Is an early treatment for possible lice necessary?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by firefarmer, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. firefarmer

    firefarmer In the Brooder

    I'm a new hen owner. I got three beautiful birds from my friends mother last week, a RIRed, Barred Rock, and Black Sexlink. They have given me three eggs a day for 6 days running!

    But here's the deal, originally my friend had offered 6 hens from her 30+ flock and I built my coop accordingly, but then once I went to pick them up, I learned that the family dog had killed a few hens and so she was nervous to give away too many. No problem, but I was afraid that since I live up near Lake Superior, my hens would be too cold in their big coop. So I got a few more hens from someone else. Here comes the problem...

    I added the hens at night and the next morning I noticed that the new hens had lice. not wanting my beautiful chickens to pick out their feathers, I quickly pulled out the new infected chickens and butchered them. (heartless I know, but The person I got them from would have done the same if I hadn't taken them.)

    Anyway, my question is this. A few days later, I can't see any sign of lice on my birds yet, but should I treat them with something just incase? What are the chances that the new birds infected my birds overnight? I don't want my birds to pull out feathers and get cold. but I also don't want to bathe them in chemicals if I don't have to.

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) works for us. Put it in their food, where they roll around and dust a little on the substrate where they scratch. The package will give you correct dosing. And as a bonus it cuts down on flies and other creepy crawlies too. Works to rid internal critters too I believe. And it wont harm your girls. just be sure it's food grade. You can find it online, expensively. Or less so at a local feed store.

    As far as how likely is infection of your birds...well...if one lice ( that the singular of lice?) can be found others are hiding somewhere. But luckily they are relatively easy to get rid of.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2008
  3. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing Premium Member

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    You can put some severin dust in the bedding and fluff it around as a preventative. You can also use FOOD GRADE DE, not pool filter DE, not gardening DE.

    Give them some sand and fireplace ashes to dust in to keep them parasite free as well.

    You didn't have to butcher those hens. A little dust to kill the lice, retreat in 10 days, you'd have very happy hens.
  4. firefarmer

    firefarmer In the Brooder

    I guess I kind of panicked, I had planned on butchering the rooster and two of the hens anyway. Part of the reason I butchered them was that they had very few feathers on their backsides and Its already below freezing here and I expect that it is only going to get colder. I have an insulated coop, but I doubt it would be very warm to sit out there with a nekid bum. At least I got some good localy produced chicken noodle soup out of it. The pressure canner is letting off steam as I type.

    Thanks for all the advice. I think I'll try the DE, sand and ashes first. If there is a major outbreak I'll go after the severin dust.

  5. bawk n roll

    bawk n roll Hatching

    Nov 13, 2008
    I treated my lice infected hen with food grade DE on her backside for two nights straight and she still had an active infestation. It definitely got rid of some of them, and I believe it dried out the egg sacs on the feathers completely, but the little buggers were still there! I used 5% sevin dust on her and it killed all of them in one treatment. It didn't take much, either.

    If you treat the lice with DE, it can severely dry out and irritate your chicken's skin, to the point it becomes raw. Carefully monitor their skin condition if you go this route. For an active infestation I recommend just going with the sevin. DE is a good preventative though.
  6. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Songster

    Sep 4, 2008
    How much sevin does it take to treat one large bird (Rhode Island Red or Buff Orpington)?

    And for that matter, how would I know if my chickens HAD lice in the first place?

    (I'm a new chicken owner, so please forgive the questions -- I have alot to learn yet)
  7. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing Premium Member

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Go out at night with a flashlight. Turn up a few bottoms and look around the vent down at the skin. You will see them moving.

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