External parasites are the single most common problem encountered in a backyard chicken coop. The common culprits are chicken mites and chicken lice. Fortunately both are easily controlled using several simple techniques.
Read on to learn how to get rid of chicken mites and how to kill chicken lice.
Symptoms of External Parasites on Chickens
If your chickens are suffering from chicken mites or lice you will see these signs:
Raised Scales – Chicken mites burrow under the scales on a chicken’s legs, making them stand up in irritation. Raised scales are often the first sign of an infection.
Decreased Egg Production
Dusting for Chicken Mites
The most common method of controlling chicken mites and lice is to powder your poultry. You can follow the natural treatment route, or go with a chemical mite powder.
1. Medicated Chicken Mites Powder
You can purchase a medicated powder to treat chicken mites. The active ingredient in these powders is Permethrin, which works immediately. If you have a severe case of chicken mites that doesn’t go away quickly, you may have to use a commercial flea and tick shampoo and give the hen a real bath before applying the permethrin powder.
2. Diatomaceous Earth for Chicken Mites
Diatomaceous earth is the backyard chicken keeper’s best friend. It is safe, non-toxic, natural and can be used internally or externally. You can offer it free choice to chickens to treat internal parasites, dust the birds with the powder to kill chicken mites or lice and even sprinkle it in their nest boxes to deter external parasites.
A Bath for External Parasites
An herbal tea is a simple home remedy for skin mites. Simply brew the following herbs in a pot of water to make a strong tea:
Add a few drops of tea tree oil. You can spray this herb tea directly on the chickens, or fill a bucket with the herb tea and submerge each hen in the bucket. Make sure the tea penetrates to the skin. It is best to soak her for 3-5 minutes if she will tolerate it. After the bath oil her legs and roosts.
The Importance of Dust and Ash Bathing
Chickens enjoy regular dust baths. It is fun to watch them play in the dirt and it is the most natural way to keep chicken mites at bay. Be sure to provide an area full of sand or loose dirt where they can bathe daily. Wood ashes are even better for fighting chicken mites, and your chickens will love it.
Image courtesy of hgtv.com
Oil Fights Chicken Mites
One of the simplest ways to beat chicken mites and chicken lice is to oil your birds’ legs once a month. Wait till dusk when your hens head to their roosts. Gently pick up each bird and slather her legs with oil. Olive oil or another vegetable oil works best. You can also coat the roosts with oil to suffocate any chicken mites or chicken lice present.