Please help asap! Mites or Lice???? One dead chicken and 4 to go.....

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by micabob, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. micabob

    micabob Hatching

    Aug 19, 2010
    Hello, I am new on here, and also new to raising chickens. I live in upstate NY on a mountain. I have four hens (had five 2 weeks ago), and I just realized last night that I have a terrible infestation of a pest. I noticed about 3 weeks ago that 2 of my girls have been losing weight, and one of them has lost her sheen to her feathers. I have not noticed anything crawling on her when I have held her. Their appetites are still great, so it has been troubling me that they are losing weight. I found one of them (who was not emaciated) face down dead in the coop about 1.5 weeks ago, and she was a young, healthy hen prior to that. Anyway, my coop is part of an old goat milking barn, and is a huge room that is half of an outbuilding, and the bedding is straw over wood pallets on cement on half (the drain backs up in winter and the floor gets wet) , and wood shavings on the dry half where they spend most of their time and where the water and feed is. There are wood shavings in the nest boxes. The hens roost together in one tiny corner, and spend most of their time there when inside. They prefer to be outside most of the time. I feed them organic feed and the always have plenty of water inside and out. I also throw them organic veggie scraps (outside).
    Last night, I went to shovel their poop under the roost, and noticed hundreds of gray/tan tiny bugs crawling all over me!! They were all over the poop bucket, shovel, and the roost under from which the poop was removed. The entire roost was crawling with these things! I then remembered that a week ago, I saw tiny bugs like this scurrying all over the cement where the poop had fallen (under the perch), and didn't know what they were. I sprayed the roost with soap/vinegar water and organic citronella bug spray, and the ones on the roost were dead this morning- they can also be crushed easily. I can not seem to distinguish whether they are mites or lice, and what the best way to treat my coop, outdoor area, and hens with that would be safe or organic. My 1 year old eats the eggs, and I am breastfeeding, so I want the eggs to be safe to eat, but I also obviously want my hens to live. Please help- I am afraid since it took me so long to realize this that they may not have much time!
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2010
  2. blefky

    blefky life in the yard

    Mar 18, 2010
    stamford, ct
    Hi, and [​IMG] Sorry your first post wasn't a happy one. I haven't had to deal with mites or lice, but if you look at the top right of the message board you'll see "Google custom search" - if you google "natural, or organic lice/mites treatments" I'm sure you'll get some advice. Oh, I have heard some people say that they've had more problems with pests in straw/hay bedding than wood shavings but I can't say personally if I find that true as I've only ever used pine shavings. BYC is a good place to learn, I'm sure you'll get some answers. Good luck!
  3. Highlander

    Highlander Tartan Terror

    Oct 1, 2008
    Sounds like mites. My coop is easily accessible to wild birds and I am constantly battling them it seems. Most recently I have been having most success with Ivermectin, but if you do a search for mites on the forum you will find lots of different ways to treat them. You are right however that time is critical now if you have already starting losing birds. I wish you luck.
  4. Lollipop

    Lollipop Songster 9 Years

    micabob, I had the same thing happen with the infestation, years ago. It was suspected to be damp hay that brought in the infestation. You have to clean out all the bedding in the coop and nests. Then, to treat them as radically as you can without affecting egg eddibility, get some Adams flea and tick dip. Mix as directed and spray everything the birds come in contact with, except you don`t have to spray the yard, if your birds free range. Mix it up as directed in a 5 gallon bucket, and proceed to dip EVERY bird on the place. Do it on a warm morning so they have a warm day to dry. The smell will linger for about a month, telling you that it`s still working. No need to re treat in 10 days as with other methods. Does not affect eggs. Be carefull what you put in the coop from now on. Good luck..........Pop
  5. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    Remove all bedding, and do not replace with straw; it harbors a sanctuary where mites and other bugs can hide. Remove and sanitize any metal or plastic objects. Power wash all wood, then spray thoroughly with a pesticide that has a residual effect, and preferably one that contains an insect growth regulator. Consider using a pesticide "bomb."

    You also need to fix the drain--perhaps install a french drain; whatever it takes to prevent any backup and wet flooring. Water and wood and straw will facilitate mold, which can be deadly, not to mention destructive to your barn.

    Once everything is clean and dry, you can replace bedding. You can use sand or kiln dried shavings, or even a mixture of both. You can add a small amount of cedar shavings to other shavings if there is plenty of ventilation. Mix in a fair amount of DE and or 5% sevin as a drying and preventative measure.

    At this point you need to thoroughly treat all your birds, and will probably need to refrain from eating their eggs for a couple of weeks afterwards if you are concerned about any residue making it into your milk.

    With only four birds, you should give each of them a bath is flea/tick shampoo, or possibly even human lice shampoo to kill all the bugs that are onl their bodies. Follow direction labels.

    When I bathe birds I bring them into the house and put them in the tub, then I turn on the faucet and use it as a "shower" to thoroughly wet them down, making sure to keep their beaks and faces out of the water. You can also use a dishpan or similar tub willed with warm water to stand them in to wet them. Adding vinegar to the water helps break the oil barrrier on their feathers that helps keep them dry. In either case, once they are throoughly wet, apply the shampoo and leave it in for the specified period of time. Then rinse under the faucet, let drip dry in the tub while you work on the next bird and the next. Once all are done, wrap in a towel to absorb moisture.

    I personally also treat with pour-on ivermectin while their feathers are still damp (easier to separate the feathers and get directly on skin). There is no test data for ivermectin on chickens, but if it will ease your mind, it is commonly used on humans in 3rd world countries.
  6. Chickendummy

    Chickendummy In the Brooder

    Apr 28, 2010
    Okay, you're getting a great deal of good advice here. I too am new to back yard chickens. I had my chickens for about a month (this May) when I noticed crawlies on their eggs. Didn't want to face it, so I kept a close eye on the girls (3 NH reds) instead. A couple of days after I looked at the belly of one of them - it was a horror show. I turned to and went to the feed store where I bought them for advice. Much to my dismay I learned that I had to bathe them, treat the coop, run, and replace all bedding (I use straw).

    Long story short, twice I have saved them from mites. I bathe them in tepid water w/Dawn dishwashing detergent, rinse in tepid water, dry and let them roam the yard. I use a pair of garden gloves (the kind with the little rubber dots on them for gripping) to scrub, lightly, the affected area and remove the eggs from the feathers. The girls will actually fall asleep! if you're water is just right. At first they go crazy, so hold on tight and wear long sleeves. I let them flap away until they get used to the water. As for treating them - the first time I used this powder stuff (permethryn?) and an organic spray to treat the coop. Yeah right. The second time I used Adams, in spray form, NO MORE MITES. I applied the Adams once the birds were dry, spraying it right against their bellies so it wouldn't get in my face. Then I sort of rubbed it around.

    Regularly handle your birds, push back the feathers and check for crawlies (mites). Chickens are fun! Didn't know what we were missing.


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