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.
Also, try making a healing salve out of plantain, chamomile, calendula, and your favorite essential oils to help soothe and heal the foot. Or you can even use pre-made or homemade colloidal silver!
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!
I was wondering what your thoughts are on pet rats with bumblefoot. My 2 yr old pet rat has bad bumblefoot and soxy and baytril havent worked and it has been three months. Ive done TT oil diluted w water soaks three times and the infection doesnt smell as bad anymore. She doesnt like the area as I know the oil can be toxic to digest. Any advice?
My name’s Carrie and I am a proud first time chicken owner! I live in and urban city on a small patch of heavenly green land with fruit trees and wonderful wildlife. It seems one of them has this condition. How can i keep her still during these treatments? She’s in obvious pain barely allows anyone to approach. Stays in the coupes all day and she is no longer able to sift dirt for insects.
How do I hold her without frightening or hurting her?
Attempting the Nearly Impossible-
Carrie n’ Princess
Normally they calm down if you flip them over in their backs, cradling them like a baby 🙂
CynthiaAnn Blaha says
A rooster at the 1970’s farm where my sons work has had bumblefoot. They have been treating by soaking it’s foot in warm epsom salt water. They have told me that wrapping it in a towel helps calm him but also, as soon as his feet are in the water (in a bucket) he immediately relaxes. They haven’t been successful with whatever they are using and I stumbled upon this today. I forwarded it to them and hopefully they will get approval to try it. I also suggested colloidal silver because I make my own.
Connie Jean Mills says
Thank you Amy for this informational post. It is helping me treat my 4 week old’s foot. Thinking it might be bumblefoot although it was more like a water blister on the top of her foot (and no black scab or anything). Regardless, I did an epsom soak with the oils and then rubbed a bit of tea tree and frankincense on her foot and covered it. It seems to be working well.
About how many days should it take to see improvement of the swelling using the essential oil method? Our chicken did have a scab and we pulled that out, disinfected, cleaned and bandaged multiple nights in a row. This is the 3rd night we have done the oil and bandage and its still so swollen.