Scaly Leg in Chickens: Problems and Solutions

Many people are rearing chickens in their back garden, to save money and also because these chickens and their eggs are likely to be healthier than the chickens in national and international poultry farms. People who keep chickens also have more control over the food that is fed to their chickens, compared to the chicken in poultry farms who are often fed chemically doused food, which is designed to make them larger and lay more eggs. However, one of the main concerns faced by those who keep chickens is the health of their chickens, as they can fall ill due to a vast number of reasons.

Hence anyone keeping one or more chickens should be aware of the various diseases that chickens can get, so that they can be treated at the earliest point, and are cured quickly. Additionally they should also ensure that other chickens are not infected, since many of the diseases are infectious and can spread quickly within a chicken house.

What Are Scaly Leg Mites?

Scaly leg mites are one of the most common diseases which can spread quickly. It is a disease caused by a burrowing mite, with the scientific name of ‘Knemidocoptes Mutans’. This mite burrows under the scales on the legs of the chicken and other poultry animals like quails and ducks, which makes the scales become encrusted and raised.

The disease is spread when the chicken comes into contact with other birds who are infected with the disease. The mites causing the disease will spend their entire life on the legs of the bird which they have infected. Once a bird is infected, the entire flock is likely to get infected quickly unless the owner will take suitable precautions and isolate the bird. In some cases, the owner of the flock may unintentionally purchase birds which are carriers of the mite, and do not show any visible signs of infection. These birds may infect the healthy birds. Hence, before adding new birds to the flock, they should be inspected closely to ensure that they do not have any of the mites.

Hen and Chicks

Treating Scaly Leg Mites

Though the chicken detected with scaly legs may look ugly, since the scales are protruding and are partially falling out, it is important to treat them in the right way. The scales should not be plucked off or cut off, since the legs of the chicken may get damaged. Instead the chicken should be treated with various medicines and methods to kill the mites on the legs. After all the mites have been killed, the scales will fall off, and new scales will be formed naturally through the process of moulting. However, the process of forming new infection-free scales will take time, at least one year. If you are ever worried about your chickens, you should always seek expert advice from a veterinarian.

There are a number of chemicals which can be used for killing the mites. Surgical spirit is the most effective way to kill the mites though it may sting a little. The legs of the chicken should be dipped in the spirit once a week for a period of three to four weeks. Additionally the scales can be softened by rubbing Vaseline or petroleum jelly, and brushed with a toothbrush, to suffocate the mites and kill them.

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