Mites are probably one of the hardest pests to get rid of. If you are determined enough, its possible to completely exterminate all mites and even lice around your coop and on your birds. This year is the first year I have had them this bad. If you touch anything, ANYTHING, you will have mites crawling all over you. I have decided to put an end to it, especially since one of my girls died from an over infestation of mites.
Q: How do I know they have mites?
A: Very simple, check around their eyes, vent, back, anywhere. These will be very tiny, so look closely.
They might also have feather loss, upturned scales (On legs), or even a drop in egg production.
Q: What's the first thing I should do once I see I have mites?
A: The first thing I did was I researched what do to. I found that:
There are a majority of other things too, but the list would go on forever.
- Birds are major carriers of mites. I had a birds nest in mine, so I immediately removed it. (luckily there were no babies or eggs in it!!)
- Rabbits are also carriers.. I know, not a big problem for most people. But I have a rabbit who keeps having babies in the coop (what on earth?!) Every 60 days, like a clock. I still don't know what to do about them.
- DE doesn't work worth a darn (personal experience also)
- Straw is the prefect place for mites to hid in. Switch to shavings.
- Nest boxes, roosts, anywhere the chickens commonly are they will be.
When I was doing this I promised myself I would never go and use chemicals. That means: No 7Dust, no premises spray, ect. I'm doing this all natural.
Before we were using straw as bedding, we have switched. We also didn't clean the coop out very often because straw is a killer to clean out. Now we clean out the shavings every three weeks. Boy, what a difference, its so much easier to clean! We have a concrete floor in our coop, so we will be installing a drain in soon, so we can wash the coop out.
We have metal nest boxes with nest box liners, instead of wooden with shavings. This really helps the cleanliness. We have been washing out the nest boxes and liners every three weeks, when we clean coops out. This means taking out the boxes, and washing down with hose and a good scrub. Let dry out, hang back up. Put DE in the bottom of the nest boxes, a very thick layer, and put liners back in.
Since roosts are another big "Hang out" for mites, we wash those down with a hose, give a good scrubbing, and let dry. (Yes, I have wooden roosts)
What about the actual chickens?
I have been using DE for a long time now, and it has done no good at all. We were noticing though, that when my dad goes down to the coop, he didn't get mites. Whereas we did. Why? Garlic! He loves the stuff. We did some googling and turns out something in garlic turns away the mites/lice.
So today we went out and got big bags of garlic we are going to juice. (If you don't have a juicer, you can just make a tea. Pop them in boiling water and 10 minutes later, you have garlic tea!)
You don't want to overwhelm their systems, so only give 10% garlic water. For every one cup of garlic make sure you have 9 cups of water. And, since garlic reeks, in my opinion, we also are adding some herbs. Maybe it will make them smell like pot roast? ONLY DO THIS ONCE A WEEK.
Besides the regular clean outs, and garlic/herb water, we are going to make a garlic and tea tree oil spray. We have a sprayer, but you could use a spray bottle.
Make your Garlic tea, or juice, and only dilute it with 5 cups instead of 9. Its okay if its strong for this. Put a little bit of tea tree oil in the bottle, shake it up, and spray it on walls, on nest boxes, anything where mites go. Spray where they dust, but just enough to get the smell. Once the chickens are no longer a host, they will go away.
Anybody notice I didn't say put wood ash or DE in the nest spots? Besides the fact I don't think it works, it gives respiratory problems.
Thank you for reading. Happy Mite Extermination!