A full 8 months after finding six of our eleven girls had bumblefoot, each one of them has finally healed. No evidence of having it at all. Even poor Dirty Birdie, our smallest hen who had the largest lesions, has completely healed.
I can now identify each of our girls in a photo of just their foot pads. I see chicken feet when I close my eyes. I cannot stop looking at photos of their feet in various stages of healing and worse, I can’t stop looking at pictures of bumblefoot on any chicken. I’ve obessively read everything I can find about bumblefoot in chickens, hawks, and falcons.
Some of the most helpful sources of information on treatment were wildlife rescue organizations. Most have limited resources and require birds in their care to heal quickly with minimum handling, so no 20-minute-2x/day soaks in an epsom salt foot bath for those birds. (Birds at falcon hospitals in the UAE are a different story on that point.) Limited resources at rescue centers also dictate creative use of affordable and easily accessible wound care supplies. Not everyone can use the recipe for making antibiotic impregnated beads!
After all the reading, I knew our girls needed hydrocolloid dressings or bandages. I still don’t understand the difference between hydrocolloid dressings and hydrocolloid bandages. Hydrogels would be dressings but would that be covered with a transparent film dressing? Could transparent film dressings be cut to size? I don’t know anyone who could answer. The lady at the home health supply place already thinks I’m crazy, so I didn’t want to go back there. (“Honey, what on earth kind of wound are you trying to treat?!”)
I thought blister bandages would be perfect, but they are too big. I thought they could just be cut to size so I bought some, opened the package, and the directions stated the bandage should never be cut. I don’t know why it is “never” and “not” but there is a big difference so I didn’t cut them.
Then I stumbled onto a website about hydrocolloid acne patches. Affordable, non-medicated, and already the right size and shape! Two-day shipping and the last of the girls with bumblefoot had their lesions removed and patches applied. After just one month of using the patches there was absolutely no sign of injury to their foot pads. I don’t know why the avian vet didn’t mention them.
My husband says there are many reasons the avian vet didn’t explain most of what happens with the healing process. He also said what I want is an entire course on it and not just an overview for a general audience. What about just telling me avian abscesses are not the same as abscesses on other animals? That alone would have been very helpful to know!
Our girls’ roost is still covered with Astroturf and it will stay on indefinitely. It is removed for cleaning, of course. Very easy.
We also bought a pair of Birdy Booties for Butters and those may have helped in her case. She is our largest chicken and has giant feet so she fit in them. The Birdy Booties were way to big for Dirty Birdie. The toes were still way too long for Butters, but I cut them down to size.
Overall, the biggest help was the hydrocolloid patches. I’m just thankful they’ve healed.