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Chicken Mites and Chicken Lice

Chicken Mites and Chicken Lice

If you are going to be raising chickens, you will be introduced to pests, such as chicken mites and lice soon enough. They can be brought in by migratory birds, animals and other carriers. It is also possible that these are already in the environment or spread via other chickens that you have just newly acquired from other breeders. Pest management is vital to chicken health and to raising happy chickens.

Chicken mites, lice and fleas are the most common pests that can affect your flock. In general, these infestations can be prevented by practicing good sanitation and hygiene in your little backyard poultry operation. You should also ensure that your chickens have access to dust baths. This is simply a deep tray filled with fine, dry and light riddled soil or sand where your chickens can roll on to remove the pests and chicken lice from their bodies. If you have a larger area in your yard, you can simply place your coop where such soil is present so your chickens can dust themselves.

To further prevent your flock from getting infested with chicken mites, chicken lice and other pests, you should delouse newly-acquired birds, especially if you already have an existing flock in your backyard. This is important so that you will not introduce the chicken mites  to your birds. Delousing is also important before you breed them so you are assured of healthy offspring.

There are different kinds of mites that can affect your birds. The more common ones include red chicken mites which are also the most difficult to eradicate, the feather chicken mites, depluming mites and the scaly leg mites.

Red Chicken Mites

Red chicken mites are blood-sucking creatures that will kill your chicken before you are even aware of it. They bury themselves in the skin such that no matter how hard your chicken preens, they won’t be able to get rid of them. Symptoms include sudden loss of weight, lethargy, droopiness, paleness and listlessness. Their feathers will also become dull and your hens may stop laying.

Feather Mites

Similar to chicken mites are the feather mites which breed, where else, in the feathers of the bird. Chicken mite eggs and droppings are first spotted near the tail feathers of your chicken. They can also annoy your birds to no end.

Depluming Mites

In the spring, watch out for depluming mites which can be so itchy that your birds can pull out their feathers because of it.

Scaly leg mites

Scaly leg mites attack the legs, combs and wattles and can cause scaling, inflammation and lameness of the leg.

Chicken Lice

Depending on where you live, there are various kinds of lice that can affect your poultry. By feeding on dry skin scales and feathers, lice can cause weakness, loss of appetite and lowered egg productivity among your flock.

Chicken Mite and Lice Prevention

Prevention of mites and lice involves regular inspection of your chicken houses and treating them with products that are made to eradicate these pests. If your flock is already infected with mites or lice, there are shampoos and powders that are commercially available to treat them. Regularly mowing your lawn also helps as most of the red mites will attach themselves to the leaves during the day before they do their damage to your chickens at night. If you are unsure about the infestation or what to give your chickens, ask your veterinary specialist.

Mites and other bugs can negatively impact chicken health and make your chickens miserable. Remember that poor health and stress  are the biggest contributors to egg laying issues.

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