Originally Posted by getaclue
There are three types of mites that are detrimental to backyard chicken flocks. 1. Northern Fowl Mite. 2. Red Mite (chicken mite). 3 Scaley Leg Mite.
The Northern Fowl Mite lives directly on the chicken and the entire life cycle is spent on the chicken. That means they do not seek out cracks in the coop environment in which to live. They prefer to live and breed on the birds themselves. Yes, they are seen most often in the vent area or even in thickly feathered areas in the upper thigh and breast once the vent feathers are thinned beyond repair.
The Red Mite, they also feed on the chicken but can be found in the environment of the coop. The mites retreat from the birds after a blood meal; they usually feed on the birds at night, so look carefully when cleaning in the environment. Look under caked litter or in the bedding. Most often they seek out cracks in the wood which is why I recommend sealing wood surfaces to reduce harborage for the Red Mite when it is not on the bird feeding. To find these mites, you can go out into the coop in the evening after the chickens have gone to roost and look at the bird with a flashlight. Not only will they feed at the juncture of the scales and feathers on the legs, but elsewhere on the birds. These mites look like the Northern Fowl mite except after a blood meal when they turn red.
Birds having either of these types of mites must be be treated directly on the birds. In the case of Red Mites, the coop needs to be treated too. Permethrin sprays are a very good choice for this. I personally get the big spray bottle of Adams Flea & Tick spray. Move chickens out of the coop, and do the roosts, the nest boxes with all nesting material removed (put in fresh after it dries), and any other wood surfaces in the coop, let dry, and then it's safe for the chickens to return. Repeat in 10 days to kill nits. I don't spray the nesting material, but change it out, frequently when I'm treating for mites. AFTER the coop has been treated, and I'm sure there are no more mites, I maintain it that way by using Dawn dishwashing liquid and water, mixed like you would for washing dishes, and lightly spray the coop down about once a month, or so. Be sure to change nesting material on a fairly regular basis. I don't use anything other than Dawn as a preventative. I've heard several claims that using Sevin, permethrin, pyrethrin, etc. on a regular basis, as a preventative tends, to allow the Red Mite to become more resistant, so over time treatment becomes less effective, and it's more difficult to eradicate the Red Mite. Since it isn't, or should not be a constant problem, I only treat when there is an actual problem, which helps ensure the treatment will be more effective, and reduces the birds exposure to chemicals. Even DE has some serious risks, and becomes completely useless if it gets wet, which is a waste of money, so minimizing exposure to it is good.
To treat the birds themselves, some people use the shake-and-bake method (there are several youtube videos on how to do this). I did this at first, using a big pillowcase, but found another way that's better for my situation. I have a plastic container, large enough for the bird to get in, but not too tall. I pour a couple containers of Sevin into the larger container, put my bird in the container, holding their back with one hand, and scoop a little Sevin into my free hand, and starting on the back area, I let it sprinkle through my fingers onto the bird's back, then gently (don't break the feathers) rub it down into the skin. Scoop a little more, lift one wing, working it both under the wing, and onto the body area under the wing, then move under the other wing, then top of the wings, down towards the top of the tail. After that, I work more towards the head area, and use the little bit on my fingers to rub the comb, and face area, then move on down the neck, and on to the chest, and work under the bird from chest to tail. Done. It only takes me a few minutes per bird. Repeat in 10 days, and then again in 10 more days to kill all nits. Once again, I don't treat as a preventative, but only if needed. It minimizes the bird's exposure to chemicals, and helps prevent the mites from becoming resistant.
Scaley Leg Mites are easily treated by using a little baby oil, Vasoline, plain cooking spray, A&D ointment on the legs. This is more of a maintenance thing, and I regularly use A&D on the combs, wattles, and legs of my chickens. Coating these areas help prevent both Scaley Leg Mites, and Stick Tight Fleas. Sometimes in older birds, or a little more advances cases, the scales are not quite as tight, so the mites can get deeper into the scales, and the oils may not get far enough into the scales to be effective. In that case, I simple stand them in the container I use to dust them, and do only their legs, and feet with a little Sevin dust. Once is usually enough then go back to normal maintenance. Be sure to treat the roosts when having trouble with Scaley Leg Mites. If Stick Tight Fleas aren't responding to the oil treatment, you can put a little Sevin on your fingers, and rub it into the comb, and wattles. Once is usually enough, then go back to normal maintenance.
For all those that claim they use this, or that as a preventative, and have never had any trouble, so it must be working, right? Not necessarily. In my first coop, with my first flock, I went over 2 years, never used anything whatsoever as a preventative, and never had any trouble. It does not mean using a preventative is working if there is nothing to prevent. The first time I dusted a bird, involved some I had purchased, and was told they had been treated, but to repeat the treatment. I do however, have an exception to this, which may, or may not pertain to your situation. I show some of my birds, and breed from my best stock. In a show setting, they are exposed to a multitude of other birds. After the show, I dust only the birds that have been shown, then again in 10 days, before they are returned into the coop. I don't do a full 21 day quarrantine, but do wait 14 days. The birds at the shows are NPIP tested, so normally, exposure to the worst types of infections are eliminated, leaving only the minor stuff to watch for, which will usually present itself within the 14 days.