Feather Lice - at least I think it's lice??

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by mmktdox, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. mmktdox

    mmktdox Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have two red stars and three barred rocks. One of my reds was looking a bit mangy back in late December, when I took a closer look I could see whitish grey eggs in the white down of her feathers. Couldn't see anything on her at all, checked her in the day and at night to be sure. So I've been dusting her and the others too just in case. I couldn't find Sevin dust up here around Ottawa but I found a flea and tick powder for dogs that has 5% Carbaryl which is the active ingredient in Sevin so I figured it would work. I also cleaned the coop out several times since then and put down generous amounts of food grade DE on the floor, roosts, nesting boxes etc etc. And I added a sand box with some DE in it for good measure.

    I don't see any eggs on the other chickens, just this one red. And she still has egg sacks? Are they dried up from the powder and will eventually go away? OR are they still laying eggs on her somehow? She's not acting sick, eats, drinks, etc, I get almost an egg a day from her. The only thing I notice is she twitches her head alot, like something is bugging her. And she's lots quite a few feathers. Some on the back of her neck, some on her lower breast, and on her shoulders (do chickens have shoulders?? :))

    Should I change my approach or just keep on keeping on?
     
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Hello! How old is she? Could she be molting? They usually molt some time around their second Autumn.

    She could still be infested. Did you look way down next to the skin? And the vent area is a very good place to check. I would go to the farm and get poultry dust. Maybe the stuff you got isn't really working for her.....Usually you dust them, and then repeat in ten days to kill all the babies that hatch from the eggs before they mature and start the cycle all over again.

    I've had an infestation, and I gutted my coops. I mean I really swept everything out, then I dusted the coop too.

    Check and see where she likes to roost at night....Maybe there are lice there.....Also the nest boxes......Seems strange that only the one chicken seems affected though.....That's a stumper!

    Good luck and I hope you figure it out!
    Sharon
     
  3. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just got rid of an infestation, myself. It took me several times checking them over to see any lice. I knew my three bantams had it but when I checked the others they seemed fine. Lo and behold the third time I checked I found lice. LOTS of lice. I tried dusting with Diatomaceous earth and it got better but it took forever and it didn't really get rid of them. I ultimately got permethrin spray from Lonestar. It cleared them up in no time! I keep everything dusted with DE at a preventative now.

    Check the vent area. I picked up a chicken, sat down with it upside down between my knees and spread it's butt feathers apart. You have to be quick because those suckers are fast and will run to other parts of the bird before you can get your eyes focused! I always found them right above or below the vent. Look for scabs around the vent area too. That's what tipped me off that the older hens had lice.
     
  4. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, and [​IMG]
     
  5. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What you describe is lice. Those white sacs, that make the feathers look like q-tips will remain even after you take care of the infestation. If they make the hen uncomfortable, they can be washed off. I have videos on youtube of how to bathe a hen and also how to pick up a hen to check for lice (might help some of the newbies out there.)
    http://www.youtube.com/user/thehencam/videos
    I have quite a bit of info on my blog and website about lice, including photo.
    http://www.hencam.com/henblog/2010/05/of-lice-and-hens/
    One thing to realize is that most hens have a few lice, but a severe infestation is often a sign of other problems. For example, a sick hen won't dust bathe and so will get lice.
     
  6. mmktdox

    mmktdox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Chicmom, she's only a year old so I don't think it's a molt. And based on the eggs sacs (Qtips as TerryG called them :) it's lice for sure. I've checked their vents very closely and quickly and non of them are red or irritated, no scabs either so I think I've killed the live ones. Guess those egg sacs hang around. I'll have to wash her. It's a very mild winter here this year but it's still cold, -10C at night so I'll have to be sure and dry her really well. I'll keep up the dusting because I'm certain this flea and tick powder is the same chemical as Sevin (5% carbaryl) and it has 1% permethrin in it too.

    Thanks to all for the advice and the welcome!!!
     
  7. mmktdox

    mmktdox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Question for TerryG . . . I'm going to wash her . . . I read somewhere to use olive oil to dissolve the nit clusters but I'm worried that will make her greasy and flatten her feathers. If I use a pet shampoo or dawn, will that cut the oil out of her feathers so she'll be fluffy again? Also your comment about if they're sick they won't use a dust bath. I have them cooped up for the winter and didn't give them one. That has been remedied and she is using it. She eats, drinks, lays eggs, and poops like a trooper so I don't think she's sick.
     
  8. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ivory dish detergent is perfectly good for a bath. Dog shampoo. What you have. Make sure you rinse it out well. Don't oil. I've never had a hen that didn't relax in a warm bath. Don't make it too deep so she's nervous about getting her head wet. They also like to be blow dried. Really. But, she might not need a bath. Those "q-tips" don't hurt - it's only if it's severe and the feathers are tangled and pulling at the skin. Use your judgement.
    A chicken without access to a dust bath will get lice. So that was the problem. Also, even if it's cold, they should have access to the outdoors. My hens go out in 0 degree weather by choice - as long as they have some dry ground to stand on.
     
  9. mmktdox

    mmktdox Chillin' With My Peeps

    My problem is their run is not covered so it's full of snow . . . maybe I'll try to shovel some of it out this weekend. We will modify it in the spring so that next winter will be better. They don't like standing in the snow, that's for sure. And yes I was a bad chicken mom for not providing a dust bath. Live and learn I guess. I plan to give her a bath on the weekend when I have more time to make sure she's dry before putting her back out in the coop. Darn job is cutting into my chicken time!! Thanks for all your help.
     
  10. LaynaDon95

    LaynaDon95 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Snow will not hurt them. They might not like it but as long as they have some ground to warm their feet they will be fine. You might get some dirty looks though. [​IMG]From the chickens, of course.
     

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