The most common problem faced by poultry keepers at this time of year is red mite. So much so, sales of our red mite products have almost doubled over the past month, as everyone begins the challenge of ridding their coops from these pesky mites.
There have been features on the news stating that families are facing a tougher battle this year against fleas on their cats and dogs because of the moist climate this year. Exactly the same can be said for chickens and mites and lice. So if you have red mite, please donâ€™t despair! It has happened to the best of us, and even if you are incredibly vigilant and clean in your general hen husbandry routines, this year they have affected the majority of chicken keepers.
Red mite usually lives in nooks and crannies of the hen house, especially under the perches, but not on your birds. A sign your coop is infested can be identified by a hens reluctance to go to roost at night, or sometimes choosing another spot to lay eggs other than the nestbox. (Mites often live in the joins of a nestbox) They will wait until the hens go to roost at night, then come out of hiding to feed off the henâ€™s blood. A mite that hasnâ€™t been fed, is a dull grey colour, whilst full mites are bright red/purple.
Red mite have a three day breeding cycle; this means any cleaning and disinfecting you do will need to be repeated every three days. Doing it once a week is unfortunately not enough.
To Fight Redmite:
– Totally dismantle and disinfect your hen house (take the hens out first!) Use a strong poultry disinfectant like Biolinkâ€™s Poultry Shield, although Jays Fluid or similar would also work.
– Use a pressure washer to hose down and leave to dry.
– Powder all the nooks and crannies of the hen house, especially under the perches, with Diatom. This is a natural product that isnâ€™t harmful to hens, but will suffocate and kill any mites. Apply the powder liberally, at least half a centimetre under the perches.
– Powder your hens with a licensed red mite powder. We recommend and sell Barrier red mite powder and Nettex total mite kill powder.
– Repeat this process every three days
Once you have eradicated the red mite, or at least got it to a controllable level, disinfecting every three days is no longer required. We would recommend a good clean with disinfectant spray and diatom application every week, followed by a thorough disinfect every fortnight. Your hens will also need powdering every four to six weeks.
At this time of year lice are also common on your hens. Again, a thorough powdering of the hen will help eliminate them. They are easy to spot around the base of the feathers, about two millimetres long, they are yellow in colour and live permanently on the bird. Noticing your hen excessively preening or nibbling at herself is often an indication that she has lice.