What is scaly leg? Scaly leg is an infestation of a parasitic mite Cnemidocoptes Mutans
. They burrow under the scales of bird’s legs and feet. This causes the scales to raise, creating a thickened, lumpy appearance with white growth. Scaly leg is very irritating and painful to the birds affected. It should be noted that this condition is highly contagious. It’s entire life cycle is spent on the birds, so it is passed on by direct contact.
Recognising scaly leg in your own birds is not easy, it requires you to get up close by picking up suspected birds for inspection. Scaly leg is particularly difficult to spot on certain breeds e.g. Silkies and Brahmas, they have feathered feet which might well disguise the condition. These type of breeds are also more susceptible.
Bantam Cockerel with Scaly Leg
There are a number of ways of treating the condition. There was a time when old engine oil, creosote, or diesel was used, but that wasn’t good for the birds. Surgical spirit can be used, but again irritating for your birds. You could always use Invermectin, but this isn’t licenced for use on poultry although it is used on other farm animals, Invermectin is a liquid that comes in an eyedropper, put 2 or 3 drops directly on to skin or on the leg themselves. We favour a proprietary treatment called, yeah you guessed it, Scaly Leg Remover spray and an ointment called Scaly Leg Ointment which suffocates scaly leg parasites whilst soothing and calming irritation. You can use both, but not at the same time.
Scaly Leg Treatments
The spray and ointment will need repeating in 4/5 days time. The spray has the advantage in that it is easier to use and the birds get relief almost instantly as it kills the mites. You could use plain old Vaseline, it will do the job just fine. It will take some time to break the mite’s life cycle, but if you apply the treatment over several weeks, come the bird’s moult the legs should look normal.
How about prevention? Well I use plenty of Louse Powder and Stalosan F in the bedding and nestboxes. Stalosan is an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal powder and helps prevent future infestations. Stalosan F is also a good disinfectant, helps to keep the bedding dry and combats ammonia.