Dealing With Poultry Mites
Mites. Just the word gives me the feeling of creepy crawlies. Chickens can become infested with many different types of external parasites, and mites might just be one of the worst. A mite infestation can cause health problems for a flock, and in extreme cases, anemia and death. Mites are very small and the symptoms are usually easier to see than the mites themselves. Some of the symptoms of mites are feather loss, excessive preening, reduced egg production, pale combs, and/or general listlessness. If you are seeing such symptoms in your flock, the next step is to inspect your chickens for visible signs of mites.
How To Find Poultry Mites
The best time to inspect for mites is at night, when the birds are roosting. You may see tiny specks crawling on roosts or the bird themselves. Another way to check for mites is to run your hand along the roosting bar. If you notice any blood transferred to your hand, that is a sure sign that mites are biting the chickens and causing bleeding as they go. Next point of inspection is specific areas of the chicken; most mites congregate near the vent and under the wings. While the mites themselves can be hard to see, mite eggs can easily be seen on the shaft of a chicken’s feathers.
Once you have confirmed poultry mites, it’s time for treatment. Every flock owner has their own preference between natural or conventional methods, or some combination of both. And when it comes to mites and their life cycle, multiple types of treatments may be the most effective plan of action. Meyer Hatchery offers a variety of mite treatments and options for pest control. Conventional treatments are usually in powder or spray form, to be directly applied to your chickens. A full coop cleaning should be part of any parasite treatment plan as some types of mites can live in coop bedding and nesting boxes.
For a very effective and nontoxic coop cleaner, a handheld steam cleaner can be used. Using only plain water, a thorough steaming will kill parasite eggs as well as adult pests. To avoid reinfestation, plan to repeat treatment within about 2 weeks. This will help squash any chance of any repeat offense by freshly hatched parasites.
Even though poultry mites can affect your flock from a variety of sources, risk of infestation can be mitigated. When adding new birds to your flock, get the birds from a trusted and tested source. Any new flock members should be quarantined for at least 2 weeks from the rest of your existing flock so any health issues can be identified and treated as needed. This quarantine period protects your entire flock from any contagious health problems, including mites. Easy and regular access to a dust bath area is crucial for the health of your chickens and their natural defense against external parasites. Dust bath areas can be enhanced with parasite-prevention such as diatomaceous earth, wood ash, and/or herbs.
As a flock owner, it can feel overwhelming when your chickens face health problems, but with quick diagnosis and treatment, your flock can recover from an external parasite infestation. Please share your own poultry mite experiences in the comments and as always, feel free to reach out to Meyer Hatchery with any questions!
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