I think we can all agree that our chickens are very valuable to us. Whether they are simply a way for you to get fresh eggs, or if they’ve become like family as in our case, chickens are an investment. With that said, we do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our flock.
Chickens are actually fairly fragile and while they don’t take a lot of extra care, it’s important to keep an eye on them. Chickens use their feet for so many things. Scratching, perching, jumping, and preening are just a few examples. They will also use their feet to fight off predators.
With all this activity, there are a few things to watch for on your chickens’ legs and feet. If you notice a chicken limping, it could be a number of things, but needs prompt attention. Below are a few things to watch for when you’re out with your flocks.
Bumblefoot: I wrote an entire blog on bumblefoot and how to treat it. In short, bumblefoot is an infection that is caused by bacteria getting into a cut or abrasion. It needs prompt treatment or it can cause further health problems or even death.
Scaly Leg Mites: Ick! Even typing those words give me the creepy crawlies! Haha! I’ve never had to deal with these little buggers. But these mites like to crawl up under your chicken’s scales on their legs. They burrow and cause your chickens to be in a lot of pain. If you suspect this, clean their legs and put on Vaseline. This will suffocate and kill the mites.
Injury: Chickens love to roost as high as possible. Sometimes, when jumping down they can injure their legs. Or sometimes, chickens will step on other chickens causing too much pressure on their legs and they will injure a tendon. If you suspect this, I’d recommend veterinary care. There are things they can do to help relieve the pain and suggest ways to help your chicken rest. For example, separating them for a time, so they have time to heal up.
Sick Chickens: Chickens are like little garbage disposals. They will literally eat almost anything! That doesn’t mean they should eat everything. I wrote this blog to help us understand what it is okay to feed your chickens and what you should avoid. Moldy scraps, dirty water and foods they shouldn’t eat can all cause weight loss, depression, poor motor function and dehydration. If you’re going to have chickens, please make sure you take the time to care for them properly as well as educate yourself on what is safe for them to consume.
I have a few chickens with feathered feet. You have to get a little closer look on these girls because of the feathers covering a large portion of their legs and feet!
I always feel like prevention is easier than dealing with vet bills or worse… the loss of a chicken. It’s not too hard to take a spin around your coop, run and yard to ensure there are no hazards to your chickens. Of course, injury and illness are bound to happen even to the best chicken keepers. It’s important to have a good chicken first-aid kit on hand and keep a close eye on your flock. A new product I keep in my first-aid kit is bye-bye, boo-boo’s by Strong Animals. This is a natural wound spray that helps soothe and mend cuts and scrapes and protects your flock from infection.
Look for ways they are acting out of the ordinary. I look all my girls over on a very regular basis to ensure they are staying healthy. If you happen to find an injury or infection, don’t panic! Simply do your research and reach out to a vet if necessary. Most of the time, it is something you can treat yourself. But I’m sure thankful to have a vet who truly cares about my girls!
Until next time,
–The Wing Lady