For those of you who don't want to use insecticide chemicals like Sevin or don't want to use DE if you ever have to treat chickens for lice, I thought I'd share this method and my results today.
Basically, I soaked the hen in strong salt water, then bathed her with Dawn dishwashing liquid. Then blow dry! Wa la. I will keep you all posted with the ongoing results in the next weeks.
Here's my "alternative, organic" method I used (in detail).
This afternoon I dissolved 2 cups of salt in 1.5 gallons of very warm water in a large tub and then soaked my hen for 5-7 minutes in it (keeping her head out!). Lots of dead lice floated to the top!
After that, I put about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of Dawn dishwashing liquid in 3 gallons of warm water in a second tub and soaked the hen in that for about 5-7 minutes, making sure that it got everywhere, including her neck. Actually I dunked her body in and out a couple of times (with her head out!) to make sure the soapy stuff was getting through all her feathers. More dead lice in the soapy water.
Then I rinsed her in 2 gallons of warm water, twice, to make sure all the soap was out.
I wrapped her up in one towel for a few seconds. Then a second towel. She had started shivering (I did it outside), so I immediately brought her into my sunroom and used a blowdryer to gently dry her feathers. That took about 45 minutes which was the longest part. I had read that hens are unable to regulate their body temp with wet feathers, even if they're in 80 degrees, so I was concerned to make sure she was completely dry, and it did take time.
It looks like bathing her killed/removed 100% of the live lice from her body. However, there are still many eggs attached at the base of many of her feathers (she had a lot of lice). So I will do this bathing process again in a week or two, presumably they will all hatch by then. I think Sevin has the same results because most folks treat with Sevin again in 2 weeks. Does anyone know if Sevin also kills the eggs?
She didn't love the bath, but she didn't hate it either. I think she was pleased once she was all blow-dried and warm again. Of course when my friend called in the middle of it and asked what I was doing, I had to say "nothing" so as to avoid having to tell her I was blowdrying a chicken in my sunroom who I had just bathed!
The biggest difficulty was keeping the detergent bubbles out of her beak and eyes. I hadn't counted on so many bubbles piling up on top of the water. I kept some fresh water nearby to clean the bubbles off her beak with.
Honestly, I think just the soap would have worked. I just didn't want to have to do again so I used the saltwater too. I had read that applying vinegar will help dissolve the "glue" that holds the eggs onto the feathers, but I didn't want to try that on top of the other soakings and I think you still have to manually brush the eggs out.
And, I have a very purty-smelling hen! She is in a small pen in my sunroom where I am feeding her extra foods so she regains her strength -- she had become weak from the lice.
Please if anyone else tries this, let us know how it works... it would be great to build a body of organic treatments, for those who want them.
Edited by chickenannie - 3/15/09 at 6:47pm