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Newborn chicks with lice! What to do?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Manyfur, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. Manyfur

    Manyfur Out Of The Brooder

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    So, I decided to let my 3 broody silkies hatch some babies, but this morning, of the three that had hatched, one was dead with no injuries i could see and one was huddled in the corner all by herself, shivering—I don't know if she was chased away from the mamas or what, and I don't know what happened to baby #3, but I'm worried it was squashed or became dehydrated—I don't know if the hens were feeding him. So, I decided to isolate the remaining 2, but discovered the poor guys have lice all over their heads. The hens didn't have lice before, but I guess a few weeks cooped up has taken it's toll—I haven't had any luck keeping wild birds away from their feeder, and they haven't been bathing themselves as often as normal.
    Here are my questions, since I've never raised chicks before:
    1. Can I use Sevin on these guys? They're only 2 days old. And a lot of the posts on the forum seem to say to keep it away from their heads, but that's the only place I've found the lice. Will Frontline (I have some for my puppy) be alright this young?
    2. What can I use from Home Depot or WalMart to disinfect the coop without making the birds sick? The hens are still sitting on eggs, so more babies may be coming along, and I want to get a handle on this ASAP, so food-grade DE is probably not an option since I think I'll have to order it.
    3. What is your advice on how to clean the coop, disinfect the birds, and disinfecting the bedding without keeping the hens off the eggs for too long?
     
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Hopefully, someone will know what to do in your case. The only case of lice ever was in a rooster I got from someone and while in quarantine, found the lice, dusted with food grade DE and that fixed it. No other birds have had lice here, certainly not tiny chicks so I'm not 100% sure what to tell you. There is a parrot lice/mite spray I've seen at pet and feed stores that ought to be safe, but lice and mites can kill a chick, so if nothing else, I guess Sevin would have to do. I've never seen poultry dust folks talk about, but that would be an option. The spray at least you could spray on your own hands (use rubber/latex gloves maybe) and rub on their heads so you don't get it in the eyes. I've never used Frontline on birds, either, so cannot advise that. I think some folks recommend Adams flea and tick spray for dogs as safer for birds than some others, but again, not part of my experience.


    ACE Hardware has a citrus oil based insecticide that is safe to use in the coops and smells great called Orange Guard. It's a spray, in bottle or gallon size with sprayer. Works very well, gets in all cracks.
     
  3. Manyfur

    Manyfur Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for your reply speckledhen!
    What I ended up doing Friday night was going to Petsmart and getting the lice spray for parrots you told me about, and diluting it in hot water to bathe the chicks in. It seemed to help a little bit, and I pulled a lot of lice off by hand—the chicks were super miserable, giant lice all over their heads behind their ears and neck.
    A third chick hatched that night, and I'm keeping her isolated from the other two, since she was still all egg-wet when I got her, and doesn't have any bugs I've seen.
    Last night I put the infested chicks in a fresh container with bedding thoroughly dusted with food-grade DE I picked up at an organic gardening store, and put it in their feathers. I saw lice on them today, but couldn't tell if they were dead or not—I'll bathe them again tonight and see what I can see. They're so fluffy now it's hard to see all the way down to the skin!
    They're all doing very well, eating and drinking from their feeders and sleeping, for the most part, so as far as I can tell nothing I've done has harmed them yet. I'm trying to catch the rest of the eggs as they hatch and take them from the coop before they can get infested, and I bought Sevin and Orange Guard to hopefully de-louse the grown chickens and coop.
    Any other advice people have would be awesome
    [​IMG]
     
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Seems you're doing okay with them. I wish someone else had popped in to help who had dealt with the same problem. Keep us updated on how it goes. Congrats on the babies, though!
     
  5. Manyfur

    Manyfur Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, next time I'll know to check my hens and really thoroughly clean out the coop when they start to get broody, so hopefully it won't happen again [​IMG] I need to find a way to lock the neighborhood birds away from their food, too, probably.
    I'll try to post more pics! Bugs or not, they're super adorable.
     
  6. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    With my silkies (bug magnets) before they sit on eggs I dust the nest area with sevin.

    I guess I would be looking for some bird spray.
     
  7. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I always dust the broody's nest with DE before I give her eggs to sit on, then if she isn't dustbathing much, I dust her at the midpoint under her wings and around her tush. Have never seen any lice/mites so guess I've stayed ahead of it, which I guess is much easier than trying to eradicate the little suckers!
     
  8. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    Maybe something like a tablespoon of sevin added to a cup of DE, mix it into their shavings, and let it do it's work.
     
  9. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    My Coop
    Quote:For sure. They are a pain to get rid of, but I've finally beat them. In almost 3 years, this is the first I've ever had of dealing with lice.

    I now have DE and sprinkle both the DE and Poultry Dust (same as sevin) on the coop floor periodically and at every coop cleaning before I add the shavings. I also dust the nest boxes and their dust bath spots.

    To the OP, you'll need to bathe or dust the babies again in 10-14 days when the eggs the lice laid hatch. Keep checking every 10-14 days until you are rid of them. You'll also want to do a major coop cleaning and treat the coop as well. (and all the birds in the coop - all it takes is one little bugger to start the whole thing all over again)
     
  10. Manyfur

    Manyfur Out Of The Brooder

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    Update: Thank you all for the replies! I'm going to keep updating here, in case someone in the future has a similar problem [​IMG] The chicks are now 2 weeks old—I've named them Jeeper, Creeper, and Peeper. They've tripled in size, easily—the photo below is a week old, and they look significantly different—their wings are growing, and they're starting to roost (and try to escape their containers). Peeper is still isolated from the slightly older, infested two, and still doesn't have bugs. Every 4-5 days, I completely clean out both containers, with fresh bedding thoroughly dusted with DE, and at the same time bathe all three in hot water with some of the mite/lice spray for parrots poured in—it's the only way to see past all the fluff! Also a good opportunity to get rid of any waste that's built up around their vents that I couldn't get off with a washcloth, and to help them shed some of the baby fluff and pieces of shavings. They're like little black lint rollers.
    As of Monday, Jeeper and Creeper still have lice, but they're smaller and fewer, mostly on top of their heads and around the base of their necks, and obviously not keeping them from thriving, so for the time being I'm going to wait on the Sevin until they're older, and until I can get a bigger container for them where it's less likely to get in their food and water.
    As for the main coop, no more eggs have hatched, though the hens are collectively sitting on 12 eggs—it was 14, but about once a week an egg has been disappearing without a trace. I think it's the hens eating them and not a snake, though they have food and water 2 feet from the nest. I'm hoping to candle the remaining eggs this weekend and see if any are viable—I've been keeping the ladies locked up with just the coop and a small 5x3 run, since I'm terrified of a neighborhood cat getting to a fresh-hatched baby before I do [​IMG] Until I can let them out, I've been holding off on trying to clean the place out, since they're spending all their time in the coop and will probably re-infect each other continuously. Would a thorough cleaning, orange-guarding, and dusting of the bedding and birds prevent this?
    Does anyone have advice on keeping wild birds away from their food in the future? Normally they're free-range in my back yard—the only nearby predators are cats, and the roo chases them away. Short of building a large enclosed run, is there any way for the chickens to access the food, and not the native birds? Does planting wild bird feeders around ever help?
    [​IMG]
     

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