Our Chooks’ legs are very important to their general well-being. It’s up to us to inspect them regularly and prevent chicken leg problems.
There are a few quite common leg problems that can occur in your flock so it is best to inspect legs every month alongside your Super Mash health regime. Not only does it get them used to being handled, many foot and leg problems can be avoided or easily treated.
Proper nutrition is obviously important to all-round good chicken health and high quality chicken feed is essential to avoid health problems with feet.
Common Leg and Foot Ailments in Chicks
Young chicks can get splayed legs, curly or twisted toes, hock abnormality (the hock joint is the main joint between the feathers and scales of the leg or shank).
These conditions are largely due to diet deficiencies although slippery surfaces can damage young chicks’ weak muscles.
Ensure you provide ample vitamins particularly riboflavin (B2) and Niacin (B3). To increase riboflavin in the diet, you can provide hard boiled eggs, crushed almonds, sesame seeds, spinach, even a small bit of cooked beef or fish. All these are high in riboflavin.
Always provide grit when feeding something other than chick starter. Grit aids in the grinding of foods in the gizzard that are not water soluble. You can use sand or parakeet grit. Sprinkle it on the food as if you were salting it.
Adult Chicken Leg Ailments
Bumblefoot is characterised by swelling, heat, redness, the bird may be limping and usually a black dot or wound with pus on the pad or toe of the bird.
Not all black dots on the bottom of the pad or toe are serious enough to need treatment. If you check your birds’ feet over the lifetime of your flock, you will see lots of black dots and scabs that have healed over. It is the ones that are infected that need treatment. It requires manually repairing the pad with minor surgery. You may get a vet to attend to this or seek further information to manage the problem at home.
To help prevent bumblefoot, avoid sharp edges on perches, concrete in the nesting area, or perches that are too high forcing the chicken to drop onto the ground bruise or injure it’s pads. Also make sure perches are not too narrow, this will force the weight of the chook to a small area of the foot. (See article on Roosting)
Feet skin irritation can be caused by poor litter management so make sure you remove coop droppings regularly or over cooler months establish a deep litter system
Scaly Leg Mite
These tiny, invisible to the naked eye mites crawl up under the scales on the legs of poultry. They live, breed and gnaw away at the skin under the scales.
While they generally don’t kill your birds, they can cause great pain, lameness and cause permanent leg deformities.
Birds will be very irritable, egg laying can cease and these mites can even cause bone infections.
You will know you have Scaly Leg Mites when you see the scales on your birds’ feet start to lift up. In bad cases, the birds’ feet will be all crusty, swollen and the bird can be lame.
These mites move slowly from bird to bird eventually affecting the entire flock.
How to treat:
With very severe cases you will see a lot of crusts all over the legs and toes. These crusts are the waste put out by the mites. Never pick or try to remove these crusts as you can damage the scales on the legs and cause the bird more pain than it may already have.
There are a range of treatments but we recommend using, quite simply, liberal doses of vegetable oil painted on the legs or legs dunked into the oil – weekly if you have mites present, then monthly for maintenance. This smothers any mites that are present.
If you see leg damage the mites have been there for a while, DON’T put treatment off until you see damage from mites. The pain can be quite intense for the chicken.
Remember to keep Super Mash up to your chooks!
Natural Chicken Health – Super Mash is a natural feed supplement to to help keep your chooks healthy all year round.
Chicken owners can grab a bag of Super Mash at 40 stockists across, SE NSW, Gippsland and ACT, or buy online from our Webstore
Treat your chickens well – they’ll love you for it and lay great eggs!
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Find out more, order online and check for a stockist near you at https://naturalchickenhealth.com.au/