Bumblefoot in Chickens and Ducks – Here’s How to Treat It

Bumblefoot is a common ailment in chickens and ducks. If you’re not familiar with it, don’t worry – here’s a quick overview of what it is and how to treat it.

chicken feet

Keep reading for information on how to prevent bumblefoot from occurring in the first place!

What is Bumblefoot?

Bumblefoot, also known as pododermatitis, is a condition that affects the feet of birds.

It is caused by an infection or injury to the feet and often develops when birds are kept in overcrowded conditions where there is poor foot ventilation or moisture.

Some common symptoms of bumblefoot include swelling, redness, scabs or sores on the foot pads, and reluctance to walk or stand.

In order to treat bumblefoot, it is important to thoroughly clean and dry the affected area, and apply topical antibiotics as needed.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary in order to remove any damaged tissue from the foot.

Whether managed with medication alone or through surgical intervention, bumblefoot can usually be successfully treated if diagnosed early on.

So if you notice any signs of bumblefoot in your bird, make sure to get them the help they need right away.

What Causes Bumblefoots?

Bumblefoot, also known as pododermatitis, is a condition that affects chickens and ducks alike.

This disease is caused by a bacterial infection that results in soft, swollen patches of skin on the feet. In particular, it is caused by the Staphylococcus bacteria.

In chickens, this infection is often the result of poor living conditions or external wounds, while in ducks it can be triggered by nutritional deficiencies.

Additionally, some breeds may be more susceptible to bumblefoot than others, with heavy breeds such as Rouen ducks being particularly at risk.

The primary cause of bumblefoot is poor sanitation and unsanitary living conditions.

This typically occurs when a chicken or duck has prolonged exposure to wet or dirty floors, which can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria on the tips of their toes.

Other risk factors for bumblefoot include injury to the foot or leg, nutritional deficiencies, and overgrown toenails. In addition to causing pain and discomfort, bumblefoot can also lead to long-term complications if it is not treated promptly and effectively.

Fortunately, there are a number of things that can be done to prevent and treat bumblefoot.

These include making sure that your chickens and ducks have access to high-quality food and fresh water at all times, keeping their living conditions clean and dry, and using topical ointments and antibiotics for treatment.

By taking these measures, you can help keep your birds healthy and free from this debilitating disease.

Signs That Your Bird May Have Bumblefoot

Just like any other animal, chickens and ducks can get sick. One condition that birds can develop is called bumblefoot.

This ailment gets its name from the bumps that appear on the bottom of a bird’s feet, which can make it painful for them to walk.

While bumblefoot is not usually fatal, it can be quite uncomfortable for your feathered friend. Here are some signs that your bird may have bumblefoot:

  • There are small bumps or scabs on the bottom of the feet.
  • The bird seems to be lame or walks awkwardly.
  • The feathers around the feet are ruffled or look unkempt.
  • There’s swelling or tenderness on the feet or toes.
  • You see visible wounds or abrasions on the feet.
  • The skin around the area is flaking.
  • The bird is less active than usual and sleeps more than normal.

If you notice any of these signs, take your bird to the vet for a checkup. With treatment, most birds with bumblefoot make a full recovery.

Is Bumblefoot Contagious?

There has been much debate in recent years over whether bumblefoot is a contagious condition or not.

Some experts say that the bacteria that causes bumblefoot can be spread from one chicken to another through close contact and poor sanitation practices, while others argue that this is simply not the case.

Ultimately, the answer to whether or not bumblefoot is contagious likely depends on a number of different factors, including individual chicken genetics and environmental conditions such as climate and moisture levels.

That said, since bumblefoot is caused by a bacteria, Staphylococcus, it’s important to recognize that this can spread just like other bacterial diseases. It is contracted via skin to skin contact.

So while some chickens may be more susceptible to developing bumblefoot than others,there are steps you can take to prevent the disease from spreading within your flock.

Ultimately, the best way to prevent bumblefoot in chickens is to provide them with proper nutrition and high-quality living conditions.

How to Treat Bumblefoot in Chickens and Ducks

Bumblefoot is most commonly seen in chickens, but it can also affect ducks. The good news is that bumblefoot is treatable.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the infection. With proper treatment, your chicken or duck will make a full recovery.

How Does Epsom Salt Help Bumblefoot in Ducks and Chickens?

One popular remedy for bumblefoot is Epsom salt, which acts to soothe sore feet and help to loosen hard, compacted skin.

This can be achieved through soaking the feet of the animal in an Epsom salt solution, or through direct topical application of a salt compress.

In addition to soothing painful bumblefoot symptoms, Epsom salt can also help to prevent infection and relieve overall inflammation caused by this condition.

Antibiotics for Bumblefoot

The first step is to clean the affected foot with warm water and soap. Then, apply an antibiotic ointment to the foot and wrap it in a bandage. It’s important to change the bandage daily and keep the foot clean.

The most commonly used antibiotics for bumblefoot include sulfa drugs, tetracyclines, and penicillin.

Drugs like amoxicillin, doxycycline, clindamycin, lincomycin, or others can be used orally. There are also wound stop sprays that can be used in minor cases.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the affected tissue. This usually involves lancing the foot – keep reading to learn more.

Lancing the Foot

You may also need to lance the foot to drain any pus buildup or other fluids. This can be done with a scalpel or similar sharp tool, and takes care to avoid making any cuts that are too deep.

Once the pus has been drained, the chicken’s foot will typically need to be cleaned and treated with antibiotics in order to prevent the risk of further complications.

With proper treatment and care, however, most chickens with bumblefoot infections are able to recover fully.

Keeping Pressure Off the Incision

When dealing with bumblefoot, it is essential to take steps to keep the pressure off of the surgical incision.

This will help to promote healing, as it can allow the wound to stay clean and free from infection.

There are a number of different ways that you can relieve pressure on an incision after surgery for bumblefoot.

Some common options include the use of bandages or wraps, keeping the affected foot elevated, and even using ice packs to reduce swelling (if your bird will let you).

Ultimately, keeping the pressure off of your surgical incision is critical for promoting proper healing and preventing complications like infection or scarring.


To treat bumblefoot, many farmers turn to probiotics, which work by establishing a healthy bacterial balance in the affected area.

These probiotic supplements are typically administered topically or orally, depending on the severity of the condition.

They are particularly helpful if your flock is on antibiotics, since they can help restore the balance of good bacteria in the gut.

While there is still some debate about the effectiveness of using probiotics to treat bumblefoot, preliminary studies suggest that they are indeed effective.

In particular, research has found that certain strains of Lactobacilli can substantially reduce inflammation and the overall size of bulging callouses.

Given these positive results, many farmers have started incorporating probiotics into their treatment regimens for bumblefoot.

And while there may be some issues with ensuring consistent dosing levels and course duration, it’s clear that probiotics are an option worth considering if you want to help your birds heal more quickly from this common bird health condition.


Chickweed is a common herb that has been used for centuries to treat a variety of conditions, including bumblefoot.

Chickweed contains saponins, which are a type of natural antibiotic. The herb also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an effective treatment for bumblefoot.

Chickweed can be applied topically to the affected area or taken internally as tea. When used in conjunction with other measures, such as cleaning the wound and keeping the area clean and dry, chickweed can help to clear up bumblefoot quickly and effectively.

Will Bumblefoot Heal On its Own?

The answer to the question of whether bumblefoot will heal on its own depends on several different factors.

The condition is most often seen in very large fowl, such as turkeys and geese, and can be difficult to cure if not caught quickly.

Some cases of bumblefoot may heal on their own without any treatment at all, especially if the initial injury was relatively small and superficial.

However, for severe or chronic cases of bumblefoot, treatment may be needed either through antibiotics or surgical intervention in order to fully clear up the infection.

Ultimately, whether a bumblefoot infection will resolve on its own or require medical attention will vary from case to case based on a range of factors such as the severity of illness, size and species of bird affected, and timing of treatment. That’s why it’s so important to consult a vet if you’re not sure!

Preventing Bumblefoot in Chickens and Ducks

To prevent bumblefoot in your flock, it is important to keep the coop, run, and surrounding yard clean at all times.

You should also closely monitor your birds for any signs of tenderness or redness in the feet or legs.

Additionally, make sure your birds are getting enough vitamins and nutrients in their diet by regularly feeding them nutritious foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked meats, and high-quality grains or feed mixes.

With proper care and prevention strategies in place, you can minimize your risk of bumblefoot in your flock and keep your flock healthy.

Minimize Splinters

Splinters are a common hazard for birds, as they commonly perch on rough and sharp materials.

Over time, these splinters can penetrate the soft fleshy areas of birds’ feet, causing pain, infection, and even bumblefoot.

To help minimize the risk of splintering and prevent bumblefoot in your bird, it is important to minimize their exposure to rough and sharp surfaces.

This can be done by placing soft, comfortable material on their perches and surrounding areas. Use untreated lumber that is smooth to reduce the likelihood of splintering, too.

Regularly inspecting their feet for any signs of trouble can help keep them safe from harm.

Optimize Roosting Bar Height

In order to prevent bumblefoot and other foot problems in your flock, it is important to provide adequate space for your birds to move around freely and dry bedding that promotes good foot health.

Additionally, you should make sure that roost bars are at the proper height so that your chickens or ducks do not have to crouch or otherwise put unnecessary pressure on their feet when resting at night.

Cleaning and Replacing Coop Bedding

Cleaning and replacing your coop bedding on a regular basis is one of the best ways to prevent bumblefoot in your flock.

Bumblefoot is a serious condition that can lead to infections or even death if not properly treated. It occurs when bacteria or fungi get under the bird’s scales and cause painful, weeping wounds.

By changing out droppings often and regularly scrubbing down walls and perches, you can help keep your chickens’ feet clean and healthy, reducing the risk of bumblefoot.

Additionally, adding fresh bedding materials like straw or wood shavings can further help reduce bumblefoot by providing additional support for their feet as they walk around.

Remove Debris

One important consideration when it comes to raising poultry is maintaining a clean and sanitary environment. This not only prevents illness and disease, but also reduces the risk of bumblefoot.

Bumblefoot, or pododermatitis, is an infection that occurs in the feet of birds due to standing around in dirt, manure, and other debris.

To avoid bumblefoot, it is important to regularly remove any accumulated waste and debris from the run area. This can be easily done by periodically giving the enclosure a good clean-out with a rake or broom.

Keep the Flock Healthy

Make sure to keep your coop clean and dry. Wet, dirty conditions are ideal for the bacteria that cause bumblefoot to flourish.

Second, provide your birds with plenty of space to move around and exercise. Bumblefoot is often caused by chickens being confined to small spaces where they are unable to move around freely.

Provide your chickens and ducks with a healthy diet and plenty of fresh, clean water. This will keep their immune systems strong so that they can fight off any kind of infection should it arise – including a bumblefoot infection.

Finally, watch for any changes in your bird’s feet and legs. If you see any redness, swelling, or lesions, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Perform Routine Health Checks

One of the best ways to prevent bumblefoot is to perform routine health checks. Inspect your birds’ feet regularly, and look for any signs of redness, swelling, or discharge.

If you notice anything unusual, contact your veterinarian immediately. By performing regular health checks, you can catch bumblefoot early and prevent it from causing serious harm to your flock.

Final Thoughts

If you’re noticing that your chickens or ducks have red, swollen feet, it’s likely that they have bumblefoot. This condition is caused by a Staphylococcus infection and can be very painful for the animals.

However, with early diagnosis and treatment, bumblefoot can usually be cured fairly easily. We’ve outlined some tips below on how to treat this condition in your backyard poultry flock.

Have you ever treated bumblefoot in your chickens or ducks? What methods worked best for you?

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