Those of you who keep birds with feathered feet, as I do, will know only too well that they require a little extra care, especially if the birds free range through the winter months. Snow, mud or a messy coop can lead to feathers getting clogged up with dirt, droppings and ice, which cause the birds discomfort.
Most of the time I find that allowing my birds to wander about on wet grass or a hard wet surface is sufficient to keep their feet clean, but occasionally dried-on mud or droppings may need to be loosened by a soak in a warm soapy foot bath! Now I love the idea of this, but some of my birds are a little less enthusiastic about it.
Along with the messy foot feathers, birds with feathered legs can be more susceptible to scaly leg mite. This isn’t something that I have had a much of a problem with previously, but the new arrivals have both scaly leg and dirty feet! As they are just settling in, I decided that a foot bath might be just a little too stressful for them so I have encouraged them to play out in the wet grass and leaves to soften the droppings attached to their feathers.
Feathered legs require a little extra care
I have given them a treatment spray for scaly leg mite and smeared their legs with Vaseline, which suffocates the mites and softens the scales a little. The scales that are damaged by the mite look thick and unsightly and will take a while to be replaced. This does mean that the chickens will look like they have scaly leg long after it has gone.
Trimming the foot feathers can also help with all this of course, but there doesn’t seem much point keeping a feathery legged breed and then trimming them all off!