And those ARE good for drainage in those really boggy areas.
The problem is the TYPE of stone.
YES. Bumblefoot CAN be caused by certain gravel or stones.
For about a year or two, the cases of bumblefoot rose amongst my hens. It was quite exasperating as we thought we had taken care of the mud and garden design beautifully. We were blaming our chicken shed perches and altering only them.
We could not use pavers because they would not allow for the severe boggy areas to drain properly. So we chose blue stone, or blue metal. It was affordable in bulk and it complimented the colour of the retaining walls.
That stone was the cause. The amount of edges on each of those stones were just the right size to cause foot injury to our hens.
Bumblefoot is the term for a swelling on the bottom of the foot on the pad or in between the toes.
It can be hard or soft.
The condition is very common in most backyards.
Most chickens may walk with a slight limp or refuse to perch at night. The foot will feel very hot to the touch. That is because of the body trying to fight the infection.
The cause of Bumblefoot is by a minor injury, such as bruising, a puncture wound or a scrape.
These types of injuries most often occur when the hen lands badly on a rough surface or onto an unforeseen object in the grass.
If left untreated, over time the wound will become a deep-seated abscess with scar tissue.
Bumblefoot can be exasperated over time by a series of repeated minor injuries to the foot. These include:
- Rough surfaces such as gravel, sticks and other objects in the yard
- Bruised foot from landing hard after jumping down from a perch
- Round, plastic or straight perches
- Over weight hens
- Poor nutrition, high in carbohydrates or deficient in Vitamin A
- Puncture wounds from splinters, nails, or other sharp objects in the yard or coop
- Wet bedding and cold weather
Its not just the first injury that will cause the problem. The ground on which they walk contains a series of bacterias that are looking for a way into an injury. That is why it is very important to keep the coop clean and dry.
The cold weather also slows down blood flow to the feet which can hinder healing an injured and inflamed foot.
Two Types of Bumblefoot
You can treat the soft, squishy Bumblefoot at home but the hard bumblefoot with the distinct black scab needs to be operated on by your avian vet.
- Betadine (Iodine Solution)
- Self-Adhesive Bandages
- Padding such as Melonite or Melolin - cut into 2cm x 2cm squares
Place on foot and lightly wrap the foot with the self-adhesive bandage. Add a little tape to the top to stop it being pecked off.
Change once a day.
This may help take out the swelling and help stop it turning into the hard Bumblefoot which would require surgery.
Investigate your coop and yard thoroughly.
Check the following:
- Remove sharp rocks, gravels and stones - opt for river stones that are round and slabs of stone as stepping stones.
- Roosting rails - the more natural feeling, akin to being branch-like the better so that foot pressure can be altered.
- Clean coop flooring - especially remove if wet and cold
- Optimum nutrition - access to red, orange, yellow fruit & veg as well as leafy greens. Cut down on treats like bread, sunflower seeds and corn.
- Clean up the yard - locate any rubbish, fruit stones or sticks that could cause injury if walked upon by your poultry.
- Keep them out of the wettest part of the yard - open or new wounds will soon be infected if feet are constantly wet.
Special Note on Perches
Roosting rails should be the right size for your poultry's size.
Bantams 1" (2.5 cm) diameter rail
All other larger breeds 2" (5 cm) diameter rail
X Too often I see dowel railing used for perches, especially for Isa Browns. Please choose a larger piece of wood and rough it up, followed by a light sanding to reduce any splintering. They need a larger perch size to prevent Bumblefoot AND the desire to perch at night.
Change the Stones
Changing your choice of stones, pebbles or gravel can make a big difference.
We reduced the amount of the blue stone/blue metal gravel in our yard by getting large slabs of flat stones. We still kept some of the gravel which we used in between the stone slabs. The hens' feet do not come into direct contact with the gravel now, and the drainage still works wonderfully well.
Choose stones that rounder and slightly larger too.
Small gravel also gets scratched around by the hens so it ends up everywhere you don't want it. That's why larger stones are the best.
Gravel mixes like the the Barossa Gravel would be too small even though its nice and rounded,
This was our fix and we are so pleased with it. It has definitely reduced the incidents of Bumblefoot amongst our girls.