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chicken and ticks

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Simplethrift, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. Simplethrift

    Simplethrift In the Brooder

    Sep 24, 2009
    Southern NH
    I have always heard that chickens will eat ticks and for that reason alone are good to have in your yard, but is this really true?

    I live in N.H where we have a large tick population and very recently 3 of my 6 kids (I suspect 2 more) have been diagnosed with Lyme disease (it's not just a minor inconvenience - I've got teens with severe arthritis.) I'm not keen on putting tons of chemicals in our yard (and doubt they would work well anyway) but if chickens really do eat ticks then I'll be out there in the back yard with them all day long just to make sure they're safe while they graze. If it is true, heck, I even have neighbors that want to "rent" my chickens so that they could eat the ticks in their yards.

    Just wondering if the tick thing is just folklore or if someone has direct experience with chicken and ticks.

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011

  2. Dutchess

    Dutchess Songster

    Hi Simplethrift - [​IMG] So sorry to hear about your children and lyme disease. That is a very serious illness, I'm sure you know. I hope they will be okay. [​IMG]

    I live in So. Maine and our pop of ticks is outrageous.
    I have a young flock this year and they have not free ranged much. The flock I had before this one (only 4 chickens) were out every afternoon free ranging on my 2 acres (about one acre of trees they don't venture into). I never took one tick off my dog that year. This was really the only indication I had to determine that the ticks were in deed being eaten by the chickens.
    This year, even with the frontline on the dog, she had ticks. My young flock didn't become established until later this summer and then I had a predator problem so they haven't free ranged like the flock last year.

    I hope everything turns out okay for the children, I don't care how old you are that darn disease stinks!
  3. emerald eyes

    emerald eyes In the Brooder

    Nov 22, 2011
    I live in CT and we have a horrible tick problem each spring & fall. The initial reason for getting out chickens (in addition to eggs) was to help with the tick problem. Last year it seemed like the flock was doing their job, but we still fould some ticks on the dog. Being that I live about 20 minutes from Lyme CT, we have been proactive at trying to keep the ticks at bay. We have a well, so I don't use any chemicals or pesticides in my yard (even in the garden), so best alternative was chickens! This year the ticks were nasty. I pulled 5-6 off each dog every day and found several crawling on me until begining of Nov. Our flock was new since a predator took out our flock over the summer, but it was really impossible for the chickens to eat all the ticks crawling around my 4+ acres of wooded property; however I found 3 ticks on me after tending to the coop. I am thinking the age of the chickens probably contributed to the tick problem, plus the fact that they were not out free ranging for more than 5 hours a day. I now let them out from 8am to 4pm, and I haven't found any ticks on me or the dogs. Maybe the ticks are less, but maybe they finally figured out they are supposed to eat them!
  4. Simplethrift

    Simplethrift In the Brooder

    Sep 24, 2009
    Southern NH
    Yikes, take care down there in CT (as well as up in ME) tons of ticks in both areas. My kids' Dr has me reading Cure Unknown, which not only describes the history of Lyme but also the author's personal family experiences with it.

    These are both good stories to hear from other chicken owners. We are down to one dog (short haired and white) but as we all know ticks can be anywhere. If the chickens will eat the ticks, then the birds always be welcome to graze in my backyard.

    Thanks for adding your comments.

    I've looked but does anyone know if there has been a documented case of Lyme in chickens? I suppose that even if there were, the heat of cooking it would destroy the bacteria, but still, it would be nice to know.

  5. johnsons-r-us

    johnsons-r-us Chirping

    Jul 18, 2011
    Eudora, Kansas
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  6. I have a huge deer population, therefore tons of ticks. I started my tick treatment with 20 guinea keets in July of `09. Of course they couldn`t free range until they were about 3 months old, so in October of `09 I started feeding them to the predators on this mountain I live on. By spring, I was left with 3. The 3 turned out to be smart enough to stay close to the house and avoid the predators. So, the last year and a half they have been working on my bug population. I have noticed a big reduction in ticks, flies, wasps, moths, grasshoppers, etc. I plan on getting some guinea eggs next spring and increasing my flock. I recently started free ranging a trio of chickens in my yard. They seem to be doing a jam up job on the bug population as well. They also do a jam up job destroying my flower beds and landscaping. My wife complains, but I don`t mind cleaning up after them because of the decreasing bug/mouse population. I`ve read that they eat small snakes also, but I`ve been blessed to not see any in the last 6 years. I do know there are rat snakes around as I`ve seen their shed skins and they have stolen eggs from time to time. I can only hope the young will be eaten and the old will move on. To answer your question and stop my rambling, yes, chickens eat ticks........Pop
  7. Chickens do eat ticks but guineas are much better at really eradicating ticks, if you can have them. They are loud and fly. When I was in OK, I had them solely for eating ticks and grasshoppers and they really did their job well.
    This summer, we've had some ticks in AZ. Just a few. I don't spray at all. My neighbor has hundreds of ticks and had a professional spray program. My chickens are not on the side of my yard with few ticks that my dogs picked up. No ticks at all where the chickens are.
    I think I have so many less ticks than the neighbor because I don't spray which allows enough bugs for all the bug eating birds, plus I have so many praying mantids. I have tons of desert cardinals and other birds that need insects to survive. I don't have bird feeders out, just a natural habitat.
    I never use chemicals and have huge trees in my yard. I guess ticks can be a huge problem here, as seen by my neighbor. I've never found chemicals to work on ticks, even when I used to use them.
    Chickens will really help. Also, encouraging lots of wild birds like cardinals will make a big difference. I hope your children get better real soon!

  8. Kevin565

    Kevin565 Crowing Premium Member

    Dec 22, 2009
  9. wood&feathers

    wood&feathers Songster

    Dec 22, 2009
    E. KY
    Organic Gardening is a big advocate of guineas for tick control. Some chickens will eat them, but ticks put off a nasty smell/taste that others dislike. I sometimes offer them to my flock while sitting in the yard picking them off the dog. Only half my chickens are interested, but those ones gobble them eagerly. Since getting the hens I certainly don't catch them crawling up my leg in the yard like I used to.

    I am sorry to hear that your kids have Lyme's. I wonder if my "fibromyalgia" is really just Lyme's from spending 10 years as a wildlife tech.

    And YES, chickens LOVE to eat any snake they can swallow. I live in copperhead central and it is a common summer sight to see a hen streak across the yard with a small one in her beak and the whole flock in pursuit. Very seldom is the finder the keeper. They have to line it up to eat head first. As with centipedes or wasps they seem quite aware that one end bites/stings
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  10. ninabeast

    ninabeast Songster

    Apr 10, 2011
    Upstate New York
    I'm sure chickens do help. That said, MAN we still have a lot of ticks this year. I've never seen anything like it. It's like a Stephen King novel over here. So, I SHUDDER to think what it would be like if we DIDN'T have ten hens free ranging all day...

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