Bumblefoot is a term for a type of infection found on the foot of a chicken. It is painful, characterized by swelling and causes growth and accumulation of hard tissue. While medical professionals refer to it as plantar pododermatitis, you don’t need to know the technical term to spot the symptoms or prevent it from occurring.
Symptoms of Bumblefoot
This type of infection is caused by an abscess that forms on the chicken’s foot, more specifically, on the sole and may look like a callus. As hard tissue continues to accumulate, the foot will begin to swell and cause the chicken to limp. In more severe cases, the chicken may leave behind bloody footprints. The most serious risk of bumblefoot is foot deformity; however, early detection can prevent this as bumblefoot responds well to treatment.
Causes of Bumblefoot
Bumblefoot is often caused by a small laceration to the foot that becomes infected. Chickens have a tendency to incur these types of wounds from perching. When chickens perch on narrow wires, narrow edges or sharp corners, their feet can easily become wounded. Another risk for bumblefoot is walking over floors made of metal, if they have edges, and rough wood, which can cause splinters. Another common cause is when chickens jump off their perches and land hard.
Improper or Inadequate Nutrition
Bumblefoot is more likely to occur if the chicken’s diet is lacking in vitamin A. Often times, a chicken is fed a diet of seeds, which contain very little vitamin A. Vitamin A aids in proper digestion and promotes resistance to parasites. One obvious sign of a vitamin deficiency is their plumage – it will be rough and look pale and dull. Additionally, a vitamin A deficiency will cause a scaly and yellow-tinged accumulation on the beak as well as a lack of color intensity in the cere.
Infections are a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites, which if left untreated, can become life-threatening for the chicken. Some infections can become acute and eat away at the bone of the chicken.
You can reduce the risk of bumblefoot by providing good and safe perching areas inside the coop. Replace any thin wires with suitable perches of varying circumferences.
You can also supplement their diets with vitamins. Provide a steady supply of foods rich in vitamin A such as carrots. Carrots are a great source of vitamin A, and chickens love them. You can also give them your discarded fruit and vegetable peels to provide healthier options. Bumblefoot will heal as the vitamin deficiency is resolved.
Treatments for Bumblefoot
As bumblefoot is technically an infection, it will respond to antibiotic treatment. If you feel the infection is not severe enough for medication, you can clean the foot with warm water for ten minutes before applying an antibiotic ointment. If bumblefoot is severe, it is recommended that you soak the foot in warm water for ten minutes and then, using a sharp knife, scrape off any hard accumulations or scabs. You will be left with a small hole where the infection was growing, it is essential to apply an antibiotic or cleansing ointment to the affected area and then cover it with a bandage or wrap. Repeat this process daily until all sign of the infection is gone.