Our chickens are quite healthy girls, but one ailment that they catch on and off are scaly leg mites. These little beasties burrow underneath the scales on the legs of the hens, which cause discomfort, irritation and some pain. If left untreated for a long time, it can cause the chook to go lame.
We find that it is best to treat all the hens at the same time, because the mite can travel from bird to bird.
Yesterday, as part of their normal fortnightly health check, Ben helped me to treat our girls.
Treatment is very easy. Firstly, distract the girls with some food, then one by one do the following;
With warm soapy water, gently remove all the dirt from their legs with a nail brush. This softens any crusty scales. Gentle is the operative word, because you are removing the dirt and crusty bits, not their leg scales.
You will note in the picture above that the top of the talons are a little pink in colour. This is because this particular chicken was treated last week as well, and the mite has dropped off, along with the infected leg scales. New scales will grow back in a few weeks.
Once the legs are clean, holding the chook firmly, we dunk each leg into olive oil that we store in a 2 litre (2qt) icecream container. Ben holds the container so that the hen doesn't kick it over. Once the legs are coated, we let the excess drip off, then release the chook into the chicken run.
We use this routine if any one of the girls gets infected, by treating the entire flock;
- Week One - clean and apply treatment
- Week Two - treatment only
- Week Three - treatment only
- Week Four - treatment only
- Week Eight - treatment only
- Week Twelve - treatment only
If their legs get really dirty, we repeat the clean and treatment step. Usually by about week three their legs look much better, and the leg scales grow back much healthier. Keep going with the treatment through to week twelve to ensure that re-infection does not occur.
I have read many other types of treatment for this mite, like using WD40, Frontline for dogs, Kerosene, Sump oil, but that all of these contain toxins, which would harm the hen and pass through to the eggs. Being one for natural treatments, I find that soapy water and olive oil (any kind of cooking oil will do) works the best.
Healthy chooks are happy chooks, and lay wholesome eggs.
Does anyone else have any natural method to get rid of scaly leg mite in their flock?
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