Egg production lowered by Scaly Leg Mites?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Whimsical Farming Wife, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. Whimsical Farming Wife

    Whimsical Farming Wife Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 21, 2009
    I will try to be brief...
    Since aquiring my Silkies almost 2 years ago, I have been battling the dreaded scaly leg mite. My flock seems very healthy otherwise, but my laying ratio SUCKS! I have a laying flock of 21 birds currently, and the best number I have had is about 8 eggs per day. Right now we are at 3! My flock is a mix of pure and cross breeds, such as plymouth rock, columbian rock, ee, cuckoo maran... and some brown ones with black tails (I have no idea what they are!).
    So the question: Can I pin the low egg production on the leg mites? I have read that leg mites cause "morbidity"- not "mortality"... what does that even mean?!
     
  2. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think 'morbidity' refers to the likelihood that the mites will cause problems with many exposed birds vs. not have effect on many.
    I don't think scaley leg mites would affect laying much.
    Sprinkling diatomaceous earth in dustbatheing spots could a 'maybe' way to experiment with helping reduce infestations.
    Have your chickens shown signs of any diseases, such as respiratory gurgling or sneezing? Some diseases reduce egg-laying. If there is too high a percentage of scratch feed or other food that isn't high in protein, that can reduce it, too.
    I hope you're able to find solutions that work well. [​IMG]
     
  3. klmclain1

    klmclain1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 14, 2011
    Looked up morbidity - here's the medical related definition: morbidity - the relative incidence of a particular disease.

    I'm not an expert on egg laying... but I would think egg-laying could be affected by anything making a chicken not feel healthy! Leg mites have to be awfully uncomfortable and bothersome. That you've been battling them for so long is odd. What have you been using to treat them and are you doing all of them at one time? What have you been doing to clean their environment? What kind of feed do you give them?
     
  4. Whimsical Farming Wife

    Whimsical Farming Wife Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for your encouragement! I always dust the coop and boxes with DE, but only for a preventative measure against other mites. From what the vet told me- the leg mites live their entire cycle on the bird (under the scales). I have not seen any signs of respiratory illness. Thanx for the suggestion. I think that I might have to take in a sacrificial bird to our animal health centre for necropsy, to find out what's really going on in them. It only costs $10, and provides a wealth of information about the health status of the bird (which will hopefully be relevant to the entire flock).
     
  5. klmclain1

    klmclain1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 14, 2011
    Yes, they live their entire life-cycle under the scales... that's why you have to suffocate the litte buggers. Soak their legs in warm epsom salts for 10 minutes or so. Dry, then slather in Vaseline being sure to really massage it under the scales. Do all your chickens. Then completely clean out their coop and spray with Sevin liquid in a hose sprayer or use a bleach solution (10% I think) all over to get into all the cracks and crevices. Let it dry, and put all new bedding in (lightly as you'll have to remove it in 10 days to repeat the whole process). Put the vaseline on EVERY DAY during that time. It may sound like overkill, but it won't hurt anything and maybe you can get rid of your problem once and for all. DE, in my opinion, is worthless.

    I would try this before sacrificing one unless there are other symptoms you're noting. Good luck!
     
  6. Whimsical Farming Wife

    Whimsical Farming Wife Out Of The Brooder

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    This low laying ratio is one of those things that I have just sort of let go... since it really isn't high on the priority list. Truthfully though, the reason it has fallen to the bottom of the list, is because I am not longer making ANY money on eggs sales! I am going to do the full on 2 week leg mite procedure, and then give it one week longer. If by that point I don't notice a significant increase in egg production- one of the girls is going for necropsy! I have to do something about this... otherwise I am just keeping these chickens for pets (which is nice... but costing me too much time and money!). I already have a llama as my useless novelty pet!
     
  7. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a friend who free-ranged 60 or so hens & roosters on her place. A few had terrible leg mites. She always seemed to have plenty of eggs being laid, but then again you wouldn't have known if a few weren't laying well.

    There are several possible treatments for scaley leg on the Poultry Podiatry page on the site linked in my sig below, if you want to read about some options.

    Best wishes!
     
  8. Whimsical Farming Wife

    Whimsical Farming Wife Out Of The Brooder

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    I think you are right, and a local chicken friend agrees with you; that of course their laying would be affected while mites are biting on their legs! From what I have read and heard~ it is not unusual to have difficulty getting rid of the mites. The treatment I last used (recommended by a local chicken vet) was; dip the legs of every single chicken in a mixture of 1/2 vegetable oil, 1/2 kerosene- every night for 14 days! Very labour intensive, but it did help tremendously (that was last year). Unfortunately, when I did this, I had a few birds who were quite young, and I was worried about dipping them... so I think that they harboured a few mites to share with the flock! This local chicken friend I mentioned told me yesterday, that when she got rid of her Silkies, it was "a dream". Until then, she was also plagued by the scaly leg mite. If my incubator keeps doing the trick, I think I might also get rid of my Silkies. I understand that they are prone to this issue.
    To clean their coop, I remove all the shavings a wood pellets, dust entire coop with DE, and replace fresh wood pellets and shavings. I was originally concerned about the mites living in the coop, but the vet explained that the mites live their entire life cycle on the bird, so the environment does not need to be treated.
    I feed 18% layer crumble, with some kitchen scraps and hen scratch here & there.
     
  9. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Cleaning the perches & dusting them with DE would still be important, since that would often be the route mites would take from bird to bird, I'd think?
     
  10. klmclain1

    klmclain1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 14, 2011
    I'm not sure... I don't know if scaley leg mites have to be transmitted via direct contact or if they're transmitted in the environment. Personally, I wouldn't risk it. I'd clean their environment completely and either spray or dust with Sevin. DE, IMO, will accomplish nothing.
     

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