Thursday, September 23, 2010

Scaly- Leg Mites


Anytime one of our animals gets sick I carry this sense of guilt. Did I not take care of them properly? Did I cause this? How long has this been going on and I just didn't notice?

The truth is no matter how well we clean our facility, what brand of food we feed them, how often we medicate, and how much love we give them... there will be times when our animals will get sick.

Hyjeevey is our French Black Copper Marans Rooster.We've had him ever since he was just wee lad. I was so surprised that he grew into such a handsome rooster. As time went by I noticed that Jeeve's legs where quite a bit larger and scalier than our Barred Rocks. Being new to Marans I just assumed it was the breed.

This past winter he was injured when I caught his foot in the door by accident. I felt horrible but it seemed to heal quickly with little problems... Well with in the last month I noticed that Jeeves was walking light footed. I kept an eye on him thinking perhaps it was from his old injury. Then I noticed that the pin feathers from his shanks were missing coupled with the scales on his toes were raising, making him look like his feet were crippled. Yesterday afternoon his legs and feet were extremely irritated. I caught him and made a startling discovery.... Scaly Leg Mites. Even worse... I concluded that this had to have been going on for a while.

I treated the pens and chickens with a light coat of Sevin Dust. I then left the coop, to return to the house to begin my research (via, Merck Veterinary Manual, The chicken Health Handbook, and Storeys Guide). Yes, indeed Jeeves has Scaly Leg Mites. From what I have read it's tough to get ride of. I decided that since Jeeves and Purdy are important to our Marans breeding program that I would try to save him. FYI, if it was any other chicken I would have opted to cull.

Today I woke up bright and early. I cleaned out the coop and the run. I put down new bedding, and redusted.

I caught Jeeves for his spa treatment.

I soaked his feet in warm soapy water. I washed his feet well.

 Then I dried them and applied a heavy coat of bag balm. I massaged the balm in, making sure it worked its way under the scales.

There were some places where the pin feathers on the shanks were bleeding, I pack those places with Triple Antibiotic ointment. I then removed any excess oil to from his feet.

I still have to construct Jeeves a separate place away form the rest of the flock. (I really wasn't prepared for this). Scaly leg mites will slowly spread to the rest of the flock if not treated. Yesterday everyone received a check up and fortunately Jeeves is the only one showing signs of it. Its also important to remember Jeeves has oily legs which isn't good for the feathers. Its wise that he not mount the hens thus getting oil on their feathers. (Oil makes it hard for the birds to control body temperature.) Separation is important.

The game plan is to wash Jeeves legs every day, this will clean out the build up under the scales. I will then apply bag balm on the legs in order to smother out the mites and soften the scales. The entire flock will be treated monthly with a one part Kerosene and two part linseed oil mixture as a preventative measure.We started a worming today as well... does anyone know what the withdrawal period for Ivermectin? Lets hope he shows signs of progress with in the next month... thats his DEAD line...

Any extra advice is appreciated... I hope that this post could help someone else in this situation.


  1. Awww the poor guy, that looks so painful. I did a google search for your question for withdrawal period for Ivermectin, and people have stated between 30-50 days. How much of that you can take to heart I have no idea. Is there a local vet that you can ask? I hope he gets to feeling better!

  2. Despite the fact that I actually WAS eating my lunch, I TOTALLY appreciate this post, and will probably, at some point in my chicken-raising life, have to refer back to it. I have NOT had to deal with it yet, but I'm sure it's a matter of time. I have had to research and deal with the little red mites that live on and in wood, esp. the roosting poles, and that took time for me to mentally adjust to and deal with. Now, I feel like, "OK, been there done that, know I CAN do that, and so...onwards." I THINK I saw a worm from one of my chickens - not sure - so I've decided to treat ALL of my chickens for worms, JUST TO BE SAFE. I give my eggs away, and how awful would it be to give eggs if they had worms in them? Apparently that can happen. I have read that you need to wait 2-3 weeks before using the eggs again after treating. I've decided to wait a month. Then i KNOW it's safe.
    Anyways, hope he recovers. He's a handsome guy, and I SO love the Marans, that I'm really rooting for him!! THANKS for this post!

  3. Whatever happens, you are to be commended for your effort! I hope he makes it past his "DEAD" line and doesn't end up in his final "roosting", or uh, resting place.

  4. BeMistified,
    Thanks for the search. I read similar as well but then I had a book that said not to use it on meat or egg birds b/c unknown egg withdrawal period... but then on the same time I know a woman who worms her dairy goats with Ivermectin and she doesn't do a milk withdrawal. (She says she doesn't want worms either-lol)

    After calling around to vets offices I found that the odd thing about chickens is that it seems that even though they have been around for centuries very few livestock vets know anything more than you and I... and none of them will see a chicken. Now I was referred to an "exotic" Vet about an hour away from here and they are EXPENSIVE... and will not give medical advice over the phone.ERRR. I hope he gets better soon too.

    Dog Hair,
    I meant to ask you what your resolve was on the mites? We have been through the ringer this year with them. We had mites in our insulation and I was treating it with DE little did I know that DE is to only be used as a preventative not a treatment. I didnt want to but I finally had to use Sevin Dust.
    I cant figure out why we keep getting stuff like that. I clean out the coop often, once a week, but no longer than two weeks. I just dont get it, other than maybe the wild animals that come in to visits leaves them behind.

    Yes I love the Marans too...For a roo to tolerate what I put Jeeves through... I can say nothing but nice things about their temperaments.

    Thanks Karen. Im going to do my best and hope for just that! Ill let Jeeves know that you will be Eggcited about his recovery! ;)

  5. Hmmm.....and here I was thinking about getting some chickens!

    As for vets, it's hard to find ANY vet around here that treats farm animals. They all want the pet business, where the bigger bucks and easier work is to be found.

  6. Jeeves is very lucky to have a "mama" like you-hopefully he will be fine and can return to his farm career---keep us updated- we do check everyday. Jim

  7. Hey Leigh,
    Well if goodness and heart counts for anything then Jeeves is going to fine with you me dear.

  8. Gorges,
    I have been put through the ringer with the chickens. I know many people who keep chickens and have never had any issues. I have concluded that as much as I have dealt with, those people must just not pay attention to them. I really enjoy the chickens, if fact I they are my favorite animal here at the homestead. Much like a dog gets fleas, chickens get mites.... its just one of those things. Unfortunately I didnt really know what to look for until Jeeves was just miserable. But I stand by my opinion... Everyone NEEDS a chicken in their life! :)

    You are right about the vets! When it comes down to taking care of the farm animals here I have to rely on my own investigation skills. Anytime anyone is sick I spread my Library of books on the table and just dive in.

    Thanks a bunch. Ill keep you posted.

    Thanks for the uplift friend. I hope it turns out for the best. :)

  9. Okay, I have a lot to learn about chickens! This is an interesting post, and makes me realize that there is a lot of little things to know about raising chickens.

    He IS a handsome roo. I hope he's well soon.


  10. I've dealt with scaly leg mites before and found that oral Ivermectin took care of the problem. As a back-up, I also used VetRx (available from feed stores) and made sure to soak and scrub the bird's legs in warm soapy water first, then worked in a thick coat of Vet Rx according to label instructions. Ivermectin had to be prescribed by a vet with instructions provided. I believe the withdrawal period was only 7 days before you could eat the eggs. To treat the chicken house I thoroughly cleaned it, sprayed it with a sanitizing solution of bleach water and then sprinkled poultry dust everywhere before putting in new bedding. So far I've not seen any recurrences over the last 4 months.

    VetRx may have done the trick alone, but in retrospect, as severe as my bird had it, treatment with Ivermectin helped other unknown problems. My bird came from someone else's farm and besides having leg mites was showing signs of general unthriftiness and poor egg-laying. She probably had worms and other parasites I couldn't see. Ivermectin didn't hurt her any and she is a good layer now.

    I've had my share of bird health problems, but like Leigh said, perhaps it's because we pay closer attention.

  11. Yes, I treated with Ivermectin as well. I have only used Vet Rx for when they have the sniffles Ill give it a try if they ever come back. The medicine I was dosing them with was a rich pine sap and antibacterial mixture. Ill have to look up the name. Pine sap was good to get under those scale and smoother out those nasty little buggers while also soothing the irritation. For something persistent I have used Blue Kote although its made more for fungal and bacteria the gentian violet in it just about wipes out most everything... which I used a few months ago on my brother who got ring worm on his leg! :)

    I am happy to hear that I am not the only who had these kids of issues with the chickens!
    Thanks for all the great information!
    All the Best,

  12. O and of course I used the above treatment as well... we emptied the medicine cabinet on those suckers... Shame something killed my Jeeves not that long ago... nice roo he was.

  13. Leigh, sorry you lost your Jeeves. You provided some good information about other remedies, Blue Kote for one. I would like to know the name of the pine sap one you mentioned - should you come across it in your poultry medicine bag.

    I would also like to ask you or anyone another question: When is it safe to eat eggs when using Sevin to treat a lice problem in poultry? I dusted the hen house with Sevin and was going to dust each bird, however I got worried when I read on the internet that Carbaryl (the active ingredient in Sevin) is a potential carcinogen. It's not approved for use on animals, but for years, our 4-H leaders have recommended it for louse infestation. Do you have any knowledge on when it's safe to eat the eggs?

  14. Thanks Jeeves was a favorite of mine. I have the bottle in the medicine cabinet in the barn. I will check and see what it is in the morning. ;)

    I looked into the withdraw period and never really found much either. I absolutely hate having to use it too, but at the moment I was at a loss because we had a lice out break not long before the mites. It seemed as if nothing I had tried was working. So I used the sevin. Which was what everyone told me to use in the first place (everyone being the feed store guy and a few farmers) I ended up waiting almost a month... but it was because of the way the treatment and then the deworming fell... it just worked out that it was a month until we started eating the eggs again. Let me know if you ever find out.
    Thanks :)

  15. Anon, The medicine that I used on Jeeves legs was Multi Care Liquid wound care. It has fish oil, linseed oil tea tree oil (good for irritation) and Balsam of fir.

  16. Thanks for your thoughts on the use of Sevin and withdrawal time for when it's safe to eat eggs again. I can't seem to get a good answer either, but if I do, I'll be sure to let you know.

    When I get enough wood stove ashes saved up I plan on putting some in a rubber feed pan for the birds to dust themselves in. My birds have a hard time finding dry soil to take a dust bath this time of year, so I know they'll love it. A number of old farmers say this works to get rid of a lot of external parasites.

    Also, thanks for providing the name of the product you used. I wrote it down and will visit the website. Many thanks!