Simple Ways To Treat Bumblefoot In Chickens (2023)

From time to time your chickens may experience something called bumblefoot.

This is a fairly common occurrence in backyard flocks and especially with those that can free range.

Overall bumblefoot can be miserable for your hens so it is something that needs treating.

In this article we explain everything you need to know about bumblefoot, including what it is, how to identify and treat it and how to prevent it happening…

Simple Ways To Treat Bumblefoot In Chickens (1)

Contents and Quick Navigation

  • What is Bumblefoot
  • What Causes Bumblefoot
  • How To Tell If Your Chicken Has Bumblefoot
  • How To Treat Bumblefoot
    • Bumblefoot Removal
  • How To Prevent Bumblefoot
  • Summary

What is Bumblefoot

Bumblefoot, also known as pododermatitis, and can affect chickens, ducks and other fowl.

It is a condition where a chicken’s foot gets infected and develops a central black area (this is a bumble). This is the time when most people recognize bumblefoot.

Although chickens feet are pretty tough, they can occasionally get small cuts on the bottom of their feet. They can also get splinters or foreign bodies in the sole of the foot from walking on sharp objects, scratching up the ground, jumping from perches or other mundane things.

Over time the open area can get infected with a variety of bacteria and the area starts to become inflamed and sore to walk on. Your chicken may limp a bit or sit longer than is usual.

At this stage it remains treatable but if it is left to heal naturally, it won’t heal and can cause severe discomfort to the bird.

Bumblefoot in chickens is not necessarily a sign of poor housekeeping as some folks suggest, although walking in poop, mud and dirt really helps the area to get infected!

There are five grades of infection to bumblefoot. It is very hard to spot the initial phases.

  1. The first two grades involve very subtle changes to the skin of their foot – they are rarely noticed by the average person.
  2. At the third grade your chicken will develop the well known black area. Now the infection is well under way and the foot will be hot to touch and swollen.
  3. Grade four is more systemic. The wound has been left for a long time and the hen is suffering now.
  4. If the bumble gets to stage five the hen will be crippled and she will walk with a pronounced limp. There may be a deformity of the foot and perhaps some loss of her range of motion too.

What Causes Bumblefoot

Simple Ways To Treat Bumblefoot In Chickens (2)

(Video) QUICK Chicken Bumblefoot Abscess Removal - NO Cutting EASY Method

Bumblefoot is a bacterial infection usually caused by one of three organisms: Staphylococcus pseudomonas, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.

Staphylococcus aureus is the most common.

The infection starts out quietly. A small cut or splinter on the sole of your chickens foot gets infected by walking in poop or another germ laden area. Initially nothing can be seen on the foot but your chicken may favor walking on their other food and stand with the affected foot off the ground.

Bacteria will set up home in the wound and cause inflammation, redness and some pain.

As the infection goes on the area enlarges and causes an abscess to form. This abscess will almost always form a black center. The blackened area is actually dead tissue and cells and is called eschar. This is usually when the infection is noticed.

How To Tell If Your Chicken Has Bumblefoot

Simple Ways To Treat Bumblefoot In Chickens (3)

The initial two stages of bumblefoot are hard to diagnose.

At this point the infection can just be a shiny, reddened area on the sole of the foot with no obvious problem seen. Their foot pad may be slightly warm to the touch and the skin may look slightly tense and shiny.

However if you observe your hens often then their behavior will usually tip you off that something is wrong.

Behavior such as walking with a slight limp, changes in how she walks or not perching at night, should alert you to check them over.

Even if you do regular foot checks on your chickens the first sign of trouble may be a small black scabbed area somewhere on the foot. It is usually on the sole of the foot but occasionally the hens get the bumbles between their toes.

As the infection progresses the area will become hot to touch.

Once you reach stage three the infection is easy to spot. A scabbed area will appear over a swollen lump. The scab may initially appear brown but frequently turns black. The lump itself should be relatively small – this is good news because the small bumbles are usually the easiest to clean up without resorting to surgery.

Stages four and five are much more serious and will require veterinary treatment and antibiotics. In general these stages of bumblefoot are rarely found unless the chicken has been terribly neglected.

How To Treat Bumblefoot

In the past the treatment of bumblefoot was fairly inhumane.

(Video) Removing a Bumble | BUMBLE FOOT IN CHICKENS

The bumble would be cut from the foot, fortunately this has gone out of favor as it is a painless procedure for the bird.

These days the treatment is much more humane in most cases.

You will need:

  • A bowl filled with three inches of warm water
  • Epsom salt (added to the water)
  • A large towel to wrap her in
  • Gloves
  • A well-lit area with plenty of space

First you need to wrap your hen in the towel (leave only her feet exposed). You should talk to her quietly to reassure her because this is a bit scary for her.

Next you need to stand her in the warm water for around 10-15 minutes.

Once the soaking is complete you need to gently pick away at the black spot using a pair of tweezers. Hopefully the edges of the bumble will lift up so you can work at it slowly. Ideally the central black plug will pull out nicely for you.

If the bumble does not come out then return her to the foot bath for another 10 minutes and try again. If the bumble is large and has been in place for some time it may not pop out on the first soaking. It may be something you have to spend a few days with before it is ready to pull out.

Even if the bumble does not come out you should put a dressing on the foot.

In the case of non-removal, use some Neosporin, a gauze pad and a Vetwrap bandage firmly taped in place.

If you were successful you can use Neosporin and Vetericyn Hydrogel and use Vetwrap and tape firmly in place.

The wound should be checked daily to make sure it is healing well. Do not leave it open to air until the wound is completely healed.

Bumblefoot Removal

This video shows a slightly different approach but it is not for the squeamish.

If you could not remove the bumble on your first try you should continue daily soakings and the process above.

After several days if you are getting nowhere then it is time to ask for a veterinarian’s opinion.

(Video) Bumblefoot Victory! A Non-Invasive Treatment for Minor Cases in Chickens

Antibiotics will certainly help to clear up any ongoing infection and they may decide that removal of the bumble is best.

If the bumble is resistant you may need to cut it out.

You can ask your veterinarian to do this or if you feel able to then you can do it at home.

Please note I am not a vet and this advice is based on my experience with my own flock.

You will need:

  • A large and small towel
  • Small sharp blade
  • Fine point scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Gauze
  • Vetwrap
  • Basin with warm water and Epsom salts

Just like before you should wrap your hen in the towel and soak her feet.

Once the foot is clean you should place her on her side with the affected foot uppermost. Place the small towel over her head to keep her calm and talk to her gently throughout.

The bumble is kind of cone shaped so as you are cutting through the skin imagine an upside down cone – complete a circle around the blackened area. You will need to press quite firmly but should not go deeper than ½ inch or so.

When your circle is complete use the tweezers to pull out the cone – it should come fairly easily and will usually look a bit like a corn kernel.

This is when it will start to bleed.

You should use the gauze to keep the wound open as you need to make sure you have all of the bumble.

Fill the wound with plain Neosporin and put a small gauze pad on top and wrap well with Vetwrap. The bandage should be tight enough to keep everything in place but make sure the hen has circulation to her toes.

They should be warm and pink at all times.

Now give your hen a treat for being so good. She should ideally be isolated and confined to a quiet area for a day or two to heal her foot. You can keep her in a chicken crate.

How To Prevent Bumblefoot

Simple Ways To Treat Bumblefoot In Chickens (4)

(Video) Bumblefoot | How to treat in chickens| Non-surgical method

Unfortunately it is very hard to prevent bumblefoot since chickens wander all over the place if they are free range.

Something as simple as stepping on a blackberry thorn or a sharp rock can start it off.

However there are a few things you can do.

You should keep their run free from sharp objects, check for screws, staples and bits of wire. This will help to prevent them from not only stepping on those items but eating them as well.

Next up you should check all of their perches to make sure there are no rough edges or splinters.

I use large tree branches in my coops as well as 2x4s so trim down the sharp areas on them and remove any peeling bark.

Doing regular health checks on your chickens will also be very helpful. Check their feet each month for any visible signs of problems. Watch your birds as they walk around too. Is anyone limping, favoring one foot, standing on one leg for long periods or sitting around and not moving much? All of these can be indicators that something is wrong so do not ignore the signs.

Chickens that are most prone to problems are the larger heavy breeds such as Orpingtons. These chickens need perches that are lower to the ground so they do not injure themselves jumping up or down.

Proper nutrition is essential for your chickens to maintain a healthy body. A bird that is not getting the appropriate nutrition can have issues with skin integrity which can cause the breakdown of tissues on their feet.


Chickens are on their feet day and night.

The skin of their feet is strong and pretty tough.

Despite its strength and durability things can still get under the skin and cause bumblefoot

The non-surgical treatment is time consuming but well worth the patience as the hen will not have to undergo a painful procedure.

Should you have to cut out the infection then your chicken will stay surprisingly calm and still when you cover her head and talk gently to her.

Bumblefoot seems like a small insignificant thing but it can be deadly if ignored.

(Video) BUMBLEFOOT in CHICKENS - Easy Removal Using PRID Drawing Salve

As a backyard flock keeper it is your duty to do something to help your hen. Let us know in the comments section below…


Simple Ways To Treat Bumblefoot In Chickens? ›

SOAK. The affected foot is soaked in warm water and Epsom salt or warm water and Betadine and scrubbed for a general cleaning and to soften up the foot tissue. Chlorhexadine 2% solution spray is then applied to kill bacteria remaining on the surface of the foot.

What can I put on my chickens for bumblefoot? ›

My first step would be to treat it for a few days by soaking the foot in an Epsom salt and chamomile bath. Wrap your chicken securely in a towel, with the foot open. Soak 1-2 times daily for about 10- 15 minutes at a time. For our latest case of bumblefoot, I soaked for five days.

Can you treat bumblefoot at home? ›

For mild cases of bumblefoot, soaking the birds foot in a solution of Epsom salt and warm water is enough to draw out the bacterial infection and heal the open bumblefoot lesions.

Can bumblefoot heal on its own in chickens? ›

Causes of Bumblefoot

Normally, these injuries can heal with little to no intervention on the chicken keeper's part. But occasionally, bacteria can contaminate the wound, and a more severe infection sets in.

Can you put hydrogen peroxide on bumblefoot? ›

Soak the foot in warm water and Epsom salts. When the scab has softened, remove it to expose the pus-filled cavity. Flush the cavity with hydrogen peroxide to clean out the pus and debris. Pack the cavity with antibiotic ointment, and then wrap the foot to keep the cavity clean.

How do you get rid of bumblefoot naturally? ›

SOAK. The affected foot is soaked in warm water and Epsom salt or warm water and Betadine and scrubbed for a general cleaning and to soften up the foot tissue. Chlorhexadine 2% solution spray is then applied to kill bacteria remaining on the surface of the foot.

How do you treat bumblefoot in birds at home? ›

6. What is the treatment for “bumblefoot”? In the early stages of “bumblefoot” the best treatment is simply to soften the perches with bandages or strips of cloth wrapped around the perches.

Can Epsom salt cure bumblefoot? ›

Hold the chicken so that its feet can soak in the warm water for at least 10 minutes. The Epsom salts help relieve any swelling and the warm water softens the skin on the foot pad. Step 4: Once the skin on the foot pad is soft, you can see if the scab will lift off.

Is coconut oil good for bumblefoot? ›

Rubbing a small amount of organic, cold-pressed coconut oil onto their footpad is a non-toxic option that can help moisturize skin and provide relief to your pet. As with many other aspects of health, prevention is the best medicine!

Can a chicken live with bumblefoot? ›

Left untreated, serious cases of bumblefoot can be fatal as the infection can spread to other tissues and bones. After serious cases have healed, the foot or toes may be scarred for life have an abnormal appearance. Your chicken may never walk normally again.

What is the best medicine for bumblefoot? ›

Bacteria, including staphylococcus spp. have been identified in some rare cases of bumblefoot, if the wound has not been noticed and treated before it becomes acute. Typically antibiotics, such as erythromycin or penicillin, are prescribed by the vet, if the infection is serious enough.

Is bumblefoot easy to treat? ›

If bumblefoot is recognized during the early stages, it is relatively easy to treat. Often all that's needed is simple management and environmental modifications.” Bumblefoot is caused by the staphylococcus aureus bacteria which can enter the chicken's feet through an abrasion, cut, sliver or other injury.

How do you wrap a bumblefoot? ›

You are wrapping in a figure-8 pattern between the toes and above the back toe. Press the end of the Vet Wrap to seal it to the rest of the bandage. After applying the wrap, monitor the bird carefully for the next few hours for any signs of distress, swelling of the toes, or increased lameness.

What happens if you put hydrogen peroxide on a fungus? ›

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) , hydrogen peroxide kills yeasts, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and mold spores. The CDC lists specific concentrations you need and how long you need to let them sit to kill different organisms.

What oral antibiotics treat bumblefoot in chickens? ›

Different types of antibiotic have been used to cure the problem: one pill (22.7mg) per day of Baytril, 50-100 mg of clindamycin, doxycycline, lincomycen or doxycycline per day, or 250 mg of amoxicillin per day.

What ointment for bumblefoot in birds? ›

Oral antibiotics and antibiotic ointment will control the infection. Cleaning and bandaging may be recommended in order to reduce the opportunity for pathogens to enter the wounds. In more severe cases, surgery (including debridement of abscesses) will help to save the feet, and life, of the bird.

Does bumblefoot always need antibiotics? ›

The tissue becomes inflamed, pockets of hard pus build up and often the only way to resolve the condition is with surgery. Some hens can improve with antibiotic therapy and soaking the foot in Epsom Salts. Exercise will also help.

Is bumblefoot contagious to humans? ›

Can I get bumblefoot? While humans can't get bumblefoot per se, Staphylococcus aureus, which is the most common organism that causes bumblefoot, can infect humans—yet another good reason to handle your birds, sick or not, with care.

Can I put Neosporin on my birds foot? ›

No, definitely do NOT use Neosporin or any type of ointment. Unless it is specifically an ophthalmic ointment, it can cause blindness if he gets it in his eye. Also, you can't be sure what caused this spot.

Can you soak foot fungus in Epsom salt? ›

How to Do It:
  1. Fill a basin or foot spa with enough warm water to cover the feet up to the ankles.
  2. Add half or three-quarters of a cup of Epsom salt to the water.
  3. Place the feet in the soak for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Dry thoroughly after the soak and then moisturize the feet.

How long to soak chicken in Epsom salt? ›

Pour Epsom salts into the warm water. Carefully place the hen in the warm water and allow her to sit and soak for about 20 minutes. You can carefully massage her abdomen to get her muscles to relax.

Does coconut oil destroy fungus? ›

Share on Pinterest Research shows that coconut oil has antifungal properties. Researchers have established that coconut oil is an effective anti-fungal. Studies indicate that coconut oil may be effective against Candida albicans, a type of fungus that is most commonly responsible for fungal infections.

Is coconut oil or Vaseline better for feet? ›

Coconut oil is another remedy that is ideal for any type of dry skin. Vitamin E oil and petroleum jelly are also great for hydrating cracked skin. Cracked heels are unsightly and can cause further damage to your shoes and feet.

How long to leave coconut oil on feet? ›

You need to massage coconut oil just for 5 – 10 minutes on each foot. If you find it hard to apply coconut oil daily, you can use it 3 – 5 times a week. That will also provide benefits to your feet.

Why do so many of my chickens have bumblefoot? ›

Most commonly, bumblefoot on chickens is caused by a staph infection. The bacteria staphylococcus is prevalent inside a backyard chicken coop, as most coops are messy and filled with excrement. For the most part, bumblefoot is easily preventable and simply requires dedication and proper care.

Is bumblefoot painful for birds? ›

Budgies, Cockatiels and other captive birds from Mornington Peninsula can suffer from a form of pododermatitis (foot inflammation) called Bumblefoot. This infection results in swollen, painful feet, making it impossible for the bird to stand comfortably.

Is bumblefoot an emergency? ›

In more severe cases of bumblefoot, it may be necessary to remove the diseased tissue from the bird's foot. If this is not done, the chicken may die. We recommend seeking veterinary attention for advanced cases of bumblefoot. If you don't have access to veterinary services, you can perform emergency surgery at home.

Can you use bandaids on chickens? ›

Bandaging the wound can help prevent infection, keep debris out of it, and keep the hen from pecking at it. If you can, apply some antibacterial ointment to the wound and then cover it with sterile non-stick gauze. Then, wrap it up with an ACE bandage to help keep the gauze in place.

Why is my chicken limping and laying down? ›

There can be many reasons why your chicken may be lame. These can include Scaly Leg Mite infestation, worms, untrimmed nails, injury which can lead to Bumblefoot, or Mycoplasma Synoviae. Before consulting your vet, give your chicken a quick check to try and look for signs of any of the above causes.

What kills foot fungus naturally? ›

Here are six of the best natural remedies:
  1. White Vinegar. White vinegar other wise known as Acetic Acid can help eliminate fungus when diluted in lukewarm water. ...
  2. Listerine and White Vinegar. ...
  3. Tea Tree Oil. ...
  4. Urea Paste. ...
  5. Pau D'arco Tea. ...
  6. Vicks VapoRub. ...
  7. Time.
May 5, 2017

What is the fastest way to get rid of foot fungus? ›

Hydrogen peroxide can effectively kill the fungus on the surface level of the foot, as well as any surface bacteria that could cause an infection. Pour hydrogen peroxide directly onto the affected area. Note that it may sting, and it should bubble, especially if you have open wounds.

How long does it take for hydrogen peroxide to work on fungus? ›

There are two common ways to use hydrogen peroxide to treat your toenail fungus. Wipe hydrogen peroxide directly on the infected area with a clean cloth or cotton swab. Add 1/8 of a cup of hydrogen peroxide to four cups of cool water. Soak the infected feet for 10-20 minutes, and then pat dry with a clean cloth.

What is the best antifungal for chickens? ›

Fresh garlic is great as a natural antifungal. You can feed it directly in crushed up bits in their feed or use a liquid form in their water. Raw, unfiltered from the mother apple cider vinegar added to their water can also help prevent infections.

Can I put Vaseline on my chickens feet? ›

Another treatment is to dip your chickens legs in surgical spirit three times a week and rub vaseline on the legs in between dips to try and soften the scales and suffocate the mites. You should also use mite powder such as Diatom powder to sprinkle in their run and in their coop.

What ointment is good for chickens? ›

For scratches, cuts, tears and fighting injuries it is hard to beat a simple cleaning of the area and regular applications of Neosporin, Triple Antibiotic or other common wound ointment.

Can you put coconut oil on chickens feet? ›

Applying a generous amount of coconut oil on your hens' legs will help suffocate the existing scaly leg mites and reduce the risk of the mites spreading to other hens.

How do you apply Vaseline to chickens? ›

Apply any one of the following: Vaseline/Petroleum Jelly/Bag Balm/Waxelene/Coconut Oil, to their combs and wattles prior to roosting each evening. Keep the coop dry and weatherproof. Provide plenty of roosting space for evening use. Do not let you hens sleep on the floor of the coop.

What is a homemade antibiotic for chickens? ›

(Oregano, thyme, parsley and basil are especially beneficial.) You can add fresh or dried oregano to your chickens' feed. Then toss some fresh herbs into your coop and nesting boxes too.

Is hydrogen peroxide OK for chickens? ›

Hydrogen Peroxide – Many people have this readily available in their home first aid kit. It is a mild antiseptic used on the skin to prevent infection. You can use this on chickens for minor cuts, scrapes, & burns. However, peroxide should not be used on puncture wounds or bites.

What does Epsom salt do for chickens? ›

For a chicken, an Epsom salt bath helps her relax the same way it helps us. If she's found to be egg-bound, a warm soak will ease her muscles and encourage the egg to slide out. If she's eaten something she's not supposed to, it will help flush out toxins.

What antibiotic treats bumblefoot? ›

Bacteria, including staphylococcus spp. have been identified in some rare cases of bumblefoot, if the wound has not been noticed and treated before it becomes acute. Typically antibiotics, such as erythromycin or penicillin, are prescribed by the vet, if the infection is serious enough.


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