Scaly leg mites chickens

goatster(7bGa)July 9, 2006

Ok I know how to fix this problem, but how do I PREVENT it. I have had this problem over the years and would love to know if there is something I could do in the way of prevention.

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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Basically keep the chicken and it's living quarters, roosts and nests as clean as you can, and spray or dust these areas for mites whenever you treat your chickens.

I have a couple of feather-footed cochin girls who are quite stubborn about getting mite infestations, and I've found I have to keep a very close eye on them in particular. Once the scales lift on the leg, they don't really lay flat again. :(

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 8:34PM
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Velvet when you say spray or dust, what do you use? Sevin's Dust? Will the mites do harm or just make the legs ugly?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 9:12PM
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cheribelle(Z5 IA)

Mites will actually kill the host bird. My first experience was with a silkie rooster, and it ended badly.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 11:10PM
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patrick_nh(z4/5 NH)

Cheri, you're confusing leg mites with body or feather mites. They are very different, and leg mites rarely cause the death of the bird. They may cause long term reduction of egg production due mainly from the stress of frequent irritaion, but that's about it.

Once the birds have them, leg mites are somewhat difficult to irradicate. The treatment of choice is ivermectin, available through your veterinarian. You'll find all sorts of old time remedies, most consist of some sort of oil applied to the feet and legs with the intent of smothering the mites. Like most of those remedies, they have questionable effectiveness. Prevention of future outbreaks is more difficult, and requires some dedication. You'll neeed to break the life cycle by several treatments of the birds themselves and also by treating the environment. Unfortunately most wooden coops just can't be treated thoroughly enough to get at every possible nook and cranny. You'll need to use an insecticidal poultry dust, available at any grain store. Ideally, you should remove the birds to another location, and continue to treat the area every ten days for several months or more to be sure to get every new hatch that comes along. Like many insects, the adults can survive on their own away from the bird for a long time. Of course you'll need to establish proper quarantine procedures for new birds in the future. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 5:56AM
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help please. we just purchased 10 new hens to had to our "old" hen pen. when we were putting them in last night we noticed that 3-4 of htem have raised scales on their legs. i read that his is scaly leg mites. how do we treat them...and keep it from speading to my other old ladies? i also have a pen of less than 7 month old pullets that just starting laying eggs. i really dont want it to spread to them also. we added the 10 to the "old" ladies pen for additional warmth as winter is coming... will seven work?
thanks for the help


    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 7:49PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Sevin will work on body mites, but with Scaley Leg mites, you need to get the treatment up under those scale to reach the wee beasties. You can use the Sevin to treat their living quarters.

You can read up on mites and treatments for them on my chicken page, here:

But basically the old school method is to take a fingerful of Vaseline and rub it THOROUGHLY into their legs, really force it up under the scales (it works by smothering the mites). Use enough to do the job, but not enough to make a mess of of the chickens' feathers--feathers that become coated with Vaseline can lead to the bird getting chilled and dying. Also, this method is VERY messy, and usually takes two people, as chickens tend to resist this procedure with some vigor. :)

I've found a better way is to use the Adams Flea and Tick Mist (with IGR). Just spray their legs really well and massage in the solution if they are booted (foot feathered) chickens. Get the Adams with the IGR, that stands for Insect Growth Regulator--be warned, both bottles, with or without IGR are identical, read the label carefully. The IGR works for THREE MONTHS! It also works on adult mites and their hatching eggs--good stuff.

Expensive, but factor in the cost of only applying it once every three months (and the alternative, expensive vet bills or dead birds). It also works on feather mites, so I just spray my birds down every three months, head to toe, and massage it in, so it gets down to the base of the feathers. Hens find this entirely too familiar and will protest like proper Victorian matrons. :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 8:56PM
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where do you find Adam's flea and tick with igr? i have not seen that name before.

the seven dusting of the pen...will that prevent them from
starting to be in the pen? obviously we will need to change all the nesting material... i like to use hay instead of straw...they tend to eat a little each day and i change it when it is low.

thanks for the information. since there hens are new...i am think i like the idea of spraying them....better than trying to put vasaline on them. or maybe i shoud do both?

thanks again and looking forward to your reply.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 11:06PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

No need to do both, just choose either spray or Vaseline for the Scaley Mite problem. If you want to treat for feather mites as well, use the spray so you can get them done all over. Just do it on a warm day so they have a chance to dry out, and keep it out of their eyes and mouth. Also, be prepared for some PO'ed chickens afterwards, and suck up to them with some kind of goodie. :)

You can treat the coop and nests pretty well with Sevin. The Adams spray works well there, too, it gets into the nooks and crannies better than the Sevin dust does. Don't mix the Sevin with water and try and use it that way, by the way--it negates the ability of the Sevin to work when it gets wet. I get the Adams mist at any pet or feed store. It's marketed for dogs and cats, so look in that section. It's a big blue spray bottle. Adams also carries the same product in shampoo form. You can Google the product online to see what it looks like, and the online pet supply stores carry it, but here it is for an example:

I see that they now call it 'Flea And Tick Mist Plus' but it still mentions the IGR on the label. Personally, I prefer the spray over Vaseline, mostly for neatness' sake. But if you can't find the Adams, go with the Vaseline. :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 11:48AM
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thank you i will look at pet/vet store tomorrow. i feel so bad for the new hens....and just dont want my others to get it.

thanks again


    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 8:08PM
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Iam a Care Taker of 29 Bantams.
To Treat Scaly Leg Mites I need to
1. Collect each bird at dusk and rub in the Adams Flee and Tick Spray into their legs. Every Night for 20 to 30 days.
2.The Housing will be swepted of old shavings, Sevin dust on floor and AFTS in corners, cracks, new shavings, more sevin on top of bedding. Done every Week.
3. Has anyone have first hand experience with this procedure Does it Work??
Elayne Pineville,MO

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 11:32AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Wow, that's a LOT of the Adams spray. I think even too much, it sounds like overkill. Read the bottle for complete directions. Once you kill the adult mites, all you really need to do is to spray again in about 2 weeks to get the eggs that have hatched, before THEY become adult mites and reproduce. That's if you DON'T use the Adams with IGR. Once you spray twice and break the cycle, it should be good until another outbreak occurs. If you use the Adams with IGR, it's good for three months at a time.

In between outbreaks, when the birds are healthy, you can try using DE (diatomaceous earth) to help the birds stave off another mite outbreak. Keeping the coop, nests & roosts will go a long way in taming mite problems as well. You have to remember that Sevin and the Adams spray are poisons, and to use them with care and according to label directions.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 1:41PM
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Where do you get DE?

What about Lindseed oil on the legs?
Adams is so toxic smelling and poisonous...I am afraid to eat the eggs after using it on organic birds.

Do sealants work to seal the mites in ...yearly painting of those nooks and crannies in the coop?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 10:55AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

You'll have to poke around your area or look online for a source for DE. MAKE SURE AND GET FOOD GRADE, NOT THE STUFF FOR SWIMMING POOLS. The stuff for swimming pools is toxic if ingested.

Like I said on my site, DE is useful for in between outbreaks to help keep the birds healthy (if they use it or it doesn't get wet) but an outbreak requires more serious treatment. Mites CAN quickly weaken a bird enough to kill it.

If you want a spiffy, non-toxic way to sterilize & clean the coop, that pests can never develop an immunity to, use a hand-held steam cleaner. More info on the one I use is here:

Works great and is completely organic, obviously DON'T use it on your birds, as it will burn/kill them. :(

Any kind of oil that is non-toxic for the birds is OK to use on Scaley Leg mites, as what you are doing is smothering the mites with the oil. But oil is messy, can soil feathers quickly and needs to be reapplied constantly. When I use the Adams spray on my girls that have a mite outbreak, if I am just spraying a bit on legs, or a crest on my Polish girls, I don't worry about not eating their eggs. If I am treating the entire bird or spraying a large area on their fluffy behinds, then I don't eat their eggs for a day or so. Yeah, the Adams smells, but it works quickly and works every time. That smell goes away in about 24 hours anyway.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 5:12PM
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After much research, I found the lowest price for DE @ $28 as opposed to $55 (this is for a 50 lb bag)

good for my chickens without and within.. bonus, not only for our chickens but humans and everything in between :) Read all of the benefits,, you'll love it..

When I researched for info I used in my search engine "food grade Diatomaceous Earth". Good Luck!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 7:44AM
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islandmanmitch(z 8/9 FL)

One old home remedy used in the piney woods for leg mites is Camphonique. I have no idea if it works or not but it may be a safer option if it does? The stuff has to be safe because you can use it on cold sores.
The second one is what we used when I was a kid that I know works. It was called Creosote Dip. We bought it at the feed store and it came in a metal pint can. You diluted it down with water. We used it on our hounds for fleas, ticks and curing the type of mange that is caused by mites. We also dipped the chickens legs for mite cure. We painted it on the roost for prevention. Used it on cattle too. Maybe you can still buy it.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 9:50AM
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I remember the creosote dip,, dad dipped our dogs. (Or at least needled my mom saying he was gonna do it).. lol He definitely was from the good ole days,, (where the story goes he walked to school in 3 ft snow up hill,,, both ways,, lol) country to the bone,, and of course,, I follow in his footsteps being a "Daddy's Girl"
If I'm not mistaken,, southern states or a local seed and feed either have it or will order it for you. I know I'm gonna check for myself. Take care.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 11:01AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Old timey does not equal safe or effective. Creosote is doubtlessly effective but a pretty strong carcinogen, as well as being an irritant. There are safer products to treat your structures with, and certianly it should not go on your animals.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 1:18PM
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islandmanmitch(z 8/9 FL)

"Old timey does not equal safe or effective."
Yeah I guess everything today causes cancer especially in California. Growing up we always had about 20 head of hunting hounds we dipped with the stuff and I don't remember any of them dying from cancer and they didn't have fleas, ticks or mange. Ok seriously here is a report from The United States EPA
A 2005 mortality study of creosote workers found no evidence supporting an increased risk of cancer death as a result of exposure to creosote. Based on the findings of the largest mortality study to date of workers employed in creosote wood treating plants, there is no evidence that employment at creosote wood-treating plants or exposure to creosote-based preservatives was associated with any significant mortality increase from either site-specific cancers or non-malignant diseases. The study consisted of 2,179 employees at eleven plants in the United States where wood was treated with creosote preservatives.The observation period of the study covered 1979- 2001.

Creosote is coal tar. Coal tar products are used in medicines to treat diseases such as psoriasis and as animal dips. Some over the counter anti-dandruff shampoos contain coal tar solutions. Neutrogena clearly disclose that their products (such as T/Gel Therapeutic shampoo ) contain up to one percent coal tar.
Life is full of choices. I'll put the stuff on my head to get rid of dandruff or on my elbow for psoriasis but not on my chickens legs to get rid of mites. I am sure anything can be misused. I know in Europe they shaved the hair off rats and kept them dosed with creosote over a long period of time and some developed cancer. Use or not to use is up to you.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 1:50PM
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I gave my girls a disting box in their winter coop. In it I put sifted dirt, sand, wood ash and a little DE. I hope it helps prevent mites on them. I don't know if they all use it but there is often a chicken in it, rolling around. So far, so good, no mites yet. This is my first year with chickens so we'll see how that goes.

They have recently used it up and dumped it over so I have to get a heavier container and mix up another batch of "dust" for it. I saved a box of dirt for that purpose before the snow fell, but I don't think it's going to last all winter.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 6:10AM
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I just went through a round of leg mites with a couple of chickens that came from a different flock. We started with the vaseline remedy but that was too messy. What we ended up doing is using an old coffee can and filling it with used vegetable oil and dunking the chickens legs in it up to the feathers. It is easiest done with two even though I did it myself.

We treated the chickens once a week for three weeks. They started looking better after the first treatment but didn't start laying until the fourth week.

For the coop we coasted the roosting poles with vegetable oil and sevin dust throughout. It has now been about three months and I have had no re occurrence but plan on dusting the coop again soon.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 2:04PM
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I just recently (today) discovered scaly legs on about 5 of my hens, but one is particularly bad and she does not seem to want to even walk. Called my vet today and she suggested Ivermectin injections (or oral) and dipping legs in mineral oil. I also talked to the resident chicken expert at Southern States (in Virginia) and she said to dust feet and legs with Garden and Poultry Dust, which is a very fine powder containing .25% Permethrin. The only thing I have tried at this point is the Poultry dust. I did make it clear with her that we were talking about the scaly leg mites. I also just went out and dusted the coop with DE. I order my DE by the bucket from McMurray Hatchery. It comes with flax seed and can be added to their feed as well. If anyone has tried these things, would like to hear about your experience.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 5:01PM
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We discovered the scaly legs too and i think it was bound to happen due to the fact that we had so much snow and our chicken run door was frozen and we didnt shovel them an outdoor area so they spent weeks cooped up in their house. The bantams were in the worst state. We coated their feet the first day with mineral oil/neem oil. the next day we put 2 c. vegetable oil with 2 tablespoons of teatree oil in a peanut container and dipped the 20 chickens feet in it. The chicken run is now shoveled out and tomorrow i will keep them outside while i coat the roosting poles with oil (i guess i will use a rag and slop on the oil while wearing gloves. then i plan on putting on a respirator,coating the poles with the poultry/garden insecticide dust, and then finally spray the area with flea/tick spray. An hour later i will open the door/windows to air out for a while. Hopefully we will make the chickens more comfortable. I guess 1ce a week seems to be the recommendation on the oil. the bantams feet that were so bad seem to need it a few days in a row. I also just picked up some campho-phenique and i think it will be soothing for when those mites fall off and leave nasty cuts behind. Thanks for all the great info!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 5:40PM
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As a kid we used to dipped their legs in liquid parafin, always worked, will be doing the same this weekend.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 6:59PM
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Help! I have a new chicken with what looks like scaly leg mites that are infected. I've coated her leg with antibiotic ointment to ease the sores (she keeps pecking at her leg), wrapped it in gauze and then re-do the whole process every 3 days. Today was the 3rd treatment. We tried to leave the wrapping off but she pecked at her foot until it started bleeding again so we treated her and wrapped it back up. I'm thinking of leaving the wrap on this time for longer than 3 days so perhaps she won't have anything to bother. Any ideas to make her leave her foot alone?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 8:56PM
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I was just wondering how long it would take to heal my barred rock rooster of the problem. If I was to use the vasoline trick. Would his leg scales ever return to normal? I've raised him since a chick and he's now gunna be five. If anybody could help with my questions id greatly appreciate it.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 12:34PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Once the scales are lifted, they stay that way. But Barred Rocks tend to have legs with big, horny scales anyway--mine did and so does his 1/2 Barred Rock son. As they got older their legs looked more and more like Horny Toads! :) My Barred Rock roo lived to the age of 9, the same age his son is now, and both had/have really thick legs. :)

Different treatment methods work different ways and take various lengths of time to work--the Adams spray is fastest and easiest I think. No matter how long it takes, definitely treat Scaley Mites with something, whether it's Vaseline (smothers the mites), DE (works mechanically) or with a treatment such as the Adams Flea & Tick Mist spray, oral Ivermectin or Sevin dust (kills mites with chemicals)--don't leave it untreated.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 7:53PM
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actually I had a real bad infestation of leg mites...i rubbed chickens legs with a generous amount of petroleum jelly...and in 5 days noticed their legs clearing!!! I was totally amazed as i have tried every other oil imaginable with no luck. Petroleum jelly works! Also, i have known chickens to have scaly legs mites so bad, they lost toes, and even legs due to the infestation causing lack of blood flow. So it can be devastating if a really bad case. Today is day 6 after application, and only one chicken has a little evidence of condition...but even his is almost cleared!:)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:43PM
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