Organic Chickens and Mites

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by henhouseof12, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. henhouseof12

    henhouseof12 In the Brooder

    Mar 17, 2017
    Hi, I am very new to this site so I am sure this subject may have been addressed already so forgive me if I am repeating this topic. This is my first time having chickens. I brought them home in March so they are almost 4 months old. I have twelve chickens all different breeds. I have raised them strictly on organic food only. I noticed they are all starting to shake their heads real fast and scratch at them. I understand I might be dealing with mites.(?) The problem is I was trying to keep them organic. Is there a way I can treat them and keeping them organic chickens? I am not selling them or the eggs they are just for us and our family members, I just wanted to keep them as healthy as possible. My second question is how do I prevent this from happening and keeping them organic and healthy?
    I thank you in advance for taking the time to read my post and would appreciate any help you could offer.
  2. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Free Ranging

    Jun 14, 2017
    Central PA
    There are a few solutions to your problem.

    I happen to like hard and fast non organic medicines, but I've used nonorganic in the past with some success.

    You will need a dustbath. Unless you live somewhere really dry, you'll need a somewhat sheltered patch of really dry dirt for your chickens to roll around in. Dirt on a tarp or in a couple of rubber pans will work too, but ours like the dry stuff under the porch.

    You can add wood ashes or diatomaceous earth--both are organic, but where I live, wood ashes are free, and I happen to like them better than $0.50 per pound silicate. Either will suffocate mites well, and unless you have sensitive chickens, it shouldn't irritate their skin.

    If you're willing to dip the chickens in dish soap and water for a count of forty seconds each, I don't think anyone's going to count it as 'non-organic' and it works well for killing the adult mites. Do it on a sunny day.

    Mix garlic water at a 1:10 garlic, water ratio and spray it on their vents. That helps too.

    And if you have a rooster--isolate him. He's going around from hen to hen and (in my personal experience) is your biggest carrier.
    Debbi H likes this.
  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome! Look them over at night when they are roosting, with a flashlight. Mites and lice will turn up unless your birds are totally indoors all the time, because the wild birds bring them in. For organic in the USA, you can use pyrethrin (needs to be labeled for organic poultry) or DE, which won't be as effective, and is dangerous to inhale. If you want to use a non-organic but safe and easy product, use the permethrin spray. It works very well! Mary
  4. JaeG

    JaeG Crossing the Road

    Sep 29, 2014
    New Zealand
    You need to identify what pest you are dealing with. Red mites hide out in your coop during the day and come out to feast on your birds at night. In that case your best course of action is dosing the coop. Lice stay on your birds and don't survive very long off their host (unlike mites which can go for months without a feed). A couple of salt and vinegar (diluted with water) baths to break the cycle is a good option there.

    Please don't waste your money on DE. I know from first hand experience it doesn't kill mites.
  5. Debbi H

    Debbi H Songster

    Jun 2, 2017
    Sonoma County, CA
    Hi, all. Sorry this is long: I have had a horrendous mite problem going on for over a month. The henhouse is crawling with millions of them, so bad that they are crawling on ME when I collect eggs. I check the hens, and there aren't very many on them, although some of the 29 are acting sluggish and not looking very well.
    Then our one Silkie rooster, Archie, started getting crusted shut eyes in the morning and the last 2 days, has what turns out to be a respiratory infection. I've been cleaning Archie's eyes each morning and put Terramycin ointment around them.
    Contacted a vet from UC Davis. Told him I've tried poultry dusts (diatomaceous earth, permethrin, etc) not just on the hens, but throughout the henhouse and shavings, which are changed weekly. And have used poultry sprays on the chickens. I've even been feeding them minced garlic this week, which they love, because I've heard it helps keep the mites off of them.
    It's been so bad that I even cleaned out all the shavings and put a Bug Bomb in there only to find them still crawling everywhere!
    So yesterday, I cleaned it out again, sprayed to soaking the entire inside of the henhouse and laying boxes with an enzyme spray (mixed Kleen Green and PoultryZyme, both from Natural Ginesis). I let it dry and put in new fresh shavings. And at roost time, I was able to use my little "squeeze puffer" and put DT under the birds' wings and on their behinds. This morning there were still a lot of mites and I thought it wasn't working.
    So panic set in again, thinking I may have to just give up and sell off my beloved flock, since the mites were even following me into the house and I've been getting bites.
    Then I remembered having to fight off an infestation of spider mites on plants years ago, and recalled I'd experimented for months before coming up with a mixture that worked wonders. So I called around and found the two products that I had used back then: Monterey Garden Insect Spray concentrate (.5% spinosad) and SaferGro PestOut (with cottonseed, clove, and garlic oils). I mixed up gallon batches with the recommended amount of each and it worked wonders back then.
    So this time, I'm thinking "mites are mites, right?" I brought home my products, mixed up a small batch and headed to the henhouse. Lo and behold, the enzyme spray had started to do its job by then. I had to remember that the enzymes are not an insecticide; they attack the bugs' exoskeleton and system and cause a slower death. Most of the bugs were dead now.
    But because the infestation had been so bad, still went ahead and sprayed around the door and onto the top of all the shavings and the roosts.
    Other than the bug bomb, none of the products I have used will harm the chickens.
    I wanted to share this with you because I know how frustrating it can be when nothing seems to work.
    Oh, yes, and back the vet that I contacted: He told me to add sulfur powder to my chickens' dusting areas, along with the DT and permethrin dust I'm already using. And he also told me to get the Elector PSP (44% spinosad). But for right now, I'm going to use the spinosad product that I tried before since it did do the job and is much cheaper. I'll wait on getting the Elector PSP until I see if my own mixture works.
    And for the poor little rooster, because we can no longer get over-the-counter antibiotics to mix in their water, the only thing left to use is a product called Tylan, which he told me to get and to inject it into the rooster's breast every day for 5 days (although I've seen that some people administer it orally). Since our feed store said they don't have anything over-the-counter anymore, I'll be calling my local vet tomorrow to see if I can get the Tylan from her.
    Let's hope little Archie gets better. I saw that some people suggest using VetRx for Poultry for respiratory infections, so I'll be getting some of that, too.
    I will update this in the next couple of days to let you know what's happening with Archie and with the mite infestation.
    Good luck to all of you and your flocks.
    SingerChick and Elemes like this.
  6. Debbi H

    Debbi H Songster

    Jun 2, 2017
    Sonoma County, CA
    Just want to give you all an update. And the news is GOOD! I've been mixing up my own magic elixir that I found after months of research a few years back when I had spider mites. It is doing the job. There are no mites crawling on the walls at all anymore. I still have a few in the shavings that I had just put in the henhouse a few days ago right after spraying with enzymes.
    Today, I'm going to remove the shavings, totally spray the henhouse again with my mixture, and replace with new shavings. Besides getting rid of the mites, the henhouse now has a very pleasant smell of cloves!
    Then hens are already looking better and happier.
    As for Archie, I wasn't able to even find the Tylan suggested by the vet from UCDavis, but I happened to find that I still had a bag of over-the-counter oxytetracycline to mix in the chickens' water, so am doing that and changing it daily. Archie's eyes have already cleared up, and no more of that weird "yawning" from him or the couple other hens that were starting to get respiratory infections. Will continue the meds for a week as per directions. Am not throwing the eggs away, but rather scrambling them up and feeding them back to the chickens! No wasted eggs, no wasted meds!
    So my mixture is: Monterey Garden Insect Spray (concentrate) and SaferGro Pest Out (a cottonseed, clove, and garlic oil mix). The Monterey contains spinosad. I was able to get the Monterey at a local organic farm/garden supply store, and the SaferGro I found at a Hydroponics store. But I see that you can get both online at Amazon, too.
    I use a garden sprayer -- the kind that you fill the jug and then insert the pump unit that builds up the pressure. I mix 1.5 oz (3 Tablespoons) Pest Out and 2 oz (4 Tablespoons) Monterey to a gallon of water. I spray all the walls, ceiling, nest boxes, roosts, floor, etc of the henhouse, until everything is covered and wet. I even sprayed the outside of the henhouse, and beneath it where there is an open area that the hens use in the summer to dust and stay cool when they aren't running around on the property.
    Now I can actually grab the door jamb and not find my hand covered with mites! YAY! My henhouse is built of wood (2x12 lumber...I was lucky and got it free from a construction school that had previously used it and was throwing it away) and its dimensions are 6' x 8' x about 7' tall. I have one "window" on one side with shutters that are the same wood and covered with chicken wire to let in the breeze during the day, with the shutters closed at night. It took less than two gallons to do the entire thing.
    I sprayed a bit on the chickens feet, too, to keep any mites from crawling up on them at night.
    The hens themselves have just had DE, and a light spritzing of my mixture. I'm still going to get wood ashes from my son to add to their dusting holes.
    But at this point, I'm ECSTATIC that the mite population has almost been completely eliminated!
    SingerChick likes this.

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