I hope someone here has some insight. My friend has a flock of chickens, some of which came from another farm infected with scaley leg mites. Yesterday I noticed that a couple of the hens were shaking their heads, one of them is missing some feathers from behind her left ear. The other one has little red ears but they now have white showing on them, almost like the ears are "puffed" up (both of these hens are black by the way, we are unsure of the specific breed).
Until now, they've been treating the mites on an as-needed basis with petroleum jelly on the affected birds' feet. Is there another treatment, and do you all think it's the mites that are responsible for the ear scratching/head shaking? I don't believe the missing feathers are due to pecking from another bird as this flock gets along very well and all the birds are very docile to each other and to humans. Between 10 hens they are laying anywhere from 8-11 eggs a day, which I take as an indicator of health, but they definitely want to get on top of this problem quickly.
I've already suggested that they try a paddock system for the hens, as they've been confined to a small area a bit more lately to keep them from the garden (I suspect this is why the mites have started to affect them more). Until the garden went in, these chickens were basically free ranging all over the property all day long.
I'd love your suggestions for ear mite treatments (and indeed if you agree that this is mites), Alternative treatments for scaly leg mites would be great as well. A few of her hens have never been infected with the mites on their feet despite being exposed- is this an inheritable trait if they decide to raise any chicks?
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 7 years ago
Usually the scaly mites stay on the feet/legs. (and yes, Vaseline is a good treatment, as is mineral oil...I even know a bunch of farmers that just spray their legs with WD-40...they say it works well.)
What these hens may have is lice. A good dust bath area is essential for the ladies. Perhaps you should make a dust bath with diatomaceous earth.
A lovely all-purpose, all stock concoction called Nu-Stock is great for scale mites...works with one treatment and also, when rubbed on the roosts, prevents recurrence. It is comprised of pine tar, sulfur and mineral oil, so nothing to be absorbed into the system that will end up in your food supply. It works on wounds, parasites, fungal skin infections, etc. It's the only medicine I keep for my livestock.
Other than that, I take a preventative approach such as providing wood ashes to dust in, even placing them in the nest boxes and bedding. Garlic juice in the water is also a great parasite repellent, external or internal. Also insuring the environment is conducive for predatory mites but not so much for regular red mites....proper deep litter composition, good aeration/ventilation in the living areas, fresh grass underfoot at all times during foraging, etc.
Not sure about the ear insects would need to get the vet to examine that out. When washing that chicken ear you should use a smooth wet fabric or something identical. You can buy baby wipes from pet shops which are best. You shouldn't use tips as you may damage the chicken ear. Just use a smooth slim fabric with water...