Sunday, 13 January 2013

Feathered feet

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!


  1. I when to close my coops at dusk yesterday to find most of my bantams missing. They had taken shelter in the stable block when the snow came and were too unsettled by the snow to return to their coops. Buffy, Amy and Blossom had the sense to go home, Rowlie had got half way and decided to roost on the farm gate and Rufus and all the other bantams were roosting on a stack of sheep hurdles in the open end of the stable block. So I had to carry them back home one at a time. Thet all chatted contentedly once they were picked up and heading for their coops. What a bunch of softies!

    1. That's brilliant!

    2. Our hens hate the snow! I have to clear them pathways to get to the covered woodshed from the coop. Once they're there, they don't move! Mind you, there are plenty of woodlice and other critters to eat on the log pile!

    3. Thanks Julia,

      Sounds like you have softies too Oliver. Mine have discovered that walking in my foot prints or in the tyre tracks makes getting about a bit easier but if being carried about is an option then they que up and wait to be lifted to safety. Glad I'm not the only ones with pampered poultry!

  2. Can I put anything in the cage to help with feet staying clean? They are on wire all the time til we get a bobcat and cub caught..uggg

  3. Can I put anything in the cage to help with feet staying clean? They are on wire all the time til we get a bobcat and cub caught..uggg


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