What is Scaly Leg?
Scaly Leg is an infestation caused by a small parasitic mite known as Cnemidocoptes Mutans. This tiny mite lives in the ground or sometimes the floor of the henhouse in damp conditions. It then burrows under the scales of the bird's legs or feet, where it causes great discomfort. It may also infest other areas such as the comb or wattles of chickens.
It doesn't only affect poultry, any scaly-legged bird is susceptible e.g. small garden birds, and these birds can often carry the mite into your chicken run.
The mite causes a multiplication of the tissue cells and the secretion of a serum. The scales are raised, the legs become thickened and have a rough lumpy appearance, often showing what would appear to be a white growth on the leg.
The infection is easily recognised because of the raised scales although the mite are hard to see with the naked eye, they look like tiny white spherical creatures (approximately 0.25-0.5mm in diameter in the early stages).
Scaly Leg Mite is highly contagious and affects birds of all ages, although older birds and feathered leg breeds tend to be more susceptible. It is most common in flocks kept on bare earth, damp ground or in dry litter runs.
In the early stages it would appear to cause very little problem, but should it be neglected the birds lose condition, go lame and have difficulty in perching. If left untreated then further infections can occur and the bird could die.
Any treatment of a bad infestation will not be quick, it will require a number of weeks of constant treatment until finally the encrustations fall off and the scales return to normal.