Question: We are new to keeping chickens and housed them in an enclosure. They subsequently developed crusts on their legs. We’ve read in books and asked around and have had answers such as its being mites and that we’d have to use old engine oil to get rid of them! Recently, someone said it was the result of the chickens’ lying on the hot sand or sawdust. We’ve now released them during the day and the problem seems to be diminishing, except for my favourite little chicken who’s developed a large crust on one leg, which has subsequently gone black. It had cracked, and I sprayed it with gentian violet spray. Now one “toe” looks a bit black, and it seems as if the whole foot is swelling. Is this gangrene or cancer? And can I save her leg?
Your hens are infected with mites and you need to treat them correctly to clear the infection out of the shed.
You need to purchase a product called Bayticol. It’s a very safe product to use and is sprayed onto the hens as well as into areas where they “dust bath”. The dilution rate is 10 ml per 4 l water, or 25 ml per 10 l.
Make sure you also spray any wooden perches or supports carefully as the mites live in the cracks of wooden structures.
As far as the affected hen is concerned, you need to clean out the affected area with a weak peroxide solution and then use gentian violet. The swelling is probably due to a bacterial infection in an area where the mites caused an irritation. I’m not sure if the hen will respond.
Apply the Bayticol at least every 2 weeks three to 4 times to clear out the mites. You need to repeat the treatment once a month for the rest of summer. Next summer, treat them on a regular basis.
- This article was written by Dr. Mick Versfeld and first appeared in Farming SA.