My Broody Hen and Lice/Mites

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SunflowerTheBun, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. SunflowerTheBun

    SunflowerTheBun Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi there,

    So I currently have a broody hen who is sitting on some eggs that we hope are fertilised but are not sure. She's not been a particularly reliable broody - usually when my silkies are broody they are difficult to break, but she's almost been voluntarily trying to break herself, one time running straight down the ramp and out of the door when I opened it into the run straight away - something I've never seen them do when they're broody before.

    We also recently sprayed her, the nest and the other chooks with a bird lice and mites spray, since I saw she had a little tiny bug crawling on her and dry, white skin flaking from her face.
    We sprayed her pretty much straight away after I noticed this.

    Anyways, if anyone thinks I should be doing more for her, please let me know.

    - Sunny
     
  2. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Broody hens are a magnate for mites,,, a sitting duck so to speak. Normally mites can only feed at night when birds are on the roost and thy hide in crevices in the coop and under the roost during the day, but it's 24/7 feasting on a broody hen. I've had a very reliable brood abandon her nest in the final few days because she couldn't bear to sit any longer. I was totally horrified to see the nest and eggs literally crawling with mites. Now I dust the nest and bedding well with DE before I set the eggs and check it regularly and dust it several times throughout the incubation period. A broody hen being so keen to come off the nest is an indication that there may be a problem. Check the nest over thoroughly, especially in any nooks and crannies and the underside of surfaces. Once you have an infestation they can be difficult to get rid of,

    Good luck.
     
  3. SunflowerTheBun

    SunflowerTheBun Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much. Can you tell me, what is DE and how can I get it? I'm in Australia, not sure if it's here of if there's an equivalent.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Are you certain is was mites and lice?
    Google images of mites and lice to learn what you are looking for so you can positively ID what you are fighting.

    What did you spray her with?


    If lice a permethrin dust or spray should take care of them quickly.
    If mites of the sort that live in the coop but only feed on birds at night, the whole coop needs to be aggressively treated.

    DE...Diatomaceous Earth...can help prevent an infestation, but will not eliminate one already present. Make sure you buy pure and food grade, many DE products have a bunch of clays in them.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2016
  5. SunflowerTheBun

    SunflowerTheBun Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for replying.
    No, I don't know which one it was, sorry. I'll have a look online.
    I sprayed her with 'bird mite and lice spray' sorry not sure what brand off the top of my head.
    With what you said about mites only feeding at night makes me think it might've been lice.
    Thanks for the info,
    Sunny.
     
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    Lice are pale grey/brown and elongated and feed off dander and are mostly an irritant, rather than pose a serious health risk. They live on the chicken full time and they particularly like the warmest areas to lay their eggs like under the wings and the vent area. If they have lice, you will most easily see clusters of their grey eggs stuck to the base of feather shafts in those areas. You don't see individual eggs as they are very small, just a lumpy grey sheath around the base of the feather. If you google poultry lice images, I'm sure there will be some showing the eggs.

    Mites are usually red because they are gorged with blood from the chickens. If you squash them with your finger, you will see a smear of blood. They are more round shaped like a crab....but tiny of course. They hide in the cracks and crevices in the coop during the day and crawl onto the chickens when they are roosting at night to suck their blood. Unfortunately, because broody hens are static in the coop day and night and create a warm, dark environment under them, mites can capitalise on them throughout the day too. Obviously the mites pose a much more serious health risk than lice as they can transmit diseases as well as the more obvious anaemia through loss of blood and subsequent damage to immune system as the chicken weakens.

    You need to look at the small print on the spray you used, to see what the active ingredient is. I would guess that it is probably permethrin.

    I have had success in the past using DE to target a mite infestation, but this year I had another outbreak which did not respond to it but it also took several applications of permethrin spray to get on top of them as well as using DE and although I have it down to a manageable level, I still have some in that particular coop and I've been battling it for several weeks..

    If you don't already have one, it would be a good idea to supply your chickens with a dust bathing area...use a mix of compost and wood ash and soil or sand and you can add some DE to it if you have some, but wood ash will help a lot. They will dust themselves in it but you need to be vigilant in their coop. I use a soft dustpan brush to dust under the roosts and from the corners of the coop near the roosts onto a piece of white card every once in a while. You will see the red mites on the white card quite easily and squashing them with a finger nail will confirm that they are blood sucking mites. Once you find them, you need to give the coop a good spray whilst the chickens are out, paying particular attention to all the nooks and crannies.

    As regards your broody hen and nest, next time she gets off for a broody break, have a good inspection, particularly underneath and in any joints if it is a wooden one. If it is overrun with mites then you will need to empty all the bedding out and give it a good spray to kill the mites, give the nest box a thorough spraying, check the eggs over and replace the nesting material and dust it with DE or louse powder and put the eggs back. I would not spray the eggs with a liquid pesticide as it may harm the chicks.

    I hope that gives you some insight into these "crawling" pests that our poor chickens are occasionally plagued with.

    Regards

    Barbara
     
    2 people like this.
  7. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Here's the best article on identification and treatment of lice and mites I've ever run across. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/poultry-lice-and-mites-identification.html

    The product recommended, Elector ESP, is pricey but super effective with no egg withdrawal period and can safely be used on a brooding hen. It's worth the price because one application gets the job done. It's super concentrated so one bottle will last you for years. No more need for messy dusting products which require repeated applications, and have mixed results for premises control.

    Everyone who has used it raves about it. It's terrific. Living in Australia, you may not be able to get it unless they ship overseas. It's worth a try.
     
  8. SunflowerTheBun

    SunflowerTheBun Chillin' With My Peeps

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  9. SunflowerTheBun

    SunflowerTheBun Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, ignore my last post, I was wrong. Today I definitely saw at least 5 tiny red critters running about on her face. Mites!!!
    How should I deal with this? If the eggs she's sitting on are going to hatch (which we highly doubt will) today was day 21. Do I break her broody so she can get off and dust bathe for herself or what?
    Thanks,
    Sunny.
     
  10. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Definitely pick up some poultry dust with permethrin -- she's being feasted on and she's not eating much because she's stoically waiting for the eggs to hatch to boot. If today was day 21, I'd candle the eggs to check for viability - any kind of movement etc.- but dust her as soon as you can. Had a friend with this issue- poor girl was skin and bones and crawling with the things- the dusting worked very very fast, but you've also got to treat the coop and your other chickens, clear out the bedding and nesting materials and replace it.
     

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