Red Mite and chicken health

Red mite is usually encountered during the Summer. This is a mite that does not live on your chickens, but in the cracks and crevices of their house, especially under felt roofs and between tongue and groove or larchlap planks. At night the mites seek out warmth and find the chickens, sucking their blood before returning to their hidey-holes in the morning. Signs of red mite infestation include reluctance of the chickens to go to bed, blood on perches and eggs, anaemic-looking chickens, and a greyish dusty detritus on the floor of the house and nest boxes (dead mites or their droppings). It is the house that you need to treat, and not the chickens. A good preventative dusting of diatom around the house, especially at the ends of the perches and up the walls, can help to prevent red mite getting a hold, and some chicken keepers recommend a band of Vaseline or similar around the end of the perch so that the mites have to cross it to get at the chickens, and of course get stuck and die. Creosoting the coop was a good prevention measure in the past, but real creosote is no longer available. If you get an infestation, thorough washing of the house (using a pressure-washer if possible) with Jeyes Fluid can help – but you will need to air the coop well before re-introducing the chickens. We have also used Virkon followed by a good dusting of Diatom. The lack of crevices for red mite is a selling point used by the manufacturers of plastic houses such as the Eglu – those of us with wooden housing may spend some of our summers waging war on the mites.

No comments: