Scaly Leg Mites - Natural treatment for Chicken Leg Mites

Chicken leg mites: Scaly leg mite treatment and symptoms

Scaly leg mites are a common parasite infecting chickens, poultry and birds. They cause irritation, itching and inflammation on chicken's legs and feet. If left untreated, scaly leg mites can lead to infection and lameness.

Symptoms of scaly leg mites:

Have you ever noticed that chicken's legs are actually covered in scales?

A healthy chicken's legs look smooth, like the belly of a snake. The scales are visible but sit relatively flat, like a skin.

A chicken with scaly leg mites has really obvious scales. Its legs and feet will look thick and crusted, like the skin of a warty crocodile or toad.

Symptoms of chicken leg mites include:

  • Inflammation of the legs and feet
  • Thick, crusted feet and legs
  • Scabs or raised scales on the legs and feet
  • Flaking scales (early symptom)
  • Raised scales

If scaly leg mites are not treated, a chicken's legs and feet will become so inflamed that the chicken may become lame, suffer from infection or lose parts of their feet.

Like all parasites, scaly leg mite symptoms will be worse in chicken's with lower immune systems, for example those on the bottom of the pecking order or suffering from deficiency, illness or parasites. 

What causes scaly legs in chickens?

It is natural for chickens to have smooth scales on their legs. But crusty, raised scales are caused by a parasite called a scaly leg mite.

Scaly leg mites live on chicken legs. They tunnel under the scales and into the skin, eating the flesh and leaving droppings that cause irritation. 

Chickens may get scaly leg mites from another flock member or from wild birds.

Unfortunately, scaly leg mites spread easily in the chicken coop. If one chicken is infected, all of your flock will have scaly leg mites and need to be treated. You must also disinfect your coop to prevent reinfection.

How to treat scaly leg mites naturally

Scaly leg mites are as easy to treat at home as they are to recognise. 

Most methods of treatment focus on suffocating the mites. However, they have to be repeated because suffocation does not destroy mite eggs under the skin.  

Chicken leg mites can be treated with some veterinary medicines (e.g. dewormers, rotenone powder, lice and mite sprays) - check the product labels carefully - but this usually requires a withholding period and not all products are registered for use on birds that produce eggs for human consumption.

Fortunately, there is also an effective natural treatment for scaly leg mites.

How NOT to treat chicken leg mites

There are lots of poultry forums and online articles that recommend dangerous home treatments for scaly leg mites. You should avoid the following chicken leg mite treatments:

  • Petrol
  • Paraffin oil
  • Kerosene
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Garlic cloves in the water
  • Crisco
  • Vegetable oil
  • Petroleum jelly
  • WD40

Using chemical products like petrol, kerosene and WD40 is likely to be painful for chickens, particularly if the skin is already inflamed. Chemicals also have the potential to be absorbed into the skin or swallowed while pecking or grooming, causing health issues and potentially contaminating meat and eggs.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) can be used to treat the coop for mites but will not work on birds as it is unlikely to penetrate the chicken's leg scales.

Garlic cloves are also safe, but there is no evidence to suggest that eating or drinking garlic has any effect on chicken parasites.

While products like petroleum jelly, Crisco and vegetable oils will not harm your birds, they are not a very effective treatment for leg mites. 

Safe, natural treatment for scaly leg mites in 5 easy steps

VetRx is a 100% natural poultry remedy designed for chickens and other birds. It contains no nasties and is both safer and more effective than other natural treatments for chicken leg mites.

Treating leg mites with VetRx combines the suffocation method with Canada basalm and essential oils of camphor, rosemary and origanum, all of which have been found to deter insects. It is an effective and safe natural treatment for scaly leg mites. 

How to treat scaly leg mite naturally:

  1. Soak the feet and legs of the bird in warm water for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Scrub the feet and legs very gently with a soft toothbrush to remove dead skin and crusty build-up.
  3. Dry the feet and legs.
  4. Apply a small amount of cold VetRx straight from the bottle and rub in well.
  5. Repeat treatment every 3 days until symptoms have ceased. This is important to prevent reinfection.

You should treat all of the birds in your flock initially. After the first treatment, repeated treatment can be limited to birds continuing to display symptoms of leg mites.

Clean the chicken coop thoroughly after treating your birds in order to prevent reinfection. It is advisable to treat the coop using VetRx, diatomaceous earth or Coopex Insecticide.

Because VetRx may not destroy all unhatched eggs, it can take several weeks for a case of scaly legs on chickens to be resolved.

In severe cases, it may be necessary to completely coat the legs of the bird in a thicker layer of VetRx in order to suffocate the mites. Alternatively, treat as detailed above and then top the legs with a thick layer of Vaseline or vegetable oil.

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