Friday, July 15, 2016

BUMBLEFOOT.... More Chicken Drama

I was just feeling like life was settling down to "normal" (whatever that is!) after Rudy's passing a week ago.  The chicken coop has been strangely silent without Rudy's noise and presence, and it has taken us all awhile to get used to it.  The girls have been staying very close to the coop and not going on "excursions" through the woods like they did with Rudy.  Oftentimes the whole group of them would disappear into the woods with Rudy's ever vigilant eye watching over them, and then happily return, their crops full of yummy woodland treats.  But now, they are not venturing far away from the coop at all, always within eyesight distance.

And so, as I was leaving the coop this past Sunday, I was just thinking, well I guess this is the "new normal" around here, quiet happy pecking hens, soft clucks, and no noisy loud sounds from a handsome rascal, when I heard something unusual behind me.  I turned to see what it was, and there was my poor Eleanor behind me, trying to keep up with me, and she couldn't because she was hobbling.  My heart sunk. I could see what was causing her problem.

BUMBLEFOOT... a infection that chickens get in their feet that could have a variety of causes but usually begins with a cut or scrape on their foot that subsequently gets infected.  The infection grows and hardens into a hard kernel inside the soft tissue mass.  Once the bumblefoot gets to the point where the chicken is hobbling and can't walk, surgery is generally the only alternative.

With a sick feeling in my heart, I knew that an unpleasant task lay before me. I had planned to go berry picking today.. well, that wasn't happening now!   I needed to get the hard kernel out of her foot in order for her to heal.  I did a lot of reading and research on the issue before getting started.  I read that several people had lost their chickens to anesthesia when taking them to the vet to have this done, and also that there really wasn't anything to give the chicken for the pain during the procedure because chickens can't have anything with a "*caine" in it, because it will cause them to stop breathing.  Here is a very good article on bumblefoot for more information on bumblefoot in chickens by a trusted chicken expert.  

If you're a bit squeamish, just scroll down past the next few pictures, as they are not the most pleasant!

My daughter and I worked together to perform the surgery, turning our bathroom into a mini-surgical suite.  First we soaked her feet in warm Epsom salt water to soften the abscess.  Then we wrapped Eleanor in a towel and laid her on her back.  We had sterilized the knives and tweezers we were going to use, wore gloves and... then we prayed! I knew without the Lord's help I would not be able to stomach such a procedure, and I prayed as I went.  It was a very tough thing to do.  In fact, my daughter had to stop and go rest for a bit, because it was so intense.  Eleanor was obviously in pain although she only squawked once, bless her heart!  It is true that chickens are very stoic, and handle pain extremely well.  This procedure was extremely taxing for all of us.  I know the Lord helped me through it, because normally I don't do well when seeing blood. However, I knew it had to be done, and I just had to get through it.

After digging for what seemed like forever, I finally located the a small kernel of hard tissue that usually is present in bumblefoot.  You can see it lying on the towel above.

If you are squeamish, cover your eyes for the next picture, it is not pleasant!

Finishing up after the kernel had been removed, it was time to bandage and dress the wound.

We applied mupirocin (an antibiotic cream that we had on hand) to the wound with some sterile gauze. We then wrapped the foot with latex-free self-cling wrap and then applied duct tape over all to hold the bandages in place.

Here she is with the foot all bandaged up.

I put her in a cage in the garden for the first 12 hours or so, so that I could keep an eye on her.

She was not too happy with the bandage on her foot and tried to peck it off.

Finally she realized she could walk with the bandage on, and we fed her some special treats from the garden... lettuce, peas and strawberries.  That made her very happy!

The next morning, I opened the bandage and the wound seemed to be healing up very well, and looked much better, and less red.  Today is day 5 after the surgery, and each day I notice that the swelling is decreasing and the color of her foot has returned to normal with no redness.  It appears that she is well on the way to healing.  It will take some time for the wound to completely dry up and go away, and I will leave the dressing on for another few days just to make sure healing continues.

And while we are sad that Mr. Rudy is no longer with us, his son Pepper is starting to make it quite known that he is a rooster.  To my dismay, it appears that "Sally" our last little chick that hatched out, is most likely a rooster as well.  Our second chick that we hatched we named Buttercup, who I was certain initially was a rooster.  However... now I am not so certain as Buttercup has not begun to act like a rooster, and continues to be very timid, shy, and has shown no signs of aggressive behavior.

Goldie adopted Salt & Pepper, along with her own chick that she hatched out... Sally.  However, Sally and Pepper have been playing games with each other that no doubt soon will get nasty.  I see them feathering up and staring each other down, and coming towards each other with their heads down, and then they go right back to eating together.  So... no doubt our chicken drama will be continuing, as I will soon have to make a decision on which rooster to keep.  I am continuing to watch them, and work with them.  Each day I am taking Sally and Pepper and just holding them and walking around with them to show them that I am boss.  Rooster taming... I hope it can be done!

Meanwhile, Eleanor has been getting around pretty good around the yard and keeping up with the other hens. For the first day or two, she stayed close to the coop, but the last few days she has been making the rounds with the rest of the girls.  I'm hoping that the chicken drama has quieted down for a while!

And as a side note... my heart is heavy with all the terrible tragedy that took place in France and the continuing violence that seems to be escalating in the world we live in.  Here on my little piece of heaven this side of earth, I find it comforting to go outside and be with my animals and in my garden, and just pray and ask the Lord to be with the hearts that are grieving.  There are no easy answers to these things... but there is hope in Christ, and that is where I turn in the midst of the sorrow in my heart with these kinds of tragedies.

"On Christ the solid rock I stand.. all other ground is sinking sand."

I'm thankful that in the midst of the hurting world we live in... our hope in Christ is where we can find solid footing and hope to keep us through the darkness around us.

I've also been quite busy as berry season is in full swing around here!  I hope to post soon about some of the fun berry experiences we've had.  :)


  1. You're very brave! Don't know if I could have done surgery on a chicken foot. :-)
    Glad she's better. ♥

    1. I don't know what I was - desperate I think! I just couldn't let her suffer and it had to be done. It is amazing what you can do when you have no other recourse! Yes, she is continuing to do better, and now walking without hardly hobbling at all, praise God! :)

  2. so glad she is doing are a true caretaker of your critters :D mari

    1. Thanks Mari! It is amazing what you can do if you have no other recourse, and that is where I found myself! Blessings and hugs to you today :)

  3. Oh, my! You should have been a vet! You are so brave to take on such an undertaking...I could never do something like that. I surely hope she will continue to heal and be completely back to normal soon. God bless you in all of your endeavors, sweet friend! Sending you lots of love and many blessings!

    1. Oh my, I sure don't think I could be a vet, I can't imagine having to do such things every day! No, I only did this because there was no other option as I couldn't let her suffer, but with the Lord's help we got through it, and Eleanor is doing much better every day! I took her bandage off and she is walking easily with just a slight limp still, but the abscess is smaller, and so I am just very thankful that it all ended well! Hugs and blessings returned to you too, my friend!

  4. I have never heard of Bumblefoot before. I am so glad you were able to help Elinore and that she is healing nicely. Poor girl is lucky to have you as her human mom. :)

    I too was deeply saddened by what happened in Nice, France and also in Peterborough, Ontario. There is so much evil going on in our world and I fear it is only going to get worse. I cling to my faith in Christ as well.

    Be blessed!

  5. so much terrible/horrible things going on in the total agreeance. You are so brave to do what you did...I don't think I could of done that....smiles

  6. You're very brave. How did you manage to keep the hen still whilst you operated?

    Prayers and God bless.

  7. Marilyn, poor Eleanor. You are so brave to work on her poor foot. I hope she heals quickly. I have not posted this week until today because of all the sad sad things that have happened this week. Lots of praying.

  8. I'm impressed that you are such a fine chicken surgeon!
    God be with you this day, sweet friend.

  9. You and your daughter did so well doing surgery. I pray for Eleanor to heal.
    I am praying for our Nation and World with you.
    xx oo

  10. Wow, you are a strong and brave soul, reading up on what to do and tackling that situation yourself! I am squeamish and would not be able to do such a thing. I could never be a nurse. My husband deals with scary emergencies that involve lots of blood, cutting, or digging.

    Yes, it is comforting to know that our Lord is in control, otherwise I would be a very distressed person concerning world affairs.

    I look forward to your berry post.

  11. OK...this was hard to look at but I'm so thankful you could take care of her!
    How is she doing today?
    Love the names you have give these chickens, Eleanor, darling.

  12. I could never have done it. She was lucky to have you.

  13. Poor little Eleanor! I'm sure glad you were able to help her - you were very brave, tackling that surgery!

  14. Oh my stars never in a million years would I have attempted what you did. (I can barely clean up after one of our cats gets sick) - You are amazing! I'm happy that Eleanor is recovering so well. - Life on your place is truly interesting and challenging.


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