After scooping up my rooster for some chicken cuddles today I noticed a tiny critter scuttle into the feathers on the back of his neck... After a thorough inspection of his plumage, and also our six hens, it seems as though we have an early phase or very light infestation of feather lice; four was as many as I could find on a single bird, no obvious eggs. They look like Menopon gallinae small body louse AKA shaft louse. Any entomology nerds want to take a crack at this? I'll try to grab a couple more of these guys and get them under a scope next week. After everyone headed to the roost this evening they got a dusting with a diatomaceous earth and calcium bentonite. We hung them upside down to try to get the dust under their feathers better, though it probably really only got down to the skin around their vents and under their wings. And before anyone get crazy, yes, we covered their faces with a washcloth to keep the dust out of their lungs. We also dusted the nest boxes really well with diatomaceous earth. They'll be getting daily feather inspections to monitor louse levels for the next few weeks. I'm wondering what level of lice is tolerable? Our flock free-ranges, and wild chickens regularly visit our property to hang out. We can keep the wild ones out of the coop and run, but theres no keeping the wild birds, chickens or otherwise, out of our yard... I'm not about to lock up the chickens for the rest of their lives, so reinfestation is highly likely even if we could completely delouse them. I imagine there may always be a small number of lice hanging out on a bird? Could a healthy free-ranging hen really have ZERO ectoparasites? At what point should we be reaching for poultry protector, or even pyrethrins?