Treating Mites and Lices in Chickens

Mites are a common problem for chickens, and if left untreated, they can cause serious health issues for your feathered friends. Mites are tiny parasites that feed on the blood of chickens, causing irritation and inflammation of the skin. They can also lead to anemia and weight loss in severe cases. 

These tiny parasites can cause a range of issues for your birds, from decreased egg production to anemia and even death. It's important to catch and treat mites early to prevent them from becoming a serious problem for your flock.

In this guide, we will share our practices on how we treat mites and lices.

1. Types of Mites:
There are several different types of mites that can affect chickens, including red mites, northern fowl mites, and scaly leg mites. Red mites are the most common and can be found in the chicken coop, laying their eggs in the cracks and crevices of the wood. Northern fowl mites are most often found on the birds themselves, while scaly leg mites attack the legs and feet of chickens.

2. Treating Mites with Insecticide:
Treating mites in chickens is important for the health and well-being of your flock. There are a few different options for treating mites in chickens. One of the most effective methods is the use of a miticide, which is a type of insecticide specifically designed to kill mites. These products come in a variety of forms, including sprays, dusts, and ointments. It's important to follow the instructions on the label carefully and to treat all of your birds, even if only some of them are showing signs of mites. These products should be applied to the birds and their living quarters according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Avian Insect Liquidator is quite popular in Singapore, and you can find them at some bird shops.
Some may require you to not eat eggs for time being, or forever, so please do check.

3. Treating Mites with Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Lastly, regularly add Diatomaceous Earth into their wood shavings to prevent mites, and apply to their bodies should there be mites. 

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural product that is often used as a safe and effective means of controlling mites in chickens. DE is a fine powder made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of algae. It works by physically abrading the exoskeletons of insects, including mites, causing them to dehydrate and die.

To use DE to treat mites in chickens, you will need to dust your birds with the powder. This can be done using a handheld duster or a small container with holes punched in the lid. Be sure to cover all areas of the bird, including under the wings and around the vent. DE is safe for chickens to ingest, so there is no need to worry if your birds accidentally ingest some of the powder.

It's important to apply DE to your birds on a regular basis to help control mites. You may need to dust your birds every few days for a week or two to fully eradicate the mites. Be sure to follow the instructions on the DE product you are using, as different brands may have different recommendations.

In addition to dusting your birds with DE, you can also use the powder in your chicken coop to help kill mites and prevent future infestations. Simply sprinkle DE on the floors, walls, and roosts of your coop and let it work its magic. DE is safe for use around animals and humans, making it a great choice for controlling mites in your chicken flock.

While DE is an effective means of controlling mites, it is important to remember that it may not work on all types of mites. If you are not seeing an improvement in your birds after using DE, you may need to try a different treatment option. Be sure to consult with a veterinarian or a poultry expert if you are having trouble controlling mites in your flock.

4. Preventing Mites with proper husbandry
You can also take steps to prevent mites from taking hold in your flock. This includes keeping your chicken coop clean and dry, using wood shavings or other dry bedding material, and treating any new birds before introducing them to your existing flock. It's also important to clean and disinfect the coop on a regular basis to help prevent mites from taking hold. This includes removing any old bedding and replacing it with fresh material, as well as washing down the walls and floors of the coop with a mite-killing solution. For more information on coop cleaning, check out our guide here.

In addition to these measures, it's a good idea to regularly check your birds for signs of mites. This includes inspecting their feathers and skin for any redness or irritation, as well as looking for mites on their legs and feet. If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to take action to treat the mites as soon as possible.

Symptoms of mite infestation include scratching, feather loss, and thinning of the comb and wattles. You may also notice small red or black dots on your birds' skin or on their feathers. To confirm the presence of mites, you can perform a "mite check" by wiping a piece of white paper or cloth along the feathers and skin of your birds. If the paper or cloth comes away with small red or black specks, your birds likely have mites.

You can consider showering them as well, and we do have a guide for this. Check out showering your chickens here

By taking steps to control mites, you can help keep your chickens healthy and happy. And as a result, you'll be rewarded with plenty of fresh eggs and a healthy, thriving flock.