A friend of mine who is moving had a few hens that he needed to relocate. He was honest with me and said that a few of them seemed to have scaly leg mites, and they could probably all use a good dusting for other parasites. I told him I’d take a look at them and worse case scenario I would send them to freezer camp.
I used to accept a lot more unwanted birds which I converted into food, but I began to see some very heavy parasite infestations and maintaining the health of my own flock was more important. It was also pretty horrifying to have hundreds of chicken lice crawling up your arms just from handling one bird. Not worth it.
When these girls arrived, they were in much better shape than I was expecting. Three of the girls were old and laying soft eggs or none at all, so they were destined for the soup pot. Five of the remaining girls were still laying, according to him, and were in pretty decent shape. There were two ISA Browns, one Buff Orpington, an Australorp and a Welsummer/Ameraucana mix. Supposedly the mix hen wasn’t laying super well but was a good broody mom. She was also very pretty and quite small so I decided to give her a chance.
Of course, I couldn’t just add these chickens right to my own flock. Some of them had visible mite damage to their legs and the Buff at least did seem to have some small yellow parasites despite her overall decent condition. So I got out my new hen procedure kit. A container of diatomaceous earth and a jar of olive oil and turmeric.
First I turned each hen on her back until she relaxed and gave her a good dusting with the earth, making sure it penetrated deep down into the underwing and vent areas. If your chicken has a bad infestation, the vent area is where it will usually be most obvious.
Then I flipped each girl over and dipped her one leg at a time into the oil jar, leaving each foot in for a few seconds. The oil sticks nicely to the legs and suffocates the mites. I’ll repeat this procedure every week until the damaged scales slough off and their legs look clean and smooth again. I also coated the pen floor with more diatomaceous earth and let the girls go to work dusting themselves.
I’ll keep a close eye on my own healthy birds to see if they develop any issues, if so they will get an oil dip as well. If you can catch scaly leg mites before they get too serious this is a very easy and effective way to eliminate them.