I posted this photo on a wonderfully helpful chicken Facebook group (Arkansas Chicken Chat) I am on:
For a while, I got a couple of complimentary comments and likes. Then a seasoned chicken farmer piped up.
"Looks like you may have an infestation of mites."
My eyes got big and I started typing, fast.
"Really? How do you know?"
"Lana the mites burrow into the chickens feet the scab that you see is them digging the chickens feet and makes a place for them to breathe,,,if you cover the whole foot with Vaseline it cuts off the air they they suffocate,,,,the chicken will usually peck at it till its gone,,it may be on there till they molt......."
At this point I was feeling a lot of things. Anger at myself, namely, for thinking all along this was how a bantam's feet were supposed to look! Embarrassment that my flock had mites. EW!! So gross! I put a great deal of work into trying to keep my animals healthy and pest-free. I had even used DE in the main coop... but I think my error was forgetting Mrs. Potts' broody house. According to my research, mites unfortunately happen. My guess is that it is from the wild birds that sometimes come into the coop to eat the chicken's corn.
After a few shudders and creeped out moments thinking something was crawling on me, I knew I had to bite the bullet and take care of my infested flock. (P.S. - Chicken mites are species-specific. They don't live on humans. YAY!) I arranged for some Sevin dust and vegetable oil to be brought to me via hubs and my parents who were passing by a Wal-Mart. (Oil can also be used on the feet to suffocate the mites, and I *thought* it might be easier to apply.) I was putting my game face on. Let's do this!
When the supplies were brought to me to treat the afflicted, I started to go to work. Oh goodness, the things I have learned in the short span of this past year. Chalk this one up for experience, folks. LESSON LEARNED.
After seeing many bloggers use a combination of memes and paint to illustrate things they failed to get a picture of, I decided to use that technique to give you a little insight on how the chicken mite treatment went down... cause there was no way I was bringing our camera into this mess.
Yeah, that pretty much covers it. I tried to just set the hen's feet in a tub of oil (in my mind, it would work great). Instead, the hen flapped like a flag in the West Texas breeze and I got a face full, eye full - everything full of oil.
Dad (looking on, shaking his head I am sure...) pointed out that we should just hold them by their feet, rub a little oil on then pat on some Sevin, and - done! Suddenly it became really easy and we got it done quick. For some odd reason, chickens are surprisingly calm and quiet when you hold them by their feet.
Might want to make a note of that.
Now I am feeling much better. The flock has been fully treated and hopefully we are well on our way to recovery, AND I got a shower. What a day!
Although the poor hen who took an oil bath (and gave me one) is looking rather sulky....
Ugh. I tried.
So if your chickens have mites and they are also affecting their feet, do the following:
- Dust entire coop area with 5% Sevin dust. My understanding is this can also be lightly used on the birds. You can also use diatomaceous earth, but it takes a bit longer to work.
- Coat affected chicken feet in some kind of cooking oil or Vaseline to suffocate the mites.