Bumblefoot (also known as Pododermatitis). It’s one of those things that most chicken keepers will have to deal with at some point or another during their chicken keeping adventure. Naturally treating bumblefoot with herbs and essential oils is more than likely the easiest and more successful route to take. As a chicken herbalist, I’ve seen plenty of bumblefoot cases, and the treatment always remains the same for me. We’ve had great success with it, and so today, I share it with you!
What Is Bumblefoot?
Let’s start at the source of the issue—what on earth is bumblefoot, anyhow? Bumblefoot—or Pododermatitis—occurs when the staphylococcus bacteria enters into the skin of the foot through a scrape, cut, or injury on the foot itself. It then festers, creates an infection, and if left untreated can cause major issues with your chicken, including death, should the infection spread.
Because chickens naturally forage and use their feet for everything, this is an extremely common issue. It can come from splinters, cutting their foot on a rock while foraging, or even just being too fat and sitting on the roost. The possibilities are endless.
The symptoms of bumblefoot are swelling, redness, and can even present itself as a scab on the bottom of the chickens foot. But rest assured, we can fix this easily!
Naturally Treating Bumblefoot
There are a couple of different ways to naturally treat bumblefoot. The first one is very simple and non-invasive, the second one, well, you’re going to be all up in your chicken’s personal bubble.
Using Essential Oils
If you catch the infection before it goes into a full-blown bumble, your quickest route to healing will be essential oils.
- Add 1 drop each of tea tree, oregano, and lavender to a small bowl with 6 drops of fractionated coconut oil.
- Rub the infected area with the oil liberally, then wrap the foot with medical wrap and allow your chicken to go about her day.
- Replace the dressing every evening as she goes to roost, so that the oils can seep into her foot all night long.
- You can re-dress mid-day if you’d like, but that will be up to you and how aggressive the infection is.
Surgically Removing Bumblefoot
Your next level of treatment is surgery.
- Sterilize a very sharp knife or scalpel with vodka or alcohol.
- Make a small incision in the shape of an “X” on the foot where the infection is.
- Apply pressure and squeeze out all of the infection.
- Flush the hole with a solution of 1 tbs. Raw honey, and 1-2 tbsp of water. The raw honey is a natural antibacterial.
- Mix 1 drop each of tea tree, oregano, and lavender into a small bowl with 6 drops of fractionated coconut oil. Apply to the foot to cleanse and disinfect the area.
- Wrap the foot and allow to heal, applying the essential oils once a day until hole is completely closed, or closed enough to your liking.
Note: if there is a scab present, you may only have to remove the scab and squeeze the infection out, rather than cutting into the foot.
No matter which method you decide to go with, offer your chickens thyme, oregano, and astragalus in their waterers on a daily basis to help boost their immune system response to the infection and speed up the healing process.
Using Essential Oils with Chickens
We keep essential oils on hand at all times around this homestead. Herbs and essential oils truly are a lifestyle here. But let me assure you that not all essential oils are made the same. There are only a few brands that I trust, and you can find those here. Make sure you are using high quality oils with your livestock. I have seen plenty of issues that could’ve been avoided if people would’ve simply put their time and money into goo quality herbs and essential oils with their livestock instead of running to the store for an off the shelf cheap version.
If you’d like to educate yourself more on herbs and essential oils around the homestead and in your home, check out my book The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion!