Bumblefoot Chicken: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

Here you will know all about Bumblefoot chicken. This article includes meaning, causes, symptoms, stages, treatment, precautions and all FAQs about Bumblefoot infection in chickens.

What is Bumblefoot in Chicken?

Bumblefoot Chicken is a condition in chicken characterised by swollen, inflamed tissue on the bottom of the foot. It typically affects one or more toes and may cause infection and lameness.

Bumblefoot Chicken isn’t usually serious but left untreated, and it can lead to crippling and death. Bumblefoot is caused by a bacterial infection, typically Staphylococcus Aureus. 

The infection begins in the bird’s skin and may spread internally to the joints or bones if not treated properly.

Bumblefoot Chicken is most commonly seen in chickens housed on solid floors, although perches can also cause bruising that leads to bumblefoot. 

It can be prevented by providing adequate perches, avoiding wet litter and ensuring that housing is dry.

Treatment typically involves removal of the affected portion of the foot using a scalpel or sharp scissors. The wound will need to be cleaned and treated with antibiotics and antiseptic.

Recovery time varies and may take weeks to months depending on the severity of infection, wound size, and whether it affected a single foot or multiple feet.

Causes of Bumblefoot Chicken

Bumblefoot Chicken is a condition characterized by a bacterial infection of the footpad. The primary cause of Bumblefoot Chicken is introduced through a puncture wound caused by stepping on something sharp. 

The symptoms of Bumblefoot Chicken are swollen, red bumps or abscesses (pus-filled), lameness, and lack of appetite.

The causes include:

#1. stepping on sharp objects ​​such as nails, glass, wire mesh. This leads to the bacteria “Staphylococcus Aureus” entering the footpad, causing infection.

#2. Osteomyelitis (inflammation of bones) is caused by poor handling of chicken; for example, bad conditions during transportation cause injury to bone and foot pad leading to bone infection and secondary bacterial infection such as “Staphylococcus Aureus.”

#3. Foreign body in footpads such as needle, and sharp thing. Which causes injury and abscess.

#4. Avian pox causes skin ulcers on the footpad with secondary bacterial infections of “Staphylococcus Aureus.”

#5. Tendovaginitis of footpads caused by poor walking conditions, for example, slippery, wet flooring leading to ligament tear and subsequent infection of footpad.

#6. Contraction from other chickens or wild birds through pecking wounds.

Symptoms of Chicken Have a Bumblefoot Popping

Bumblefoot is a very common but serious condition that can affect chickens of all ages and breeds; bumblefoot isn’t specific to any breed or sex. 

It’s important to know the symptoms so you can treat your chicken as soon as possible if it exhibits any of the signs described below.

The first sign of bumblefoot is usually a wound or abscess on the bottom of the chicken’s foot. The wound may be superficial, with only redness around it; this would show an infected scratch caused by sharp sand, gravel, or other materials in the coop. 

However, if your bird becomes lame and reluctant to stand or walk, that’s a serious sign. Swelling and redness around a bumblefoot wound may show the beginning of an abscess. 

If the infection may continue untreated, you’ll observe a bulge on the bottom of your chicken’s foot – it often looks as if there’s a pebble stuck to the bottom of it. 

If you press gently against this bulge, your chicken may flinch and become lame. The abscess will grow larger and continue to get worse unless it’s treated by a veterinarian or poultry specialist who has experience with bumblefoot.

An untreated abscess can spread throughout the foot and cause serious damage, and can even kill your bird. Your chicken may lose the ability to stand on its feet and refuse to use them to avoid any weight at all being placed on the abscessed foot. 

You should seek treatment for your bird as soon as you notice it acting this way because if the abscess bursts, it can be extremely difficult to treat successfully.

If left untreated, your chicken’s foot will become very hot due to infection and swelling; this is another serious sign that bumblefoot has set in. 

You should take your chicken to a poultry specialist if you notice it’s excessively hot because an abscessed foot is extremely uncomfortable for your chicken and may cause it to become severely stressed.

The infection in your bird’s foot has spread throughout its body; fever and lethargy are both signs of bumblefoot. 

Your chicken will be very lethargic and weak, and there may even be visible swelling around the abscess site or throughout your bird’s body. With bumblefoot left untreated, death is inevitable if proper steps are not taken to treat it quickly.

Isolate the sick chicken from the rest of your flock because bumblefoot is contagious, and other chickens can contract it from a single carrier bird.

A foul smell may emit from the site of infection if bumblefoot has set in; this is because an abscess or burst wound emits toxins into your chicken’s body through its bloodstream. 

In addition to being extremely painful, an abscessed foot can eventually kill your bird if it’s not treated.

Stages of Bumblefoot Infection in Chicken

Stages of Bumblefoot Infection in Chicken from Acute to Chronic
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Bumblefoot is a staph infection that causes swelling, pain, and other symptoms in chickens or birds. Depending on the severity of the condition, there are five stages to bumblefoot infection in chicken.

Stage 1: Hard Swellings on Foot Pads

They are usually caused by sharp objects piercing through the footpad. This causes a slow accumulation of pus under the footpad, resulting in a yellowish build-up. 

The pus accumulated here is not infectious to humans or other animals.

There may be slight lameness at this stage, but chickens will continue their usual activities. In some cases, this condition may go away on its own.

Stage 2: Break in Foot Pad

A break or hole is caused by a small scab in the affected area. In this stage, the infection is rooted deep into the muscles and tissues underneath. 

In severe bumblefoot cases, chickens cannot walk properly even with treatment. 

Some cases have seen the infection spread to the other foot pad; however, this is rare. Affected chickens may lose weight due to a lack of mobility.

Stage 3: Dead Tissue Formation

In this stage, the affected area becomes hard and rough. It looks yellow or brownish, with a plug-like structure sticking out. 

The infection will continue to spread to the surrounding areas. The entire footpad might swell up with no visible way of draining out the pus. Affected chickens may appear lethargic and lose their appetite.

Stage 4: Separation of Infection from Foot Pad

This stage differs from other stages as there are no obvious signs or symptoms of bumblefoot infection. 

Chickens infected in this stage will appear to have healthy feet because there is no swelling or traces of pus on the footpads. 

However, these chickens can carry the infection without visible signs. When cleaned and treated, affected chickens might require longer than usual for their wounds to heal.

Stage 5: Chronic Infection

In this stage, the infection has scattered over large areas of the footpad, although there are no signs that the chicken is infected. 

This stage might be difficult to detect because chickens with chronic bumblefoot infection continue their usual activities despite the pain caused by the infection. 

The only way to know if a chicken has chronic bumblefoot infection is to perform surgery; however, this may lead to the amputation of the footpad.

Treatment of Bumblefoot Chicken

Treatment of Bumblefoot Chicken
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Bumblefoot is the result of an infection in one of the joints in the chicken’s foot. It is often caused by a small cut or scrape that develops into an infection and degenerates to the point where it can cause severe lameness in the chicken. 

According to IamCountryside Daily, “Bumblefoot in chickens usually occurs when a chicken stands on something sharp, such as a piece of wire.”

It can also be brought on by walking in an infected yard or laying down in wet bedding made of pine shavings. 

The UT Extension Office states, “Bumblefoot is most commonly caused when chickens walk on sharp objects, such as sticks, nails, and thorns. Affected legs may appear swollen with pus draining from the abscess.”

The infection can cause swelling and often put pressure on the nerves in the feet, causing pain. It may also lead to lameness or even paralysis if not treated properly. 

Treatment for bumblefoot chicken involves several steps: removal of dead tissue, surgical drainage and cleaning of the affected area, appropriate antibiotic therapy, and supportive care.

Removal of Dead Tissue

Removal of dead tissue is usually achieved by using a scalpel to make incisions across the entire area of the affected tissue. Drainage may be enhanced by using saline solution to loosen debris before rinsing with sterile water or saline solution.

Surgical Drainage

Surgical drainage is not enough treatment for bumblefoot chicken. 

surgical removal in early stage is more better that chronic stage
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Antibiotic therapy is vital to complete treatment for bumblefoot chicken and involves administering long-acting antibiotics at regular intervals over several weeks following the initial procedure. 

In addition, supportive care must be provided when treating bumblefoot chicken infection in chickens.

Cleaning of the Affected Area

Cleaning the affected area is vital to treating bumblefoot chicken infection. A topical antiseptic should be used to wash away debris and minimize the risk of re-infection. 

For cleaning, you can soak the affected area of claws in warm water mixed with Epsom salt. It will avoid building the scab.

To prevent this disease from occurring, it’s important to maintain clean, dry coop conditions. Keep coop litter and perches free of feces and wet spots. 

Proper tissue management also helps prevent this disease from occurring in chickens.

Best Antibiotics for Bumblefoot Chicken

To complete the treatment of bumblefoot chicken, several antibiotics are usually required. Commonly used antibiotics for bumblefoot chicken include Amoxicillin, Amikacin, Penicillin, and Enrofloxacin. 

Also, clean the abscess with povidone iodine or chlorhexidine solution.

In addition to oral antibiotic therapy, topical treatments such as silver sulfadiazine (antibiotic cream) help manage bumblefoot chicken infections.

Prevention of Bumblefoot Chicken

Prevention of bumblefoot is best done by taking preventative measures right from the beginning to ensure that chickens are not at risk for developing this foot condition. 

  • Only purchase healthy ones, and do not get more than one rooster chick per every ten hens when purchasing chicks.
  • Keep chicken coops clean and dry.
  • Regularly check for any signs of injury or foot problems in birds, especially if they spend most of their time on hard surfaces like concrete.
  • Trim the chicken’s wings to keep it from flying over rough ground, putting it at greater risk of injury.
  • Trim the sharp points on roosts to prevent injuries when birds land on them to sleep or rest.
  • Provide a clean, comfortable place for chickens to sleep free from drafts and be raised off the ground.
  • Ensure there is no debris or sharp objects in chicken fencing that can injure their feet.
  • Feed chickens a high-quality diet with plenty of fresh greens and clean water daily.
  • Diversify a chicken’s daily activities to include indoor and outdoor time on grass, dirt, and gravel.
  • Do not allow chickens to fly and roost over hard surfaces.

FAQs on Chicken Bumblefoot Infection

Is It Normal for a Chicken to Start Limping?

No. Chickens are not built to walk around on sharp objects or rough surfaces that cause pain, so when they begin to limp, the reason is usually an injury. 

Injuries can occur from various sources, including building materials used in the coop and run, sharp objects around the yard, parasitic infestations, and injuries from predators. 

The best way to deal with limping is to figure out what is causing it so you can properly care for your chicken.

How to Diagnose Swollen Chicken Feet, Not Bumblefoot?

Chicken Swollen feet do not always mean bumblefoot. Various causes of swelling will be discussed in this article; however, the primary cause is Bumblefoot and what you need to know to treat it. 

However, if the chicken has been diagnosed with bumblefoot or does not respond to conservative treatment, a veterinarian should make the final diagnosis and treat it accordingly.

What to Do for a Severe Bumblefoot Infection in Chicken?

If the bumblefoot infection has become severe, you would need to do an operation to stop the spread of the infection. Washing the bird’s infected feet with a Betadine or an iodine solution is a good idea. 

If the bird has to scab over its foot, pull off some of the scabs and try to open them up while washing them – this will help eliminate any bacteria underneath the scabs. 

You don’t want bacteria to spread from the feet to other body parts. It is also advisable to take it to a vet to ensure it gets excellent care for Bumblefoot infection in chicken.

Bijaya Kumar
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