Chickens Coop Care Health Issues

Scaly Leg Mites in Backyard Chickens

Did you know that there are mites that specifically love to live on your chickens’ legs and feet? They like to burrow underneath of the scales on the legs and feet and live in this moist environment. Unlike the mites that live on the chickens’ bodies, they cannot kill your chickens. However, they can make the chickens irritable, decrease or cease the production of eggs and lead to permanent leg deformities. They are important to treat once discovered in your flock.

You will see the scales on your chickens’ legs and feet will have a “lifted up” appearance.  Some cases are mild, while others are severe.

Photo Credit
Photo Credit

Treat your chickens

1.  Soak your chickens’ legs and feet in a warm soapy bath to soften and loosen any dead scales.  Some people add a flea and tick shampoo to the water.  After the soak, dry the legs and feet.

2.  These mites are killed by suffocation.  Apply Vaseline to the legs and feet of your chicken. Try to rub it underneath of the scales that are lifted. Repeat every couple of days for a couple of weeks. It will take at least 10 days to break the life cycle of the mite. Some people who keep chickens with feathered feet suggest using Adams Plus Flea and Tick Mist with IGR (Insect Growth Regulator). However this has chemicals that you may not want your chickens to be exposed to. Manna Pro Poultry makes an all natural Scaly Leg Protector that treats for these mites as well. In addition, Campho-Phenique has also shown some results when people have applied topically.

3.  For severe case, some veterinarians prescribe Ivermectin.  This is a very potent medication.

4.  Inspect all of your flock members for signs of scaly leg mites.  If you are concerned or in doubt, it does no harm to spray their legs with a product like the Scaly Leg Protector from Manna Pro.

4.  Healthy scales will grow back but it can take up to one year.

Treat your Coop:

1.  Clean out your coop and thoroughly disinfect it.  Lock your flock out of the coop after you treated each chicken. In a one gallon bucket create a soapy bleach solution by adding warm water, a couple of capfuls of bleach and a bit of Dawn dish detergent. Scour the inside of the coop and all of the roosts. If you can, remove the roosts and give them a good scrub. Allow the coop to air dry and then apply food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) to every nook and crannies that you see. The Pest Pistol works great for this. Be sure to sprinkle some in the nesting boxes too.  RECLEAN your coop in this manner in 10 days again, to break the life cycle of the mites.


Hello friends, welcome! Follow along on our chicken, beekeeping, gardening, crafting and cooking adventures from Cape Cod.