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Broken Foot

Foot Fracture

The severity of a broken foot can vary, so it's important that you bring your chicken to the vet if you think their foot is broken. They can help develop a treatment plan to help them recover.

How a Broken Foot Occurs


The most common causes of a broken foot in chickens is getting accidentally stepped on by a large animal or large human. Impact of a heavy object getting dropped on their foot can also cause it to break.

Symptoms of a Broken Foot


If a chicken has broken their foot, they will experience great pain and be reluctant to put weight on it. There may or may not be any apparent damage to the surface of the skin. Swelling will develop soon after the incident that caused the break and it will usually take 2-3 days for greenish discoloration to develop in the area---which is bruising.

Treatment of a Broken Foot


Treatment depends on the severity. If there is any damage to the skin, this area should be thoroughly cleaned and bandaged to prevent any contamination. Since the chicken will be in pain when they walk, it is best to separate them from the rest of the flock, in your chicken 'intensive care area', such as a large dog kennel or oversized enclosed playpen so as to restrict movement and provide support and protection. This can be set up either inside your house or within the enclosure with the other birds. They should also be provided with fresh water and feed, a towel or other soft surface to rest on, and shade from the sun. This area should be cleaned a couple times a day, to prevent their foot from getting dirty. Call your veterinarian and make an appointment for them to see your chicken. They will be able to take radiographs to assess whether it is indeed a break, where the break occurred, and how severe it is.

Complications


It is important to try to prevent infection which can lead to osteomyelitis. Therefore, keeping their environment and the foot clean is essential.

Clinical Signs

Lameness
Reluctance to walk or put weight on the foot
Swelling
Green discoloration (bruising)
Pain
Deformity, such as a bone sticking out of the skin

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Radiography

Treatment

NameSummary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Wound management
Stabilization, rest and physical therapyMay be all that is needed only in very mild cases, however the only way to confirm this is to obtain radiographs by visiting your veterinarian.
Rehabilitation/PhysiotherapyChicken wheelchair or sling

Prevention

  • Minimize risk of impact injuries
  • Don't allow chickens to go out in pastures with horses unsupervised, as even the tamest of horses can spook and accidentally step on them.
  • Be mindful of where your stepping, to avoid stepping on their delicate feet

Prognosis

Usually good as long as there are no secondary infections.

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Contact with large animals
  • Accidentally stepping on chickens
  • Kicked or stepped on by a horse

Case Stories