by Karen
(Clifton, Il 60927)

One of my roosters has raised areas of skin on his hock area. They appear to be swollen or lesions around some of his feather pores. (Not sure what to call it) This has been going on for over a year. He is eating and is alert but constantly does what I call "ninja kicks". I've tried treating with antibotic creams and now have him on a course of vitamins. None of the other chickens have it so thinking it's maybe genetic. I haven't been able to find anything on the internet that fits the description. Any help would be appreciated.

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by: Sharon

I don't know about where you live, but I lived in central Ohio for a few years. We had Chiggers. My chickens had a huge grassy yard around their coop. My main rooster was a standard Cochin - beautiful guy and very well mannered.

One summer I noticed bumps on his legs, at the base of feathers which seemed to irritate him. He would peck at the spots and some got bloody. It mainly happened in the summer, would heal up over winter and start again, when the weather warmed up. He was the only feather legged chicken I had and the only one with this problem.

I'd found out the hard way about how Chiggers can bother humans, about their life cycles, how they attack and what to do to prevent being bothered by them. IL is not very far from OH, so you may have Chiggers, too. They bore into the skin, leave a numbing agent designed for animals, their natural hosts, to help prevent detection and be able to stay a few days for their meal. Then they drop off and begin their purely vegetarian life from there on.

The Chigger larvae is nearly microscopic. Most humans are slightly allergic to their numbing agent, much like mosquito bites. I think some chickens may be, too.

I decided my poor rooster was likely their victim and they preferred his feathery legs. Possibly the other chickens could feel the larvae climbing their legs and got rid of them. (Chigger larvae climb to the tip of grasses and wait for a passing host.)

Chiggers are impossible to control in a large grassy area and seem to be at their peak in summer. Rather than subject my poor Cochin roo to another miserable summer I found him a great nearby home where he would be in a dirt yard, not grassy field.

There are also leg mites that hold on to their host by getting under their leg scales, where they stay, breed and can cause much discomfort. Usually the scales become deformed and over grown, so it's easy to spot them at work. Often vegetable oil is enough to drown leg mites, before the infestation gets bad. I also use Ivermectin topically on chickens with leg mite infestations.

The leg kicking tells me he's experiencing discomfort or pain. You might try treating the legs with a formula to get rid of mites and see if that helps. Unfortunately this kind of thing takes a process of elimination. You've tried the topical antibiotic, vitamins, so it's time to try something different - in hopes it helps him.

Possibly an antihistamine spray will make him more comfortable and allow the bumps to heal.

I like to use Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth in my yard and coop. It works great to kill off parasites with no chemicals. Used in the dust bath for the chickens, it can kill off external parasites and internal, when chickens ingest some of the powder.

Hope your guy feels better and you can sort him out.

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