The Cottage Smallholder

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Scaly leg mites in chickens


Photo: Baby in my arms

Photo: Baby in my arms

Last week I noticed that Baby, our tiny cockerel was hobbling. He spends most of the day on the roof of the ark away from the teasing pecks of the Italian Cockerels. Had he been hurt in one of these attacks?

I picked him up and examined the leg and claw. It was swollen with a few small cuts. I washed the leg and sprayed it with a nifty spray cleaner and antiseptic manufactured by Savlon. The leg looked so bad I did a bit of healing on it – the claw felt very hot. Baby loves being cuddled and happily laid on his back in my arms while I treated him. By the next morning the leg looked much less swollen and I continued to clean the leg morning and evening. Within a few days Baby was walking normally.

Baby has a lonely life. He chooses to sleep alone in the old ark. Recently I’ve noticed that he does most of his feeding and drinking when the rest of the flock have retired to bed in the big chicken house so I’ve put a small feeder and drinker in the ark for him. When the Italian hens arrived he would roost under his sister’s wing. But the glamorous Zebedee has now found new friends and sleeps in the hen house.

So I’ve taken to giving him some of the affection that he probably craves. He loves having his chest tickled and gives tiny breathy clucks and stretches his legs when I do this. That is how I noticed there was something very wrong with both his legs. In some places the scales had fallen off completely.

A panicky search on the internet revealed that Baby has scaly leg mites. These are a bit of a nightmare to treat and they can spread to the rest of the flock like wildfire. All the other chickens look fine so perhaps Baby’s hermit lifestyle has its benefits. The little cuts that I saw initially were clearly where he had pecked to relieve the itching. Scaly mites can also effect the beak, wattles and comb.

Apparently the easiest way to kill the mites is to suffocate them by covering the legs with Vaseline. So Baby had his first treatment yesterday and I will continue to anoint him until all signs of mites disappear. I’m also going to get some Johnsons scaly leg lotion or Barrier scaly leg spray as quite a few people give these the thumbs up.

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  1. Ooooh, but what if they have open sores, surely Paraffin or creosote would hurt like hell?!

  2. another thing you can try is paraffin or creosote brushed on twice a week work for my birds

  3. Cherami

    This is indeed a horrible infeststation we had to put one of ours down yesterday as part of her leg was eaten away.I have put Vasalin on the others and hope to get something for them, because here in France we have been told the traement has been banned and to just kill them.

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