Foot Problems with Chickens, Bumble Foot and Convict’s Foot

Chickens’ feet are pretty tough but they can be injured, especially on flinty ground when scratching about or if they unearth some broken glass etc. Here’s what to do to sort the most common foot problems

Foot Problems

Chickens’ feet are pretty tough but they can be injured

It is important not to have perches placed too high, particularly with heavy breeds, for jumping down and landing heavily may cause damage to the feet.

First of all, watch out for birds limping or refusing to put a foot down. This requires your attention.


Small cuts should be washed with warm salty water to clean the wound. Then use the magic anti-septic purple spray that should be in every poultry keeper’s cupboard.

Keep the bird indoors on soft bedding changed each day for a few days or until the wound is healed. Keep an eye on things but usually the wound is healed very quickly.

If it seems more serious or fails to heal in a few days, consult a vet.

Bumble Foot – Treatment of Bumble Foot

This is where a wound underneath the foot has gone unnoticed and healed on the surface but has pus building up underneath. As this is a bacterial infection it can be treated by the use of antibiotics which will require a visit to the vet.

Treatment should be undertaken quickly as this infection can quickly cause further problems for the chicken with extreme swelling sometimes leading to surgery being the only treatment option.

If you catch it quickly and it’s not too bad one old but quite effective remedy is, after cleaning, to apply a little Vaseline mixed with honey. The honey which has anti-septic properties exerts an osmotic pressure, drawing the pus towards it, until the abscess bursts. Once this has happened, clean it up as for a wound.

One home keeper suggests cleaning the foot with warm salt water and then lancing the puss spot using modelling knife prior to squeezing out the puss. Once all the puss is gone treat as for a wound. If it is a deep infection you may need to apply a gauze pad and bind it on with strip plaster. Re-dress and re-apply anti-septic twice daily until it has properly healed.

If things aren’t right after a week, consult a vet.

Convict’s Foot – Treatment of Convict’s Foot

This is where a ball of solid mud accumulates around or under the foot. It often happens when the birds have been scratching about in straw or wood shavings litter in wet weather on clay soils.

The claws acquire layers of ‘wattle and daub’ which build up to form the mud ball that sets rock hard. It looks rather like a convict’s ball and chain being dragged around.

You must not try to just pull it off as you will damage the foot and tear the skin.

Just soak the foot in warm water and gradually remove the debris. It’s best done with two people. One holds and calms the bird whilst the other washes away the mud ball.

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