Why Is My Chicken Limping? 5 Possible Causes

One thing any homesteader can appreciate is just how valuable their animals are. We do the best that we can to keep them safe and healthy. Of course, we can’t prevent everything from happening and sometimes they do get hurt or sick.

Chickens, and birds in general, are fragile and can be injured very easily – particularly around their feet and legs. What’s a tell-tale sign of an injury/problem? Well… limping, for a start and with that in mind, I thought I’d look at some of the possible reasons that your chickens may be limping.

So why is my chicken limping?

There are a number of things that can cause your chicken(s) to limp: injuries to their legs, joint issues, bacterial/fungal infections, parasites, and exposure to harmful substances are all possible causes. Treatments vary depending on the source and extent of the damage, but should be done quickly to ensure success.

limping chicken

Injuries to the Leg

This is an obvious one, but if your chicken has an injured leg; it’s going to favor that side. If a bird is picked up by its feet, dropped/falls from a height and lands badly, or stepped on by children/livestock, it can damage the bird’s legs and lead to the development of a limp.

Treating a Chicken's Broken Leg


A bacterial infection, bumblefoot starts – usually – with a puncture wound in the footpad. It can also start when a bit of mud or manure gets stuck to the underside of your chicken’s foot. The infection results in a hard ball of sorts over the wound which leaves the skin underneath moist; allowing bacteria to grow in the wound.

Why is my chicken limping? | Treating Bumblefoot in Chickens | Backyard Chicken Surgery

Treatment involves cleaning out the muck from underneath the growth and patching it up with antibiotic sprays and bandages. Bumblefoot should be treated quickly because the longer it goes on untreated; the harder it gets to treat.


Arthritis and/or other joint-related issues can make walking painful and difficult. It would need special veterinary treatment and can stem from a bumblefoot infection.

Leg Mites

Mites burrow under the scales on your chicken’s legs, causing them to be raised, bleed, and become infected. All these factors contribute to making your chicken lame.

Treatment is simple, coat the legs in petroleum jelly or something similar. This is to suffocate the mites and allow the healing process to start.

Exposure to Toxins / Chemicals

Exposure to toxins can happen in a few different ways. Unhygienic conditions, moldy food, kitchen scraps and plants are just a few sources from which exposure can occur. This can cause depression, difficulty with motor functions, and balance, and weight loss. Treatment will vary based on the degree of exposure and the types of chemicals to which your birds were exposed.

Keeping Your Birds Safe

Prevention is better than a cure and, considering what veterinary bill can look like nowadays, that’s especially true when dealing with livestock animals. Keeping your birds in hygienic conditions, and clear of harmful plants and kitchen scraps is a good start.

Handling them properly can prevent injuries to their legs. Proper treatment and care for any issues with your bird’s legs is crucial to making sure that they can walk comfortably.

In closing, I’d like to say thanks for reading – as always. I hope you found this article informative and enjoyable to read. Until next time guys and gals, take care!

limping chicken pin

3 thoughts on “Why Is My Chicken Limping? 5 Possible Causes”

  1. A few months ago one of my Barred Rocks was limping in the yard. A quick check told the tale. She got bit by a Fire Ant in her in middle toe.
    Here in Florida, Fire Ants are like mosquitoes……they’re everywhere. Worst yet, you can’t use stuff like Amdro to kill the buggers because Amdro looks like chicken food and it possibly will kill chickens.

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