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Help! Can't get rid of feather lice in my free range chickens!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by KatieLucht, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. KatieLucht

    KatieLucht New Egg

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    Help! I have a small flock of 20 hens of various breeds. They free range daily and therefore they do come in contact with other birds. Last spring one of the girls started showing symptoms of feather lice. As recommended I completely cleaned the coop removing all the old bedding, sprayed the coop down with Neem oil (while the girls were out of course), spread DE on the roosts and nesting boxes and then replaced all the bedding with new. I have continued to rotate all of the bedding at least once a month and spray the coop down at the same time. I still cannot seem to keep my girls lice free. It seems at least one of them is suffering from the nasty little bugs all the time! From reading other posts I thought having access to frequent dust baths was supposed to control feather lice. My girls have constant access to dry dust beds with different options for their bathing delight including straight up dirt, wood ash mixed with sand and now dirt with some DE mixed in. What am I missing or what else can I do?

    Thanks for your suggestions! I feel like a bad Mother Hen for not being able to keep my girls debugged.
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    You need to treat them with an insecticide. I use a pyrethrin based powder.
     
  3. casportpony

    casportpony Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    @KatieLucht , welcome to BYC! I found that DE doesn't work, so now I use permethrin spray or powder.


    Poultry mixing instructions - 5 ml (one teaspoon) Gordon's to 32 ounces (one quart) of water


    http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/gordons-permethrin-10-livestock-premise-spray-8-fl-oz
    [​IMG]
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Have you actually seen the bugs and ID'd them positively via googling images of mites and lice?
    Best done well after dark with a strong flashlight/headlight, easier to 'catch' bird and also to check for the mites that live in structure and only come out at night to feed off roosting birds.
    Wipe a white paper towel along the underside of roost to look for red smears(smashed well fed mites).
    Part the feathers right down to the skin around vent, head/neck and under wings.
    Google images of lice/mites and their eggs before the inspection so you'll know what you're looking for.

    If you do find some...check out this thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1134783/permethrin-spray

    Agrees, applying permethrin to the birds is the best way to kill off a lice infestation....
    .....if you have mites you need to treat the whole coop, cracks, crevices, and all.

    Neem, DE, wood ash might help prevent an infestation...but they won't eliminate one.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
  5. KatieLucht

    KatieLucht New Egg

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    Thank you! This is very helpful information. And thank you for the links! I haven't seen the actual lice but the base of the feathers do appear like they have the nits. Do mites cause hens to pull out feathers, too? I thought they just got under the leg scales.

    Thank you again for your help!

    Katie
     
  6. KatieLucht

    KatieLucht New Egg

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    Thank you for letting me know your experience with DE. Reading about it makes it sound like it cures everything! I am glad to know I am not the only who has has not found it all that helpful. Thank you also for the link on Amazon. I'll get this ordered today and give it a whirl!.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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  8. casportpony

    casportpony Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    And there is a 4th mite that we don't hear about very often, it's the air sac mite, which cannot be treated with pesticides because it lives in the air sacs. Not something you need to worry about it, just thought that it was worth mentioning. :D
     
  9. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

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    Permethrin spray is the best! Mary
     

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