

So, I set about to use this treatment option. The first day I soaked her foot in a warm Epsom salt bath using a plastic wash tub with approximately 2 gallons of warm water and approximately 1 Tbs. of Epsom salts.  (A word of caution here, Epsom salts can and will burn if you put too much into the water, please err on the side of caution here.)  I was very nervous about hurting our chicken, so I was very timid about touching her foot and gave up quite quickly on trying to get the crap out of her foot. I worked up my nerve for the next day and came up with a plan, I would soak her foot in the morning for 15 minutes, slather on a boat load of Neosporin and wrap her foot with gauze and vet wrap and let that work to further soften the bumbles, then soak her foot again in the afternoon. This worked! Again, I was timid, but more determined. I sterilized a pair of tweezers, wrapped her tightly in a towel and turned her over in my lap. By carefully moving the eschars with the tweezers I was better able to understand how these nasty things were embedded into her foot. By gently pushing from the other side I was able to slip them out and poof it was done! I did place her back into the foot basin with the Epsom salt briefly just to make sure all the debris was out of the holes. Then I set her on a towel to dry out her foot and the holes. Next, I packed the wounds with Neosporin, covered with non-sticking gauze and then wrapped her foot with the vet wrap.

At this point I am re-dressing her wounds every other day. She is recuperating in a 150-gallon stock tank on our back porch and doing very well. Her bandage did come off one time, and it did worry me that some of the pine chip shavings we are using for bedding may have gotten into the wounds, so I made a foot soak of 50/50 hydrogen peroxide and warm water and let her foot soak for a few minutes hoping this would clear any debris out. And, so far, so good.

My advice would be to read the linked article above several times to prepare yourself, assemble everything you need, take a deep breath and then just get to it. You can do it!  And, I believe this procedure is much, much safer than cutting on your chicken's foot. Anytime you cut into flesh you are risking infection, plus this "bumble" is pretty much a ball of infection so you are risking introducing that infection into the chicken's blood stream. Yikes!
 

I do hope this summary helps you and please do not hesitate to ask questions, I will be happy to help if I can!

 

UPDATE #1: It has now been approximately one week since first treating her foot and I just put her back into the enclosure with our other girls. Her foot is healing nicely, and I thought she would be happier out there with her buddies. The other girls seemed happy to see her and she acted like she couldn't figure what favorite chicken activity she wanted to do first; scratch, take a dust bath, preen, eat, oh so much fun! So, I wrapped her foot with double the amount of vet wrap than I had been using to make sure it stays on and that her wounds stay clean. My plan is to change the bandages every couple of days until the foot is healed. Also, if for some reason her bandages do come off, I will soak her foot in 50/50 hydrogen peroxide and water to flush out any debris that may have gotten into the wounds, just like before.
 
UPDATE #2: Well that didn't last long. I went to change her banadage and discovered that there was dirt underneath the banadage, so back into the stock tank she goes. I think it is actually better to keep her there until she is fully healed simply because it is a cleaner enviroment.  She had a small eschar on her other foot that I had discovered when treating the much worse foot with 2 spots. This small eschar spot had reappeared during this short-lived experiment of putting her back into the enclosure. I have now soaked both her feet, removed this small eschar and wrapped both of her feet as before. I am hopeful that she will be fully healed in about a week.  I will do one more update when she is healed and back in the big enclosure. 
 
UPDATE #3: It has now been approximately 3 weeks since I treated our chicken for bumblefoot using this non-surgical treatment. She has been back in the big chicken enclosure with her buddies for about a week now. I checked her foot yesterday and it's looking great. I don't think I can give you an exact timeframe for healing because there are too many variables that may apply to your particular chicken. I will say, our chicken needed every bit of 2 weeks of isolation to give her feet time to heal in a clean, controlled environment. I highly recommend this treatment method for dealing with this problem. I can just imagine how fraught with problems the surgical method would/could be, and I can see how dangerous it would be to attempt especially for a novice. This non-surgical method works very well and is doable for just about anyone. 
 

Two areas of the bumble foot after treatment.  Notice how deep the holes look? Yikes! But it's so much better than cutting into the foot. Can you imagine how awful that would look? 

 

Chicken Bumblefoot

Another look at the wounds after removing the eschars and infection. 

 

Treating bumblefoot in chicken.

I did get a picture of the small eschar on the other foot. This one was not noticeable until I had her turned over to be able to see the underside of her foot. No raised area had yet formed on the top side of her foot. 

 

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