"Fat foot disease" in chickens

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I have a chicken with "fat foot disease". Im trying to figure out what it is and what to do about it. The only symptom seems to be grossly swelled hot feet. They appear quite painful by her actions. The feet are very hot to the touch suggesting an infection. I checked for breakage and everything seems in tact. No breaks in the skin/doesnt seem to be any foreign objects. No pus pockets, pads look good. "Walking" on hocks. The rest of my rather large flock appears unaffected.

Ive only seen this once before and that was early last summer. It was in a rooster of the same breed from the same hatch (congenital?), he had gotten fat hot feet and I didnt take any special action. He died within a week with no additional symptoms. This hen has been in "the hospital" for about 2 weeks and doesnt show any additional symptoms.

I know that this sounds odd but for various reasons this particular chicken is rather important to me so any information, ideas or even guesses are appreciated.

Side thought...I dont know what kind of chicken she is or even for sure where she came from. She and her deceased brother are stark white, dark grey legs with silver scales, small end of medium body size, she is "combless" and at maturity he just had a little comb nub with tiny wattles, he seemed mute and she doesnt make chicken sounds but almost sings some other kind of bird.

-- William in WI (gnarledmaw@lycos.com), January 23, 2001


Check the arcives as some one a while ago had this problem [ check under chickens or poultry]. Seems to me that it was mites which burrow into the feet. Cant remember if it was oil or vasiline they used but it smothers the mites. I had a banti once which had swollen feet from this but it never bothered her [ used vasaline for a week on her feet] and she lived a long time. She was a great bird, even went to covelesant homes.

-- kathy h (ckhart55@earthlink.net), January 23, 2001.

I haven't gotten around to trying to break out The Hen House yet, so the referenced thread will be in there. I believe the thread title had 'scaly' in it. However, it doesn't seem like what you have. I looked in about a half-dozen references and cannot find anything on 'fat foot disease'.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), January 23, 2001.

Do ya'll have a Merck manual? I looked up poultry in mine and the section on page 1630 tells of gout in a chicken. (no I'm not kidding) It says: An abnormal accumulation of urates in the tissue.....generally restricted to individual birds....Some have been associated with high levels of protein...particularly the feet are affected...effects the epicardium(Huh?) and the liver...also the kidneys...can be due to kidney damage, blockage of ureters, or water deprivation......etc...It tells that the swelling is mainly in the feet. Don't know if this is it, but sounds like if your other one died that it is something pretty serious. Have they ever gone a while without water? Urates build up in the bodies of animals(even us), that don't get enough water. Very hard on the kidneys. Hope you can find out and save her.

-- Nan (davidl41@ipa.net), January 23, 2001.

If you think it might be gout, try feeding cherries. No kidding, that's what the Prevention Magazines "The Practical Encyclopedia of Natural Healing" says. Doesn't matter if they are sweet or sour or fresh, canned or frozen or even cherry juice. They accumulated antesodal (sp?) evidence from people who swear if they eat cherries on a regular basis, their gout disappears. When they stop, it returns.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), January 23, 2001.

Hey?! Can we pretend that we have gout so that we can eat cherries?! Yum!

-- Nan (davidl41@ipa.net), January 23, 2001.

This is called "Bumble Foot" and is caused by an injury that doesn't heal properly. It may have been a touch of frostbite, a cut or scratch, being stepped on, etc. You can lance and clean out the wound and put the chicken on antibiotics, or leave it alone and it may heal on it's own (but takes a long time). I would soak it in warm water, open the wound, if you can find one, squeeze out any pus that might be in there, then clean with hydrogen peroxide. If you have a clean place where she can stay, put her there while the foot is healing. Walking around in chicken manure isn't real good for an infected foot.

-- melina b. (goatgalmjb1@hotmail.com), January 23, 2001.

I agree with the previous message about bumble foot. We once were given some laying hens which refused to roost up on roosts at night (they had been raised without them). These guys were prone to the foot infections, I think because they didn't roost. I had pretty good luck with just isolating them in a clean place and giving some tetracyclene in the water. I was never actually able to find the wound and haven't tried lancing but it makes sense if you can keep her someplace clean. Good luck, I have some chickens I'm especially attached to as well! Kim

-- kim (fleece@eritter.net), January 23, 2001.

I sure hope they are right about the bumble foot thing. It sounds like that is much better than gout!!! Keep us posted on her progress! I had a chicken that got caught in a feed sack string once. It wrapped around her leg and her foot swelled up! After the string was removed the foot healed fine. I know that is not it, but the bumble foot thing sounds like a better deal than the other!

-- Nan (davidl41@ipa.net), January 24, 2001.

Here's some info I found on Bumblefoot ~            

This is a condition that affects the pads of the feet.  It is caused by the bacteria staphylococcus aureus, which is present wherever there are chickens.  Most people notice swelling of the foot pad, and if you look at the pad and note a dark, blackish scab, it is bumblefoot.  The swelling is due to abscess in the pad.  Staph enters the foot through injury to the pad - either by bruising or breaks in the skin caused by sharp objects. 

            Bumblefoot is difficult to cure.  Make sure the roosts are rounded and not too high off the ground.  Sand off any potential splinter areas. Ensure plenty of litter, 3-4 inches or more. Don't use wire bottom cages.  Give vitamin supplements, especially Vitamin A.            


Have on hand the following:            

Betadine, hydrogen peroxide, neosporin, sterile scalpel or 14g needle, coban, sterile 2x2 gauze pads, surgeon's gloves.  Have a cage ready to put the chicken in when you're done.  Make the litter deep, ensure food and water.  I have used terramycin in the water for a week - follow the directions on the package.             

The 'Operation'            

If possible, have a helper. You can, however, do this yourself.  Wear gloves - you don't want to get the staph on you!  Wash the leg and foot, scrub with betadine until clean at least 30 seconds. If you can soak the foot until the scab is soft, do that and then pull off the scab.  Lance the pad with the needle or scalpel and squeeze out the pus.  I do this under running water.  Yes, there will be bleeding.  After the pus is out, as much as you can get, dip the foot into peroxide solution. The blood will cause a foaming reaction.  If there is a lot of bleeding, hold pressure with a sterile 2x2 until stopped or under control.  Apply neosporin to the site, a sterile 2x2, add some more 2x2s for padding, then wrap the foot firmly with coban.  Wrap so the toes and spur are exposed.  You will want to start the wrap on the foot and work up to the leg.  Coban sticks well to itself and the chicken generally won't be able to pull it off if you do a good job.            

Place the chicken in the deep litter cage, and change the dressing in 2-3 days.  I keep the chicken confined until I remove the dressing and until the pad is well healed so that it won't open up when back to free-ranging.                                   

-- ~Rogo (rogo2020@yahoo.com), January 25, 2001.

What is Coban? Is that like Vetrap (sort of crepe-y bandage stuff, that sticks to itself but is easy to get off)?

Wrapping a limb requires care that you get the wrapping tight enough to keep the dressing on, but now so tight that it cuts off circulation. Check it daily, maybe twice daily. If it gets loose, it can get caught in something or wrapped around something.

I had a cockatiel with a foot injury. She, of course, did not leave it alone. We devised a sort of Elizabethan collar for the foot. Cut a circle out of old x-ray film (the vet was helping make this), cut out the center to a size to fit loosely around the leg. Tape this inner edge with adhesive bandage tape, so that it doesn't rub on the leg. Cut through the entire circle and overlap the edges to form a cone that covers the wrapped, bandaged foot (could cut out part if its too much). Fasten with tape. Trim the lower edge of the cone so that the chicken can walk.

-- Joy Froelich (dragnfly@chorus.net), January 25, 2001.

== What is Coban? Is that like Vetrap (sort of crepe-y bandage stuff, that sticks to itself but is easy to get off)? ==

Exactly. I have to admit I had to look that one up! I'm used to Vetrap.

-- ~Rogo (rogo2020@yahoo.com), January 28, 2001.

i have about thirty chickens of varius types. one hen has had a swollen foot pad for over a year. other chickens have developed deformed feet with thickening scales to the point of bleeding. most of these were given to me and probably already had whatever it is .some of thier offspring developed the deformity and thickening also. other chickens i purchused seem to be immune. none have died from what i suspect is two seperate diseases of bacteria and mites. as laying hens they have ahigh protien diet ,plenty of water and walk in thier own manure a lot.

-- darrell (lads04@bellsouth.net), March 29, 2001.

For anyone interested,

The swelling became pretty extreme for about another week. It was centered primarily at the joints where all the toes meet. Over the course of another week the swelling migrated down to the top of the feet and toes. At this point the skin was stretched very tightly and I could see through some of the stretched areas in the skin between her scales and could see that it was pockets of relatively clear liquid. One night she popped each pocket and let her toes drain. The next morning she was as good as new. I gave her an extra day to drink up some electrolytes and the next day she was back in with the general population. She seems to be quite happy since then. I never did figure out what it was but she is fine now. Thanks for everyones help!

-- William in Wi (gnarledmaw@lycos.com), March 30, 2001.

Why can't you give little jaggery so that u can get rid of those urates. I have a problem. In a white leg horn farm of 3000 chicks (2 week old) lot of birds (1%) are dying due to acute visceral gout. No water deprivation, feed (Protein and Calcium tested, OK)OK. Can you please suggest me the possible cause and remedy?

-- krupesh sharma (krupeshsharma@hotmail.com), January 15, 2002.

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