How to tell if your Chickens have Scaly Leg and how to treat it

Whether you keep the chicken for commercial purposes or just to enjoy their beauty at your home, their good health should always be a priority. However, there are certain infections and sicknesses which aren’t easy to pick out. The result is that your lovely birds start becoming moody and gloomy. One such infestation is the Scaly Leg. This is an infestation caused by Knemidocoptes Mutants, a small parasitic mite. The tiny mite lives in the floors of chicken coops that are damp or just in the ground. This mite burrows itself under the scales existing on the bird’s feet and legs. The wattles and the combs are the other areas that they may be infested. This causes lots of discomfort in these parts of the chicken body.

How to tell if your chickens have Scaly Legs

When the mite attacks these areas of the chicken’s body, it causes the multiplication of sebum secretion and tissue cells. This leads to the raising of the scales, thereby resulting in the thickening of the legs. The legs then start to appear rough lumpy. Therefore, the legs appear to be having a white growth. With the naked eye, you won’t be able to easily see these mites. The mites are very tiny and are spherical in shape, roughly 0.25mm-0.5mm in early stages. For easy recognition, however, look out for the raised scales. Birds of all ages are susceptible to the mite and it’s highly contagious. The most susceptible bird breeds are the feathered leg ones. The older chickens are also more susceptible than the younger ones. Scaly Leg is common among poultry kept in dry litter runs, bare earth, or damp ground. In the early stages, chickens don’t appear to be in very much problems but if neglected, the birds will start losing their conditions. They end up being lame with reduced ability to perch. Further infections may occur to the point of death if the condition is left untreated. With bad infestations, any treatment will require being done constantly for a number of weeks until the encrustations finally fall off after which the scales become normal again. So, to be sure that your chickens are suffering from scaly legs, look out for symptoms such as crusty legs, lameness in severe cases, raised scales on the legs, or mild irritation in the early stages.

How to treat Scaly Legs

There are a number of ways that can be used to treat Scaly Legs, which can easily be done, provided you have the needed medications. These are the options available to you:

Soaking, Oiling, and applying Vaseline

In this case, you start by soaking the affected areas in warm water and then drying with a towel. After drying, you can gently exfoliate any loose and dead scales. Then to suffocate the mites, dip the legs and feet in oil (mineral, linseed, vegetable, or olive). Finally, wipe off the oil and then slather the area with Vaseline. This should be done many times a week until the cases resolve.

Sulphur and Vaseline

The second option is to mix a half cup of petroleum jelly with 2-tablespoons of sulphur powder. This mixture is then applied daily for two or more weeks.


If the cases of the infection in your birds are severe, injectable or oral forms of Ivermectin may be recommended by a veterinarian.

A & D and Gasoline

In this case, you go through a 3-day procedure as Dr Michael Dare of the University of Connecticut recommends. It’s done in three days. During the first day, the affected legs are dipped in gasoline. The legs are then held out and allowed to dry. Then with the A & D ointment, slather the legs. On the second day, the A & D ointment is slathered on the legs without the use of gasoline. During the third and the last day, repeat the procedure of day one. This completes the treatment course of scaly legs.


Since chicken legs normally have scales, a lot of poultry farmers are never keen enough to notice when their chickens are infected by scaly legs until late. To keep your chickens from catching the mites, ensure your chicken coops are always clean and chemically treated to avoid the build-up of the mites.

We hope this blog helped clear up any questions you may have had concerning Scaly Leg. If you have any other questions you can get in contact today here. We’ll be regularly updating our blog with new fresh content, so make sure to keep an eye out for more of our content here.

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