Bumblefoot Removal, Treatment and Prevention

Discover essential tips to prevent and treat bumblefoot in birds. Learn how to identify early signs and implement effective treatments.

  • Bumblefoot is a deep seeded infection that, when left untreated, can be deadly.


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Bumblefoot, also known as pododermatitis, is a bacterial infection condition that affects the feet of birds, including poultry and pet birds. It is characterized by inflammation and swelling of the footpad, often accompanied by the formation of a painful lesion or abscess. Bumblefoot is more common in birds that spend a significant amount of time on hard surfaces, such as wire cages or rough flooring.


The condition can be caused by various factors, including bacterial infections, injuries, poor nutrition, and unsanitary living conditions. Bumblefoot is often seen in birds like chickens, ducks, and other domesticated fowl, but it can also occur in pet birds like parrots.


Preventing bumblefoot involves providing birds with a clean and comfortable living environment, using appropriate bedding and substrate, and providing a well-balanced diet. Regular inspection of the feet for any signs of swelling, redness, or lesions is essential for early detection and treatment.

1. Clean and Dry Living Conditions

Ensure that the chicken coop is clean and dry. Moist and dirty conditions can contribute to the development of bacterial infections. If you use bedding material on your coop floor, choose straw or wood shavings, to provide a soft and absorbent surface. However, be sure to change it frequently. While these materials offer an easier landing for your chicken’s feet, they are also breeding grounds for bacteria and disease.

The same principle applies to your chicken yard or run. Sand is an excellent choice that provides good drainage and does not cut or scratch the bottom of your chicken’s feet. Avoid landscape materials that have sharp edges and no shock absorbing qualities like decorative garden pebbles or river rocks.


2. Proper Flooring

Avoid wire flooring in cages, as it can cause pressure sores on the feet. If using wire flooring is unavoidable, provide areas with solid surfaces for the chicken to rest.

Provide perches of various diameters and textures to promote healthy foot muscles and prevent constant pressure on one part of the foot.

3. Regular Inspection

Inspect the chicken's feet regularly for any signs of swelling, redness, or lesions. Early detection allows for prompt treatment and reduces the risk of complications.

Gently pick up and examine each foot, paying attention to the footpads and between the toes. Look for swelling, lesions, cuts and scabs on the bottom of the foot pads.

4. Proper Nutrition

Feeding a well-balanced and nutritious diet to ensure the overall health of your flock increases their ability to resist infections. Provide access to clean water at all times.


5. Maintain Healthy Weight

Avoid obesity in chickens, as excess weight can put additional stress on their feet. Ensure they have enough space to move and exercise.

Particular breeds and hybrid chicken breeds are more prone to bumblefoot simply because of their heavier body weight. These include brahmas, gold sexlings and any hybrid bred meat birds that are designed to grow fast and put on weight to reach market for food consumption.

6. Handle Poultry Carefully

Handle birds gently and set them on the ground to avoid foot cuts and injuries. Releasing a chicken from waist height causes them to land hard on their feet and increases the likelihood of a cut on the bottom of their feet.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of bumblefoot in your flock and promote their overall wellbeing.

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Non-Invasive Treatment of Mild Bumblefoot

Treatment of mild bumblefoot cases, typically involves addressing the underlying causes, such as improving hygiene, providing proper nutrition, and administering antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection.

In mild bumblefoot cases or as a supportive measure, you can consider the following steps:

1. Isolation and Rest
Isolate the affected bird to prevent further stress and injury. Provide a clean, warm and quiet environment to encourage rest and recovery.

2. Warm Soaks
Fill the sink halfway with warm water and add a few tablespoons of Epsom salt to the water. Gently immerse your chicken’s feet into the water and soak for 10 minutes. This will aid in reducing inflammation around the infected area. Soaking the foot in this solution will soften the skin also make it easier to remove a scab and promote drainage.

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3. Topical Antibiotics
Apply a topical antibiotic ointment or raw honey to the affected area after soaking. This can help prevent bacterial infections. Honey is a natural antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic with wound healing results equal to or better than store bought products.

Do not use an antibiotic ointment without pain relief additives, as these can be toxic to birds.

4. Bandaging
After applying a topical antibiotic, bandage the affected foot to protect it from further injury, to keep the area clean and to allow the antibiotic ointment to penetrate the bumblefoot and begin working on the bacterial infection that lies beneath the skin.

5. Oral Antibiotics
 If there is evidence of a bacterial infection that is not responding to topical treatment, your veterinarian may prescribe oral antibiotics. Administer the medication as directed.

6. Pain Management
Pain management may be necessary, and your veterinarian can recommend appropriate pain relief options.

7. Monitoring and Follow-up
Regularly monitor the bird's progress and be vigilant for any signs of worsening or complications.

Surgical Removal of Bumblefoot

In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove abscesses and promote healing. The removal of the bumblefoot corn can be done at home successfully by the chicken keeper and it a relatively easy procedure.

Here's an overview of the general steps involved in the surgical removal of bumblefoot after thoroughly sterilizing the affected are of the chicken foot.

1. Incision and Drainage
Using a scalpel, make an incision to access the abscess infected tissue. The pus or infected material is carefully drained, and the affected area is thoroughly cleaned.

2. Removal of Necrotic Tissue
Any necrotic (dead) tissue, including the core of the bumblefoot lesion, is removed to promote healing. The core will feel hard and round, similar to a corn on your own foot. Tweezers are helpful to remove this core. It is critical that you perform this step to avoid a repeat of the illness.

3. Closure and Bandaging
Use a blood stop product if needed and close the incision site with sutures if necessary. A sterile bandage should be secured to the wound to keep infection out. Routine follow-up wound care is mandatory to a successful procedure.

After 12 hours, remove the bandaging and check on the wound. Applying honey to the area at this time is recommended to reduce the chance of infection. Cover the wound with a clean gauze pad and rewrap the foot to secure the bandage. Repeat this process at least once a day until the wound is healed.

4. Postoperative Care
Postoperative care may include pain management, antibiotics, and wound care. Keeping this area clean and free from of infection is paramount to a successful recovery.

In essence, safeguarding birds from bumblefoot entails maintaining clean living spaces, ensuring a balanced diet, and handling them gently. Early detection and intervention are key, with non-invasive treatments like isolation and warm soaks for mild cases, and surgical removal for severe cases. By adopting these practices, bird keepers can enhance the overall health and happiness of their avian companions.

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