How To Remove Scaly Leg Mites

Credit:  http://www.backyardchickens.com
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.  
No fuss or trouble, and it only took us twenty minutes to treat our flock of eight hens.
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?

For more backyard chicken advice and health problems and solutions, check out my new eBook - The Way of The Chicken – A Guide to Keeping Backyard Chickens.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments

  1. says

    Gav, when I went to a Keeping Backyard Chicken talk recently, there was a lot of talk about Neem Oil. At this stage we haven’t needed to worry about this but it is always in the back of my mind.

  2. says

    I’ve never had to deal with scaly leg mites either, but I have heard about the olive oil treatment. The soapy water seems very practical as well. Where are they coming from? Is there a way to prevent them?

    • says

      Hi Dawn. My flock caught them from one of my Leghorn hens who at the time was carrying it. I didn’t know about scaly leg mite back then, and if I did, I would have been on to it straight away. Treatment of the hens, and keeping their house clean is the only way to prevent further attacks, from experience.

  3. says

    I asked for, and got, a 20litre drum of used cooking oil from the local takeaway and use it in the same way.
    I think we need to use what we can easily get, bearing in mind the cost to us and the chook as well.

    Barb.

  4. says

    I have been powdering their feet and legs with diatomaceous earth after spraying with Manna Pro’s mite spray, with is nontoxic.

  5. says

    Just bought a new Black Silky and realised when I got her home that her feet were not right. I looked it all up and can now see she has it really bad and her feet are nearly deformed, she even stands like a flamingo on one leg. I was offered my money back from the seller but don’t have the heart to give her back so Im trying to treat her. Soapy water and oil with tea tree in at the moment and just soaking no scrubbing as they are way to scaly and I don’t want to cause any pain. The house and run have been covered already with Diatomaceous Earth and I have renewed today. I am fairly new to chickens and did not realise until she had spent the night with my other four! So I guess I will have to treat them all now.

  6. Anonymous says

    Hi Gavin my name is Sue I grew up with having chickens not only for eggs but for meat to we never had any scale mite so this is new for me the chickens weir given to me when my dad had to go in to a nursing home last year aged 90 thay have been fine till now so what have I done rong ? after all this time? would it be the heat that we been having that courest it? thank you

    • says

      Hi Sue. You have done nothing wrong. Leg mites can be passed to your hens by sparrows and pigeons which are usually infested in the things. If they visit your chooks, then that is how it probably got passed on.

      Gav x

  7. G Grixti says

    Hi…before reading these posts I rang my local vet nurse…she told me to dunk each hens legs in sump oil…which I did last night!!!! Now my hens are black half way up there bodies..have I done the wrong thing and what should I do now…I like the idea of vegetable oil much better, or is it too late for that.
    She told me to paint their perches with sump oil too. I havent done that yet. Help please.

    • Gavin Webber says

      Hi G Grixti,

      I don’t know what veg collage this quack went to, but sump oil is the last thing I would use. Olive oil works find, as they suffocate the mites just as well. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) works too, but lots of straw sticks to it.

      Don’t think its too late, just wipe off the sump oil, and use olive oil instead.

      Gav

      • G Grixti says

        Thanks Gav – I will wash off the sump oil as best I can today…and proceed with olive oil…so much for the educated experts. Thanks again

Comments build lively communities. Let me know your thoughts, but keep it clean and green! Spam is removed instantly.