For the past few months we’ve been bringing our friendly cockerel Cherokee into the kitchen to perform a minor procedure on his feet.
It all started one day last summer when we noticed him looking a bit down. On inspection, we discovered a nodule on each foot between his toes.
We suspected these might be “dirt pockets” on the soles of his feet which had pushed up and formed bumps, but we would need a closer look.
Now Cherokee is a laid back sort of a chap, but he does have rather large spurs. As we hadn’t handled him very often, we decided it would be wise to collect him from the coop at night so he’d be sleepy. With a bit of luck he wouldn’t mind us prodding and poking his feet.
That evening, we waited till it got dark and the hens had gone to bed, then we tiptoed out with our head torches set to to the red light (which isn’t so intrusive). We carefully removed the roof from the coop whilst trying not to drop any of the little clips in the grass. After a bit of kerfuffle, I had Cherokee under my arm and we were able to bring him indoors.
Once in the kitchen, we popped a little hood on his head so he wouldn’t wake up and got to work inspecting his feet.
Sure enough, Cherokee had two dirt pockets, one on each foot. These “pockets” can appear on chickens for no apparent reason (in our experience at least), we’ve only had one other case of “dirt pockets” all the while we’ve kept chickens. The pockets form over time by dirt settling into small creases in the webbing between the toes and then compacting to form “pockets”. These pockets need to be emptied regularly otherwise they can cause discomfort and possibly become infected, it’s one of those things you need to keep an eye on.
Since then, we’ve brought Cherokee in regularly to empty his dirt pockets. He’s become so used to it that we no longer have to wait until night time which makes life a lot easier.
We pick him from wherever he happens to be and whisk him in. These days we no longer have to put his little hood on and we’ve noticed that he likes to watch what we’re doing which is a little unnerving and cute at the same time. He keeps his beady eye on us, stretches his feet out and looks at me intently as I push the pockets inside out and ease the dirt out. It’s very satisfying work, especially if the clod pings out in one go. Then, I clean the pockets with a cotton bud dipped in diluted cider vinegar and carry him outside again to join his ladies.