Hardscrabble Yak Farm

Duck with Bumblefoot
November 9, 2008, 3:08 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

As I sit here I have my grey duck in my bathtub soaking her poor feetsies in some warm water while I search the internet to figure out how to deal with what I’ve now come to realize must be bumblefoot.  Let’s go back a ways and I’ll explain.  Last week I noticed Princess (she had no name til today and I decided any duck that I waste this much time on must be named Princess) was limping on one foot.  She was new to the flock and I figured she must have gotten in a scrape with one of the other ducks.  But last night when D.H. Ed & I were locking up the birds, I grabbed Princess to check out her foot to make sure it was okay.  There was a large black scab on the bottom of her foot connected to an even larger swollen area.  Looking back I”m not sure why we took the scab off, but we did and ugh!  the smell!  We thought there must be something in there, like a piece of wood or rock or something but what came out was a cylindrical core of foul smelling flesh, leaving behind what a puncture wound would look like.   Then we flushed the wound with iodine and – not knowing how to wrap a ducks foot successfully – we sealed the wound with liquid bandage.

Today when I went to let the birds out I grabbed Princess first.  The infection part seemed a little better, but the large inflated area in the middle of the foot didn’t seem to have gone down much.  I also noticed that the other foot had a couple black spots too.  So I brought her inside and put her in the tub with some warm salted water and started browsing the internet to find out what the heck was wrong with her.  And after looking a several gross pictures and some even grosser descriptions, it seems to me that she has bumblefoot.

For more information on bumblefoot, see the following links:





Apparently, it is a bacterial infection (often caused by staph) and needs to be treated with antibiotics interally and externally.  Well, it’s Saturday and the Vet was closed, and I didn’t feel comfortable administering antibiotics (even if I had some, which I don’t) without vet approval.  In additition, most sites suggests hot soak with epsom salt, and VetHomopath suggests Arnica Montana and Hepar Sulph C.


By the time I had decided it was definitely bumblefoot it was very late in the day.  Apparently we did the right thing by pulling the “core” out of the bumble, but once I read that it was most often caused by staph I was pretty disqusted that I had put her in our tub and jepardized the health of the humans in the house.   Princess spent most of the day soaking her feet in the warm water, which she seemed to enjoy, but she didn’t want me nearby (she’s new and not yet tamed) so she wouldn’t eat much.  In the evening I took her out and checked out the infection.  It doesn’t look promising at all.  There’s black spots on the top and bottom of her feet, the largest being right in the middle of the middle bone (right over and under the swollen part).  It looks pretty gross to tell you the truth and I don’t think a picture will do it justice.  I had her upside down while looking at her nasty feet and she was looking at me calmly with her pretty beedy eyes…I looked back and noticed…hey, that dark grey spot around her beak seems bigger than yesterday.  I looked closer and noticed the skin was peeling off where it was darkest.  Oh god! I thought, her beak is rotting off!

Who knows?!  I’m frustrated because I don’t.  The bird is in absolutely no pain.  All kinds of energy and mobility and is quite vocal.  I can’t know anything until I get her to the vet on Monday.  And bringing her to the Vet!  Boy, is that going to piss Ed off.  He’ll probably say, I’ve got a vet right here and it’s spelled A-X-E.  And maybe that type of thinking isn’t so wrong.  From what I read some animals are just very susceptible to bumblefoot and keep getting it!  And what if she gives it to my other animals?  It’s not like it’s a pet or anything, it’s supposed to be livestock and ducks are a dime a dozen – the vet costs tons more than a dime.

Anyway, after our eyes meet, I gave her some Arnica and Hepar Sulph that I had from Hyland’s Homeopathic (they are the best!).  Two 30x melting tablets of each kind.  Then I put Blu-Kote on her wound and on the spots on the other foot.  Then, I took a little black plastic bag that I had cut open and, after inserting her foot, tightened it around her leg with electrical tape.  While I was finishing up and secretly wondering if there was anyway I could safely put some Blu-Kote on her beak, I lost my grip on her and off she ran, flinging blu-kote all over the bathroom and – since I forgot to close the bathroom door – all over the hardwood floor in my bedroom.  Now her name is Princess Uncle %#@! and for a bit there I was about to go get the axe myself.  If you’ve ever had to deal with Blu-Kote, you’ll understand my frustration.  No, it doesn’t come off.  Ever.  So I grab the duck finally and take her with her lovely new sanitized foot out to the hen house, which was closed up earlier by Ed.  I didn’t want to set her down on the ground until I got her in the coop, just because I had spent so much time on her today and wanted to see her safely in the coop.  But just as I got in the dark pasture I slipped on some mud (yes mud) and fell down, dropping the duck; who ran off.  My daughter Annelise (who had come out to help) and I had to chase Princess around and when I finally could grab her I saw that the %#@! bag had torn!  AAARGH! At first I felt like, great, all that work for nothing; but then I remembered, who cares?  it’s just a duck and you did your best.

So I came back inside and put bleach all over the tub and tried to wipe up the blu-kote even though I already knew it was futile.  And I threw away the towel I had been holding Princess with because I couldn’t bear to wash a staph infected, blu-kote drenched piece of cloth in my washing machine.  Anyway, she’s in the coop now and we’ll see how it looks tomorrow but she’s staying outside until the vet tells me what’s wrong with her.

%#@! ducks.  🙂


9 Comments so far
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Thank your description of the bumblefoot fiasco. We discovered one of our ducks had bumblefoot yesterday……. what I want to know is what happened to princess…… and thanks for lettings us know we are not the only one’s slipping in mud, thinking an axe would make a good vet, and contaminating our good bathtub with staph and duck poop.

Comment by lydia zackery

Princess still has bumblefoot. We initially went to the tractor store and picked up some injectable antibiotic, however, before we administered it we did a little more research and found out that birds have all their egg embryos at birth and that giving a bird antibiotics means that antibiotic will find its way into the eggs. So any eggs Princess lays will have antibiotic residue in it. And how can we tell which eggs come from which birds…they never lay when we’re around. So…While on the one hand; it’s such a minuscule amount of residue, who cares? and on the other hand; we got in to homesteading because we were tired of worrying about what was in the food we eat, so why jeopardize our health when we have control over what happens to our animals. And knowing what we know about the antibiotic residue, we would not feel comfortable selling any duck eggs from that point forward because who knows if it’s one of Princesses? We decided NOT to give antibiotics.

We could cull Princess but it seems silly since the bumblefoot is not bothering her and is not infecting any other duck. Staph is a bacteria that is present in barnyards and infects individuals. The other ducks are not any more likely to get a staph infection just because Princess has it. This is the impression I got from my research anyway, and if anyone knows differently, PLEASE let us know otherwise.

So Princess Bumblina keeps on trucking. She is such a pretty blend of grey and white, I can’t wait to see her babies! Now if we notice that all her progeny are extra-susceptible to bumblefoot, We’ll be kicking ourselves for our stupidity, but then again, we may be patting ourselves on the back when everything turns out fine.

Finally, I checked on Princess this morning after getting your response. the staph infection has come back. I think maybe we didn’t get all of the plug out last time. This time we’re really going to slice it open. Definitely going to do it during the winter so that her healing wound is in snow when she walks around and not mud. But not today. It’s too muddy.

Comment by hardscrabbleyakfarm

Bumblefoot must be in the air! We had a duck with it and ended up at the avian vets today. They had to do a surgery on her and clean it all out and put a drain tube in her foot. Put her on pain pills and a “different antibiotic” than the other duck med I had. Said this one wasn’t for respiratory, so it was different. She is in a dogcrate with straw, food and water in the diningroom and seems to be doing well so far. Good luck with your duck and hope she recovers.

Comment by Kathe

hi, i only skimmed through it but i didn’t really see what was the cure. my sisters duck has bumble foot but we need to know the cure know.

Comment by marcus

can you please answer me. If i don’t find a cure, my dad is going to put them down. i can’t see my sister lose another animal again. it would tare her apart.

Comment by marcus

I’m very sorry. We did not find a cure. One lady who responded to my post said the vet was able to take care of it. Even though we were able to pull out the “plug” from her bumblefoot, the duck still had problems with that foot until she was taken by a predator last year. There is no reason to put the bird down though, it’s a localized staph infection & won’t be transmitted to the other animals. Staph is in all barnyards & some animals are more susceptible than others. Atleast, this is what I gleaned from my reading up on the problem.

Comment by hardscrabbleyakfarm

Thank, you and I’m soory about your duck.

Comment by Marcus

Amazing things here. I am very satisfied to look your post. Thanks so much and I’m having a look forward to touch you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

Comment by houston exterminator

A little late here, but…from what I have read, bumblefoot in ducks is though to be a result of thiamine deficiency folks…most likely due to most of us simply feeding them Layer Pellets, as opposed to correct Duck feeds. FYI.

Comment by CJ

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