Scaly leg mites SO bad - the saga and what is working


5 Years
Oct 12, 2014
A good friend had a rooster that came up lame recently, and she had nowhere to put him so he could stay separated. I do, and I took him. He's a feather leg, and actually the son of one of my other roos. He had bony growths (I thought) on his legs, and I also thought that was just the way the legs were - I don't have many with the feathers and they're so heavy legged it didn't look all that strange.

I researched what it could be, and was horrified when I found out that he had scaly legs mites, and most likely the lameness was because of that. Both of our families have kept chickens for about 5 years, but both of us also recently just started keeping them locked in (very large) pens most days - foxes and coyotes are doing a number on them. I think that's where the trouble started.

Anyway, this guy has his legs all twisted by the bony protrusions. Pictures attached. I soaked him in warm water with Dawn dishwashing liquid (it kills every flea on a dog, so I figured it would work for mites). Sully is a fairly docile rooster, and just sat for his bath nicely. We gently brushed his feet with an old toothbrush to get the junk out from under the scales. Did that while someone else held him wrapped in a towel (keeps them way calmer, it seems to me).

After the bath, we slathered him with Vaseline. Put him in a small enclosure on clean straw. Repeated about 2 nights later with Vaseline mixed with tea tree oil. By then the dead scales has started to come off like dead skin on winter feet - I wasn't expecting that, and it was fairly gross. We repeated the process about 3-4 times over 2 weeks.

The swelling in his leg, as an aside, was getting worse. I thought there may be a separate issue, and sat down to figure it out. Was anticipating a trip to the vet either for treatment or for the needle (I am terrible and haven't learned to cull unless they are very injured, and then my brother has to do it). I started him on oral broad spectrum antibiotic - which may or may not have had an effect. I found some Bacitracin ointment from an old burn injury and started using that once the swelling really got bad.

Tonight when I did the routine I thought I was going to look for a plug to the fluid sac where the swelling is and see if I couldn't drain it. Never did find one, and stopped messing with the poor guy after a while. BUT in doing so, one of the "bony growths" fell off in my hand! Ewwwwww! It was bigger than a marble and looked and felt like a rock. Pretty pink skin underneath. I'm sure everyone else knows that this was a mass of dead scales and mite offal. Completely gut twistingly disgusting. I started scraping at some of the others, and they broke loose too. Didn't seem to bother the rooster much at all (and how having must have been uncomfortable!) I finally stopped when one fell partway off, and I could see underneath a huge mass of pus and blood under a thin layer of skin. I didn't want to expose that to possible rupture - it looks right on the bone and that just seems dangerous. So I packed it with Bacitracin, put the nastiness back on top like a scab, and smeared more antibiotic on. Then I wrapped it in a little gauze so it wouldn't get caught and rip off. We'll see how that does.

I have pictures... I think some of them are gross. I'm horrified that I couldn't recognize this was happening when my friend first showed me. Since I have gone through the flock and they all have it to some extent, though it's generally not too bad. Poor Sully's leg was almost eaten through I guess. Once he's done I'll take care of the rest, and clean the coop. I also found they like diatomaceous earth quite a bit (I use food grade), and so I leave some out for them to roll in. My one rooster who is out 100% of the time has perfect legs with no problems, so I know it's the coop.

In the bottom picture you can see how much better his feet are than in that gross top picture. In the meantime he is happy and enjoying the attention.


Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
southern Ohio
Thanks for sharing, and I'm glad that you got to the root of your friend's problem. Legmites can get so bad in some cases, that chickens can lose a foot or leg.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom