Sunday, 24 February 2013

Treating scaly leg mite in chickens!

If you have chickens, sooner or later they are likely to get scaly mites on their legs. I didn't pay much attention when my chickens first got it and by the time it had registered that there was something wrong, its quite painful for the chookies and quite hard for the owners to get rid of them.

I know that one of the main causes of the mite for me is sugar cane mulch. Either the mites are on the cane when it arrives (which I suspect) or there is something in the sugar cane that brings the mites out from their hiding places. Once I switched from sugar cane as litter on the ground for them to scratch in and also in the coop and bedding boxes, I got rid of my mite problems almost over night.

Two of my chookies have got a slight case and I thought I should get onto it before it gets to the stage where its got to be very painful, like in the picture below.

Picture from Backyard
This is a reasonably advanced case and as you can see the scales have lifted from the leg as the mites burrow under and make their nest there. I managed to get onto mine before they got that bad this time.

Here's what I did...

First, one must catch ones chickens.... I usually wait till dusk when they have gone to bed and just pluck them off their perch in the twilight and deal with them then. I find that as soon as I get the paraphernalia out, the chookies all get suspicious and don't want to be caught!

I use either tea tree oil and simply pain it on straight with an old paint brush.

Or I use a vapor rub - yes, as in for chest colds or petroleum jelly. The idea is to smother the mites with an oil or the jelly. Mites are an insect and breath through their spiricals on their side so the oil or jelly will smother them. I just smooth it over the infected area with my finger (with  someone else holding the chook still!)

The tee tree oil will also help disinfect any open bites or wounds but it must sting a bit (I know it does when I use it) as my chookies protest a fair bit for a few seconds. Make sure you have a decent hold on the chook when you apply the tea tree oil! Any oil that is thick enough to stay on the chookies leg and isnt poisonus, is going to do the trick. I find that if I do my chookies at night, they simply settle back down, rather indignatly mind you, to the perch and go back to sleep and ignore it. If I do them during the day, I throw a bit of grain out as soon as I have painted on the oil and they are so afraid of missing out that they rush off to join in the melee and forget to check their legs and see what I did. If they have nothing to distract them I find that they have a bit of a peck and a fuss at their legs - and are very unimpressed with me for quite some time!

I found some good information about scaly mite here on backyard and here on the Greening of Gavin.

The scales on their legs should lie nice and flat like snake skin. The scales seem to be made of the same sort of stuff as my toe nails and so when they aren't healthy they become white and raised and matt rather than flat, smooth and glossy. A bit like snake skin for those who have been close enough to know what that's like! Its so much easier to treat at this stage than when it is more advanced.

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for using natural products!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for finding another use for tea tree oil!
Time cost: 20 minute to coax the chookie close enough to grab her, one minute of struggle, 10 seconds to paint each leg and the rest of the day to be ignored by your chicken...
Skill level: Hunters stealth and cunning. Kindergarten painting. Skin of a rhinoceros.
Fun-ness: Not so much fun to discover a bug making itself at home on the legs of your chookies...


lightlycrunchy said...

Your quilt blocks are so pretty - I love the colours.

Practical Frog said...

Thank you! The camera wont record them properly. When It gets finished I will borrow a camera that records the colours a little more acuretly! - K xx

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