OK we should be low enough on the page to really talk turkey. Actually we are talking chickens today - more specifically, what to do when you hen has the bumblefoot. But first the disclaimers:
Look away tender victuals! We're going to talk about super-gross things! Your very eyes may melt by just reading whats coming up! Don't read this if you are eating breakfast - especially if its scrambled eggs. No really! I'm even ooked out by this and I like gutting chickens! And most importantly, I am not a vet. I don't play a vet on TV. I never wanted to be a vet. I am not diagnosing your chicken now or ever. If you chicken is sick, call your vet. Got it? OK let's move on.
Anybody still with me?
A week or so ago I noticed one of the unnamed rabble - a nice plump mostly black hen - had a weird bump on her foot. I could even see it without bending down or picking her up. It was a bulge between her toes on the top of her foot. Drat. It looked like she had the bumblefoot on her.
What's bumblefoot - besides being one of the funnest words ever? Its a kind of infection that poultry get in their feet. Usually because they get a little splinter or a thorn or something stuck in their foot, and it festers, and then it gets out of hand. More than likely if your hen has a big black spot on the fleshy part of the bottom of her foot - thats what it is - bumblefoot. There's probably a fancy name for this kind of staph infection but I don't know what is it.
This hen had it on the top of her foot. The only reason I could identify it was because we had another hen a couple years ago with the same problem - but also she had then tell tale black dot on the bottom of her foot. We had to treat both spots - so I knew what this hen had immediately.
What do you do? A couple options:
1. Nothing. Your hen may get over it. But probably not and she'll spread the infection to the others and maybe to you .....and then your hen might get really sick and flop over dead. Not a great choice.
2. Take your chicken to the vet and hand over all your folding money to someone who may or may not just wonder why in the sam hell you wouldn't just send that chicken to the pot. They'll probably charge you about a million dollars and drive off in their new sports car laughing. If that's your choice that's just fine with me. No judgments here. But I knew someone who spent $1200 to get a laying hen a surgery that was basically a hysterectomy. I'm not even lying. You can bet I judged her to be a fool. But everyone is different.
3. Go find yourself a big round pair of you-know-whats and do it yourself.
I have to tell you friends, you know I'm pretty stout. But it takes me about 3 days of beating my chest, dancing around a fire to summon the courage of my ancestors, and repeating to myself "IcandoallthingsthroughChristwhostrengthensme" about a thousand times before I can march out there, scoop up that hen and get down to business.
I don't have pictures of the actual event, mostly because a bunch of shots of me puking probably aren't that helpful, so hands down the best reference I have for treating bumblefoot is right here. Generally I'm not a fan of BYC but there's some good eggs there and this gal is one of them.
The next most important thing is to wear gloves. For heavens sakes don't take a chance and get the infection yourself. And disinfect everything when you are done - use lots of bleach to really get everything clean. And make sure you have separate medical implements for your vet care. We never know what is going to happen around here so we have a pretty good surgical/first aid kit. We also always have rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and tons of and vet wrap and bandages of all kinds. And lots and lots of Neosporin.
When the deed was done and her foot was firmly packed with Neosporin, gauze, and wrapping we took her out of the towel and there she was - none the worse for wear. Did it hurt her? Nope. How do I know? Because she didn't squawk or flap or scream or try to get away. If I did this to you I imagine you'd do all of those things - and take a swing at me. In two days you won't even be able to tell anything happened to that little hen. Until then she is in solitary in a cage and covered to keep her calm. Chickens really are amazing creatures.
Altho gross this is not a cruel procedure and is much better than the alternatives of her dying from the infection or ending up on the block and then in a shallow grave. The hen we fixed up before has lived a good long 3 years (so far) and has never missed a beat. We're sure this plump little black hen will make a full recovery and get back to business soon.
I'm guessing all y'all will be out there looking at your hens feet today, wontcha? Well, what are you waiting for - run right out there and inspect the poulty's feet.
Happy Monday everyone!