Lice and Mites – Keep them off Chickens

Whether you are new to raising chickens or more experienced, you are likely to come across lice and mites or just want to not have to keep them. In this post I’ll share ways to prevent them from being on your chickens and around your coop but also ways to treat them if your chickens end up getting lice and mites.

Raising chickens is pretty easy to care for, compared to other animals and/or livestock. So if you are wanting to find ways to keep up defense against mites, you are in the right place.

Chickens having a dust bath
Lice and Mites no more on chickens

What are lice and mites?

Mites are small tiny parasites that will love your chickens. They are more common in warm, wet weather but can be found in the cooler weather as well. Poultry lice are flat insects that move quickly and live on chickens and in their feathers. The lice feed on the feather quill casings and dead skin.

How do you know if your chicken has mites? They’ll be biting under their wings, start losing feathers, and look uncomfortable. Since mites are harmful to chicken, they can quickly diminish the life out of your chicken. Mites bite, chew, and suck out the blood of chickens. None of which is pleasant.

Mites can easily be brought into your coop from your shoes, clothes, wild birds, and even rodents. Definitely plenty of ways for them to gain access to your chickens. Mites do only live about a week but during that time they can lay upwards of 100,000 eggs. They’ll lay them anywhere and everywhere they can.

What do mites do to my chickens?

 Mites do cause pain to your chickens, but they also can make them anemic, cause them to lose their feathers, and even kill them. This is the most concerning thing.

Recently I went out of town and came back to multiple birds that had died, I didn’t ask the person caring for the chickens questions but inspected my flock entirely when I came back. I found one hen infested with mite eggs so she got isolated and she’s being heavily treated while I continue to preventative care for my other chickens.

The best and easiest way to prevent mites and lice is to use First Saturday Lime. I use this more often and have it all over my yard, especially where my chickens love to have their dust baths. I also sprinkle it in their coop area and run space.

How to Combat Lice and Mites

When you see your chickens being cute and funny by throwing the sand and dirt in your yard, they are actually helping to keep mites and lice away and off of themselves. Dust baths are important to keep the bugs away and off the chickens. The dusting smothers out the bugs which is vital for the chickens so they can stay healthy.

As mentioned above, a great way to keep the bugs away is by using lime. You can grab a bag of barn lime or use First Saturday Lime. Either will work although I love First Saturday Lime but the standard barn lime is definitely cheaper, although I have my preference.

You’ll see multiple articles and people recommending Diatomaceous Earth (DE) and I highly recommend you avoid it. It’s dusty and can be harmful to your chickens respiratory system.

I recommend you sprinkle the lime in your coop and anywhere the chickens have access to or dust bath every 3-5 days for the first two weeks and then weekly thereafter. You can probably even get to sprinkling it once a month during the summer and less often in the winters unless you live where it stays quite warm year round. I sprinkle it weekly currently while treating for mites and then every other week when we have no visible lice and mites.

Chicken

Products to Treat Lice & Mites

  1. Permethrin – a spray you dilute with water for spraying your coop and yard
  2. Ivermectin (Pour On) – a few drops on chickens gets rid of lice and mites; reapply after 10-12 days to make sure you get the lice and mites after they hatch and before they lay more eggs
  3. Elector PSP – A spray on that you dilute and you spray on chickens who have lice and mites and to keep preventing it

Keeping these items on hands or at least having easy access to if you can find them locally is important. You want to keep a lice and mite infestation at bay because it can get really bad really quickly. Chickens can quickly die and the lice and mites can affect your entire flock.

Check out these amazing egg laying chicken breeds.

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