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Scaly Leg Mites | Natural Treatment for Chickens

Here's a simple, effective, natural treatment for scaly leg mites on backyard chickens.

Mites come in all shapes and sizes. Some feed on the host's blood, others, like scaly leg mites, burrow up under the scales on a chickens legs.  

Like other types of mites, scaly leg mites can be successfully treating in a natural way that won't be harmful to your chickens.

Scaly Leg Mites  | Natural Treatment for Chickens

The scales on the legs of healthy chickens are smooth and lie flat. If you notice the scales on your chicken's legs starting to peel up, flake or look rough and uneven, she could be suffering from scaly leg mites.

What are Scaly Leg Mites

Scaly leg mites are a type of external parasite that can bother chickens by burrowing up under the scales on their legs and feet, causing the scales to become crusty and lift up instead of laying flat and smooth.

Normally, providing a clean, dry environment and dust bath area will keep parasites at bay, but if you see evidence of leg mites, there are various ways to get rid of them naturally.


  • DO NOT use alcohol, gasoline, kerosene, turpentine or any other potentially toxic substance on your chickens' legs. 
  • Don't dose your chickens with Ivermectin. It's dangerous and not healthy for the hens. 
  • Natural treatment works - I have heard from many readers that they have used the natural remedies I recommend with great results.

Scaly leg mites spread from hen to hen, so it's best to treat them all if you notice one having issues.

The mites are too small to see with the naked eye, so the raised leg scales will likely be your only visual clue.

Initially the mites merely cause discomfort, but if not treated and allowed to fester, can cause the chicken be in poor health (and therefore susceptible to other issues) to go lame, be unable to roost, and eventually even cause death. Feathered leg breeds are more susceptible.

Natural Treatment for Scaly Leg Mites

  • Soak the legs and feet in warm water and a mild dish soap, then rise and dry them off.
  • Using an old toothbrush, gently scrub the afflicted hen's legs and feet with white vinegar, garlic juice or Neem Oil.  
  • All are natural, non-toxic and will help to smother the mites and suffocate them. (Green Goo contains herbs to help soothe and heal as well, so that would be my #1 choice.)
  • Repeat the treatment every other day or so, until the old scales fall off and nice new, shiny, smooth scales regrow. This can take a matter of weeks to several months for severe cases.

It's a good idea to clean out your coop at the same time, since the mites can burrow down into the floor and like to live in damp conditions.

If you can't find garlic juice you can make your own:

Homemade Garlic Juice

6 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced 
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil 
2 cup waters

  • Heat water in a saucepan until bubbles just start to form around the edges. Add the garlic and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and cool completely. 
  • Strain out the garlic and whisk the vegetable oil into the strained liquid.
  • Pour your garlic juice into a squirt bottle.

After cleaning out the old litter, I recommend spraying the coop walls and floor down with white vinegar or my Orange Peel Coop Cleaner spray, then sprinkling food-grade Diatomaceous Earth on the floor and in the nesting boxes.

DE helps kill all kinds of insects and parasites without harm to you or your chickens.

Prevention of Scaly Leg Mites

  • Provide a dust bath area for your flock filled with dirt or sand, DE and some insect-repelling herbs such as lavender, lemon grass, thyme and wormwood. 

  • This should allow your chickens to keep all kinds of parasites at bay themselves.
  • Consider putting down some vinyl flooring on the floor of your coop to prevent mites from burrowing into the wood. 

For more information on treating other kinds of mites and lice naturally, read HERE

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