Mites and Lice- How Common? and Prevention?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Chicken Chaperone, Jan 13, 2010.

  1. Chicken Chaperone

    Chicken Chaperone Chillin' With My Peeps

    As we prepare and learn all we can before we get our first flock in the spring, I have a few questions to toss
    at y'all about lice and mites.
    Exactly how common are they?
    Are they inevitable?
    What preventative measures do you take and can we take?
    Are there any treatments/medicines we should keep on hand just in case?
    If we get our chicks from a hatchery are we likely to get a nice case of mites or lice at no extra cost?
    Can they be spread to other pets? We have cats and dogs and mice and fish (I know- the fish would be a long shot..) [​IMG]
    We also have a whole zoo of free ranging beasties in our neighborhood including squirrels, possums, skunks and raccoons and tons of wild birds- would these guys
    likely be carrying any creepy crawlies?

    Thanks in advance for your insight and help! I've learned so much already here and I'm so glad I found y'all months
    before we start this journey with new babies! [​IMG]
     
  2. mom'sfolly

    mom'sfolly Overrun With Chickens

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    Hatchery chicks shouldn't come with creepy crawlies. Your birds may catch lice or mites or both from wild birds. You can put DE in dusting areas and in their coops as a preventative measure. If your birds do get mice or lice, there are a lot of ways to treat. Everyone seems to have a favorite. People use poultry dust (containing pyrethrins, I'm not sure on the spelling), Sevin dust or Invomectin (Also not sure on the spelling). The last will kill all parasites, both internal and external. Some people treat on a regular schedule, others treat when they have problems. If you search the website you will find lots of useful information.

    These creepy crawlies are specific to birds, so your dogs and cats and wee little fishies won't get them. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2010
  3. cutlass1972

    cutlass1972 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    get some Diatomatios earth as a presentitive. You will need a pump duster to apply it (or just spread it around with a plastic cup). Educate your self about DE before you use it, it can be destructive to your lungs and you should use a resperator when working in the coop.

    I put spray on front line on mine every couple of months, works excellent.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Pretty common.
    Are they inevitable?

    If you buy started or grown birds (as opposed to only ever buying day-old chicks), they are probably inevitable. If your flock free-ranges or if you get a lot of wild sparrows etc in their run or if you tractor them on ground that gets lots of wild birds (e.g. passing flocks of starlings) then they are probably also inevitable. Otherwise, you might luck out and avoid them for a good long while -- or you might not.

    They are really not a big deal provided you were checking regularly for them and get on top of any incipient problem right away.

    What preventative measures do you take and can we take?

    Not buying started or grown birds helps; also minimizing the extent to which wild birds occupy the same ground as your chickens. Mainly though just check weekly for them, e.g. when the birds are on the roost at night, and get *right on* any sign of anything. Minimizing places for roost mites to hide, in the coop, will make it likelier that any problem you detect is still small. It is *possible* that it also helps to dust DE into cracks and crevices, and/or putting a thin layer of DE under your bedding, and/or making sure the birds always have access to a good proper dust bath (not clear if adding DE to a dustbath really does any extra good), may also help - done sensibly and in a way that does not result in a DE-dusty coop they probably at least don't hurt. But keeping a close eye out is the biggest thing, for sure.

    Are there any treatments/medicines we should keep on hand just in case?

    DE will help with a low-level problem, but if you ever have a major infestation i.e. birds *crawling with* mice or lice, you will likely need something stronger such as Sevin (the most common poultry dust in the US) or rotenone dust (commonest poultry dust in Canada) or other similar substance.

    Can they be spread to other pets? We have cats and dogs and mice and fish (I know- the fish would be a long shot..) [​IMG]
    We also have a whole zoo of free ranging beasties in our neighborhood including squirrels, possums, skunks and raccoons and tons of wild birds- would these guys likely be carrying any creepy crawlies?

    Mites and lice are very host-specific. Bird mites/lice will not complete their life cycle on other critters. However, they can still crawl on you and annoy you (and possibly occasionally bite you, even). You need not fear chicken mites/lice setting up house anywhere that there aren't birds, though -- so it is not like your house could become infested, the way it can become infested with (say) fleas or bedbugs.

    The squirrels, possums, skunks and raccoons are not going to be carrying any ectoparasites that will meaningfully affect your birds, but they all but the first-mentioned are MAJOR PREDATORS OF CHICKENS and so they mustn't be allowed *any* possible opportunity to get anywhere near your birds. You don't want squirrels getting in with your birds either, as they will steal you blind of chicken feed and some people have suspected them of poaching eggs or even baby chicks.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  5. cybercat

    cybercat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dust bath is the best preventive for mite and lice. It is easy to make up yourself too here is the forumla. 1 part each of sand, wood ash and dirt. That is it put it in a box for them to use. Hatchery chicks will be clean local chicks is a crap shoot. Crowded conditions makes them more likly to get them buggies.
     
  6. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Cybercat nailed it here. I am looking to buy powdered sulphur to add to dust bath. In years past, I have heard it referred to as 'flowers of sulphur' I think it and DE would both be excellent to have in a dust bath.
     
  7. Chicken Chaperone

    Chicken Chaperone Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oh, these answers are perfect! Exactly the info I was looking for!! Thank y'all so much- you guys rule the school!! [​IMG] [​IMG]
    We use 'Advantage' as a flea treatment for our pets- is there something along those lines (i.e. a once a month treatment of drops
    put on the back of the neck) that might work?
    Also, should the DE, ash, etc. dust bath be inside their run where they can get to it easily or is outside ok? (I'm working on
    coop/run plans as we speak) When they're not in it should the dust bath be kept covered? My son's sand box turns into a
    beach if we don't keep it covered when it rains..
    again, a million thanks! [​IMG]
     
  8. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Be extremely careful when using Sevin dust and the others -- these are all toxic chemicals and you should take great care about how you apply them and who is in contact with them -- such as your son. Like the other poster said here, educate yourself first.
     
  9. jaboo81

    jaboo81 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have dusted my pen and coop every six months have never had a problem. Again I have only had birds for 3year now.
     
  10. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have also read that mites can hang out in your nestboxes. It's supposed to help to use plastic nestboxes, rather than wood, and clean them out frequently. Some people put a layer of DE and/or some cedar shavings down in the nestbox before adding pine shavings, etc.
     

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