Natural Treatment for Scaly Leg Mites on 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.

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.

[Warning! 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.


-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. 

- Apply some olive oil mixed with cayenne pepper and a few drops of sweet orange essential oil....or smear the legs and feet liberally with Sierra Sage Green Goo or plain coconut 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.

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.


- 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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  1. I heard that using sand as bedding is good. What is your opinion on it? I would like to try it, but if you don't think it's healthy, I won't...

  2. Oh no...please don't use sand. Sand harbors fleas and other parasites, plus all kinds of pathogens. Lots of schools are removing sand boxes for that reason - and that's not even sand that has chickens pooping in it! I wrote an article about sand after speaking with a few experts on the topic - all hands down said NO to sand! I use straw and have for years and am perfectly happy with it. Here's the sand article:

  3. I did the sand thing last year, and at first I thought it was great, easy to clean, cheaper than shavings, and less messy. Then because we also have ducks, it got wet and stayed wet, and I felt that it was a good place for bacteria to thrive. So we went back to shavings. Just my experience.

  4. Why are feather-footed chickens more susceptible? All of my feather-footed hens have this problem.

  5. Probably because the feathers provide protection to the mites, give them more to hang onto until they get a chance to burrow under a scale.

  6. Yes, more place for mites to hide, and also the feathers on their feet actually cause the scales to lift up a bit, allowing the mites easy access I would guess.

  7. Yes I agree. Sand is an awful choice. Thanks for chiming in Robin.

  8. Mary Ann ScarberryApril 20, 2015 at 4:26 PM

    Thank you so much for this article Lisa! Mary Ann

  9. Janet Jaeger CronebergerMay 2, 2015 at 7:02 PM

    Hi, I love reading your blog and learning new things all the time. I just put my chickens who are about 10weeks out in the coop as I could tell they wanted out of the basement! Now I just dont know if I should leave the windows open or shut everything up for the night as it will probably go down in the 50s,was hoping I could get some advice on this..