Treat­ing bum­ble­foot

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QMy old Brahma cock­erel has a swollen foot. It feels rather hot and some­one said it might be bum­ble­foot and also that this is fa­tal – re­ally? What can I do?

AVic­to­ria says: I afraid you have been mis­led. The only oc­ca­sion I can think of bum­ble­foot be­ing ‘fa­tal’ is if it is left alone and not treated at all, the heavy bird can­not reach the food on only one good leg and can starve. Bum­ble­foot is caused ini­tially by a bruise, usu­ally from perches that are too high (30cm is fine for heavy birds), then the bac­terium Staphlo­coc­cus gains en­try and causes a large ab­scess which has solid pus – (chick­ens al­ways have solid pus; cats have brown liq­uid stinky pus, rab­bits have pus like white tooth­paste) thus it is dif­fi­cult to treat suc­cess­fully as med­i­ca­tion can­not get in to the ab­scess through its thick wall. The best treat­ment, es­pe­cially in the early stages – as with all birds – is to use poul­tices, sev­eral times a day. This is ef­fec­tive but must be con­sis­tent and can take weeks to draw out all the pus.

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