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Hens have mites, help please, several questions

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

EDIT from title, it's definitely lice, not mites.  



We got 15, 5 month old Black Australorp pullets about 1.5 months ago from someone on craigslist who had many, many hens for sale.     All but 2 are laying well daily.


We lost one to a vent prolapse, and now several (if not all) have lice:(  There were no signs except poopy tail feathers which have been increasing, and now several chickens have them.  They also have a lot of watery poop, always have but I looked up normal poops and it seemed fine?  

They are all eating well/drinking well, foraging well, no lethargy, etc so I didn't think there was anything wrong with them and now it's bad.  They all like to dustbath in sand/wood ash in a tire so I thought that would help prevent mites/lice. 


I am a new chicken owner so I've been quickly trying to research how best to deal with it, and have a few questions:


1) Sounds silly, but can we still eat eggs from hens that have lice?  It seems like it should be okay, but sounds super disgusting and I'm not sure I want to right now, but hate to waste eggs since that's the reason we got them.  


2) I know I need to clean out the coop/nesting boxes well and change/throw out the bedding, but how often am I going to need to do that?  


3) Do I need to clean the coop with soapy water/spray?  It's spring here and always raining/cloudy lately, so I don't really want to add more moisture to the coop, it won't dry out very well at all.  


4) I trimmed some of their poopy tail feathers today and was thinking I should bathe them, but will that make anything worse?  A few of their rear ends are very disgusting.  


5) Is Diatomaceous Earth enough to treat them with?  I would prefer not to use chemicals, but I also want this gone quickly.  


6) I do have some Ivermectin horse paste 1.87% which I know plenty of people say not to use because it's hard to dose, but it seems like the tiniest piece (like a grain of sand) wouldn't hurt to put between their shoulders?


7) How long do I need to treat them?  Will I know they are healed when I don't see any lice/eggs, or do I treat much longer than that?


8) Could they have had lice when I got them from the person who raised them or have I done something wrong allowing this to happen? 


Thank you!

Edited by amama - 4/26/16 at 8:26pm
post #2 of 6
I'm pretty new too so I'm not an expert. My chickens have mites that I need to treat myself. I found diatomaceous earth isn't enough. I use melted organic coconut oil and it works but the mites have kept coming back. I have a spray bottle that I use to soak their little butts with. I've also found that they clean off the poop within a couple days of being treated. I add 1 teaspoon of teatree oil per 4 ounces of coconut oil too.
As far as where they get the mites mine got them from somewhere on my property. Sadly the bottom line is that there are pests in the world and chickens are likely to get something sooner or later. I think using soap on the coop a couple times a year is good but you really don't have to. The cleaner the coop the better but the most important thing is keeping the coop dry and poop free.
I eat the eggs, the mites are just on the skin so they don't affect the eggs but I've heard that if the mites get super bad the chickens will stop laying.
post #3 of 6

First off, you can eat the eggs.  :)


They most likely had the mites when you got them and the move stressed them and the mites went crazy while the hens were in a weakened state.   The ash/dust bath you are providing will help them with mites, but it won't get rid of a heavy infestation.


You will want to do more than DE to get rid of them.   If you look up mites you can find a multitude of ways that work however.    I would suggest getting a garden and poutlry powder and dust them really well, especially around the vent and under the wings.  Dust their nest boxes super well as well.  Personally I don't clean up the coop (except the nest boxes) till I get a few days of treatment going.  when I do a second dusting i clean the coop then-getting rid of all the old substrate (straw, wood chips whatever it is you are using) and replace with new.  When I do the clean out I would dust the floor of the coop prior to putting in the new substrate.   


I would get a spray type lice killer to spray down all the roosts in case any are hiding in the wood.


Personally on the DE-I think it's probably safe to use in an outdoor dirt bath, though ash will be just as good.  I would not use it where the birds are going to be standing in for any length of time myself.    If I was going to use it in a coop it would be only in  corners and cracks where bugs could hide and you can get it thick enough to actually coat them when they  crawl across it.  Be careful of the dust though it's really not good on lungs, and chickens are have sensitive respiratory systems as it is.  It's also extremely drying, which is what kills the bugs, but rather harsh on skin.  (rub some on the back of your hand and let it sit to see what I mean)  Personally I don't use it for any parasites, I do use it for protecting plants from slugs and ants during dry weather.  If wet it doesn't do any good.  During dry I'll go heavily around a plant with it.


I like to keep everything natural and organic myself, but parasites do a lot of damage quickly to chickens so I'd rather pick the chemicals to get rid of them quick and then use other natural remedies to help protect them from it happening again.

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you.  It makes sense to me about treating them a bit then cleaning the coop, I won't wait too long, but maybe at least until Thurs. when we finally don't have a severe thunderstorm daily:)  I also only have the DE so need to go to the farm store tomorrow and see what I can find.


Do any of your hens poop in the dust/ash?  I filled a large tire with it, and they poo all over/in it.  It's their favorite place to hang out under the coop and it's disgusting, I've changed it once already, but thought maybe they would quit!?

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

EDIT: It's lice, not mites.  I kept calling them the same thing, but they are definitely lice.  

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Well, treating them was a disaster.  They weren't handled by the person that raised them from chicks so they are so flighty and flap like crazy if you get anywhere near, and run fast:)  It's a super windy day here,not good for DE, and it's also a little chilly, so my melted coconut oil spray hardened before I got to the last of them.   I put the wire top of a guinea pig cage in their pen and got them in there one at a time, but they ran and hid under the coop (where it's really hard for me to get to them) or in the coop, which I also can't get to them because I foolishly told my hubby to make it so I wouldn't ever have to go in there.  


Do most of you do things like this alone or do you wait until you have help?  I really need them to sit still and probably on their back so I can actually get to/see the vent area where the lice are.  I couldn't get the coconut oil spray past all their feathers/poo so I'm pretty sure it did no good.  


Then they all had their usual fight over the nest boxes, I saw 5 in one plastic tub, pretty ridiculous.  (there are 3 nesting boxes but they constantly line up in front of one and squash in on top of the others and the preferred box changes each day).  So the coconut oil I did spray was everywhere, disgusting.  


Is there a better way to handle/trap/position them so I can treat them?  I know it really needs done to get the lice under control. 


Thank you

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