Mites!! How to treat your flock from these pesky parasites
Mites are tiny parasites that are usually too small for the human eye to see,most are microscopic. They are closely related to spiders and some if not most hide in little cracks and crevices during the day and come out at night when your birds are asleep to feed on them but there are always some on the birds at all times. Mites feed on your birds blood,skin tissue,and feathers and can be a real nuisance.
Symptoms of mites present in the flock:
*Loss of weight
*Lack in egg production
*Scales on legs lifting up
Normal flat scales on legs Raised/ruff scales indicate mites
As shown in the two pictures above the left picture shows the normal legs with the scales laying flat,and the picture on the right showing the ruff raised up scales which are infested with mites that burrow under the scales on the legs. This is pretty irritating and painful to chickens.
*Use petroleum jelly(Vaseline) and rub it on the chickens legs several different times,this will smother all the mites and larvae and will make it easier and less painful when it comes to removing the mites by wiping them off.
*Get some food grade diatomaceous earth(DE) which comes in containers and bags just make sure you get food grade.DE is a powder like substance made from crushed fossils/shells and when the mites and other parasites eats it,it can cut there insides up and when sprinkled through the coop,dries out there skin and kills them, and helps suffocate them. It's also an anti caking agent and putting it in the chickens food can help kill any internal parasites.
*Have a dustbathing area they can get to at all times,chickens love to dustbathe and by doing this it naturally helps keep mites/ticks/lice and other little critters off them and also keeps there feathers and skin healthy. Give them a sheltered area that keeps the rain off it so it's dry and good for all time use. You can get a simple kiddie pool,cement mixing tray,or just in a pile on the ground,whatever your birds can fit there whole body into. You can make a great dustbath by mixing dry soil(no big rocks),diatomaceous earth,and clean wood ash that was NOT burned with any trash or fluids(lighter fluid/gasoline). When chickens dustbathe they scratch in the dirt,beck and eat some of it,and get down and shake it all over themselves getting it all between there feathers. Chickens love to dustbathe and for those of you that have them know how comical and fun it is to watch.
Here's a few of my chickens under a cedar tree in my yard enjoying the dry sandy soil that's naturally covered by the cedar tree.
*Regular coop cleaning is necessary all the time but especially when there's mites present,it helps rid some eggs and mites and the messier the coop the more mites like it. Make sure to clean the coop all out than sprinkle DE through out the whole coop including floor,nestboxs,roosts,feeder,food,and any cracks and small places even that the chickens can't reach cause mites hide everywhere.Than add your bedding and add another layer of DE on the fresh bedding for extra protection.
And of course when your cleaning your coop you can take all the bedding to the compost pile but the chickens enjoy scratching through it getting the spilled feed and wheat seeds.
I hope this helps you guys who have a mite problem in your flock and this goes for all poultry from chickens to ducks to pigeons to peacocks. Hope your flock is mite free soon and back to being relaxed and happy!!