Naturally Treating Bumblefoot in Chickens and Ducks

Naturally treating bumblefoot in chickens, as well as, bumblefoot in ducks, is achieveable. Prior to performing bumblefoot surgery consider an un-invasive bumblefoot treatment.

Naturally Treating Bumblefoot

With the decision to keep poultry comes the need to learn how to address various ailments. This includes learning how to naturally treat bumblefoot.

The question is, do you have the necessary skill and items on hand to treat this infection naturally? 

In order to treat bumblefoot you need to know what it is. You also need to know that bumblefoot in ducks, as well as, bumblefoot in chickens, is extremely painful and can be fatal to your poultry.

Bumblefoot surgery is very invasive. A non-invasive bumblefoot treatment can be performed if the condition is caught early. Luckily, a non-invasive treatment will allow your bird to remain with its flock until the condition has healed.

Telltale Signs that Bumblefoot in Ducks, and Chickens, is Present

There are a few telltale signs that your duck or chicken has bumblefoot. Regardless of the poultry you’re raising the signs of bumblefoot are the same.

Daily interaction and wellness checks with each flock member will catch bumblefoot as it occurs. That is, once you know what you’re looking for.

Signs of Bumblefoot in Ducks

Ducks hide illnesses and injuries quite well, even better than chickens. Because ducks are prone to hurting their feet and legs often bumblefoot tends to go undetected. Watch for the following signs:

  • Limping as walking
  • Standing on one leg
  • Laying down quite a bit
  • Presence of a scab on the bottom, side, or top of foot

Severe cases will display the following symptoms:

  • Heat releasing from the foot or leg
  • Area around the scab is red and swollen
  • The scab is protruding or extremely large in size
  • The duck is lethargic, not eating, or drinking

Signs of Bumblefoot in Chickens

Because you rarely find a chicken resting on the ground the signs of bumblefoot are easier to detect. However, they are similar to a duck’s symptoms.

  • Roosting in lower spots, even on the coop floor
  • Exiting a roosting bar results in immediate limping
  • Limping as walking
  • Standing on one leg
  • Presence of a scab on the bottom, side, or top of foot

Extreme symptoms are similar to ducks.

  • Heat releasing from the foot or leg
  • Area around the scab is red and swollen
  • The scab is protruding or extremely large in size
  • The duck is lethargic, not eating or drinking

The sooner you are able to identify the symptoms, the more effective naturally treating bumblefoot will be. However, sever cases will require bumblefoot surgery.

What Exactly is Bumblefoot in Poultry

Bumblefoot is an infection caused by the bacteria, Staphylococcus. Staph finds its way into a bird’s foot through a cut or irritation. Ulcerative pododermatitis, or bumblefoot, can be found on the top, sides, or bottom of a bird’s foot. Bumblefoot does not go away unless it has been treated.

Overtime, an abscess will form. This abscess fills with puss, causing the area to become tender, inflamed, and very swollen. The foot and leg becomes hot to the touch.

In severe cases a kernel, which is made up of dried puss, will form. Prior to treating the infection, the kernel(s) must be removed.

Bumblefoot is a common condition associated with poultry. Because of this is extremely important to be proactive with weekly wellness checks in order to treat the infection in its early stage.

bumblefoot in ducks

What Causes Bumblefoot in Chickens

The best flock keepers cannot prevent bumblefoot from occurring. In truth, bumblefoot is cause by accident on the bird’s part.

The following situations cause impact or injury to the foot, leaving room for bumblefoot in chickens to occur. 

  • The impact on the feet by jumping from high roosting bars, heavier breeds tend to be more at risk for this
  • Roosting bars with a rough surface can cause splinters
  • Skin irritation caused by walking on wet or soiled bedding for long periods of time 
  • Constant impact on hard soil or rocks found in the run or while free ranging
  • Muddy, wet conditions
  • An open wound found on the foot, allowing the bacteria, Staphylococcus, to enter

What causes Bumblefoot in Ducks

The cause for bumblefoot in ducks is very similar to what causes bumblefoot in chickens.

  • Skin irritation caused by walking on wet or soiled bedding for long periods of time 
  • Constant impact on hard soil or rocks found in the run or while free ranging
  • An open wound found on the foot, allowing the bacteria, Staphylococcus, to enter
  • Jumping from a pool onto hard, rocky ground or pavers

How to Minimize Bumblefoot in Poultry

One can become a mother hen and set up rubber mats everywhere in order to prevent the issue. But in truth, some things cannot be prevented.

Minimizing the impact to the feet is the best option to deter bumblefoot from occurring.

  • Purchase untreated lumber with a smooth surface to prevent splinters
  • Roosting bars should be no more than 18 to 24 inches off the ground so that impact to the foot is lessened 
  • Coop bedding should be dry and replaced regularly
  • To the best of your ability remove branches, debris, or large rocks from within the run or free range area
  • Keep the flock healthy to fight illnesses by feeding a balanced diet such as fermented whole grains, herbs, garlic, raw apple cider vinegar

Bumblefoot Treatment | Naturally Treating Bumblefoot

Avian veterinarians who treat poultry are difficult to find. Not to mention, treatment contains the use of antibiotic and a chemical based ointment of some sort or another.

Why is this important to know?

Eggs must be withheld and not consumed when poultry are on antibiotics or other medicines. The withholding period will depend on the type of antibiotic or medicine being given.

However, egg withdrawal is not necessary when treating bumblefoot naturally. Many natural items contain antibacterial, antiseptic, and antimicrobial qualities, making natural items as strong, if not stronger, than chemical alternatives.

  • Colloidal silver
  • Essential oils
  • Herbs

Bumblefoot Treatment using Colloidal Silver (CS)

Colloidal silver contains antibacterial, antiseptic, and antimicrobial qualities. When using colloidal silver to address ailments and injuries it can be used both, internally and externally.

Colloidal silver consists of microscopic and submicroscopic silver particles suspended in distilled water. The process for making it at home is extremely easy. 

With the use of a generator, silver rods (99.9% silver), and distilled water, colloidal silver is made. The generator charges the silver, causing the silver particles to become suspended in the distilled water. The particles are so microscopic that they cannot be strained.

It is not possible to ‘over treat’ using colloidial silver. Because of this, naturally treating bumblefoot with CS is ideal.

Incorporating a generator to make colloidal silver on the homestead is ideal if you plan on using CS as a regular holistic regiment. Home brewing CS allows you to utilize it as a natural all purpose cleaner within the home.

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Bumblefoot Treatment using Essential Oils (EO)

Administer essential oils to livestock with great care. A little goes a very long way.

Regardless if you’re using EO for self, home, or livestock make sure to select an unadulterated brand. It is important to know the difference between a therapeutic oil versus an essential oil that is used as create a pleasant scent.

There are a plethora of essential oils available to naturally treat bumblefoot.  Select oils which are safe for the species being treated. Next, look for an oil which is know for its antibacterial, antiseptic, and antimicrobial qualities. 

Such essential oils are:

  • Melaleuca
  • Frankincense
  • Oregano
  • Helichrysum
  • Copaiba
  • Thyme
  • Geranium
  • Myrrh
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Vetiver
  • Patchouli
  • Spikenard
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Feel free to message me to learn more about the unadulterated essential oils used on our homestead. For the benefit and safety of your livestock it important to know how to safely distributed essential oils.

Bumblefoot Treatment using Herbs

The use of herbs dates back longer than one can begin to imagine.  The natural healing qualities found in herbs are exceptional, and one we use regularly to create a strong immune system or address ailments.

Offering herbs on a daily basis will help to keep the immune system strong.  Provide fresh or dried herbs to the feed or waterers daily.

  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Astragalus
  • Sage

In addition to herbs fresh garlic works to boost the immune system, where the use of raw apple cider will help to keep the digestive system healthy.

Bumblefoot Treatment for Early Onset Infection

Early onset of the infection is treatable by soaking the foot with the use of warm water, Epson salt, and a healing salve. The soaking process will help to remove the scab (eschar), which then allows you to address the abscess.

  • Soak the foot for 30 minutes in a warm Epson salt bath to loosen the scab (eschar) and reduce any inflammation.
  • Wearing a glove gently loosen the scab. Do not forcefully remove the scab, continue to soak for an additional 20 minutes or longer until it freely releases from the skin.
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To expedite the recovery time apply natural items which contain antibacterial, antiseptic, and antimicrobial qualities onto the opening.

  1. Fill a pint-size Mason jar with colloidal silver. Add 1 drop each of the following essential oils – Frankincense, Melaleuca, Helichrysum, Copabia, and Geranium.
  2. Soak a gauze using the above solution, place onto the area where the scab once was. Secure the gauze in place using livestock bandage wraps.
  3. Replace the wrap twice day for 4 days. Make sure to remove the wrap nightly to allow the wound to breathe.
  4. The bird is able to return to the flock once the opening has healed, generally around day 5.

A  herbal healing salve made with essential oils and herbs is also an excellent post bumblefoot treatment.

Bumblefoot Surgery | Removing the Kernel

Because poultry are exceptional at hiding injuries and illnesses you may never notice they are not well until it’s too late.  Because of this, the infection is not recognized until it is to late.

At this point, a kernel has formed within the abscess and will need to be removed in order for recovery to happen. Making bumblefoot surgery the only option.

Keep in mind, the entire kernel will need to be removed to eliminate the infection.  If not, a secondary bumblefoot surgery will need to be performed.

Bumblefoot Treatment – Materials

  • Colloidal Silver, or Betadine
  • Unadulterated essential oils, select from the suggested list above
  • Herbs, Oregano, Thyme, Astragalus, Sage
  • Espon salt, unscented

Naturally Treating Bumbefoot – Equipment

bumblefoot surgery

Steps to Performing Bumblefoot Surgery

As a homesteader, performing bumblefoot surgery is something I am comfortable doing. For those who are not comfortable, seek a veterinarian who will treat poultry.

  1. Sterilize scalpel using colloidal silver, rubbing alcohol, or vodka.
  2. Clean the bird’s foot with colloidal silver or Betadine.
  3. Soak the foot in an Espon Salt bath for 30 minutes to soften the scab.  Continue to soak until the scab can easily be removed. If the scab will not soften use the surgical scalpel.
  4. Removing the scab with the surgical scalpel – Using the sanitized scalpel, cut around the scab, making sure the scab is no longer attached to the skin.
  5. Slowly remove the scab, the kernel could very well be attached to it.
  6. If the kernel is not attached, gently squeeze the opening to remove the puss and/or kernel.  Take caution to remove all the kernel. Any left behind will cause the staphylococcus bacteria to remain within the foot. 
  7. Immediately soak the foot for 20 minutes in following solution: 1/2 of a cup of colloidal silver, 1 drop each of Melaleuca, Geranium, Frankincense, Oregano, Helichrysum.  Or select any combination of essential oils from the list above.
  8. Place a saturated gauze soaked with colloidal silver and essential oils mixture (see notes) directly onto the open wound and wrap using livestock bandage wrap.
  9. Change the wrap twice a day for 3 to 4 days or until the opening has closed.  Before apply the new wrap, soak the foot in Espon salt to help reduce inflammation.  If the gauze sticks to the wound, soak the foot in clean water to help loosen it.
  10. Remove the bandage each night to allow the opening to breathe.
  11. The bird is able to return to the flock once the opening has healed, generally around the 5th day.

Notes

Colloidal silver and essential oils mixture: Fill a pint-size Mason jar with colloidal silver. Add 1 drop each of the following essential oils – Frankincense, Melaleuca, Helichrysum, Copabia, and Geranium.

The recovery time will vary based on the bird and the species. Generally, the recovery time for a chicken is around 2 weeks. Ducks are known to have a quicker recover time.

Also, inflammation is tends to be present for a few weeks after treatment/surgery has been performed. Continue to soak the foot in an Epson salt bath daily to help minimize any inflammation. 

Printable Sheet – How to Perform Bumblefoot Surgery

A printable instruction guide is now available for your convenience. Use this guide to treat bumblefoot in ducks and chickens.

Naturally Treating Bumblefoot in Chickens and Ducks with Essential Oils, Colloidal Silver, and Herbs
Print Recipe
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Performing Bumblefoot Surgery | Naturally Treating Bumblefoot

Naturally treating bumblefoot in chickens, as well as, bumblefoot in ducks, is achieveable. Prior to performing bumblefoot surgery consider an invasive bumblefoot treatment.
Keyword: bumblefoot in chickens, bumblefoot in ducks, bumblefoot surgery, bumblefoot treatment, naturally treating bumblefoot

Equipment

  • Gauze
  • Scissors
  • Surgical Scalpel
  • Bandage wraps
  • Small glass bowl, for soaking the foot
  • Soaking tub

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Sterilize scalpel using colloidal silver, rubbing alcohol, or vodka.
  • Clean the bird’s foot with colloidal silver or Betadine.
  • Soak the foot in an Espon Salt bath for 30 minutes to soften the scab. Continue to soak until the scab can easily be removed. If the scab will not soften use the surgical scalpel.
  • Removing the scab with the surgical scalpel – Using the sanitized scalpel, cut around the scab, making sure the scab is no longer attached to the skin.
  • Slowly remove the scab, the kernel could very well be attached to it.
  • If the kernel is not attached, gently squeeze the opening to remove the puss and/or kernel. Take caution to remove all the kernel. Any left behind will cause the staphylococcus bacteria to remain within the foot.
  • Immediately soak the foot for 20 minutes in following solution: 1/4 of a cup of colloidal silver, 1 drop each of Melaleuca, Geranium, Frankincense, Oregano, Helichrysum. Or select any combination of essential oils from the list above.
  • Place a saturated gauze soaked with colloidal silver and essential oils mixture (see the notes) directly onto the open wound and wrap using livestock bandage wrap.
  • Change the wrap twice a day for 3 to 4 days or until the opening has closed. Before apply the new wrap, soak the foot in Espon salt to help reduce inflammation. If the gauze sticks to the wound, soak in clean water to help loosen it.
  • Remove the bandage each night to allow the opening to breathe.
  • The bird is able to return to the flock once the opening has healed, generally around the 5th day.

Notes

  1. Colloidal silver and essential oils mixture: Fill a pint-size Mason jar with colloidal silver. Add 1 drop each of the following essential oils – Frankincense, Melaleuca, Helichrysum, Copabia, and Geranium.
  2. The recovery time will vary based on the bird and the breed, often taking up to two weeks for the bird to begin showing signs of recovery. 
  3. Keep in mind, inflammation can be present for a few weeks after treatment/surgery has been performed.  Continue to oak the foot in an Epson salt bath to help minimize inflammation. 

I am not a veterinarian. Nor do I have a veterinarian who works on poultry in my area. The methods mentioned in this article are ideal for those who seek to raise their livestock naturally and lack the appropriate professional care in the area.

Naturally Treating Bumblefoot
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Comments

  1. Ann Accetta-Scott says

    Home brewed CS ranges around 10ppm, that is enough to get the job done. If treating for injury or illness I provide it straight, as a preventative I add it to water. If you are not brewing it yourself then, yes, it is spendy, we brew our own. It will vary depending on the animal weight in regard to how much you would provide.

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