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 Post subject: Scaly Leg Mites
PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:37 pm 
Wise Wyandotte
Wise Wyandotte

Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 11:58 am
Posts: 4234
Location: Plainland, SEQ

These usually occur on unfeathered parts of the body, particularly the legs.

They spread via contact with the environment and other birds and are mainly a problem in older free range birds.

They burrow into the skin under the scales of the bird’s legs causing a lot of irritation.
Eventually the legs thicken with debris and crust.
The birds will go lame.

Go out at night when the birds are asleep, quietly pick up a bird, bring her inside and wash her legs if they need to be washed. Ensure that as much scale and debris as possible is cleaned off (e.g. using a soft toothbrush ans warm soapy water). Then I apply the treatment of choice and quietly return her to her perch. She is so drowsy that she does not fight, and goes straight back to sleep while the treatment does its job.

Insecticide treatment:
If you use an insecticide solution make sure you dilute to the right consistency. Never just put it on neat or you will kill your birds as the insecticide will be absorbed into the chicken's system and be too strong. In effect you will poison your bird.

Oil treatment:
Mix one quarter kerosene and three quarters linseed oil. The kerosene disinfects and the linseed oil is very thick and coats the mite on the leg, smothering and hopefully eventually killing it.

The bird may even die from the toxic effect from the kerosene and oil mixture, fumes will also get into the birds lungs.
Instead, use a small paint brush and lightly paint the legs (a long process and not always successful).

Treatment schedule to make sure they are gone:
Week 1 - clean and apply treatment
Week 2 - treatment only
Week 3 - treatment only
Week 4 - treatment only
Week 5 - treatment only
Week 12 - treatment only

By this time the scaly leg mite should be gone, but if you have a badly infected bird it can take up to 12 months doing monthly applications to get rid of them.

Other treatments:
The FDA does not approve these treatments. If you decide to use it you use it at your own risk.

a treatment for dogs (be very careful with this). The active ingredient of Frontline is Fipronil. You use 4 to 6 drops per large bird and 2 to 4 drops for bantams. It is administered to the back of the head, at the base of the neck onto the skin not the feathers. It kills all external parasites including the stick fast flea, scaly leg mite, and mites as such. Withholding period is 14 days.

Ivermectin or Moxidectin (Cydectin) cattle pour on (not water soluble):
It is used the same as Frontline.

Ivermectin injections
You can buy “Ivermec” injections for your birds, the FDA approves this, each bird would need two injections to fix it, and these are administered 14 days apart.

Moxidectin water soluble:
I personally prefer to use the water soluble form of Moxidectin in their water, I give it to all my birds, as it treats worms, lice and mites and including the scaly leg mites, it takes a short time for the mites to start to fall off the legs, but in severe cases it can take several months. At least the mites are dead and not contaminating other birds.

Organophosphates (e.g. Malathion):
MUST BE WATERED DOWN AND SOME DISH DETERGENT ADDED TO MIX TO MAKE IT STICK! Never put this on full strength it will kill the bird.

Use it straight, not diluted (this can burn the legs so be careful). Personally I wouldn't use it, but some people do.

Kerosene/Oil mix:
If you're worried about using the kerosene, then only use olive oil, using a small paint brush to brush it on. Don't stand the bird in the oil it will contaminate the feathers.

Vaseline/Sulphur mix:
This is good but very very messy to apply and keep on. It also tends to get into the feathers and you have to end up washing the bird to remove the gunk.

CRC or WD-40:
Some people will suggest you use CRC or WD-40 – these sprays are full of chemicals, and the bird will absorb these chemicals into its system. What goes into the system comes out in the eggs. I personally do not recommend you use this.

Sump oil:
Others may suggest you use Sump oil. Don't use it! Once again, it's full of chemicals and some birds do not respond well to these in their systems and can die from the cure.


A bit of extra information that you might like to know
As a scaly leg mite comes off one bird it falls to the ground but does not die. It then moves onto another host and infects it. With doing all my birds at the same time they are not likely to be reinfected by the mite.

It is very hard to get rid of once you have it. The only way is to be vigilant and the minute you suspect that any of your birds have it start the treatment straight away. Once it gets a hold on the chickens legs treatment is quite a long job.


This is a severe case of Scaly leg mite. Note the raised up scales and the thickening of the leg itself. Once the scaly leg mites die and fall out from under the scales, the legs will sometimes go back to near normal, but they will never be completely the same as they were before the attack of the scaly leg mites.




When a bird has SLM the scales are raised. In a bad case scales sit out at nearly right angles to the leg just above the toes and tend to be a grey colour (although colour will depend on breed).

The scales on a bird without SLM naturally sit flat and there is no colour variance from the norm.

Generally it is the older birds that get SLM, so compare the legs of an older bird with that of a young bird of the same breed.

You can use a couple of drops of Cydectin (Moxidectin cattle pour on) to treat this problem - you will only need to treat once. Cydectin is the same chemical as the Moxidectin water soluble parasite (internal & external) control.
On the other hand, DON'T USE THE WATER SOLUBLE VERSION AS A POUR ON! It wouldn't work as the water soluble form couldn't penetrate the skin.



You will see unusual lumps and raised scales on the legs and feet of the chook.
They suck the blood from the chooks.
The mite burrows in under the flesh of the chook's legs and feet.
This causes discomfort and sometimes pain.
Distortion may be noticeable, and may not return to normal once the infestation has been eradicated.
They can sometimes kill the chook if not treated and the infestation is very severe.

Brush down with oil, most oils you use in your kitchen will do the job.
Make sure the legs and feet are completely covered.
Do not stand the bird in the oil, too much of it will be absorbed into the birds system and it will go up into the feathers and cause the bird to chill. If you have anything else in the oil you may overdose the bird on what ever you have in the oil as a disinfectant or insecticide.
Repeat every 5 days until the infestation has fallen off.
The oil will smother the mite and it dies or falls out onto the coop floor or into the dirt.


Another way is to soak the affected fowl’s legs in very soapy water that has a little ammonia added.
Gently scrub the white crust with a soft nailbrush.
Do not scrub so much you hurt the legs. It is only meant to clean not to remove the raised scales.
Do not remove the scales from the birds legs either.
The cleaning aids penetration of insecticidal substances.

Then apply any of the following mixtures to the fowl’s legs:
- A mixture of half garlic brew and half undiluted vinegar, with a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Vaseline and sulphur, 200g to 1 tablespoon (heat and mix)
- Vaseline alone (mites won’t be able to breathe under the Vaseline)
- A proprietary Vaseline-based chest rub
- Kerosene and raw linseed oil. A quarter kerosene to three quarters raw linseed oil.
- Cheap cooking oil, with a few drops of kerosene or tea tree oil, eucalyptus or sassafras oil added
- Cooking oil that has had an equal amount of crushed white cedar flowers soaked in it for several hours
- Neem extract spray
- Orange Medic herbal lotion for human lice. Rub a few drops on the legs, and then spread Vaseline over the top

Always use a small paint brush to put the liquid onto the legs. Don't put heaps of it on. You only need a light coating. Just enough to smother the mites. Never stand your bird in any concoction thinking that this is a quick way to get rid of the mites. It's only a quicker way to kill the bird.

You may skip the scrubbing process if you prefer and just use the remedies prescribed above.
You will need to apply treatments several times until the crusty exudate and old scales fall off.
While you’re about it, it’s a good idea to clear out pens and spray perches with insecticidal brew as old scabs and scales from infested bird’s stay infective for 30 days.


Raised scales on the legs and toes of birds:

This condition is caused by mites and is frequently seen in backyard chickens.
The legs are rough and scaly.
The mites burrow under the skin of the legs and cause thickening and roughening of the scales.
This condition can be treated by dipping the legs in an acaricide. Just be careful using this. Make sure it is diluted. The bird will absorb it and it may kill her if its too strong.

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