Foot scale can be very painful for chickens and untreated foot scale can itself lead to permanent damage, such as the loss of a toe or leg. However, if lime feet are recognized in time, proper treatment will kill the mites, after which the feet will recover.
Treating alone will not ensure that the mite is completely gone. This is often still present in and around the loft, which means that re-infestation often occurs and treatment is necessary again. That is why cleaning and good hygiene of the hutch and run is advisable.
Scale Mite Or Scabies Mite
Chalk legs in chickens are caused by the mite Knemidocoptes mutants, also known as the calf leg mite or mange mite. The mites live between the scales of a chicken’s legs and feed on the chicken’s blood. The chickens can contract the leg lime mite through other chickens, but also through a coop that is infected with these mites.
Chicks in particular are susceptible to infestation with the lime mite. The lime leg mite is not dangerous for people or other pets.
Recognizing Lime Legs
Limefoot mites are very small and cannot be seen with the naked eye. In addition, the mite pierces through the legs of the chicken, so that they are below the surface and are therefore hidden. Lime legs can therefore only be recognized when the first symptoms become visible and the chicken suffers from them.
The symptoms of calcium leg in chickens become more and more severe as time goes by. Where it starts with paw pecking and swollen toes, it can eventually end in reduced mobility and missing toes or legs.
The symptoms of calcium leg in chickens can be recognized in the order of duration and severity of the infection by:
- Chicken pecks at the legs
- Swollen toes
- Thick legs
- Rough legs with open scales
- Bleeding legs
- Gray accumulated feces between the scales of the legs
- The chicken does not want to roost
- The chicken walks hard
- Paralysis or deformity of the legs
- The chicken may lose a toe
To Deal With
Fortunately, lime legs are easy to treat. If the lime legs are not yet in an advanced stage, the treatment can be carried out yourself. Because the mites hate oil and alcohol, these are good means to kill the mites. Treatment works as follows:
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- Carefully clean the legs of the chickens. Touch can be painful.
- Soak the legs in a bath of oil, for example, salad oil, for about 5 minutes. Then leave the oil on the legs.
- The next day, check whether the crusts on the legs are soft and repeat the oil bath if necessary.
- Carefully remove the crusts from the chicken legs. This can be done, for example, with a soft brush or a toothbrush.
- Now soak the legs in a disinfectant, such as diluted Dettol, for 10 minutes. For the dilution, it is best to follow the advice on the packaging.
- After disinfecting, lubricate the legs with salad oil or a greasy cream such as Vaseline and wrap the legs well with a piece of cloth.
- After 3 to 4 days the fabric can be removed and the mites have suffocated.
Chickens That Don’T Want To Be Held
Some less tame chickens are hard to catch and don’t like to be held. You can also spray the legs of these chickens daily with salad oil. Repeat twice daily until the scabs fall off. Then spray the legs with diluted Dettol followed by the salad oil. Repeat this until the legs look healthy again. This treatment is less effective and will often take a little longer.
Severe Lime Feet
For very serious infestations, it is advisable to get a scabies preparation from the vet. For example, ivermectin is an effective remedy against scale mites. This can be lubricated after the legs have been thoroughly cleaned and crust-free.
Because the lime leg mites are also often found in the coop and on other chickens, it is wise to include them in the treatment. The hutch can be cleaned with a steam cleaner or an anti-parasite agent. Perches in particular need to be treated well. Do this just after treating the chickens and repeat this again a week later, so that the hatched eggs of the mites are also killed.
If necessary, the sand in the run can be replaced, because it often contains mites. Chickens that have healthy legs may also have leg scale mites where the symptoms are not yet visible. Soaking healthy legs is not necessary, but treatment with Vaseline or scab preparation is recommended to prevent possible re-infestation.
This Means Should Be Avoided With Lime Legs
There are many home garden and kitchen remedies against lime legs. Not all resources are equally effective. In general, oil works in the early treatment of lime legs. Edible oils such as salad oil, rapeseed oil, olive oil or coconut oil are fine to use, but irritating or harmful oils should not be used.
It is therefore preferable not to use oils such as petroleum or petrol. In addition, limescale is very sensitive and cleaning must be done carefully. Therefore, never pull hard on crusts, and do not brush the legs too roughly. This can lead to wounds that in turn can become infected. Finally, only use the scabies preparations if it is really necessary. Preventive treatments can lead to the mites becoming resistant to the agent.
Limescale mite is mainly passed on through chickens. Therefore, always give new chickens a preventive treatment against calcium legs. Good hygiene in the loft is also important. Make sure that the sand in the run is replaced regularly and clean the pen thoroughly every week. In addition, ensure good ventilation in the night pen and prevent damp spots. Moisture can ensure that the mites can thrive extra well.