Why Do Chickens Lose Their Toes?

Although it is pretty uncommon, chickens can sometimes lose their toes. Chickens can lose their toes for different reasons. Loss of toes in your chickens can be due to nutritional deficiencies.

It can also be due to injuries, especially from predators. Most chickens also lose their toes from environmental causes, such as cold weather.

Why Are the Toes of My Chicken Falling Off?

Chickens remain with perfectly normal toes throughout their lives. However, chicken toes may fall off in some rare incidences, making chickens develop walking problems.

There isn’t a single cause of chickens’ toes falling off because chicken toes can fall off due to several factors. It’s your job to find out why your birds’ toes are falling off. Here are a couple of explanations for why the toes of your chickens are falling off.

– Injuries

Chickens use their feet for roosting, walking, and scratching on surfaces. Scratching on hard surfaces can leave your chickens with injuries that make their toes fall off. Other injuries can be due to predators.

Chickens use their feet and beaks to defend themselves against predators. Chickens’ toes can fall off in the process of these birds trying to protect themselves from predators.

– Cold Temperatures

If your chickens have been outdoors in the snow, there are pretty good chances their toes could start falling off. Frostbites are common when chickens walk on the snow. Even if your birds are lucky to have their feet after walking on the snow for hours, frostbites will not spare their toes.

Most of your birds will likely have their toes missing after being in the snow for a long time. Therefore, save your birds’ toes by keeping them indoors when the temperatures outside are freezing.

– Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies can make your chickens’ toes fall off over time. For instance, a calcium-rich diet is essential for helping chickens grow strong bones, beaks, and toes. If your birds have a calcium deficiency, there is a high likelihood of their toes falling off.

If a chicken doesn’t get a proper diet, particularly in its initial growth stages, it can experience mineral and vitamin deficiencies later in its adult life. Chickens that eat low-nutrient foods are at high risk of lameness and losing their toes.

A protein deficiency, for instance, can make your chickens grow weak toes that will easily fall off as the chickens scratch on hard surfaces.

– Diseases

Some poultry diseases can make chickens lame. These diseases can also make chickens lose their toes in the long run. A poultry disease such as bumblefoot can cause wounds on chicken feet and make chicken toes start falling off. Marek’s disease is another poultry disease that increases the risk of chickens losing their toes and becoming lame.

– Environmental Causes

Slippery surfaces and muddy-covered runs can make chicken toes fall off, mainly if a chicken develops injuries due to walking on such surfaces. Chickens can accidentally stick their toes in chicken netting, making the birds lose their toes as they struggle to free themselves.

How to Treat Scaly Leg Mites on Chicken Toes?

Scaly leg mites are nasty, microscopic insects living under the scales on chickens’ feet and lower legs. These insects are notorious for digging tiny tunnels under the skin, eating the tissue, and depositing crud in the process.

The longer these insects remain under your chickens’ toes, the more damage and discomfort they inflict on your birds. They will also make your birds lose their toes. Here is how you can treat scaly leg mites on chicken toes.

– Soak the Chicken Feet In Warm Water

Warm water can help deter scaly mites on chicken feet. Soak the chicken feet in warm water and then dry the feet gently with a towel to remove the dead, loose scales. Apply oil on the chicken feet to suffocate the scaly mites. However, this treatment option only works perfectly for mild cases of scaly mites on chicken feet.

– Use Sulfur and Vaseline

This is an effective method of treating scaly mites on chicken toes. Mix a few tablespoons of pure sulfur powder with Vaseline petroleum jelly. Spread the mixture on the chicken toes for about a fortnight.

– Use Ivermectin

Ivermectin is a common medication used for treating parasitic infestations. It is suitable for treating severe scaly leg mite infections. Veterinarians usually prescribe this medication. You can use it by injecting it directly on chicken feet or administering it orally.

– Use Gasoline and Ointment

Dip the chicken feet with scaly mites into gasoline and allow the gasoline to dry off after removing the feet from the gasoline. Apply an ointment on the feet once they are completely dry. Use this treatment procedure for a couple of days to eliminate the scaly mites on the chicken feet.

How Can I Prevent My Chickens from Losing Their Toes?

The worst part of chickens losing their toes is that they stand a high risk of becoming lame. However, you can prevent your chickens from losing their toes by embracing simple measures. For instance, keep your chickens from walking in the snow lest they lose their toes to frostbites.

Moreover, treat your birds for any diseases that expose them to the risk of losing their toes. Ensure the chickens are safe from predators to prevent them from losing their toes as they struggle to fight back predators.

Protect your chickens from going to places where they can accidentally stick their toes and risk losing them while struggling to get out of such places.

Will Chicken Toes Grow Back?

No, chickens can’t regrow their toes because chicken toes can’t regrow just like humans’ toes. If your chicken loses one of its toes, it will remain without the toe for its entire lifetime. The best you should do is prevent your birds from losing their toes.

Can Chickens Live Without Toes?

It is hard for chickens to live without toes. First, chickens will have walking difficulties if they lose their toes. Secondly, it will be impossible for these birds to scratch on the ground for food if they don’t have toes.


It can be unfortunate for chickens to lose their toes because they will never regrow. Chickens losing their toes is equivalent to humans losing their toes or fingers. Your birds won’t lead normal lives without toes. Therefore, have some protective measures to ensure your birds don’t lose their toes.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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