Insects on Chicks: Mites/Lice?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by beefybillybob, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. beefybillybob

    beefybillybob New Egg

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    I've just had some chicks hatch, 8 under a Barnevelder. Chicks are now 2 days old and all seems ok, but when I look at them closely I can see very small light brown insects crawling on them. I'm a little worried this may be mites, lice or some other damaging insect. I have moved the hen and chicks into a separate (New) hutch but they hatched in the normal laying boxes.

    I live in Melbourne, Australia and only have a simple backyard chicken setup. I tried to take some photos but the insects are too small, there's a pic of the setup below. The hen is sitting outside the box for some reason, not sure if that's an issue. All the chicks appear to be fine so far but I am concerned and want to be able to tackle this ASAP if it is a real problem.

    My amateur attempt at identifying the insects is that they look more like lice than mites. They are light brown / yellow coloured and move fairly smoothly over the chicks. They have a more elongated body that what I would normally associate with a tick. They are too small for me to be sure, but this image of a chicken body louse is consistent with the general shape and colour of the insects I'm seeing: http://www.icb.usp.br/~marcelcp/Imagens/f-piolho1.jpg

    [​IMG]

    What steps, if any, should I take to protect the hen and her chicks?

    Cheers
     
  2. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    I would remove the birds to a temporary environment. Remove all shavings/litter from the coop and spray it down with a pyrethrin based insecticide. Burn or bag the old shavings and put new shavings in the coop. After treating birds. and the coop is ready, they can go back in. Adults should be dusted with carbaryl powder or sprayed with a pyrethrin based spray. I don't know what brands you have available in Australia but any livestock supply or feed store should carry something safe for use on poultry. I've never treated chicks that young for lice. Definitely treat the adult hen, and perhaps use a q-tip dabbed in vaseline to dab the lice off the chicks. if anyone has a safe suggestion for removal of lice from 2 day old chicks, I'd be happy to hear it.
     
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    May try just dishwashing liquid soap and water to get them off with a quick warm bath--it seems to work on small dogs with fleas as they fall off and go down the drain. Here is a picture of lice versus mites: http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8162.pdf
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013
  4. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    I'd be very careful about that. They need to be handled very gently at that age. 2 day old chicks getting chilled is very easy.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013
  5. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I would think that by dusting the mama hen's undersides/under wings, and vent area, that the chicks would brush up against it enough to rid them of the bugs too.

    Personally I'd dust the mama but not the chicks since they will be under her. They are so itty bitty and I think I'd get it all in their lungs. Definitely get rid of bedding and spray/dust coop too.

    Retreat in 7 days, then again in another 7 days for lice (dusting mama).
    Retreat in 7 days for mites.

    Depending on how bad the infestation is, it is best to get rid of bedding each time as well. If I don't change the nestbox material also each time mites come right back.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. beefybillybob

    beefybillybob New Egg

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    Thanks for the advise, I will go and buy the dusting treatment today. If the dust is a hazard to the chicks from a respiratory standpoint, is it prudent to hold off until the chickens are a week old? My research today indicates that body lice are generally not life-threatening given that they feed on dead skin, feather fragments etc.

    Thoughts on this plan of attack?
     
  7. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    http://www.hobbyfarms.com/livestock-and-pets/lice-infestation-in-chickens.aspx

    Lice can kill chickens. (It is so devastatingly irritating that they literally have their health fall apart.)

    If they are mites, of course they have the blood loss in addition to the keeping them awake at night and bad itching/making them depressed and exhausted.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  8. PolkaDot77

    PolkaDot77 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My first thought is to dust the mama with diatomaceous earth and see if when they go under her they get a little dust as well. I probably wouldn't dust the hen around the babies but rather dust her, let her "shake" and then bring her back to the chicks so they aren't breathing in too many particles. You could try bathing them, but I would give the dust a try first. Let us know how it goes!
     
  9. gander007

    gander007 Chicken Obsessed

    Dust all birds and clean out the entire cage area [​IMG]
    Oh [​IMG] glad you joined us ........

    gander007 [​IMG]
     
  10. beefybillybob

    beefybillybob New Egg

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    Can I get some advice on the best way to apply the dust treatment to the hen? She has many chicks under her wings and body, if i pick her up I'm practically going to have to shake them loose to dust her independent of the chicks. This ok?

    Also, I have the hutch outside, the forecast for tomorrow is 40°C (104°F). The hutch is placed under a fairly low hanging tree so it won't get quite that hot (See picture), but what measures should I take. Is it best to move them inside a shed? Spray mist on them if they appear to like it?

    [​IMG]
     

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