Anna, my Blue Ameraucana, above and her healthy feet and legs, below.
Scaly leg mites (Knemidocoptes mutans) are microscopic insects that live underneath the scales on a chicken’s lower legs and feet. They dig tiny tunnels underneath the skin, eat the tissue and deposit crud in their wake. The result is thick, scabby, crusty-looking feet and legs. The longer the mites reside under the leg scales, the more discomfort and damage they inflict; an unchecked infestation can result in pain, deformities, lameness and loss of toes.
Scaly leg mites spread from bird to bird in a flock, therefore when one bird is infected, all should be treated. As always when external parasites are found in a flock, the coop should be thoroughly cleaned.
The safest and most commonly recommended method for mild to moderate cases of scaly leg mites is a simple, chemical-free process:
1) soak the feet and legs in warm water
2) dry with a towel, gently exfoliating any dead, loose scales.
3) dip feet and legs in oil, (linseed, mineral, olive, vegetable) which suffocates the mites.
4) wipe off linseed oil and slather affected area with petroleum jelly.
The petroleum jelly should be reapplied several times each week until the affected areas return to normal. It may take several months for mild to moderate cases to resolve.
An alternate treatment option for scaly leg mites is to mix 2 tablespoons of sulfur powder with ½ cup petroleum jelly- applied daily for a minimum of two weeks.
In severe cases of scaly leg mite, oral or injectable forms of Ivermectin may be prescribed by a veterinarian. Per Dr. Julie Gauthier, DVM in Chicken Health for Dummies, the dosage is 0.2 mg/kg per bird, repeated in ten days.
|Healthy leg scales|
|Healthy legs and toes on my Easter Egger, Ethel.|