Non-Surgical Bumblefoot Treatment

December 13, 2015

I had a feeling something wasn’t quite right with Lucy. When I picked her up she had lost a good amount of weight. I first attributed it to her hard molt. She had a very bad molt this past month, even worse than the others. I could see that she had lost some weight too, even though weight loss and a decreased appetite is normal during molting. However my intuition told me to scoop her up and take a good peek at her. Plus she needed her toenails trimmed. As I held her and began to trim her toenails, I noticed that a bit of the webbing on top of her foot between her toes was a bit pink and swollen. I flipped her foot over and discovered that she had bumblefoot. In fact, it was worse, both feet were affected.Bumble foot is an uncommon occurrence in chickens, but it can happen to all birds.

I was so glad that I had taken the time to look. If it hadn’t been for those toenails that needed trimming (the 5th toe that never touches the ground), she was otherwise asymptomatic. She didn’t show any other clues.

I was also glad that I knew that bumblefoot could be treated in chickens without having to do surgery. As a nurse practitioner I have had plenty of experience caring for wounds and ordering non-surgical treatment with wonderful success. I knew a time would probably come when I needed to tend to bumblefoot in my flock and Lucy needed me now. So I got the kitchen sink ready for a good soaking.

WARNING SOME GROSS (NOT TOO BAD) PICS AHEAD!

Supplies for Non-surgical Bumblefoot Treatment

Here is what you will need to help your chickens with bumblefoot:

  • Bath Towel
  • Clean kitchen sink
  • Gloves
  • Epsom Salt
  • Neosporin or Duoderm Gel
  • Vetericyn
  • Duoderm GFC (available online or at your local medical supply store)
  • Vet Wrap
  • Medical Tape

Treatment Plan for Chickens with Bumblefoot

Fill the sink with about a gallon of warm water and add Epsom salt to create a bath that even you would like to soak in.

Then wrap your chicken in the bath towel; being sure to wrap the wings securely and leaving her feet out. The towel will help keep her calm and also allow you to do the treatment all alone without any helpers.

Next soak your chicken’s feet in the Epsom salt bath for 10 minutes. This helps to loosen up the plug that had built up. The plug is actually comprised of dead tissue and other exudate from inside the foot that develops on the pad of the foot when it attempts to heal. The black “scab” is called eschar. In people sometimes we leave them alone and other times we soften the eschar and remove it gently in order to speed up the healing process.

In bumblefoot, the eschar can vary in size. They are hard but soften beautifully with a nice good soaking. This allows you to work on the plug in a non-surgical manner without this use of a scapel. 

1TillysNest-bumblefootplug1
A view from above- the bigger one is pencil eraser sized.

 

Next with a gloved hand gently try to work the plug from around the edges of the eschar on the bottom of your chicken’s foot. If it is not ready do not force it. You don’t want it to bleed. Simply return to soaking for another 5-10 minutes. Give it time and be patient.

The plug should release with a bit of manipulation. It should not bleed, but if it does, don’t worry. Apply a bit of pressure to the bottom of the foot for a few minutes. It will stop.

The goal is to have to plug release naturally without much trauma because right underneath the plug is healthy tissue already working to heal the foot. When that bed of healthy tissue is damaged or cut into you are actually taking steps backwards in the body’s healing process.

The underside of the kernels from the bumblefoot. No blood just nasty soft tissue from the body trying to heal itself. The tissue on the foot pad looks nice and healthy.
The underside of the kernels. No blood just nasty soft tissue from the body trying to heal itself. The tissue on the foot pad looks nice and healthy.

Once the plug is removed, dry the foot completely and spray with Vetericyn. Allow it to air dry. While waiting give your girl some love. She is going to feel much better now.

Next apply a bit of Neosporin to the bottom of the foot pad. Instead of this you can also use Duoderm Gel to fill the wound. Next, cut a circle to fit the wound from the Duoderm GFC, center it on the wound to completely cover the wound edges and then wrap the foot pad with vet wrap. The vet wrap should be snug but tight. You don’t want to affect the circulation and blood flow to the foot. So the toes should be warm even once you apply the vet wrap. Put a bit of medical tape over the end to prevent it from coming undone. Phew, you did it!

Be sure to disinfect your work area and sink with a 10% bleach solution after you are done.

This girl should be separated for a bit from the others during healing. A diet of layer pellets is good, but supplement her with high protein snacks like meal worms and sunflower seeds to help her heal faster. Add some vitamins and electrolytes to the water too. Birds that are deficient in Vitamin A are more prone to developing bumblefoot. For her makeshift home, do not allow her to roost until healed and have a thick layer of pine shavings so her feet are comforted when walking. If she must roost, add a layer of padding by wrapping the roosts in towels to soften where she sits.

Change the bandage in the same fashion every few days or sooner as needed. Because of the Duoderm GFC you can change the bandage less frequently (you can even leave it on for a week if the bandages remain intact and the foot is showing no signs of infection). Also monitor for signs and symptoms of infection that can include warmth and redness at the site, foul smelling drainage from the wound and an overall sick appearance. If this occurs, a visit to the vet is probably necessary for some oral antibiotics and possible surgical wound treatment.

There are many reasons why chickens can get bumblefoot- from ill fitting roosts, small wounds, “splinter” like cuts, scrapes and trauma. It can also be from lack of Vitamin A and Niacin in the diet. For Lucy, I believe that it probably started with a cut or splinter during free-ranging.

3TillysNest-lucyvetwrapbumblefoot
Even feathered feet do well wrapped with vet wrap.

As for Lucy, she is doing great! As my husband says, “She’s doing chicken things!” She loves being pampered in the small little coop and she is walking and scratching around nicely as if nothing ever happened. The good thing about chickens is they heal very fast using this non-surgical technique.  Hopefully she will be back with the others in a couple of weeks.

On a side note, the internet is full of a variety of techniques to treat bumblefoot from home surgeries to applying drawing salves to help release the eschar plug. I recommend doing your homework and always trying the least invasive method of treatment first. This will be less traumatizing to you, your chicken and help speed up the healing process.

Update 1/5/16: I am super happy to see that other popular chicken bloggers have updated their posts to reflect this successful non-surgical bumblefoot treatment without cutting into the footpad. As for Lucy, two weeks after this post you would never know she had any foot issues to begin with. They healed beautifully.

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

Disclosure: I am not a veterinarian. This is my personal experience and your experience with bumblefoot in chickens may differ based on a variety of factors. Always consult with a professional when in doubt. This post is informational only. Perform this at your own risk. Infection was not present in Lucy’s wounds. If you believe there is evidence of infection, then you should seek out a veterinarian for proper evaluation and treatment. Bumble foot is typically graded from Stage 1 through Stage 7. Chickens can feel pain, so think twice before reaching for the scalpel. This is when a vet should be called in to assist you.

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Melissa

Sharing adventures with backyard chickens, beekeeping, gardening, crafting, cooking and more.

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145 thoughts on “Non-Surgical Bumblefoot Treatment”

  1. Hi, Melissa, it’s Andrea (backyatdchickentalk.com). The emails are returning undeliverable – huh.

    Great post!!! I love it. Here is a wonderful bumblefoot remedy from my vet. We use this on the rescue birds which often have pododermatitis.

    What I do at Black Thistle Farm Rescue: Bumblefoot does not need surgery unless it is advanced (and then the bird needs to visit a vet). Usually, the pododermatitis can be “pushed along” with a remedy, I use one dose of calcarea carbonica (a few pellets in small amount of water and dosed to the bird). This remedy works like crazy. It allows the bumble to ripen and erupt. This takes (or may take) several weeks with many scabs developing. Peel off each ripe/risen scab. You will notice the swellings reducing each time.
    1. Soak the foot in epsom salt
    2. Quicly remove the softened black scab. If there is a plug, that will readily pop out. This is PAINFUL to the bird, so be quick!
    3. Rinse the open wound in calendula, apply antibiotic cover and wrap well.

    Note: Bumblefoot does not always produce a plug. People should NEVER go digging around the foot. You will cause the bird pain, introduce infection and do a ton of bad things!! I have resolved many a case using this method – and most cases did not ever have a plug.

    Reply
    • Thanks Andrea, I’ll check on the email. With the transition to the new website, perhaps the email got a bit messed up. I’m so glad you let me know. Thank you too for sharing your wisdom with us. I love that we both think alike and love that we have one another as resources. Happy New Year!

      Reply
  2. Hi Tilly,

    I LOVE your blog and have learned so much from it since we got our first batch of chickens this spring.

    I’m wondering if you have any ideas of what could be wrong with one of our girls’ feet. When we got her she was maybe 4-6 weeks old and her feet were all gnarled and curled in on themselves. Because of this, she limps and walks slower than the other girls, and she has some difficulty roosting on round sticks and branches, though mostly she gets around fine and is just a little behind the rest of the flock as they move from place to place. If I had to guess I’d say it looks more like a congenital condition than an injury, especially because it’s in both feet. Have you ever seen anything like that? Is it common in chickens? (We took in all our chickens after a friend rescued them off Craigslist, so I don’t know anything about her history, whether she came from a breeder or anything useful like that.)

    I was worried that as her feet grew, her nails would dig into her toes, since they’re all jumbled together, but that hasn’t been the case so far. I do wish I could tell if her limping is due to pain or just to her feet being shaped funny and tripping her up.

    Any advice you have would be very appreciated, thank you! And thanks again for all the great information you have on your blog, it really is all so beautifully done and very helpful.

    – Jessica

    Reply
    • I am so sorry to hear that. Yes, it can be congenital sometimes temps are off during incubation. When days old they can be corrected if caught in time, but it seems that she is too old to have them correct. Other things that can cause it is a deficiency of a certain vitamin or electrolyte when they are little. I would advise you to check out my post on keeping her nails trimmed. That will help if she does have pain. Chickens are pretty amazing and resilient. I am so glad that she has you to take care of her. I hope this helps and thank you so much for your lovely comments about the blog. I am so happy to be helpful.

      Reply
  3. Hi Melissa, so glad I found your post on bumblefoot. I’m not positive, but I am suspicious that one of my RI Reds has it. I noticed this morning while they were out and about that her foot looked odd. I scooped her up and saw that the bottom looked swollen, although she was not limping in any way. So doing all kinds of research and getting the nerves, I purchased what I hope is everything I need. Your post was the only one not involving a scalpel. So here I go to see if it is in fact bumblefoot, I guess I’ll know for sure after her soak.

    Reply
    • Hi Erika!

      I sure hope that she doesn’t have bumblefoot but if she does I hope that you can help her without the need of a scalpel. Good luck and keep me posted. Also, never be afraid to reach out to a local avian vet. They are usually pretty knowledgeable and helpful.

      Reply
      • Well it sure looks like bumblefoot. It took a while for the scab to soften, and it didn’t look at all like the “plugs” in your photo. But getting a good look it reminded me kind of like an access. No blood or puss, just a hole in her pad. I poured some peroxide and it didn’t even fizz. So I dried her foot, put a dallop of Neosporin, wrapped it, and now hoping for the best. She doesn’t seem to mind the bandage which really surprised me.

      • It sounds like you caught the bumble foot in the very early stages. Often it moves from the stage you are describing into their body walling it off into a kernel. Congrats on removing the scab and yes, keep on treating the foot and bandaging it. It should heal completely in a little over 2 weeks time. So glad you didn’t have to use a scalpel. Chickens heal really fast!

  4. That’s good news! I went to change her dressing this morning and I noticed it was scabbing over again. Should I be soaking her foot every time? The “bumble” looks big but seems somewhat soft, not rock hard, at least as far as chicken feet go LOL. And she doesn’t seem to be in any discomfort, no limping or favoring her foot. I would so hate to move to more drastic measures.

    Reply
    • No, no more soaking, just let it heal on it’s own. The antibiotic ointment should help as well as the bandaging to help keep the foot clean. You don’t need to change the bandage everyday, as long as it is intact. Every few days should be fine. Keep me posted!

      Reply
  5. So it’s been a week and her foot doesn’t look much better, but it’s also not worse. She’s still acting the same, and the last time I changed the bandage it looked like it may have oozed and scabbed over a bit again, but it didn’t look hard and dark, a little more yellowish. I put a nice blob of Neosporin and wrapped it again. Can we still eat her eggs?

    Reply
    • It may just take a while. As long as there is no foul smelling discharge, the foot is not red or warm to touch most likely there is no infection. Keep on doing what you are doing. Take a pic with your phone to keep track of the progress. Yes, as long as you don’t have her on oral antibiotics, you can still enjoy her eggs.

      Reply
  6. Okay, I soaked her for one hour without success the edges did not want to release and it was becoming painful to her so I stopped. Any ideas? Would it be okay to apply triple antibiotic ointment to it and then wrap so it can soften it that way?

    Reply
  7. Hi Melissa,

    Thanks for this great info. When I first noted my girls had bumble foot, I panicked thinking I would never be able to treat them myself because there was no way I would have the heart to dig an abscess out of the bottom of their feet!!

    Disclaimer: This is my first time caring for chickens, and originally, this was my dad’s project that I have since stepped in to help him manage because he had not a clue what all they required. Our home-made coop was not ….up to par until recently. Their run was solely mud and I have since created a much healthier mixture of river sand and I’m able to scoop their flooring and keep their run relatively poop-free! Prior to that, I have to say they were walking around on their own feces for a number of months. I spent 4 hours one day getting hardened balls of poop off of their toes and scrubbing their feet, which was when I discovered the infections- I am a part-time student and a PRN medical assistant in the process of applying to PA school, so as much as I care for my girls, that was definitely not how I needed to spend an afternoon.

    That being said- I have SEVEN hens and 5 of them have scabs on both feet. 2 of them are very mild and limited to 1 foot. Needless to say, I am a little overwhelmed and would love your advice on how to go about this? Some of their infections have actually improved way more than I was anticipating since I have added the sand to their run! I was planning on tackling them 2 hens at a time, starting with the more severe infections and doing this in combination with the recommendation provided by Andrea below, utilizing calcarea carbonica, in combo with vetericyn and clean regular wrappings. It isn’t very realistic for me to separate them during treatment right now, and since they all have it to some degree, I wanted to ask if you felt this was hugely inadvisable?

    I tried treating topically vetericyn and practiced my wraps today and none of them stayed on. :/ I apologize for the long post. I would be so grateful for your guidance! I realize this will be a long process, but unfortunately my free time is little-none this semester but at the same time, I don’t want my girls to suffer or be in pain!

    Thank you x 1000,
    Lauren

    Reply
    • Bumble foot is not contagious, so there is no need to separate them long term. I separated out Lucy, because I wanted her to have a couple of days to heal on her own. Once with the others, no one bothered her and she got back to her family.

      Reply
  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. It worked like a charm! I just finished the procedure and fingers crossed she heals well!

    Reply
  9. I have been delaying treatment on my 2-year-old hen who was given to me — with bumblefoot. I was working up courage to attempt treatment. Yesterday, now that the temp is quite chilly and damp, I noticed Nelly limping quite a bit, so thought I’d better follow your directions and help her out.

    The epsom salts soak worked great and I was able to work out the huge plug/scab from one of her feet. The other foot had a very small scab that popped out easily. The more serious foot now has a big hole in it. I applied neosporin, a gauze pad, and wrapped with vet wrap. It amazed me that, afterward, she was running and walking around like a happy chicken.

    My concern is her behavior today. She has remained in her nestbox all day — except for a few minutes when I lifted her out to see if she could walk. She walked and ran just fine and ate a handful of cracked corn (her treat of choice). But then she went back up the steps to the coop and hunkered down in the nestbox again. (FYI, she sleeps in her nestbox. I know it’s not a good idea, but she’s determined to find a way in when I try to block it off.)
    Weather is still damp and in lower 50s.

    Is it normal for a hen to want to rest the day after this treatment? I hope so. Some reassurance would help my tendency to be a worry-wort.
    If this is not normal behavior, do I need to repeat the soak today?

    Reply
    • Hello! So glad you were able to help her. I would not repeat the soak. It is possible that the bumble foot could have progressed to a systemic infection (sepsis) not by your doing but by the natural progression of the bumble foot. If she is not back to herself in a couple of days you might want to take her for a visit to the vet. She could also be using her energies to heal. Please keep me posted on how things go.

      Reply
  10. Hi K, I am aware of the technique you are speaking of. Yes, some people do cut it out. It took years for me to have a chicken develop bumble foot. Finally I had one, and my years of expertise in wound management allowed me to understand exactly what bumble foot was. Cutting is not necessary. In fact I think it does more harm. Other popular chicken keepers for years were suggesting this technique. Does it work? Yes. Does it take longer to heal than my soaking technique, you bet! Wounds are wounds whether on humans or chickens. Sadly, I think fellow chicken keepers were led astray with the suggested cutting techniques and in fact, some of those bloggers have updated their posts to reflect the information that I provided in this post. Glad to see they are at least paying attention. That is a win win for folks dealing with this issue.

    Reply
    • Thanks for responding. Today I will check to make sure my girl has bumble foot and tomorrow I will try to go out and buy the supplies I am missing. I am definitely going to try the soaking technique!

      Reply
  11. Hey there,

    Just wanted to thank you SO much for this post! This hopefully helped out one of our girls that has bumblefoot.
    The other day while in the barn I caught one of my girls limping and favouring one leg. I decided to check it out, and found the big black circle in the middle. We wrapped her up in a towel, massaged her foot in the warm epson salt water and started working out the eschar. The top popped off and inside was a long thin black thing. I got tweezers and pulled it out and it was around half an inch long. There is resedue on the inside but we put on polysporin, a vet wrap and brought her back out into the barn. She was walking like normal and running around! What are some indications it could be getting worse or time to take her to the vet? Is there anything else we need to do, or go back and do over? AND is there any need to bring her back inside to try and get the rest of the residue out? Fingers crossed she does okay.

    -Emily

    Reply
  12. Thank you so much for your informative writing! I was watching bumblefoot surgery videos on YouTube when I came across someone just using soap to extract the infection. It didn’t seem like it would help with how bad my roosters feet were but it gave me the idea that i didn`t need to cut it out. I did some more research and found this page! The information was clear and easy to follow and since I was set up for surgery it was just as easy to try this first. It was a huge success!!! It took 3, 15 minutes soaks, but i got 100% of one foot and about 80 on the other. I could see that the soak was starting to hurt him so we packed the wounds with neosporin in and gauze and vettape.

    I`m so grateful that I was able to help him without cutting a giant hole in his foot. Thanks again 🙂

    Reply
  13. I used the epsom salt bath and prid drawing salve. It drew the plug out by the next morning, but it feels like there is still a hard swollen spot. Should I stay with the prid or change to neosporin? This is my 3rd day of treatment. There is no sign of infection.

    Reply
    • If you are concerned, I would reach out to a local vet that treats chickens. If this were my chicken from you what you are telling me, I would switch to the neosporin and allow it to heal and then reassess. Glad to hear that she is doing well.

      Reply
  14. Hi – thanks so much for the information. My hen has bumblefoot, but it’s located just above the nail on the rear toe. I didn’t catch it early, the toe is swollen and her foot is warm. I managed to loosen and remove the plug after a good soak, but there doesn’t seem to be any pus or hard yellow bits and it will bleed (this is day 2 of treatment) more than what I’ve read. I’ve massaged the area trying to work anything out, flushed it with hydrogen peroxide, dried it and applied antibiotic ointment, gauze, and wrapped it. She has been quarantined in a dog kennel for the 2 days, continues to behave normally, etc. I’ve given her mealworms, normal feed, water with NutriDrench & ACV. I see some improvement, the toe definitely isn’t as swollen, but I’m concerned that the foot is still warm to the touch, and slight redness visible, indicating the infection is still present. I’m looking to order TricideNeo, but will have to probably wait until Monday for it to arrive. Is it ok to keep her confined for that many days? TIA for any input!

    Reply
    • Good morning. It sounds like the infection might have spread to the foot. She might require a course of oral antibiotics to help her recover. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend the use of medication for fish in chickens. Do you happen to have a vet nearby that treats chickens? You might be able to treat your chicken more safely with an antibiotic tested and dosed for chickens. Also, I am not sure of the egg withdrawal period if you do decided to treat your chicken with medication for fish. I have list of poultry vets, under the chicken tab on the top of the website. Good luck and keep me posted with how things go for you and your sweet hen.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the response Melissa! Just finished another soak, cleanse, ointment and wrap. She’s still perky, eating, drinking, etc and balks at being inside. The toe is still swollen but definitely better, doesn’t smell and isn’t red or quite as warm. The limited exercise, etc is most likely helping as are the treatments. After much research I probably won’t do the oral antibiotics as the info indicates there isn’t one that truly treats this. Also it seems (even though anecdotal) numerous people have successfully treated bumblefoot with the TricideNeo, instead of invasive/risky cutting. I should be getting some by Monday and will try that for a couple of days and then back out with her sisters she goes! One reason to keep her in the kennel is due to the fact that she is one of the 2 (out of 5) that are VERY hard to pick up. And she’s smart – she refuses treats from my hand now, connecting that with being picked up. The other reasons for the quarantine are to keep the risk of spreading the infection and to keep her quiet and less mobile. The suggestion about seeking out an avian vet is welcome, but not practical. While we treat these girls like pets for the most part, a trip to the vet isn’t in the overall plan for any of them. Re the egg withdrawal, are you referring to not using any of her eggs after topically treating with TricideNeo? To be honest, I’m not sure she’s been laying (I know she hasn’t for at least the last 5 days). Thanks again!

      • Sure Terry, I understand about the vet, no worries. Even some topical treatments can get into the body just to a lesser degree. As TricideNeo is not approved in poultry, I have no literature or guidelines to help you. Overall, it sounds like she is improving with your love and care. That is great! Please keep me posted.

      • After 2 treatments with the TricideNeo, it was time to put her back out with the others. The toe looks better but is still swollen & she is limping a bit, but keeping up with her sisters and behaving normally. Keeping an eye on her, as it’s muddy & damp. If I can capture her I will do more treatments though.

  15. Anyone treat bumblefoot with no evidence of this plug? My buff started limping yesterday. Her left foot pad on bottom looks a little puffier than the right but there’s no scab or redness or swelling elsewhere. How can I prevent this from advancing?

    Reply
    • It sounds like your chicken does not have bumblefoot but some sort of injury. Do you see a thorn of something in the foot pad? She also could have injured it jumping off a roost or out of a nesting box. I would monitor it for now. From what you are describing it is not bumblefoot. That eschar scab needs to be present to some degree. I would definitely keep an eye on it.

      Reply
      • Thank you! I brought her in, gave her a bath and inspected the foot. There was no redness, no visible injury, not even much swelling if any. After we gave her a shampoo and set-which she loved-I painted her whole foot in betadine. We kept her in the dog kennel at night for two nights and I lowered the roost. She still has a limp but seems to be improving. I definitely overfeed them treats and tgey were flying off a roost as high as my head and landing THUD on the floor of coop which is wood covered with shavings so I think it’s a sprain. I hope it heals!

      • Well, such wonderful news! Thanks for the update. A sprain sounds just about right. Try lowering the roosts so that jump to the floor is not so far. That might help prevent injury in the future.

  16. I have a question. I have wild, but tame chicken in my yard. They are not clipped. At this moment three of them might have bumble feet. Now my problem is that I can’t catch them, but don’t want them to suffer either. Any tips?

    Reply
    • Oh poor babies. I understand your concern. I would feel the same way, but I think it is best to leave them alone. Unless are willing to become a chicken keeper until their wounds heal completely and they can be re-released. Or, you could try and catch them and keep them as a flock of your own.

      Reply
  17. Came across your non surgical removal page and decided to give it a go as we did not feel comfortable cutting the bumblefoot out. Pleased to say it was a great success, thank you.

    Reply
  18. Hi Tilly thanks so much, this works and I am over the moon. We used drawing cream on ours for 3 days with a bandage and the eschar easily came away. The surgery on other people’s sites made me sick to my stomach. So pleased that some chicken keeping sites have changed their advise based on your article.

    Reply
    • I am so happy to hear this news Sue! That is fantastic. You know, it took years for one of my girls to develop bumble foot as it is not a common chicken ailment contrary to popular belief. I had always thought that surgery was a very strong decision to make prior to trying less aggressive and risky procedures. My professional training on my other job, certainly helped me to know what to do for my poor Lucy.

      Reply
  19. Oh yes, you do have this. You can do it. Just take your time. I am so glad that you found this post helpful. Maybe treat one then the other and try the drawing salve too. Good luck and keep me posted.

    Reply
  20. I tried this procedure and the scab came off easily and it was huge. That was 3-4 weeks ago. She now has a much smaller dark red (booboo type) scab. I am still treating and banishing her foot but should I soak this new scab off?

    Reply
  21. I’ve got a chicken with bumble foot, but in this case the scab was on her toe, and the swollen area seems to not so much be in that toe. I’ve been soaking her foot for 10-15 min’s a night, and then applying Neosporin or Veterycin. I have gotten the scab in her toe out, but now how do I get the swelling down. Is there a way that I can send pictures?

    Reply
  22. Just soaked and used tweezers to gently extract her bumble foots (one in each foot), SO MUCH BETTER than attempting surgery Thank you for the non-surgery suggestion, fingers crossed it did the trick.

    Reply
  23. I have hen named Breezy who has Bumblefoot! I am going to try this today! Will keep you posted! She’s had it for awhile and I didn’t know what it was. Hope it’s not too late!

    Reply
  24. Hi I have a chicken who has 2 little lesions on her foot smaller than Tilly’s but on same foot her pad is swollen. We have been soaking her pad for 15 mins now for a week but it doesn’t look like it’s ready to come out. How do you know when it’s ready to come out I have tried picking it a bit but really don’t want to hurt her?

    Reply
    • I had the same thing. I wrapped it up with Vetricin spray, Neosporin and a Manuka honey pad and a regular bandage over it. I waited a week and soaked it again and the scab came off.

      Reply
    • I think you are describing a very early state. The body might heal on it’s own. Try to determine what the cause is and improve it. Watch the feet. If you have a vet nearby, you might consider consulting with them. Perhaps it is something else….

      Reply
  25. I removed a large bumblefoot infection about 3 weeks ago. When I went to change her bandage today there was a very thick light yellow scab. It came off very easily with out soaking and bled freely. I bandaged it with mupirocin ointment and a duoderm pad. Any ideas what this was?

    Reply
  26. Thank you so much for this information!! I just tried it on one of my girls, who has a mild case on both feet. After about 45 minutes of soaking the scabs came off but the pus plug inside (which wasn’t terribly large) didn’t want to budge without bleeding and I didn’t want to dig around inside the wound. I will see how things look and re-soak if necessary. I am terrified that I am going to put her into sepsis. Do you put them on an oral antibiotic just in case?

    Reply
    • No, I would hold off on giving oral antibiotics for now unless you can have veterinarian assist you. From what you describe it would be a low likelihood that you have introduced bacteria into her bloodstream.

      Reply
  27. My girls infections have pretty much cleared up, I am waiting for the last of the scabs to come off but they are getting small cuts between their toes from the bandages. I use a Duoderm pad on the wound and cover with rolled gauze and Vetwrap. Is there anything else I can do? My husband just wants to take off everything and let them go. They are bedded in about 6 inches of sand inside and out, but they are free ranged. I would normally put them in a smaller enclosure attached to their shed but it currently contains 6 right week old chicks.

    Reply
    • That is really great news. Glad to hear at the infection is clearing. Sounds like the wrap is too think between the toes to be causing cuts. How deep are the wounds still? Removing the bandages depends on how deep the wounds are, how well they are healed and the potential for reinfection from their environment. Feel free to post some pics on my Facebook page, so I can take a peek.

      Reply
  28. Thank you for sharing your bumblefoot remedy. I didn’t want to take my little Rose to the vet and put her through a lot of trauma. I found your article and it worked well without any trauma to her or me! I ended up soaking her toes 15 minutes at a time for 3 days. After each soak, I tried to loosen the plug, but it wasn’t ready. After each soaking, I dried her toes, put on Neosporin, a padded band-aid and over that, vetwrap. She never bothered the wrapping. On day 4, I unexpectedly had to go out of town. Four days later, I returned and found she still had the vetwrap intact. I removed the wrap and soaked her toes again. This time, when I wiggled the plug, it was very loose and came out with little effort. Success! I thoroughly dried her toes and the hole, placed Neosporin on a small patch, then wrapped her up well with vetwrap. I left her toes wrapped up for a few days and when I removed the wrap, there was just a little dark dot where the hole was. She looks great! I’m so thankful to you for sharing your knowledge.

    Reply
  29. I tried to post the picture to your Facebook page but I had a problem. I don’t use it much. Next to the now gone yellow scab there is a small red dot. I’m having problems with her because she is over being caught and bandaged. Any suggestions you have would be great. You have been SO helpful. My get does see chickens but the way she told me to bandage I just can’t replicate. You have to put a ball of sheet cotton under their foot and wrap the whole thing so that it looks like a club foot. It is supposed to take the weight off the foot so it can heal.

    Reply
  30. I soaked my girls foot in Epsom salts. The large scab did come off but it started to bleed from inside the hole. I panicked a bit. I sprayed it with Vetercyrin and some anti bacterial cream in the hole. I wrapped it well and will check it and re wrap at bed time. I’m concerned I didn’t get out the plug or any infection due to the sight of the blood, I was worried I’d hurt her. The scab had some dried yellow underneath it. Foot not swollen. No limping. Just a large black scab. Thanks for your help.

    Reply
  31. I soaked my hens feet in epsom salt and the scab didn’t budge. She soaked for 15 minutes. What should I do? I put neosporin on it and wrapppwd it up and isolated her.

    Reply
  32. Hi Melissa! Great-uncle Ray’s neighbor Laura here… Thank you so much for sharing your Non-Surgical Bumblefoot Treatment Method ! My 15 year-old son Mason and I used it on our hen Beth today. We soaked her feet for a total of 20 minutes while she “purred” the entire time. Your directions were practical and clearly written. The kernals I removed from her feet looked like your pictures and there was no blood. We treated her according to your directions. I have a happy hen, isolated in her run, with wood shavings, herbs, sunflower seeds and mealworms. Thanks again!

    Reply
  33. Hi Melissa, thanks a million for showing us how to get rid of bumblefoot. My chicken had it quite bad and after about 6 soaks of Epsom salts it finally came away. I think I was as relieved as the poor chicken. I followed your instructions and now hopefully Lily is on the mend. Keep up the great work! X

    Reply
  34. Hi Melissa. Excellent advice. I did this last night and it looks good. Picnic seems much happier (and tamer!). Do you know where I can get duoderm GFC in the UK? Or is there something similar? Do you know what is so good about it? Perhaps there is similar in the UK but I don’t know what. I’m going on holiday for a week in about 2 weeks time and would like to bandage the leg up for a week so it stays clean whilst I’m gone! so I thought if we can get some duoderm it should atleast stay clean for a week!

    Reply
  35. Thank you for this advice. I did this yesterday and after over 20 min of soaking it still was hard to get scab off. Was some blood but not bad. I sprayed with the VeterycinVF and put Neosporin in with duoderm. I can’t believe the bandage is still on this morning! I guess will redo in a few days? Wish I had the duoderm gel too. Thanks again!

    Reply
  36. I noticed a red spot between my girls foot. Soaked her and was able to look ate the bottom of her foot. I managed to get most of the black spot off. Couldn’t get a bandage on her. Will she be okay without anything covering her foot?

    Reply
  37. Thank you for this! We just got chickens a week ago from a friend. Went out this morning and one is limping, won’t stand on the right leg. I picked her up and found the telltale black spot. We’ll try your method and hope for the best since it seems like the only vet option is bring her to Tufts 🙁

    Reply
  38. Would blue-kote or peroxide work in place of the Vetericyn spray? Also i dont have any duoderm gfc so ill just use regular gauze i guess.. im about to start the soaking on 1 of my hens who seems to have it on both feet ugh!!..praying it works!! thanks God bless – Rhiannon

    Reply
    • I have never used the blu-kote on these types of wounds. I would avoid the peroxide. Do you have an avian vet nearby who can assist you. You might consider trying a drawing salve instead of the soaks….

      Reply
  39. my roster has red lines on his legs and on the botome of his feet he has a black spot. i am new to chicken keeping and i am wored. i love him like viola loved dusky. mia fay rock ps i am nine

    Reply
  40. Many thanks for your advice. My little bantam had a black lump on her little claw pad. Following your instructions the lump came away after 15 minutes soaking with the claw as well. I’ve just put her back with her chicks who were calling for her. Have put a dressing on and will keep checking her. She’s absolutely my favourite hen and a great mother.

    Reply
  41. Thank you so much! I was so worried about my hen when noticed she wasn’t darting around for scratch and was instead barely moving, either laying down or standing on one leg. When I picked her up to look for injuries, I was shocked at how bony she was and concluded that she was just dying — she is nine years old, after all. But then I noticed a lump in between the toes on each foot, found your blog, soaked her and pulled out two kernals…Now she’s recouping in a nest of towels in the bathtub; pecking a little bit at food and taking a few sips of water. I hope I can get her back on track! In any case, this was a wonderful resource. Thank you!!

    Reply
  42. Thanks Melissa for all this information. I have a number of hens with bumblefoot, which need treating. Quick question: once the plug is removed is there or can there still be infection deeper in the foot? Looking at the ‘surgical’ procedures on youtube, they seem to 1) cut out the plug and then 2) cut and remove deeper tissue under the plug, which they call the infection. What are your thoughts on this as your non surgical procedure seems to only deals with point 1?
    Also in Australia we cannot buy neosporin or other antibiotic ointments ‘over the counter’. Is this cream really important or can an iodine based spray do the job?
    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Hi Marty! I do not agree with the cutting. The plug includes the infection which is usually incapsulated. That being said, a cellulitis can result in the foot/leg or even a blood infection called sepsis. If there is an infection deeper in the foot that is not an access, then it should be treated with oral antibiotics under the supervision of a veterinarian. The iodine should work just fine.

      Reply
  43. I would taker her to the vet if you can. Sorry I have not been online because of the holidays. I hope she is still with us. Sounds like there could have been something else going on in addition to the bumble foot.

    Reply
    • Thanks Melissa. No apologies necessary. 🙂 She passed away in her sleep a week ago. There must have been something else. Really good to learn about bumble foot, though, so I can keep an eye on the other girls and address it like this!

      Reply
  44. Thank you Melissa for this awesome resource! We just did this exact procedure last night on one of our buff orpingtons and everything you shared for the process worked beautifully. It took repeated soaks to loosen up the plug but with patient and perseverance and a relatively calm bird we were successful. Thank you so much for making this available to us chicken lovers, and for anyone reading this site and wondering if this will work believe me and others that posted here it does!!!

    Reply
  45. Thanks so much for putting this up- your information saved our already jumpy Australorpe a long trip to the vet- I soaked hers twice and couldn’t budge it, she was getting restless (and it was extremely hot) so I disinfected it and wrapped it- 4 days later I soaked again and everything went exactly as you wrote it! She had a really long plug- I was amazed! She didn’t show any symptoms at all, I just picked it up during a quick once over/ cuddle! Very grateful!!!

    Reply
  46. I wasn’t successful but haven’t given up. Wish I found your article awhile back, it would have been alot easier when the scab was smaller. I did the soaking several times but the only the scab pulled off 🙁 It did bleed & I panicked 🙁 Cleaned the spot up & put some Triple Antibiotic (no pain killer) & wrapped her. Will remove wrap tomorrow to check, should I try again or let it heal before trying again? There’s no scab, see a white thing (plug?) Should have taken pics but didn’t think about it, now worried I really messed up.

    Reply
      • That’s what I plan on doing. Have been putting Neosporin (w/out pain) & vet wrapping every 2 days. It’s “healing” not bothering her, no redness nor limping thankfully. Will try again later, thank you for your Non Surgical Treatment thread. Was not about to do surgery myself, may have found a Vet that would but I prefer non surgical first. Thank you again.

  47. Thank you, thank you.
    I am so glad I found this information. We recently took a few hens from someone moving and I think this one must have had bumbkefoot when we got her, poor thing.
    Noticed her limping a little and looked closer and she had 2 large abcesses poking up between her toes! Looked underneath her foot and there were 2 big black scabs. I panicked, then found your amazing instructions. It really made me think “okay, I can do this!!”
    With the help of my 5 year old (she is the real chicken whisperer) singing lullabys to Chocolate I managed to get both plugs out after soaking and the medication and bandage on. She seems happy as anything now they are out!
    There was no bleeding, it looked very clean in the holes where the plugs came out. Plugs were rock hard, is that normal?
    I think you wrote it should heal in a couple of weeks, should I keep it bandaged up, changing every few days, for that long?
    Thanks again. I am so happy I found this.

    Reply
    • Oh I am so glad and happy to have helped. Yes, just keep it bandaged so the “holes” do not fill or become soiled with dirt or chicken poo. Sounds like the removal was a success. Please keep me posted and you are so lucky to have a little chicken whisperer. xo

      Reply
  48. Hi I have a question that I can not seem to find the answer to our quails had some hard poop balls on their feet and I thought they would fall off but they hadn’t and only got bigger I had my sister help me after I soaked their feet in water for a little try and get them off it took awhile on one of the birds and on her middle toe it was white about half way up. She can’t walk really now and I don’t know what to do. She can get around but just cannont seem to stand up all the way

    Reply
    • Oh dear, I am so sorry to hear about this. I am not familiar with taking care of quail. I have not heard of this issue so I don’t want to give the wrong advice. Is there some sort of quail group on Facebook or social media or a group near you like a quail club or a veterinarian that can assist you? I think that may be the best way to help your poor little girl.

      Reply
  49. Hi Melissa, I’d like to try your method but I’m not familiar with the topical medications you used, or sure whether they are available here in New Zealand. I have iodine – would that suffice? Do you have a non-branded name for what you’re talking about?

    Reply
    • Hello Claire, So good to hear from you. So, you can use a triple antibiotic ointment. The iodine I would not use long term as it can inhibit healing and tissue growth. It is more of a disinfectant. I hope this helps and so sorry for the delay in responding to you.

      Reply
  50. Thanks so much, Tilly! I applied this technique successfully to two lesions on a hen’s face: one below the ear, the other below the eye. Using a cotton ball to apply the epsom salts (and switching to plain water after some got in her eye — ouch!) worked perfectly well. We got the eschar out with no bleeding at all.
    But I made significant mistakes in the timing, dressing and post-operative care, which caused her a lot of unnecessary stress.
    First mistake: Dressing. I used a wound gel, non-stick pad, and vet tape to hold it around her neck, as you described for bumblefoot. But it seemed to mess with her balance. She would stand in the defensive posture: head down, tail up, then very slowly topple forward onto her beak. After about five minutes we just cut all the dressings off, and then she was able to move properly again.
    Second mistake: Isolation. When we released her back into an insolation coop she panicked in the unfamiliar environment. Clearly we should have given her time to become familiar with the environment in advance.
    Third mistake: Timing. There wasn’t much I could do about this due to other time constraints. But I don’t think that treating her just before lunchtime was ideal. Bedtime would have been much better.

    Reply
    • Oh, and we plan to just reapply the wound gel regularly in lieu of dressings. And as she was going broody, we are encouraging that, so she will be resting on her nest. We managed to get some eggs into the incubator five days ago, which will shorten the brood time a little.

      Reply
      • Hi Helena, perfect time for broody, I agree. I would still apply the triple antibiotic cream and wrap it with a dressing. The dressing prevents chicken poop from going into the “hole” and also prevents infection from getting up inside too. The wound should heal from the inside out.

    • Oh gosh, we are always learning aren’t we? I hope your hen feels better soon. Be careful around the face. Chickens heal very quickly and often do not require much bandaging. If you can find Vetericyn it is also wonderful on wounds and even can be used in the eyes.

      Reply
  51. I used vitamin E and selenium drug had great recovery the feet cracking is caused by lack of vitamins so supplemented it in drinking water. Soaked the more serious ones in epsom salts

    Reply
  52. I am not a native English speaker and am not sure if I understood everything right. Do you soak the foot every time when you change the bandage? I was able to pull the scab off, but when I changed the bandage two days later, I saw that the wound had scabbed over again. I also had a problem with the hydrocolloid dressing that would not stick onto the greasy Neosporin treated footpad of my bantam.

    Reply
    • Hello Annemarie, Thank you for your comment. Your English is excellent. No, you only soak the foot when trying to remove the plug- it should look like a kernel of corn. Then you just do the bandage and dressings. The wound should be a small hole that you fill with the Neosporin. Then the hydrocolloid attaches to the skin on the perimeter with out the neosporin and then you would want to wrap the foot after. I hope this helps.

      Reply
  53. Thank you so much, Tilly, for sharing this method. The farm manager and I spent two hours soaking the feet and working on the feet of our favorite chicken who has bumble foot on both feet, one worse than the other. I didn’t read your post carefully enough and did not understand the difference between the eschar and the plug. After 15 minutes of soaking, the scab/eschar on the lesser infected foot was gone and it was red and bleeding a bit, so we bandaged that one up. It took several more soaks for the eschar to come off of the puffier foot. But eventually after continuing to work at it the eschar came off.

    At that point, I was thinking the eschar and the plug were the same thing, so once the scab/eschar was off, I didn’t continue to work the feet to try and get any plugs out. She has been re-bandaged every day with antibiotic ointment and re-wrapped.

    It has now been a week and I’ll be back at the farm tomorrow. I’m wondering if we should try soaking again in epson salts and working on the wounds more to tray and get any plugs out. Is it possible there weren’t plugs in there to start with…or if there is an eschar present and the feet are swollen, does it inevitably mean there is infection/plug inside? The feet are still puffy.

    Thanks for any advice!

    Reply
    • How is she doing now? I think I would try to let things heal up and see what it looks like once there is new skin there. Also, if there is swelling that could be a sign of infection? Do you have a vet nearby that can take a peek? It is so hard over the internet without photos from folk to assist.

      Reply
  54. Hi Tilly, I’m dealing with bumblefoot on one of my girls for the first time. I did the soak & removed the black scabs with tweezers on both feet, she bled a little. The first few days I kept her inside & would soak, spray with bactrim, apply antibiotic cream & wrap. It’s been 2 weeks & she’s now back in the coop & I repeat that process every 2-3 days and am raking out the poop daily. She’s doing great & doesn’t seem at all bothered by having her feet wrapped. She has yellowish/light brown scabs now. Here’s my question, we leave for vacation in a few days (for a week) and I have someone coming daily to take care of animals but she won’t be able to remove/reapply bandages so is it ok to leave the bandages on for a week? I feel it’s better than going without in order to keep the healing scabs protected from poop. Thanks!!

    Reply
  55. Super glad I ran into your post. It was super helpful. I looked for all options other than cutting or vet. Our vet used to be cheap and charge bare minimum but not anymore. I have 2 with both pads bumble foot. The first one I did 2 weeks ago. I kept her separate mainly to keep her off the roost and getting it dirty. I let her out yesterday and she did what I knew she would do. I watched and as soon as I turned my back she was in the dust patch just covered. I changed it today, 3rd change and they look okay but it’s slow going. I had hoped she would be pretty closed up by now but not yet. When do you think she can be free to roam and roost again. I’m not worried about the others and it’s taped up good. Any thoughts? Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi there, I think sometimes the worse they are the longer to heal. Keep at it. Keep doing the dressing changes and applying the treatments. It can take weeks, but each week you should be seeing improvement. If not, you might want to visit the vet just to be sure. Keep at it. Time will help.

      Reply
  56. This post is so encouraging! We have had chickens for about a year and are just now experiencing our first bout of what seems to be bumblefoot in our Leghorn named Gretchen. We noticed some swelling in one foot a few days ago but absolutely no redness; and she was running around and walking like normal. Last night when putting our girls to bed, I checked on her foot and noticed a very small brownish scab. And her other foot now has a slight swollen spot with a pin size brown dot. Based on everything I’ve read, we are guessing this is indeed bumblefoot. We have epsom salt, towels, regular neosporin, Vetericyn, non-stick gauze, and vet wrap…and plenty of her favorite treats.

    A few questions:
    I saw a recent comment about hydrocolloid dressing. Is that just a basic hydrocolloid blister bandaid from CVS or a drugstore? Most of those seem to be medicated, so we are wondering if that’s ok or if there is something else we should get for the bottom of her feet.

    As far as isolating her…she is very social, so I hate to keep her completely away from her flock. We have another girl who hasn’t been feeling well the last few days. She’s a 21 week old Barred Rock named Ethel (she has a twin named Lucy 🙂 She seemed to be egg bound (trouble walking, tail feathers down, panting) but laid her little egg Sunday and another on Monday and eats and drinks whatever I put in front of her. I’m at a loss since her symptoms are the same but she has laid 2 eggs. Anyway, she is in a special “infirmary” coop that we installed in our hen house / run. Do you think we could put our Leghorn Gretchen in with Ethel?

    We are going to treat Gretchen’s feet this afternoon, but to add worse to the wear, we have to go out of town tomorrow (Thursday) and will be gone until Sunday. My husband’s 25 year old daughter is staying at our farm to care for our horses, chickens, dogs, and cats…but I simply cannot ask or expect her to treat Gretchen’s feet by herself. Will she be ok with the wrap until we get home?

    As someone else said earlier, I apologize foe the long post. Thank you for any and all advice, input, and suggestions!

    PS… “How to Speak Chicken” is my favorite chicken book!! I have read it cover to cover several times and never tire of it! My girls and I say “goodnight” to each other every night after I sing them their night time lullaby that I wrote for them. They line up around their coop and we all “doh-doh” to each other as I’m securing their doors and house. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hello Kirsten, thank you for your message. And I am so happy you are enjoying “How to Speak Chicken”. I would recommend that you follow the directions as I have included in the post. Hydrocolloids, can really adhere- rolling into themselves and worse tear at skin, so I would do that at your own risk. The most important part is packing the wound and that cannot be done with that dressing. I think she will be fine wrapped. As far as isolating her, it is more so that no one pecks at her bandage and pulls it off or worse ingests it. You can consider keeping her sectioned off in the coop if space allows. This way they can all see her and socialize. You might consider doing something like this:https://www.tillysnest.com/2012/07/a-chicken-safe-place-diy-instructions-html/
      Good luck and keep me posted.

      Reply
  57. Hi Melissa, thanks so much for this article! I was really wanting to try some nicer techniques than cutting into the foot if I could avoid it. I would be really hesitant to introduce a secondary infection. I currently have three hens with mild bumblefoot on one foot. One of the three has topical scabs on her feet that don’t seem like the black plug depicted. I don’t want to overdo it with her but I did remove one of the scabs tonight. Would you recommend just letting it heal and reassessing? The other one seemed to have discolored tissue underneath the plug that didn’t look like healthy skin, but it also didn’t seem to want to disconnect from her foot if so. I soaked it awhile longer and tried but ultimately rebandaged. When do you know when to just give the skin a chance to heal versus trying to ensure the infection is all out with the course of treatment?

    Reply
  58. I’ve been soaking warm water and rosin salt for 1 hour each day for two days now with no progress. The second day she took the bandage off in no time.
    She’s not happy w the wrap what do I do to keep it on?
    I think I’m going to try drawing salve what do you think? I wish the soaking was a least getting some results but her plug doesn’t even soften at all.

    Reply
  59. *excellent remedy! We already knew the basics on how to treat, but your description has made it clear and understandable. We live in an area where vets sort of chuckle at the idea of treating a chicken (or they say yes and waste your time and money when they don’t actually know anything about poultry) so non-surgical remedies are always welcomed. Anyway, we have a turkey tom with a weird injury around his small back toe – we just learned they can get bumblefoot anywhere on their feet, not just on the bottom or the pad under the toes/foot, and it does look like that may be it. We will be epsom soaking him today and treating it like bumblefoot. For 29# bird, we use a stool to sit on and sitting next to a wide but ‘deep enough’ container of warm epsom water, we ease him down to stand in it, and hug-hold him gently with his head covered while he soaks. Our tom is WAY more cooperative than most of our chickens, ha ha. Thanks for great remedy. Bookmarking!

    Reply
  60. Would this work for ducks as well? My Pekin hen has a odd black scab on both pads of her feet, no limping or weird behavior, do think it’s bumblefoot? I’m don’t want to start any treatment if it’s not bumblefoot. Thank you.

    Reply
  61. Hello,

    I removed a black plug from one of my hens foot last week. I only noticed something was wrong when I saw the bright pink bubble between her toes. The plug came out after 20 minutes of soaking and the hole left was clean and healthy tissue. I wrapped up her foot and changed the bandage when needed. The hole is healed now and she no longer has a bandage ( I may soak her foot again just to clean it and check it again). My question is, the pink bubble is still there between her toes and I am a little worried about it. Will it go away or at least change color? Should I be worried that I didn’t do enough to get the infection out?

    Reply
    • Hi Tracy, Great job to you on getting out that kernel. It sounds like the “pink bubble” might be something else unrelated to your chicken’s bumblefoot or it could be signs of a deeper infection that might require some oral antibiotics. Do you have a vet nearby that can assist and evaluate her?

      Reply

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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.