Bumblefoot in chickens is a common occurrence especially in the free range birds. It develops from a minor wound or injury on the chicken’s foot which is left untreated to harbour bacterial infection.
Human beings have footwear to protect their feet against harmful objects likewise some animals that have a protective layer. However, the bird family of which chicken is a member are an exception making their feet vulnerable.
Chickens especially in the free range system have tendency of stepping on and being hurt by objects causing a wound which often times, develop infections. Bumblefoot in chickens if care is not taken can cause more damage to important tissues.
The infection require medical attention as it can cause the foot to be amputated and even affect other vital tissues surrounding the affected area.
Referred to as planter pododermatitis medically, it is commonly a staphylococcus infection known to stay longer causing more harm as they stay.
Causes Of Bumblefoot In Chickens
Many things can cause an injury on a chicken’s leg which leaves them exposed to infection of which staphylococcus is one. Listed below are other causes of bumblefoot in chickens:
Roughened Surfaces Or Terrain
Chickens walking or standing for so long on uneven and rough surfaces can have cracks on the sole of their feet which can open up to form sores. The cracks and sores are precedent of bumblefoot in chickens.
When not moving freely, a chicken would have their sole swollen and red which is characterisitic of bumblefoot disease.
The edge of a chicken toenail bend and cut theough the skin making way for infections. Toenails should be cut to avoid them getting too long.
Previous Leg Or Foot Injury
Having a previous untreated wound increase the chance of being infected.
Vitamin deficiency reduces the body’s immunity against infections and diseases. It also causes weak legs in chickens and lack of energy.
Diagnosing Bumblefoot In Chickens
A regular check of chicken’s foot is the first way to know if there are wounds or injuries and getting them checkout before it develops into infections. This may seem difficult especially in large scale poultry, however, it is better done by more than one person to save the flock.
It present as redness, swellings on the foot, small red sores causing discomfort when chickens are on motion.
Upon discovering the redness or sores, an x-ray may be required to check the extent of injury and the state of the bones and joints.
Blood samples can also be drawn and taken to the laboratories for analysis and screening.
Symptoms Of Bumblefoot In Chickens
Bumblefoot disease is one of many foot diseases facing poultry birds. Each foot disease in poultry have their own symptoms and treatment. It is therefore imperative that poultry farmers and care givers are familiar with each symptom and call a vet when in doubt.
The sores can be between the toenails or at the sole of the foot or feet. Bumblefoot symptoms include:
- Redness on the sole of affected foot
- Thickening of infected part of skin
- Scabs on feet
- Difficulty in walking
Preventive Measures Against Bumblefoot Disease
Prevention is always the best form of having the poultry birds safe. Preventive measure against bumblefoot disease is taking extra care and observing the birds regularly. Others are:
Regardless of the type of housing or the number of birds, a regular inspection of the birds foot is to be carried out to nib the infection and prevent an outbreak.
Essentially, having a great immunity against infections and diseases is better achieved by a balanced diet. The overall health of the chicken bones and muscle inclusive is determined by their diet. Giving them vitamin supplements too can help but doesn’t replace the dietary need.
Chickens can drop anytime soon after cleaning their pen, however, this doesn’t mean leaving the droppings and waste for too long for flies to perch and bacterial infection to develop.
Regular disinfecting of their house is also necessary in keeping the birds safe against numerous forms of diseases that can result in high mortality.
Setting roosts or perches too high can cause the birds getting injured while jumping down. It can also add to the stress reducing their immunity as well.
Reducing height is majorly to avoid leg injuries, however, chickens need to exercise and move around to avoid excess weight that would make them stay immobile.
Excess weight increase pressure on the feet causing redness and swelling. Chickens should be allowed to walk around as a form of exercising their body especially legs.
For the battery cage housing system, the birds can be allowed to roam in a clean pen for some minutes before returning them to the cage. This activity can be done once in a month.
Treatment Of Bumblefoot In Chicken
An early detection can guarantee total cure and prevent spreading the infection. Treatment should begin once detected at any stage, there’s no need waiting for more symptoms. Treatment can be done in simple steps on the farm or require surgery in advanced cases.
Treating Bumblefoot Early
- The wound should be washed or sanitized to disallow pathogens from gaining entry.
- Start antibiotics whether as medication or ointment on the wound. Birds should be quarantined while undergoing treatment.
- Retrieve all items that can cause injury to the birds because even while undergoing treatment, birds will still hop around.
Treating Advanced Bumblefoot
When bumblefoot is advanced, the scabs or wounds from the chickens are removed through a surgical procedure and vetericyn applied to improve healing. Surgical procedure for removing the wound:
Step 1: Get all equipments ready and sanitized. Surgery supplies include clean large towels, gloves, vetrap, scalpel or biopsy, punch, paper towels, chlorhexidine 2% solution spray, vetericyn spray or triple antibiotic ointment and non-stick gauze.
These supplies can be purchased from veterinary pharmacies. It is important for the caregiver or surgeon in this scenario to protect against infections especially staphylococcus which can infect humans.
Step 2: Soak the chicken’s feet for some minutes in warm water mixed with epsom salt or betadine. Scrub the feet cleaning it and getting the tissues soft at the same time. Spray on Chlorhexidine 2% solution on the foot to kill any remaining bacteria.
Step 3: Clean the chicken foot and wrap bird loosely in a towel covering the head but leaving enough space to breathe.
The bird is gently placed on the surgical or work table.
Vetericyn is applied one more time and blood in little quantity should ooze out at this stage. The blood is dapped with paper towels for clear view of infected area.
Step 4: Cut off the dead tissue in the foot with a scapel. The area is dried and dead but some living tissue would be cut as well so its important to located the kennel. The kennel is the dried waxy part of the infected area.
Step 5: After cutting off the kennel, the foot is soaked in betadine solution with the footpad gently squeezed to loosen any remaining dead tissue. The foot is then dried in another clean towel and vetericyn applied again.
The process is repeated until all affected tissue is removed. A Chlorhexidine spray is applied to sanitize the wound after which a non-stick gauze is placed over the wound.
The gauze is placed applying a little pressure at the corners to avoid abcess and kept in place with a vetrap which is a self-adhesive bandage.
The vetrap is removed after 2 days to observe difference such as redness, pus, foul smell and then redress the wound. Antibiotics ointment would be applied until the wound heals and dries up.
This can take between 2 weeks to 6 weeks depending on how early the infection was before total healing. Late detection can take up to 3 months before full recovery is achieved.
Can Chickens Survive Without Treatment
Bumblefoot in chickens is not life threatening at the early stage, however, like all bacterial infections, they keep growing feeding into different tissues with muscles.
This spread can therefore result in life threatening issues as the bones and tissues are infected. It also causes permanent disability in the birds when left untreated.
Poultry farming is one where prevention is always better and cheaper than cure. Dedication is required from all poultry care givers and poultry farmers in other to make profit and produce healthy livestock for human consumption.
Foot diseases in chicken are many with various symptoms but the bumblefoot is common and treatable with full recovery achieved in 3 weeks when detected early.
Bumblefoot in chickens is a result of injuries and wounds untreated and left for staphylococcus bacterial infection causing more harm to the tissues and bones in extreme cases.