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Written by Carole

Yesterday I brought home the rooster and hen Buff Orpingtons in hopes of raising a flock of Orpingtons from their eggs.

Here they are in all their beautiful color:
Buff Orpington Rooster
Buff Orpington hen
Buff Orpington rooster and hen
These two are beautiful. Their feathers are golden red and they have great dispositions.

I don’t know if you noticed in any of the above pictures but something is wrong with their legs. Mainly the hens. They are a pasty white with the scales raised and look puffed and wrinkly (is this a word?). All of my friends chickens legs look like this. Does anyone know what it is? Is it chicken mites?

Here are a close up of the legs:
ugly chicken legs
Ugly chicken legs
You talk about some ugly legs, these are ugly!

At present I am keeping them separated from my flock in a holding pen. My husband put vaseline on the hens legs last evening and they seem to look a little better this morning. I realize that it won’t get better overnight. Do you have any idea what is wrong with this chicken? The rooster’s legs do not seem as scaley but could he have the same problem?

Any suggestions or comments and what to do about them would be appreciated. I need to take care of this so they do not infect my flock.

One other question, would this cause a chicken to not lay eggs? My friend says her hens (9) have practically quit laying all together. I am thinking this disease would cause the chicken to have some distress and thus hurt the production of eggs.

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30 Responses to “What is Wrong with the Legs on This Buff Orpington Hen?”

  1. I forget the name of it exactly, but there is some kind of mite or something which burrows under leg scales. Their…waste (ick) makes the scales get pushed up like that. I could be wrong however. The other key sign for this is that it causes sore legs. Do they react at getting touched or seem reluctant to walk? Just like any other parasite, it can get bad enough that they stop laying.

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  2. Steven, I did a little research after I wrote this post and think it might be leg mites. Fortunately the cure is very easy, just coat the animals legs with vegetable oil and also the roosting pole once a month. Since we used vaseline it ought to work the same. Thanks for stopping in and commenting. It is appreciated!

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    Karen Reply:

    did the vaseline work, I think mine have it also?

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    Carole Reply:

    Karen, It did. I also have used grease from my deep fryer. I poured the old grease in a coffee can and stuck the chicken legs in each one coating them all the way up to the feather line. There are a variety of methods but I found dunking the legs to be the easiest for me.

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    Gilly Reply:

    This complaint is called Scaly Leg (surprise, surprise!)and is caused by a type of mite. It is fairly easily cured by smearing the legs with a mixture of Flowers of Sulphur and Vaseline – available from your chemist. The exact ratio isn’t very important – I usually use about half and half. Incidentaly, unless it’s really bad the Scaly leg shouldn’t stop the hens laying.

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  3. What your babies have is scale, it is a Parasite on their feet some of mine have it and most don’t.
    I was given a silky mix and her feet were so covered they look like plungers, she did lose part of several of her toes, I just use either mineral oil or baby oil, put it in 1 of the pointy top mustard bottle and when they’re on a perch just squeeze it on their feet, just make sure you get up to the feathers and put on whenever you can think about it, I’m not very consistent a just keep an eye out and put it on whenever you think about it or see a problem the hard scale will start peeling off and there will be pretty little feet underneath .
    I will rub their combs with the Baby oil also it makes them nice and shiny and pretty.

    I am so sorry about you losing your babies, are you sure it’s the cat? I have a problem with opossums, I’ve built a coop in the garage and that’s where they sleep at night, I just open the door at 7 in the morning, everybody goes out, they come in and night and sit in their boxes in fact I’ve built a cage in the garage because opossum got in there once when I got home too late and it killed a half a dozen babies it was a mommy and her babies I just started grabbing tells and throwing them out the door

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    Julie Rodriguez Reply:

    hi does the ugly stuff that gets on hen(scale?) can it get on humans too because they look like big warts too me! Thanks for the tip because my hens were getting that too and i was wondering what it was.

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  4. Carole- those are called scaly leg mites. I have found the best remedy is to buy Vaseline or petroleum jelly and just coat their legs with it. (I read this in a poultry book. It will smother the mites.) You will have to re-apply it every 2 or 3 days. Make sure they have clean bedding, too… change it every few days and put some cedar or pine shavings down for them. Also- make sure they stay away from you other chickens- it is contagious.

    Farm Chick Paulas last blog post..Under the weather

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    Heather Reply:

    how far away do the infected chickens need to be from the rest of the flock. i recently aquired a rooster and he has scaly led mites but my hens do not have it yet, and i would like to prevent them from getting it

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    Carole Reply:

    Keep the rooster separated for several weeks and treat him frequently until he shows signs of improvement.

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  5. How soon can I tell if my Buff Orpington is a rooster or not? He/She is trying to “mate” w/my hens. He/She is 12 wks old and the hens are younger. I have also heard him/her try to “crow”. Thanks.

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  6. Penny, It is hard to say without seeing a picture. By the description it appears you may have a rooster. The comb is one of the main features that develops quicker than a hen and if you are seeing a comb and wattles more developed than others than you probably have a roo.

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  7. Our chickens have scaly leg mites now. Horrible! The first time I tried to catch the hens (I’m a newbie), the dominant hen fought so hard that in the struggle her comb got ripped. I felt terrible. Now we’re catching the chickens at night, and it’s much easier. I hope you cleared up your mites!
    .-= Moon Over Martinborough´s last blog ..Chicken blood on my boot =-.

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  8. How soon does the comb and wattles of a buff orpington rooster develope?

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  9. Hi all! I’ve been reading your coments about the leg scales and I think the answers were all great. My question is this: Is it a normal breed feature for an orpington to have feathers on its legs? Sorry I can’t provide pictures now.

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    Carole Reply:

    David, Glad you stopped in and commented. On Orpingtons they are normally a white-skinned, non-feather leg breed.

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  10. thank you all you folks about leg scale you really helped out a lot

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  11. Actually to get rid of mites you have to dip their legs in mineral oil or olive oil. or put ashes from your fire place in where they take dirt bathes.

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  12. this is scaly legs put WD-40 on the leg it puts moisture in the legs. the picture is caused by dry skin put WD-40 on it it will help

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  13. David, I have wondered the same thing! One of my OB have feathers on its legs! I think it is a roo. It was supposed to be a hen, its comb is way bigger then the other pullets, also its tail feathers are much bigger. Its stays away from the other pullets. We have a BA roo and he HATES him. Course he hates everyone, except himself. I hope to never come in contact with another BA. If this feathered legged OB is a roo, the BA will be bidding this old world good bye.

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  14. Please help. I have an rhode island red chicken,
    just one. I am very new to looking after chickens,
    but I noticed allot of scales on her feet and toes,
    one foot even has a little sore on it, has dried
    blood around it. My chicken constantly tucks it foot
    under it’s belly, and does not like to walk on it, I am so
    lost as to what to do now, it’s toenails look really long too,
    how long should they be? Please help? what should I do?

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  15. I think my 5 year old hen has scaly leg mites also, the right foot is enlarged more than the right, so is the left , just not so large. It looks just like the pictures at the top of this site. I thought Iodine helped, after reading something last night on the web somewhere, I soaked her foot in a solution of water and Iodine today for 5 – 10 minutes. But should I just put vaseline on it and replace the straw? No my othe rquestion, Farmchick Paula said “careful it’s contagious to Humans”, really?

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    Carole Reply:

    I don’t know if it is contagious to humans but always ward off any potential bugs by putting your clothes in the laundry after working with your chickens that are infected. I’ve never had any kind of disease transferred to myself.

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  16. Wow – Thank you all so much! Your information is fabulous. We have a frizzle silkie rooster who has been very lethargic and not crowing – and while we have been treating him with anti-biotics, never thought to look at his legs/feet – which look exactly like the photos posted by Carole – thanks Carole.

    I just brought him inside the house, covered his head in a towel and gently rubbed Bag Balm all over his feet and legs, up to the feather line. I also noticed he has a small black circle on the bottom of each foot (bumblefoot?) Poor Yin. He and his brother, Yang, are rescue roosters and inseparable. I hope they will be fine separated for a few days. They are about 4 or 5 years old and have been with us for almost 2 years. We have a small flock or seven hens.

    We will give him lots of TLC, wash down the coop and report back on his progress.

    Does anyone know if the scales eventually go away?

    Thanks all! Diane

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  17. Hi I am sorta new to chickens had mine 2 or so years they were already laying, last spring we got some day olds the girls are laying the roo is sick, I came back from a weeks vacation, Then landed in the Hosp I had noticed the roo wasn’t acting right I had let every one out into the yard, He propped himself up against the door and leaned in the sun. He stayed away from others, And acted like don’t touch me just leave me alone. I thought the older hens were picking on the flock in the winter it’s to cold to let them out, But I saw him pulling out his feathers, (I thought Mites) I bathed him that day while drying him I saw mites crawling from him to me. I put him in a kennel(dog) after dusting him and putting Vaseline on his sore feet. He is very weak has diarreah (white) water. My husband can’t breath the dust doing best he can. So his contact with the flock should be a minum, I am getting stronger I got home yesterday tonight I stayed out in the garage watching him He pants or breathes with his mouth open, very wobbly, has an appitite, will eat pellets, sour milk what else can I do??

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  18. I have had a bad few months with my chooks having leg mite but its getting better now.

    I know have a regular thing going to help them get rid of the scaly bits – warm water with a drop of washing up liquid in it along with a quarter of a bottle of surgical spirit.

    Dip their legs in that for about a minute (my chickens just sit there enjoying the warmth I think!) and then coat their legs in olive oil.

    Ripped out the old perches in the house and replaced with tree branches so its easier for them to wrap their feet round.

    Touch wood its getting a lot better – if you have a lot of wet weather, then put some straw down. Scaly leg mite seems to rear its ugly head in wet.

    Good luck all!

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  19. Hi all, thanks for the info. We have a couple of hens infected. Will start the oil treatment.

    Another problem we have is that our 5 week old chicks have developed a reddish brown growth on their beaks. It looks terrible. I have been searching on the internet and do not find anything like that or similar.

    Our flock of a rooster, ten fully grown hens, one 2 month old hen and eight chicks are free range. Egg production is also down.

    Please help.

    Thanks,

    Jack.

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  20. I read from one of the chicken forums that food grade Diatomaceous earth can also be used in the coop. Since we’ve had our chickens, for two years now, that’s what we’ve used and have never had a problem with mites. You just dust it on top of there bedding. It will kill mites and also fly larva, keeping down the flies and smells in the summer. You can also dust it on your animals for fleas and is safe to even put in their food, use in your house, etc. We bought ours at our local feed store.

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