If you keep chickens long enough, you are going to have to deal with some type of foot problem eventually. Raising backyard chickens is usually pretty straightforward and easy. As long as you provide clean living spaces, shelter, food and fresh water, you should be on your way to raising happy, healthy chickens. But there are some common foot issues that you may have to deal with.
Foot problems in chickens are not uncommon at all. Remember, they only have to legs and feet so if one or both of them have a problem, then it is going to affect the mobility of your chicken. But, most chickens tend to be able to adapt pretty well to any handicaps that they may have.
What causes the common foot problems in chickens? Some foot problems are genetic or may be caused by growth that happened too fast. When chickens grow too fast, too much pressure is put on the still developing feet and problems result. A friend of mine has a hen that has one foot that we are not sure if it is deformed or the toes were broken. They are not normal for sure but she gets around just fine.
But other foot problems in chickens are a result of nutritional deficiencies and poor living conditions. Scaly leg mites can be a huge problem for example because they dig under the leg scales and make your chickens lame. The scales are raised and it is very uncomfortable for your chickens. It can be difficult to treat but one of the best remedies I have found is Vetrx Poultry Remedy – Vet-Py-2Z-X – Bci,2 fl.oz. If you have this problem, give this product a try.
Old hens are also prone to developing arthritis which can be very painful. Their feet get very thick and don’t want to bend very well. You will need to make accommodations for these chickens when this happens. These hens as I said are usually old which means they don’t move as quickly and don’t really want to move around as much as the younger chickens. What I do to make their lives easier is to separate them from the main flock so that they don’t get harassed by the hens and roosters. They also don’t have to struggle for food and water. I have lower perches, thicker perches and I also have nesting boxes with thick bedding that some of them prefer to sleep in at night.
How can you tell if your chickens are having foot problems?
The best way is to take some time and just watch your chickens every day for any signs of problems. Chickens are fun to watch as they scratch around so it shouldn’t be too hard to do. If you notice any chickens that aren’t moving around like they should or any that appear to be lame or holding a foot up, they need to be looked at more closely. Look for swollen feet, obvious cuts or injuries, scabs on the foot, etc. Take care of any problems that you notice immediately so they don’t get worse.
- How can you help prevent foot problems in chickens?
- One of the best ways is to practice good hygiene in your chicken houses, chicken runs and any other areas your chickens are allowed to roam.
- If there is a large drop from your chicken house to the ground, then provide some ramps because constantly dropping down to the ground can cause injuries.
- Make sure that your chicken flock has soft ground, grass or hay to stand on to cushion their feet.
- Only give your chickens high quality feed to ensure that they are getting the proper nutrients that they need.
- Provide different sized perches with different surfaces to help prevent arthritis from developing and to make it more comfortable for your birds.
Birds that have foot injuries should be isolated from the flock until the problem resolves itself. That way your chicken will be to eat, drink and roost without having to compete with the other chickens and possibly injure itself further.
Another thing to keep in mind is that birds with foot problems should not be bred because there may be a genetic component. You don’t want an entire flock of birds with foot deformities or foot problems.
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