If you have creepy crawlies in your housing it is most likely to be red mite, as these mites live in poultry housing and they emerge after dark to feed off the chickens. Red mites particularly enjoy living in the cracks of wooden housing but don’t be fooled they can be prevalent in any type of housing. One way to check if you have a red mite infestation is to run your hand under the roof of your chicken’s housing, if your hand comes away with blood spots, this means red mite are present. Other signs of Red Mite include grey ash looking deposits in corners of the housing which are in fact red mite poop! Gross we know. As if you didn’t have enough poop to deal with.
What is the life cycle of Red Mite?
The typical life cycle of Red Mite is around 7 days. You can see in the diagram below the full life cycle at each stage from egg to adult mite. It is important that chicken keepers know the life cycle of Red Mites to understand how to tackle the adults, break the life cycle and deter future infestations. TheNettex Total Mite Kill regime is a weekly programme for this reason – to break the life cycle of those mites and to help prevent eggs forming into adults which then lay more eggs and so on.
How do I tackle Scaly Leg mites?
When your chicken has a Scaly Leg mite infestation, it is important that you do not pick the scales this will only cause more irritation for your chicken. Scaly leg mites can be easily managed with the following 2 step programme:
1. Spray the legs of affected chickens with Nettex Scaly Leg Spray - this product suffocates the mites, eases the discomfort and provides a barrier to deter and protect the legs. Apply to the legs with a soft toothbrush, in an upward motion, gently working it under the scales.
2. Repeat every 5-6 days (to break the egg cycle) and repeat over 2-3 weeks or until the infestation has gone and the scabs have gone from under the scales. Note that the scales will remain raised when the mites are gone.
How do I prevent lice and mites?
First rule of thumb for prevention of Lice and Mites is to be vigilant: It is important to keep an eye on your chickens as you will be able to tell if your chicken’s health is being affected by an infestation. Also clean and check housing regularly and catch any outbreak fast – it makes it that much easier to deal with.
a. Housing: Check the housing carefully every week when you clean it, pay special attention to all the nooks and crannies, ends of roosting bars and the nest boxes.
b. Chickens: Keep an eye on your flock for any unusual behaviour, give them monthly health checksafter they have gone to roost (they are more biddable then). It really helps you to know what’s ‘right’ for each chicken and spot any issues quickly.
Bedding can make a huge difference. Try not to use straw, hay or newspaper: Mites and Lice love heat and dampness, so eliminating these from the housing helps to keep the parasites away. Straw and hay also both harbour mites in the stalk tubes and contain dust spores, while newspaper will ‘wick’ wetness and get damp. We all love the image of a hen sitting on a nest of straw, but in reality, you are best to stick to something dried such as one of the shredded hemp bedding.
It is also important to remember when buying in new chickens always check them carefully and tackle any pest issues before introducing them to the rest of the flock to limit any possible infestation.