How to Prevent Bumblefoot in Chickens
Posted by Lexi Montgomery on
Ulcerative pododermatitis is a bacterial infection that affects chickens. More specifically, it affects their feet and ability to walk, run, and play.
As you can imagine, this is particularly damaging to the morale of the chicken and the rest of the brood. And it can cause a host of additional problems.
Bumblefoot causes inflammation or ‘foot bubbles.’ It, later on, leads to the formation of painful, round, and hard lumps that can develop into chronic wounds. Aside from causing your poultry discomfort, bumblefoot can progress rapidly.
It can affect tendons, joints, and sometimes the bird’s blood circulation - lessening the length and quality of the bird's life.
Preventing Bumblefoot 101
Smooth out rough edges in your coop.
Sharp edges on perches, nesting boxes, and roosts can harm the bird’s feet. Since chickens don't have the flexibility of say, a human thumb, their feet can catch onto things, snag, and splinter.
This kind of wound provides an avenue for the bacteria to make its way into the bird’s bloodstream. It’s important to smooth out rough or sharp boundaries. Alternatively, opt for round finishes with less risk of rapturing the chicken's fragile skin. Also, identify any sharp objects and cushion them with soft material. Don’t forget to check for splinters too.
Improve the diet.
A deficiency in vitamins can also increase a chicken’s vulnerability to the disease.
Abdominal fat deposition is a hot topic when it comes to chickens because modern-day they may be on steroids, and thus appear healthy when they are not. However, the fat doesn't usually extend to the feet - which is our greatest area of concern in this article.
Similar to humans, healthy chickens have a certain amount of natural subcutaneous fat all-around their bodies. You can incorporate more foods into the diet, notably those rich in vitamin A to boost immunity (in case they contract a bacterial infection). This will increase the bird’s natural resistance to the infection.
Additionally, some foods to add to your birds’ diet in this regard include dandelion, kale, broccoli, cantaloupe, peppermint, coriander, Swiss chard, and pumpkin.
Make sure they're exercising.
If you have a tractor coop, or some kind fo run attached to your coop, try to let your chickens roam the yard at least a few times a week. There's no doubt about the fact that free-range chickens are the healthiest and happiest. No matter how large your run is, chickens need some time out of the cage. Otherwise, they might try to play or run inside of your run, which can lead to them getting injured.
Clean out the coop dwellings regularly.
Accumulation of feces is a risk factor not only for bumblefoot but many other diseases.
Parasitic infections that thrive in dirty environments. Maintaining the cleanliness of roosts and nest boxes, among other places your birds hang out a lot, can nip the problem in the bud.
Be sure to scrub surfaces with a hard brush and soapy water, and to change the bedding regularly. A good disinfectant goes a long way as well. Keeping your bird’s home consistently dry also alleviates bacterial build-up with wet conditions having the opposite effect. If you start to really smell your coop, its time for a thorough cleaning.
Isolate aggressive birds.
Fighting among birds can lead to open wounds on the feet. Just like any species, the birds won't care about a few cuts or bruises if they're in the middle of a physical altercation.
Cuts encourage bacterial infections. If a particular bird continually picks fights with others, be sure to minimize its contact with others until you’ve gotten a handle on the situation. Keep problematic birds away from each other and in separate cages for the overall well being of the flock.
Alternatively, a scarcity of resources may be the reason birds are exchanging blows. It helps to increase the number of feeding and drinking stations if the fights usually occur during mealtime. Keep an eye on the mix of breeds as well. Just like humans, some breeds pair better than others.
Maintain short perch points.
The general rule of thumb for a good perch point is 18 inches, preferably less.
High perch points can cause injuries to the feet, with the heavier breeds especially affected. Examine your bird’s favorite perch points to ensure they fit this dimension. If not, make adjustments where necessary.
The nature of the bedding should also be taken into account. Rocky materials on the ground or hard-packed down beddings are a no-no. They may be aesthetically pleasing, or sound comfortable to humans - but plain old hay is your best bet for chicken bedding.
Call the vet ASAP if a bird looks sickly.
This point is pretty straight forward. Call your vet if your birds are acting strange. If you already have an infected bird on your hands or suspect that you do, reach out to a veterinarian as early on in the disease as possible. In the meantime, keep the suspected bird away from the rest.
Often, farm animals can sense the morale of the entire group, and breeding/egg-laying will slow down if the energy isn't right. Hey, can you blame them for not being "turned on" in a life or death situation?
We also forgot to mention to keep an eye out for any changes in behavior.
This goes without saying, but if there's a sharp shift in the energy of your brood, there may be an underlying problem. Like a dog or cat, their feelings and environment will affect their overall health, happiness, and longevity. Chickens are no different.
It could just be the weather or a bad night's rest but there's no harm in paying close attention to your chicken's body language and mood shifts.
And that’s the low down on how to prevent bumblefoot in chickens.
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