Poultry mites are common external parasites that are more of a pest than anything else to your chicken especially backyard chickens.
They are introduced to the backyard scene through rodents or other animals and are rather common in even the cleanest of coops.
Mites are more prevalent during warm weather although some types can survive in cold temperatures as well. The two most common external parasites in backyard chickens are mites and poultry lice.
What are Chicken mites?
Mites are tiny, eight-legged pests that can either live on the chicken, attaching to feathers, or the skin itself, or in the coop and most commonly in the nesting boxes.
Mites can come in numerous colors, typically red, grey or dark brown, and feed on the blood of the chicken.
Poultry Mites cause a problem for chickens as they bite and chew the chicken’s skin to extract blood from the host, causing discomfort, feather loss, and in some cases, anemia or even albeit rarely, death.
Signs that your flock may be Infested with Mites
Typical signs that your chickens might have a mite infestation include (but are not limited to): scabs near the vent area, eggs on the feather shafts and feathers, and even visible detection of mites on the chicken’s skin.
Another sign may be that your chickens seem reluctant to enter their coop at night, or stop using the nesting boxes. If that is the case, there is a possibility that the coop may be infested. Additionally, during an infestation, you may notice that your flock seems to be preening a bit more, or pecking and biting at the feathers under their wings and around their vents a bit more than usual.
Treatment and Prevention of Mites
The best general rule to keep mites at bay is to keep a good area of dirt or sand available for your backyard chicken to take dust baths in, and clean out the coop on a regular basis.
Typically, the dust baths that chickens take in dry patches of dirt or sand in your yard will be sufficient to protect them from mite infestations, however, in some hot and humid areas or during long wet spells where mite populations flourish, the mites may become rampant.
There are numerous home remedies recommended by backyard coop owners that can be used to help keep your mite problem from getting out of hand. Those include spraying your coop with a mixture of 1 table spoon dawn dish soap, 1 cup vegetable oil, and 2 cups water (mixed well), once or twice a week; or treating your coop’s floor and nesting boxes with food-grade diatomaceous earth or spraying your chickens directly with a mixture of garlic juice.
Other poultry owners use control agents such as chemical poultry sprays, and garden and poultry dusts with active agents such as Permethrins, or Pyrethrum dust.
The preferred method for treating poultry mites is a poultry veterinarian recommended prescription, which can be purchased at any veterinarian supply store.
Author; Dr. Paul R. N. Kangethe (BVM, UoN)
Email; [email protected]