Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chicken update & Bumblefoot

(scroll down for the updates)


So, I was going to do an update on the girls last week but...
...Red got bumblefoot.

Sunday, I noticed Red limping slightly after coming in from a forage in the woods.  She does limp every now and then and thought  little of it.

Monday morning, I noticed she was not doing her usual limp. This time it was a limp that told me she did not want to put too much pressure on the bottom of her foot (I'm not sure how I can tell the difference in these things but just can). So, I took a look-see and sure enough, she had what appeared to be a bumble foot infection.
I won't post photos or details on the infection 'cause I would be re-inventing the wheel. So, here is a great blog I follow by Kathy "Chicken Chick" for reference

Now, I get my (poorly stocked) med kit out, grab the carrier and put the Red in the carrier with food and water and get to web attacking. I soaked the foot in warm water and picked the scab a little and rinsed with hydrogen peroxide. That was not working well so I scoured the web some more and headed off to the feed store.
Got back and soaked her feet in Epsom salt bath, pulled the waxy "plug" off and cleaned out the "stringy stuff" best I could without cutting or digging into her foot too much. Even though the bird is wrapped and may be still and not making noises - it STILL HURTS HER severely! I understand "surgery" is in the best interest but I am no vet or even a tech AND do not want to do her any further injury. I opted not to cut out the scab. This is not like causing pain while pulling out a splinter. It is surgery WITHOUT pain killer! I can not bring myself to inflict torture on my bird. Those who can... maybe you can come over and do it for me. I tried to be as quick and gentle as possible by using the soak and letting it "push" out the scab enough for me to remove it with tweezers.  Flushed the wound (no hole) with Iodine, bandaged with neosporin and put her in the carrier.

By this time, I had to rush to clean up and disinfect the "prep area" and myself and rush off to pick up the kids from the bus-stop. Then the rest is the usual after school rush so, Red got put in the garage to rest in the dark till tomorrow.

Tuesday, I scoured the web some more and found Kathy's med lit list (see above link) and decided to call the vet because I don't have the heart to do "surgery". After the vet gave me some advice, I headed off once again to the feed store and stocked up my med kit and got antibiotics (per vets instructions) After all was said and done I could have spent the same just taking her in.
A better stocked kit
more supplies
I had to get some new blood stop (notice the ridiculous price) because the stuff I had that was labeled "for birds" contained a "caine" painkiller. I gave it to a friend who has livestock other than birds.

Started her on the meds, cleaned and bandaged and put her in the tractor on a patch of soft grass to get some air, sun and space.

 I checked the others and Puff looks like she has it on her toe and possibly both pads. UGH!

I can't put Puff and Red in isolation together! I don't have enough room in the carrier. I don't have another carrier. They fight if they are alone together and the other two also fight if they are alone together. OMG. Grrrrrrr.
So, I decide to wait till the morning since I can't do anything today for time constraints.
Red spent the night in the carrier in the garage again.

Wednesday after I get kid off to school, ALL the girls get pedicures!
Everyone got an epson bath, Veterycin leg wash and foot scrub. Non-bumbles got a foot massage with VetRx after cleaning and disinfecting.
Nutmeg is clean.
Zeebra looks like she may have it on the tip of her toe but, maybe not - hard to tell since it is such a small spot and no redness & very little swelling. possibly just a scab.
Red looks like hers is healing nicely but has some "goo" under the scab. I decided to re-open the wound a little and try to get it out and re-irrigate with the Veterycin I got. When I opened it, it just started bleeding so i did what I could and irrigated well and bandaged.
Puffs' toe looks much like bumble but was very hard to clean out because it was on the side and had a kind of hole under a scale. She was in a lot of pain when I messed with the toe. She even vocalized. I did what I could for the toe and pad (small early bumble on pad). The other pad had a large black scab between the toes and pad, but I couldn't see a waxy "plug". Removed the scab, cleaned and bandaged.

Red's pink bandage

Nutmeg thinks Puffs pink boots are pretty.

Since I can't isolate the 2 that are bandaged up, I decided to house them all.
All get the antibiotic, all get "house arrest", all get feet treated every morning.

old roost set-up
I moved the roost down to head height (about 18 inches) as suggested by the extension. I had a "ladder" but they would not always use it and would often just jump down anyways.

notice the new roost height

I clean the litter every morning and add new shavings.
Roost and nest box edges get disinfected every morning.

I checked the coop floor, roosts and boxes for edges and splinters. Had to re-hammer and coat a nail that had popped through the floor. Sanded any possible rough spot.

Got rid of a branch in the run and replaced it with a smooth 2x2.

a perch with a problem
this sanded untreated 2x2 is a much better option

They love this smooth maple branch (about 1.5-2 inch diameter)

Installed a nest box roost to help with the height.

Got then a flock block to keep the girls, who are used to going outside almost every day, from taking out frustrations on each-other.

I figured it is a good opportunity to seed the run.
seeding the run

Every time I check Red, I cant' feel a "kernel" in the pad. She seems like the pad is getting better. The wound looks cleaner and the pad is no longer red, swelling seems to have gone down but I worry because I still think I see the yellow infection under the surface of the new tissue.

Puffs' pads are still a little red but the pad skin looks healthy minus the small black irregular scab on one foot (no waxy tissue). Her toe is still hard to tell - no longer red but still swollen and has irregular waxy area but hole is gone now.

I plan on continuing the systemic antibiotic for the full 14 days. Providing a 3-4 hour window every few days for a pro-biotic and nutridrench supplement.

UPDATE Monday Oct 1

Ugh, Here I go again at an attempt to update (my laptop froze on me after I was almost done ).
So, had to go get more horse tape, antibiotics and some clippers (Puff's nails getting too long).

Spent the entire AM (5 hours) soaking feet, and cleaning coop.

Nutmeg is still good.
Zeebra had 2 teeny tiny spots that were on the surface that just lifted right off after a soak. Her toe tip was questionable but did not soften at all in the soak so, I just sprayed it and sent her on her way.
Red is still swollen a little but the soak did not raise or loosen the new scab that has been forming so I let it be. Bandaged up with antibiotic cream. the other foot pad had a teeny tiny spot that lifted and came right off after the soak. Superficial and no bandage needed.
Puffs' pad cleaned up nicely and showed a healing laceration (the one with the large black scab). I removed the dead tissue and possible infected material from the wound and treated and bandaged.
Her other foot (the one with the toe bumble) pad healed nicely and is down to a superficial scab that came off easily after soaking and needed no bandage but did it anyway because of the toe.
The toe bumble scab softened and raised and I was able to remove more dead and infected tissue than previously. This time a tiny "kernel" came out with the "plug". I removed most of the dead and infected tissue that I could without too much pain (i hope) and it did leave a hole that I packed with antibiotic cream and bandaged up.

This is taking way too  much time to care for these birds!

I am wanting to convert the coop to a sand litter system, "linoleum" the floor and wall behind the roost, and install a poop board. I'm off to take measurements...

UPDATE Wednesday Oct 3:

Freezing today. My fingers are numb. And, to think at htis same time monday, I was sweating! I thought Texas had strange weather - Washington has it beat.

Nutmeg still a champ.
Zeebra. Toes are healing nicely - now the scabs are almost gone, I am thinking more and more it was not infected with staph by the way it looks and is healing. She has no swelling at all now.
Puff - her lacerated foot is also haling very nicely - no swelling and a small scab and scar. Her other foot is healed with just soft pink skin. and the toe swelling has really gone down after the removal of the "kernel". The toe has loose skin. There is still a scab and i suspect there may be more area in there that may need to be removed but I will give it another day or so. If I need to give another betadine foot soak I will.
Red - sore looks to be healing well but I am still concerned about the pad still being swollen.

UPDATE Sunday Oct7

Here are some photos. Maybe you experienced folks can let me know if they are healing well.

You can click the photo to view larger if you need to.

Red day 11 of meds 12 days after 1st treatment



Puff - incision (this used to be 1/2 her pad but still concerned about the scab.

Puff pad - no more scab. And toe.

I have also been working on trimming her nails a little every day - her nails grow crazy fast!

The last day of meds will be this weds. I am wondering if i may have to continue on a different antibiotic till completely healed or if it will be ok to discontinue altogether. I ran out of "natural" antibiotic (mahonia / oregon grape berries) but I can make a tincture from the root if necessary.


Thursday Oct 11th

Yesterday, I gave all the girls a betadine foot soak. Ugh! Zeebra is a bear to try to keep her from drinking the water for a whole 10 minutes! But, she does fall asleep with a good vetericyn gel spray foot massage - so cute. 'Cause then she is super chilled out for an hour after the massage.

Red's scab was lifting after the soak, so I removed it and all the dead tissue I could. Revealed fresh skin under and a big divot where the scab was. The pad is still swollen.

Red day 14 post treatment after scab removed day before
Red feet comparison - excuse the dirty right foot.

 Puff - I removed any dead tissue I could and re-bandaged. Both feet are looking good but gelled and bandaged both because of the new skin forming - just in case! Her toe is seeming to look better. Wait and see. I removed as much dead skin as possible and re-treated and bandaged. This one is in a difficult spot on the side of the toe.

Today is the start of a "gut break" to help these girls recover from the antibiotic treatment. They were on (duarmyacin-10 powder) tetracyclene for a 14 day span with a dosage of 1/2 tbsp per 1/2 gallon per day. This is how much they drink daily.

For the next 7 days I will have them on water spiked with probiotics and nutridrench.
I have a feeling my Zeebra may have worms since she is losing a lot of weight but otherwise seems healthy. It's about that time anyway. I just want to give them a week break before attacking their systems again.


November 2nd.

 Side story...
Zeebra didn't make it - Don't know why - she started declining fast after worming. Had to end her pain today. Necropsy being done at the lab as I write this blog... I never thought I could get this attached to a bird. :; (

 On another note... Here is how the others are doing...

Antibiotics and probiotics done.. The feet seem to be healing up nicely.
They are on a sand floor now in the coop.
As the wounds heal - I have been checking less often and bandaging less to avoid getting sand and gunk stuck in the bandage.
  Here are photos from after thier foot bath on October 29th

Red - oct29th - 5 weeks treatment

Red oct 29 - 5 weeks treatment - comparison

Puff - oct 29 - 5 weeks treatment - pad

Puff - oct 29th - 5 weeks treatment toe and pad

UPDATE November 29th 2012

So... My Zeebra hen had kidney failure. Glad it was something I couldn't have done nothing about. Putting her down was the kind thing.

AND... All is well on the bumblefoot. Puff is completely healed zero residual swelling.
Reds feet are basically back to normal. Still little puffy on the pad but no redness.
Got a pic of her feet today after cleaning her hawk wounds (sory for the dirty chicky feet :-(


Oh yeah... I am NOT a vet or tech or nurse or anything of the sort. I am NOT a chicken expert.
SO... Don't take my blog as medical advice or anything like that.
I'm just a lady with crazy chickens trying to take care of them best I can and sharing my experience with the world.

The Chicken Chick


  1. Hi, Anne here, visiting from the Chicken Chick hop. Hope Red is back to herself toot sweet. Good luck with your run, it looks great!

    1. Thanks so much! Staph is a tough one to cure (so I have read). I think I am getting a secondary infection of Insanity from all this chicken babying! Oh what we go through for our birds. I read your mishap with your roo. I probably would have done the same thing. Hope you are able to keep hold of your sanity too. ;-P

  2. Hi Anne, thanks for linking up and for the bumblefoot treatment tutorial shout-out above!

    It sounds like you did a great job with the ladies. I almost always return the girlz to the coop after the procedure. As long as the area is well wrapped, there is no need to isolate them. It is never easy to treat for bumblefoot- great work!

    I hope to see you back at next weeks Clever Chicks Blog Hop!!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

    1. Thanks to you Kathy! Your tutorial was a huge help! Eventhough I have neither the stomach or talent to use a scalpel - I would most likeley take a toe off in the process - or worse. So glad that you do let the girls be together. I was kinda worried about that since most said to isolate. But, she is not "ill". All my patients are walking, scratching and roosting without limps immedateley after treatment. Red did get nervous the day in the tractor all alone :-(. Glad I found your blog and thanks for starting a hop. It is great to have a support network of caring chicken keepers out there. I love reading all the hops! Will be there!

  3. What a great, informative post! You did such a great job with your girls. I've dealt with bumblefoot before and it is no fun! It's actually the one thing I read about as a newbie that totally freaked me out, then of course I had two girls get it! One of them has since passed, but the other was treated and it has come back a couple times. My husband and I did the surgery a couple times and it was pretty stressful.

    Hope your girls continue to do well and sorry about losing your Zeebra. I have lost four of my girls and I know how hard it is :(

    PS - Found your blog via Farm Girl Blog Fest.



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