Anna in the Laundry Room

I had a chicken in my laundry room over the holidays.

Poor Anna one of my four Rhode Island Reds who had a bad case of Bumblefoot in mid-December while she was also undergoing a very heavy molt. She was one sick chicken.

Bumblefoot is the term used to describe an infection on a chicken’s foot; it is referred to as “plantar pododermatitis” by medical professionals. Bumblefoot is characterized by swelling, sometimes redness and often a characteristic black or brown scab on the bottom of the foot.

anna-close-use-copy

I noticed her distress in two ways; one when her legs and feet turned an out of character shade of pink and two when she was hanging out under the coop for hours at a time and not interacting with the other chickens. I knew something was wrong. So I checked out her feet and they were very swollen and she had two pencil eraser sized black dots under both of her feet. I diagnosed Bumblefeet. This was the first case of Bumblefoot in our flock.

I brought her inside tthe ouse and set up the dog kennel in our laundry room. I put leaves and pine shaving as litter in thekennel for her and gave her cat food cans of water, greens and layers feed. I quickly ordered Susan Burek’s Bumblefoot tincture from her Moonlight Mile Herb Farm  You can find her website here http://www.moonlightmileherbs.com/

I’ve used Susan’s herbal products before and have found them to be very effective. In fact, I follow her Poultry Natural Living  and Herbal Care group on facebook.  I have learned almost everything I know about using herbs for chickens from that.

According to the written instructions I gave Anna the Bumblefoot tincture internally using an eye dropper as well as putting on her feet bottom with a second eye dropper. This is definitely a two-person process; one to hold and one to administer the drops.

In the meantime I fed her extra protein in the form of my “high-test” feed (blackoiled sunflower seeds, layers feed and meal worms soaked overnight in olive oil that has steeped in herbs,) and cat food for building feathers and gave her a warm place to rest and heal. I made sure she had oyster shells as grit and plenty of fresh water.

I tried soaking her foot in a warm foot bath but failed as she would screech and jump right out of the pan. She wanted no part of that water even if warm and filled with Epson salts. While some chicken keepers cut out the infected plug out of the bottoms of their chicken’s feet in a kind of home surgery, I knew I was not up for that.

anna-in-cage-close

I caught Anna’s infection early and still I was amazed at how quickly those black spots turned into a quarter size, red, puffy and an obviously painful infection. She let me knew that she was hurting. On sunny days I would take her outside in the warmer afternoon to dust, dig in the dirt and keep her acclimated to her flock.  Then it turned bitter cold around Christmas and those trips outside ended.

She was inside for about three weeks while healing. Once she began to feel better she adapted quickly to life inside and actually seemed to thrive in it. She loved to walk out of her kennel enclosure and walk around the laundry room and stand and watch her shadow in the glass of the front loading washer and dryer.

looking-into-washer

As soon as she began to feel better she wanted to walk out into the kitchen and check out the dog water bowl and was always interested in  what I was cooking. I had to watch her very carefully to keep her from flying up and into whatever food I was prepping. She loves her greens the best and I swear she has a sixth sense when I am ripping kale. She would come running toward me and toward the kale and I would have to quickly shoo her back into the laundry room.

I had never before understood about chicken keepers having “House Chickens” but having seen how quickly Anna adapted to us, our dog Sassy and lots of food I now understand how this might happen. She quickly grew very content with three square meals a day without any other chicken competition and our company. She clucked softly at me and I talked back and we bonded very quickly.

These friendly chickens and their sweet behaviors never cease to amaze me.

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

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