Tips & Tricks


Tips & tricks to help you with your journey keeping backyard chickens.

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Scaly Leg Mites

Chicken health, Pests

Scaly Leg mites are brought to your flock from wild birds and rodents, then onto your chicken’s scales on their feet. Here, the mites feed and also leave droppings.

The Scaly Leg Mite lays eggs, typically under the scales and tissues of bird legs such as the chicken. It’s the very place where these mites thrive. These eggs are laid by female mites and take about two weeks to hatch where they start out as larvae. After a few numbers of moulting, they become nymphs. And with a few more moulting, they become adults.

These are generally too small to be seen with the naked eye but will make your chicken’s legs appear scabby and crusty. If this is left untreated, it will spread to the rest of the flock and cause them great discomfort.

Once the Scaly Leg Mites crawl in between the scales of a chicken’s legs, they burrow themselves deeper, eating their way through the tissues underneath while slowly tunneling their way around. The life cycle for the scaly leg mites begins. Soon they start laying their eggs.

As these mites burrow and leave behind secretions. This along with their feeding irritate the tissues where these mites live. These, in turn, cause excessive growth of scales. These scaly lesions look crusty and scabby with whitish growths wherever they are infected.

Healthy chickens have scales that are smooth and flat. Chickens with scaly leg mites will have crusty, uneven, and raised scales. The skin will be thickened.

To treat, give your chickens a nice soak in a tub of lukewarm water, and gently clean them. After they’ve dried off, dust their entire body with some pestene powder or natural diatomaceous earth.

If you have a particularly bad infestation, use Aristopet Scaly Leg Treatment and Natural Mite & Lice Spray, and then smother their legs in a kitchen oil. You essentially need to smother and suffocate the live mites and use a medicated treatment to kill the eggs underneath.

As a monthly preventative, I also spray each chook’s legs and feet – particularly new chooks – with a canola spray oil from the kitchen, vasoline or our Natural Mite & Lice Spray.

It’s not enough to treat the chicken legs and feet of the Scaly Leg Mites. These parasites do come back with a vengeance.

It’s smart to treat the coop where they sleep and when possible, their run area. You should treat the surrounding area and the coop with disinfectant.

Doing routine coop disinfection will help keep the mites off of your birds or at least minimize their effects.

Diatomaeous Earth, Nest Blend, or Pestene Powder through the nest boxes also work wonders.

Coop care is essential. If left untreated, mites can cause death, so please don’t ignore them!

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