I’m learning so much about chicken-keeping.
One parasite/disease at a time.
Frank has always had gnarly tree-trunk-esque feet. We just thought it was because she was older. Yes, they are much thicker because she’s our oldest bird but I realized a few weeks ago that there’s another reason that they’ve been scaly and gnarly.
Frank has scaly leg mites.
Now, I don’t EVER remember my parents’ chickens having things like this. Maybe Missouri just doesn’t have the same amount of diseases and parasites as Florida does. I’d like to chalk it up to the fact that Missouri gets a pretty good long freeze over the winter that might kill a lot of nasty little ground thingies while Florida does not. I don’t know. There might be plenty of people in MO who have dealt with scaly leg mites. You’ll have to let me know.
Anyways, I’d been used to seeing Frank’s ugly feet, but one day I noticed that Olive’s scales were looking raised and “scaly”. Before, they’d been nice and smooth. When I looked around online, the answer was pretty clear that the girls were dealing with scaly leg mites.
While these mites don’t make the chickens sick, they cause a lot of irritation, itchiness and pain. In fact, if left untreated, the chicken could go lame. Although I realize that these are just chickens, we feel that it’s our responsibility to do our (reasonable) best for them since we are their caretakers.
In the case of leg mites, there’s a very easy fix.
You simply dip the chicken’s feet and legs into a jar of oil periodically to suffocate the leg mites and help to heal their skin and scales. I gently shake the chicken’s leg around in the jar to let out any air that’s under the loose scales and to help the oil reach up inside a bit higher.
I’ve read different treatments where you dip them once a day for a week. And then another where they said once a week for 12 weeks. I’ve decided to not worry about any set timing but to dip ’em whenever Mark can grab ’em and I think about it. When their legs look healthy, we’ll stop.
We keep a jar handy filled with olive oil and label it “Chicken Oil” just so it’s not somehow used for something human-related. I could definitely see Fly Guy getting all handy in the kitchen and making a stir-fry for dinner and accidentally using some . . . ew.
I also added about 3-4 drops of Tea Tree oil to our quart of olive oil. Tea tree oil is very good at killing mites. BUT, this is something you have to be VERY CAREFUL about!!! Tea Tree oil can actually be quite harmful to animals if ingested so if you decide to use it you need to use a tiny amount that is well diluted. I can’t vouch what is best for your animals but I was willing to try this amount on my birds.
After three weeks of use (off and on), I’ve noticed some improvement in the birds and absolutely no side effects from the tea tree oil. We’ve been very pleased with this treatment and will continue use it if the mites ever come back again.
Which, I’m sure they will.