Bumblefoot is one of the most common foot conditions in chickens and ducks, and most of the time it can be treated at home. How do you prevent bumblefoot in ducks and chickens? What is it, and how do you treat it?
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What Is Bumblefoot In Chickens And Ducks?
Bumblefoot is a bacterial infection that abscesses under the skin of the foot. It is caused by a cut, scrape, or splinter on the bird’s foot. A break in the skin that gets contaminated by one of several different bacterias. The most common one is staph bacteria.
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Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian. Any advice on caring for animals or diagnosing & treating medical conditions for animals is for informational purposes and should be evaluated by a trained veterinarian.
Why Is Bumblefoot So Dangerous?
Your ducks and chickens spend most of the day on their feet. So, something like bumblefoot can be very problematic for them.
If the bird’s immune system can’t fight off this bacterial infection, it can spread quickly to the joint, tendon, bone, and then to the bloodstream, and in severe bumblefoot cases, can even cause death.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Sick Or Injured Duck Or Chicken?
How can I tell there is something wrong with my duck or chicken? When is it time to check for injury or illness?
If you get to know your flock you will notice changes in behavior. Some things to look for are:
- Not eating well
- Not laying eggs
- Not wanting to use roosting bar (for chickens)
- A healthy bird is communicative (talkative) and active.
- Limping, holding up one foot, or unusually sitting still. If you approach and the bird doesn’t get up and walk away, it’s time to check the feet.
What Are The Symptoms Of Bumblefoot?
- Puffy or swollen and hot toe or foot pads.
- Black dot or scab on the bottom of the foot.
What Causes Bumble Foot?
A poorly constructed or maintained roost or debris, nails, staples, glass, wire, or other sharp objects that can cause a cut on your bird’s foot.
Poor nutrition. Not enough minerals and probiotics to ward off infections. A diet without enough Vitamin A, which is needed to make healthy skin.
Having to jump down a long distance, especially for heavy birds.
Sharp rocks or thorns in the forage area.
Concrete or wire flooring is rough on the feet and can lead to injury.
One of the most common ways a chicken gets a cut on the foot is through the roost. They jump up and then they scooch back and forth jockeying for space. As they slide along the roost, they can get a splinter opening up the skin and letting bacteria inside.
Make sure your roost is smooth and free from splinters.
The Best Treatment Is Prevention. How To Prevent Bumblefoot.
A healthy flock is less likely to get sick or hurt.
- Keep your coop and run clean and free of sharp objects.
- Change the deep litter regularly so feces (poop) doesn’t build up.
- Practice Biosecurity. Quarantine new birds.
- Good nutrition. Balanced vitamins and minerals for healthy bones and skin.
- Plentiful, clean water
- Check laying boxes for sharp edges.
- Maintain roosts and make sure they are wide enough to grasp easily. Flat roosts are better than round ones.
- Make gradual ramps into the coop, especially for ducks.
- Have an isolation cage for sick birds.
- Reduce stress. Enough space to spread out. Remove bullies and don’t let your children or dog chase your birds.
- Coops that are dry and well-ventilated.
- Check chickens regularly for mites. Provide a dust bath for chickens and a pond for ducks.
- Supplement with a variety of herbs to fill in the nutritional gaps.
Can Bumblefoot Go Away On Its Own?
Bruises and scrapes can often heal on their own. But once the infection gets under the skin, it usually requires treatment.
Is Bumblefoot Painful For Poultry?
Chickens and ducks use their feet a lot so even minor injuries can turn into serious problems especially when they will walk in their own feces during the day.
Yes, any infection of a foot is painful to walk on. Treatment and pain management is important right away.
How To Treat Bumblefoot In Ducks Or Chickens
Bumblefoot treatment can be a long process. It will take a substantial commitment.
Prepare your quarantine area. You will want to separate your bird to keep your other flock members healthy and keep the wound clean.
“You Can Do This Yourself Or Take Your Bird To Your Vet To Have This Done.”
Bumblefoot in ducks is treated the same as you would treat bumblefoot in chickens. It’s just a little harder to wrap the foot.
The sooner you catch bumblefoot the easier it is to treat.
The infection is inside the foot which may require a cut on the foot pad to expose the infection.
- Clean the feet
- Soak for 15 minutes in Epsom salts and warm, not hot water. (test it with your elbow, just like you would a baby’s bath water)
- Wrap the bird in a towel to calm her and make her easier to handle.
- Check to see if you can remove the scab if there is one.
- You can apply Prid to draw out the infection or apply an antimicrobial spray such as Vetericyn or an antibacterial cream. Do this 2 or 3 times a day>
There are more natural drawing salves you can make, but you don’t want to wait to start treating. “Good that you have in your first aid kit, is better than great that you don’t have on hand.”
- If it is a severe case, you will need to clean the puss out of the wound and remove the hard yellow center called the kernel (or bumble).
- Keep the wound covered with gauze and Vetwrap, change the bandage daily, and reapply medicine, until it is healed.
- Keep the bird isolated until the wound is healed.
Can Chicks And Ducklings Get Bumblefoot?
Yes, even baby ducks and baby chicks can get bumblefoot. Jumping down from a height or roosting too young for chicks or nutritional deficiencies are the most likely culprits.
Is This An Isolated Case Or Is It A Recurring Problem?
An isolated case is likely just an injury, but if you have several cases, you need to check the way you manage your ducks and chickens. Either environmental or nutritional deficiencies could be the culprit.
Is Bumblefoot Contagious To Humans?
The bacteria that causes bumblefoot is contagious. People can get staph and other bacterial infections, which is why it is always good practice to wash your hands and disinfect your shoes whenever you have been in your coop or run. It’s also good practice to wear gloves when handling a sick duck or chicken and to change your clothes after caring for them, just in case.
Regular Check-Ups And Observation.
Chickens and ducks are on their feet day and night. Though their feet seem tough, they are actually the most vulnerable part of your ducks and chickens and need extra attention and care for your bird’s quality of life.
Catching bumblefoot early will insure a better outcome. Watch your flock for abnormal behavior and check anyone who is acting differently than they normally would. Proactive checkups can prevent many problems.
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