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Organic method for treating chicken lice?

post #1 of 91
Thread Starter 

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
Happy owner of 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 guineas, 3 Black Langshan bantams, 6 Buff crosses, 1 OEG cross, 1 Maine Coon cat, and 4 Bourbon Red turkeys!
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Happy owner of 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 guineas, 3 Black Langshan bantams, 6 Buff crosses, 1 OEG cross, 1 Maine Coon cat, and 4 Bourbon Red turkeys!
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post #2 of 91

Very cool ideas chickenannie!

I'm dealing with mites in my flock of 3 at the moment too.

I ended up using a sevin-like product, it does not kill the eggs and I read neither does sevin.

Good luck with your girl. I'd be interested in follow up posts to hear how she looks in a couple days/weeks/etc...

Good luck!
Kristin                 thumbsup

I think I'm nuts! 
1 DH, 1 DD, 1 DS, 1 fat tabby cat, 1 beagle, 1 cattle-dog, and 4 chickens (Silver Laced Cochin, Americauna, Cuckoo Maran & RIR) -- and a partridge in a pear tree!
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I think I'm nuts! 
1 DH, 1 DD, 1 DS, 1 fat tabby cat, 1 beagle, 1 cattle-dog, and 4 chickens (Silver Laced Cochin, Americauna, Cuckoo Maran & RIR) -- and a partridge in a pear tree!
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post #3 of 91
Thread Starter 

UPdate:  I checked Miss Hen for live lice bugs today and found none! Zero.

There are still eggs/nits at the feather base, but even they seemed somewhat diminished, possibly from the washing. I still plan to do a second washing at the 2-week point.

Miss Hen is still regaining her strength, but she was outside eating grass today and seemed to be enjoying it quite a bit!

Will post again on the progress of the "organic" method.

Is anyone else trying this?

Happy owner of 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 guineas, 3 Black Langshan bantams, 6 Buff crosses, 1 OEG cross, 1 Maine Coon cat, and 4 Bourbon Red turkeys!
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Happy owner of 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 guineas, 3 Black Langshan bantams, 6 Buff crosses, 1 OEG cross, 1 Maine Coon cat, and 4 Bourbon Red turkeys!
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post #4 of 91

Great to hear she's regaining strength and doing well!

I checked on my girls yesterday and they seemed to be doing better, too. trouble with the non-organic approach, is that I'm paranoid about eating their eggs.

There so people out there that say they do, but I can't imagine NONE of the chemicals get into the eggs....

I think I'm nuts! 
1 DH, 1 DD, 1 DS, 1 fat tabby cat, 1 beagle, 1 cattle-dog, and 4 chickens (Silver Laced Cochin, Americauna, Cuckoo Maran & RIR) -- and a partridge in a pear tree!
Reply
I think I'm nuts! 
1 DH, 1 DD, 1 DS, 1 fat tabby cat, 1 beagle, 1 cattle-dog, and 4 chickens (Silver Laced Cochin, Americauna, Cuckoo Maran & RIR) -- and a partridge in a pear tree!
Reply
post #5 of 91
Thread Starter 

Today is the 2-week point (since my last Dawn treatment). My hen has some small lice on her that I presume hatched from the eggs that didn't wash off 2 weeks ago. So I'll wash her again today (same as with any lice treatment, such as Sevin) in a Dawn dishwashing liquid soak. Then blow dry.

Happy owner of 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 guineas, 3 Black Langshan bantams, 6 Buff crosses, 1 OEG cross, 1 Maine Coon cat, and 4 Bourbon Red turkeys!
Reply
Happy owner of 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 guineas, 3 Black Langshan bantams, 6 Buff crosses, 1 OEG cross, 1 Maine Coon cat, and 4 Bourbon Red turkeys!
Reply
post #6 of 91
Thread Starter 

I'm pleased to say, no more lice!  The 2 washings worked. Just wanted to share my "research" with other folks looking for a non-chemical solution.

Happy owner of 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 guineas, 3 Black Langshan bantams, 6 Buff crosses, 1 OEG cross, 1 Maine Coon cat, and 4 Bourbon Red turkeys!
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Happy owner of 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 guineas, 3 Black Langshan bantams, 6 Buff crosses, 1 OEG cross, 1 Maine Coon cat, and 4 Bourbon Red turkeys!
Reply
post #7 of 91

Hey chickenannie, That is great to know. I try to avoid as many chems as I can. I will file this away , just incase.  I'm glad to know your girl is doing good ! Thanks

2 - 4 legged kids, Gia & Angel, both are rescues ~~ seems I'm always pickin' up strays of somekind ~~ Spay & neuter  !!! ~~ HELP keep our planet clean ~~ DON'T LITTER !!!!!!!!!!!!  After all, you live here too !!!!!!~~ HomeGrown fanatic~~Buy Local~~ Peace out !
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2 - 4 legged kids, Gia & Angel, both are rescues ~~ seems I'm always pickin' up strays of somekind ~~ Spay & neuter  !!! ~~ HELP keep our planet clean ~~ DON'T LITTER !!!!!!!!!!!!  After all, you live here too !!!!!!~~ HomeGrown fanatic~~Buy Local~~ Peace out !
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post #8 of 91

I have a hen that I think has Marek's (she has the right leg back and left leg forward). I have been treating her with 2 different homeopathic remedies for 2 weeks now along with an anti-inflamatory from the vet.

I have tried DE daily and she still has lice. I am going to try the Dawn now.

Thank you!!!

"Look deep into the eyes of any animal, and then for a moment, 'trade places.' Their lives become as precious as your life, and you become as vulnerable as them. " Philip Ochoa - All For Animals

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
pet-abuse.com
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"Look deep into the eyes of any animal, and then for a moment, 'trade places.' Their lives become as precious as your life, and you become as vulnerable as them. " Philip Ochoa - All For Animals

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
pet-abuse.com
Reply
post #9 of 91

Good info!  I will store this for possible future use!  thumbsup

post #10 of 91

Just FYI, that is most of the method to wash a chicken for a show.  The only differences is the first bath is in just water to get them wet, then to a soapy water bath then to rinse in clean water then vinegar bath and then water to rinse the vinegar off.  the saltwater bath is the only difference.  Wow good going.  never thought of the salt water bath

wonder if you could combine the saltwater and vinegar bath before the soap bath

"Be happy for what you have!"   I have lots to be happy for!
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"Be happy for what you have!"   I have lots to be happy for!
BYC'ers Log your town so we can all find you!! http://www.frappr.com/byc
Chat link! http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/chat.php
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