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What is Scaly Leg?

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.

How can I treat Scaly Leg Mite in my Chickens?

How can I treat Scaly Leg Mite in my Chickens?

One very good treatment is Nettex Scaly Leg Remover as it comes in a hand held spray bottle which makes it easy to apply. It contains active ingredients that will kill the mite and soothe the legs. Its natural oils remain on the scales to help prevent further infestation.

Petroleum Jelly can also be used to smother the mites but this needs repeated application. Its use will eventually soften the encrustations and then allow contact with the mites to suffocate them.

If you prefer a more natural treatment we suggest Barrier Scaly Leg Spray and Barrier Scaly Leg Ointment which contain natural ingredients meaning it is suitable for use in organic farming.

This is best used as a deterrent to prevent infestations beginning - spraying the legs every 1-2 weeks leaves them with a deterrent coating. If you are treating an existing infestation spray the legs every 4-5 days to break the egg cycle.

Treating the Chicken House and Run for Mites

Treating the Chicken House and Run for Mites

Having treated the birds you should also look at their run area and hen house.

We recommend disinfecting the house thoroughly with a purpose-made poultry disinfectant like Viratec-P Poultry Disinfectant or Virkon-S Disinfectant.

For the ground in their run area we suggest either Stalosan F Hygiene Powder, sprinkle throughout their run on a dry day, or Net-Tex Ground Sanitising Powder, again, in dry conditions.

If their ground is soggy and wet then consider covering it in a thick layer of Hardwood Woodchip to keep their feet and legs dry, and then regular applications of Ground Sanitising Powder should prevent further infections.

I hope this information helps when treating what is a relatively common problem for poultry but with the right treatment and some preventative actions your birds will soon get back to full health. If you have any further queries please do contact us by email or our helpline 01300 345229.

By Anne Weymouth
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Scaly Leg Mite in Chickens ©Flyte so Fancy 2013. Author: Anne Weymouth. Reproduction of part or all of this text is only possible with the express permission of Flyte so Fancy Ltd.