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turkey toe problems

We have 4   3 year old tom heritage turkeys that we keep for grasshopper control.  One of them has developed a huge (Vienna Sausage sized) middle toe.  Several months ago he started to limp and had what appeared to be a knot in the middle of his toe--i.e. a swollen joint.  The limp would become less, and we would heave a sigh of relief that he had just injured himself and was healing.  Then he would begin limping again, sometimes slightly but at times heavily.  

The knot has turned into a fat toe--the swelling extends the entire length of the toe now-- and now he is walking fairly normally and does not seem to be favoring the foot at this time.  He eats normally and keeps up with the other 3.  There don't appear to be any lesions or skin breaks.  I have a photo but don't know how to post it or whether this is possible on this forum.

I have read about gout and other nutrition related feed issues leading to foot/leg problems.  We feed them mostly all flock pellets (18% protein), game bird chow, and cracked corn along with kitchen parings,  but now I have discontinued the game bird feed wondering whether it may have too much protein and be causing problems.  They are free range and otherwise have had no health problems.  

My husband wonders whether it could be related to frost bite.  They don't like their coop and even in the coldest weather (we live in the foothills in southern CO and it can get below 0 degrees) they stay exposed.  Last winter they roosted on the top of our garden fence which is 2 x 4's.  We didn't realize it but the wire had bent over the top of the fence which means that part of their toes were exposed to metal.  

I would appreciate any input.  Another bird has a "swollen" appearing knot in the middle of his middle toe and is limping slightly.  I am concerned he is experiencing the same malady.  We live in the country and none of the local vets work on poultry.  Might someone have some idea as to what might be going on?  It upsets me that they are experiencing pain, and I worry that something is going on that will affect all of the boys.  Many thanks for your input and for allowing me to post my concern.  Judy


  • undautriundautri Senior Member
    edited July 2017
    Hi and welcome to the forum
    sorry to hear your toms arent well
     my first thought would be bumblefoot ...not always on the ball of the foot .....so have you checked for a scab?
     i dont think frost bite would cause a growth that you describe.
    my other thought is tendonitis or even athritis ...if they are meat birds then they can damage their legs and feet by putting on weight too quickly
    an anti inflammatory such as metacam might help , meanwhile limit the rich food .
    hope they recover soon
    x kath

  • sandiesbrahmassandiesbrahmas Super Moderator

    I agree with Kath....bumblefoot would be my no 1 guess...look for a black scab anywhere on the foot.

    Second thought would be gout which occurs in poultry as the final pathway to infections, via A deficiency, dehydration etc. Gout affects the joint, but the whole of the toe may become swollen. I read somewhere that cherries help in treatment.....but metacam would help for the pain and aspirin can help, but getting the dose right may be tricky.

    To post pic. I click on the 'postcards' icon at the top and then 'attach file'

    Good Luck ,Sandie

  • Thank you, Sandi and Kath.  Here is a photo of the boy. He was limping badly when the swelling was smaller and localized to a knob on the toe. Now it doesn't seem to be painful anymore.  
    I have done some reading about bumblefoot and this could be it.  They have roosts in their coop made from branches but they dislike the coop and would rather be free range.  Last summer they roosted on the top of the garden fence which is upended 2 x 4's and probably hard on their feet and could be the culprit.  We built them an outside perch with the 4" side of the boards facing upwards but now they would prefer to spend the night on the ground, and it has been wet. Another bird is limping as well and has a knob on a toe.  I will try to look at the bottom of their feet for a scab.  I haven't noticed one as they walk past.  
    Also, they are fighting a lot and losing feathers like mad. I assume molting and feather pulling. Thought having all males would diminish the fighting with no girls around. Perhaps they are irritable because their feet hurt?  
    Thanks so much for your advice.  I will try to get some metacam and check for scabs.

  • sandiesbrahmassandiesbrahmas Super Moderator
    Am I imaging black areas on the toe of the right foot? (Or is that normal pigmentation?)

    If there are scabs, then these need to be lifted off and the underlying material (cheesy, thick pus often) be scared out. If there are holes, then iodine (packed onto tape or dropped onto sugar) in the cavity will aid healing. Vet tape or similar will be needed to hold any pack in, and the pack replaced every couple of days.

    What I have outlined is one way of treating bumblefoot...there are many. Whatever, often the process is a long one. Metacam will help pain and inflammation.

    I DO hope that you can identify and treat the problem.

    Good luck,

  • Sandie,
    The foot in the photo doesn't have scabs--normal color, just disfigured.  He doesn't seem to be in any pain anymore--hops around normally.  

    I like your idea for treating bumblefoot but am assuming that if there is no pain then this must not be the problem.  I had foot surgery myself last Thursday and am just now getting back to e-mail.  Once I can get around better there is a vet an  hour away who may treat poultry and I will contact him.  So long as the birds seem to be doing all right I am relieved.  They are all running around and acting like turkeys again.  But something is going on and I need to find out what is causing the deformities.  Thank you so much for your suggestions.  Judy
  • sandiesbrahmassandiesbrahmas Super Moderator
    Judy.....hope the foot's improving and that the treatment wasn't as brutal as that for bumble foot!

    Maybe the vet could discuss with you over the 'phone?

    Let us know (for educational value) what the vet thinks. (Gout?)


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