Heedley’s Hens get medicated.

I’m having a rough day, and this will be a tough post to write; please bear with me. Just as I was beginning to see light at the end of the Buffy tunnel, I was smacked by a train I didn’t see coming.

I entered the coop this morning, to find Coraline still in there, sitting, oddly, on the lip of the poop pit. She had poop on her back, indicating she had slept there, below the other 1.0s. When she got up to leave the poop pit, it became clear she was limping badly. What fresh hell is this?!

Having researched the subject thoroughly when Buffy had her injury, I had a good idea, and I didn’t like it one bit. I picked Coraline up and slowly turned her over…and there they were: the telltale black scabs of bumblefoot, on the bottoms of both feet.

I’m new to chickeneering and I have never dealt with bumblefoot. My first call, of course, was to Chicken Debbie, who has never experienced it either, and couldn’t help. My next call was to a local vet who treats chicken issues, but I have as yet to hear back.

I will redirect you to this comprehensive page on the diagnosis and treatment of bumblefoot. It ain’t pretty. It’s also highly infectious, and inspection of other 1.0s has found more of it, except, as fate would have it, on Buffy. I am flipping OUT. I have spent much of the day in tears, feeling like the worst. most negligent chicken mama ever.

My chickens free range all day, every day, and there are thousands of ways they could have a) cut their feet, and b) caught a bacterial infection. My self-recrimination today has been quite literally sickening. I can’t believe I haven’t been more diligent in checking for this common infection.

I’m really hoping I have caught this early enough that surgery won’t be necessary. If you’ve clicked on the above link, you’ll see, in some graphic detail, what might await me.

So, what is my course of action? I have placed Coraline in the crate with Buffy, as she is limping badly enough that it’s hard for her to get around. She is sharing Buffy’s tetracycline water, although neither of them is drinking nearly enough. She started out lying next to Buffy’s wicker basket, in her own space:

But quickly moved until she was in it, and in front:

Coraline has always been large and in charge; I have every reason to believe she is Head Hen. It certainly appears that they are each happy to have the company.

To be safe, I am starting the entire flock on oral tetracycline. I found the beginnings on Gidget’s feet, so I need to treat every one. No eggs for us for a while.

I have decided to take intermediary measures with Coraline; I will soak her feet in epsom salt water, pull off the black scab, and see if I can work out the core of the infection through the opening. After applying betadyne and antibiotic cream (without painkiller), I will bandage her feet with vet wrap and keep her inside for a day or two.

If it feels the problem has been largely dealt with and she shows signs of improvement, I will return her to the flock, with her feet bandaged for a while.

Then, I’ll need to pull the hens in, one at a time, and treat them as the severity of their condition warrants. Each will stay in the crate until I’m satisfied she’s on the road to recovery. This is going to suck, and suck hard, I won’t lie to you.

Let this be a warning to you all, chickeneers; go outside right now and check your chickens’ feet. All of them.

I’ll wait.

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3 thoughts on “Heedley’s Hens get medicated.

  1. I’ve read up a lot on bumblefoot, but from everything I’ve read, it is not contagious. I’ve also read up on how to cure it, and have tried it on a rooster with it. Unfortunately we did not have the right tools, and he was meant for meat anyway, so we didn’t gather the necessary tools and antibiotics to treat him before slaughter. :(

    I have heard a lot about it being caused by tough landings off the roost, splinters from the roosts causing bumblefoot, etc.

    Do you see cuts on her feet? Bumblefoot does not bruise like Buffy, but it could be all due to landings from the roost and their size. They are robust girls.

    I don’t think it’s anything you did wrong at all. You are one of the best chicken mamas I know. Hang in there. At least they have company.

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