September 15, 2010

Bumblefoot Hit my Flock

Lucky me ... bumblefoot has hit my flock.  I noticed bumps between the toes of my largest hen (Bertha) a couple of weeks ago and knew immediately it had to be bumblefoot.  Picked her up and sure enough, the bottom of her feet had the large, hard callous on them, one foot much worse than the other.

Large callous from bumblefoot, a bacterial infection

As I researched how to deal with it, I noticed one of the other hens (Yvonne) had small bumps between her toes too, so knew I had a real problem on my  hands.  I looked online for the best way to handle it and set about getting supplies ready.  I didn't have epsom salts on hand, so I soaked their feet in peroxide initially and picked off as much of the softened callous as I could.  Most of what I got off was dried poop; the texture and smell reminded me of picking horse hooves.

I soaked, picked and cleaned as best I could and applied a topical antibiotic ointment that's the best stuff I know (Mela-gel, put out by Melaleuca) then wrapped their feet.  Yvonne's responded well, but Bertha had a long way to go.  My local pet store had Ornacyn (erythromycin for birds)  which stated it was for avian bumblefoot.  I had a heckuva time figuring out the dosage for a larger bird and on a broader scale,  but did the best I could and hoped it would be enough.  I had no way to isolate the two hens completely for the duration, so opted to give it to them individually with a syringe several times a day.  I didn't want to medicate all 11 chickens (ten hens) unnecessarily and have to forfeit the eggs if they didn't have the infection.  Egg production had finally picked up and I'd been getting 6-7 eggs from eight or nine hens (Bertha wasn't laying, and I wasn't sure about Yvonne) and didn't want to lose it all.

Bertha's bumblefoot is more severe. The left
cyst  is large and filled with infectious fluid

Smaller cyst on Yvonne

Again, Yvonne responded well as her case wasn't as severe.  Bertha was getting better, but one cyst between her toes was still pretty large and fluid-filled.  I opted to lance that one, soak in epsom salts, then applied the topical antibiotic and wrapped it.  With the continued antibiotics orally, it was definitely getting better and she seemed more her old self (cackling all day), but it still wasn't gone.

Yvonne sporting her new shoes

"I don't see no stinkin' bumblefoot"

"I'm liking the new house shoes"

Yvonne showed no signs of bumblefoot after several days of treatment, but after a week of antibiotics, Bertha showed improvement but still far from cured (again, not sure she was getting enough of the antibiotic the way I was administering it).

This will be an ongoing process, so stay tuned for more on how I'm handling it, and what  is and is not working.


Becky's Barnyard said...

Wow! I have never even heard of bumblefoot. I will have to watch mine. I have learned a lot from reading blogs. Thank you. I hope your hens get well soon.

Callie said...

Sure hope the bumblefoot episode is over and all the hens are fine and healthy. Thanks for the info and photos. Now I have a very good idea of what to do if the bumble shows up around here.

Wonky Girl said...

Thank you for sharing the photos and info on bumblefoot. I will be watching for further postings on this saga. I too learn a lot about chickens from blogs.