If you find that one of your chicken resident’s has a scab or an open wound on the bottom of their foot, in addition to consulting with a veterinarian, you should keep the area clean and protected. Keeping the area wrapped is a good step in keeping the area protected and keeping the chicken comfortable, but if done incorrectly, you could make matters worse. Common mistakes people make when first learning to wrap a chicken’s foot are:
Wrapping any area of the body too tightly can result in restricted blood flow. This may cause the chicken’s toe’s to swell and start turning red. If the wrap is not removed, the tissue could be permanently damaged. It is especially easy to wrap too tightly when using vet wrap, as some rolls are stickier than others, so it may be helpful to unroll the vet wrap and then re-roll it before use. This should prevent you from having to pull too much on the vet wrap as you wrap the chicken’s foot, which could cause you to wrap the foot too tightly. By unrolling it in advance, it should not take much effort to get it to unroll during the wrapping process. Even if you are sure you did not wrap the foot too tightly, you must check the wrap at least twice a day to ensure it is still fitting properly. Depending on the cause of the foot issue, the foot could swell while wrapped (but not because of the wrap) which will turn a perfect fitting wrap into one that is too tight. This is one of the many reasons why any type of wrap must be monitored frequently.
When wrapping the foot, it’s important to wrap it in a natural position. If you wrap it in a way that prevents the toes from extending normally, this could result in discomfort and could make it difficult for the chicken to walk. Be sure to watch how the chicken moves after their foot is wrapped. If they have trouble walking with the wrap, look to see if their toes are being affected by the wrap.
Leaving the wrap on too long can also lead to serious trouble. One purpose of wrapping a chicken’s foot is to keep it clean and protected from bacteria. If the wrap becomes soiled, and is not changed, it can lead to infection. Additionally, if a wrap becomes wet and is not changed, it can result in skin issues. We recommend not letting a chicken with a wrapped foot out into wet conditions whenever possible. The wrap should be checked at least twice a day and should be changed if it becomes wet or soiled.
Always work closely with a veterinarian if a chicken develops an issue with their feet or toes. They should evaluate the chicken to determine the best course of action- simply wrapping the foot may not be enough. If there is infection present, systemic antibiotics will likely be needed to treat the issue. However, in some circumstances you may need to wrap a chicken’s foot while waiting for them to be evaluated by the veterinarian. If at all possible, we recommend working with an experienced caregiver to learn the proper technique.
* The 1-inch size usually works well, or you can cut wider rolls into thinner strips
Different situations will warrant different wrap protocols- always follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding how to clean and treat the area before wrapping, using any additional supplies, and how often to change the wrap (keeping in mind that you should almost always change it sooner if it is soiled or wet). In some instances, such as when protecting a sutured incision, you may be instructed not to use any sort of topical disinfectant or ointment. In others, cleaning and applying an ointment may be an important step. This video is not meant to be a substitute for proper veterinary care. However, in the event that you need to wrap a chicken’s foot while waiting to have them evaluated by a veterinarian, you can use the technique illustrated below.