So I’ve treated the coop with Coopex and treated my silkies with Avian spray and diatomaceous earth. I think the coop will be ready for them to go back in a few days when I am certain there are no more mites. But I have two questions. The silkies have not laid any eggs at all for weeks- I’m assuming that is due to the stress of the mites and the move out of the coop to a makeshift ‘hotel’ on the back porch. Should I be worried? They are much more lively and are eating well now, though they are not as happy to be handled as they once were . Also, when it’s time for them to go back to the coop, will they remember the mites and be anxious? Or will they start going back in at night? Any thoughts?
If the chickens seem well, active and are eating well then I wouldn't be worried about the lack of eggs at this stage. When you are confident that the normal coop is mite-free then I would probably just take away the alternative coop and see if they take themselves to bed. Otherwise I would wait until dark and then transfer them to the coop - might take a few days for them to get back in the hang of it.
Thank you so much for answering. I am so grateful. I’ve never had chickens before and I feel like I’m out of my depth in a huge way. One of the chickens appears to have lost a few feathers- she’s the only white bird and there are several white feathers in the makeshift coop. I can see patches of black skin but no mites or sign of infestation. There are also no mites on the towel they slept on.
Could this be stress? Should I give her a bath with dog flea shampoo? Or will this make it worse?
If you can't see any bugs on her then I wouldn't give her a bath personally, it can be quite an ordeal for them in some ways (and for you). If you are worried that she might have mites still then I would go and check after dark with a torch - the chickens are calm in the dark and you will be able to see if there are any lice or critters crawling on her more easily. I would ditch the DE too as although it is often recommended for the treatment of mites, I believe there is some evidence to suggest it can be damaging to chickens' respiratory systems. I tried it too when I was first starting out in my battle against mites but it didn't keep them at bay, so I focused on permethrin treatment instead and that has been effective (just like the spray you are using).
I guess you guys are coming in to spring so don't think she will be moulting? It could be stress or perhaps her or another chicken are pulling at her feathers. What are they eating?
It really sounds like you are coping well with the situation to be honest. I expect once the chickens are back in their normal coop they will really pick up again and you'll feel much better about it all. You know what you are up against now and how to deal with it so you are well prepared.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you, for taking the time to help me.
I had a careful look at her (Salt) in the daylight (under wings and around vent) and saw no mites. I saw lots of feather spikes .
Yes, it is Spring here so I don’t think it’s molting. The other three girls seem fine. I put a piece of white fabric in their sleeping area and there are no mites on it.
I dusted them all today with Pestene, just in case. I will ditch the DE. It’s expensive and messy and I’d hate to cause new problems for them.
I feed them layer crumble, corn, cracked pea, vegetables, a little cooked mince, sunflower seeds, yoghurt. Today I made them grated carrot and apple, mixed with vegetable oil and wheat bran. They quite like cottage cheese too. They all seem to be eating and drinking and to be quite lively.
I’m actually a bit sad that Salt now hates being picked up or touched. She used to be so friendly and calm. Now, even when I pick her up very gently, she squawks like i am trying to murder her
You're welcome. I am certainly no expert and others here would know better than me, but it's a busy forum and not possible for people to answer everything. I figured I would reply to you since this is at least something I have some first-hand experience of.
It's great that Salt seems bug-free and that she has some new feathers coming in already. I expect she'll look marvellous in no time! Sounds like you are taking wonderful care of them... they eat better than me I guess I would just say to be careful that the layers crumble makes up the vast majority of their diet with the others things just as a small amount, since the crumble is balanced to meet their nutritional needs. All the other things sound healthy for them in small quantities though, what lucky chickens. Do they also have some grit and oyster shell? Ours get through the shell in crazy amounts!
It's a pity that Salt is more wary of being handled now but at least you know it's for her own good. The mite battle is one which never really ends in my experience but once you have it under control it's more a question of monitoring and maintenance from here on it. You could also set them up with a nice dust bath if they don't have one already? Apologies if you already mentioned that!
I bought some grit but I haven’t given it to them yet. I’m not sure what to do with it. Do I mix it in with the crumble? Or just put it in a bowl by itself?
Re dirt baths, there is a patch of soil in my yard that they love to burrow into and ‘bathe’. I was horrified when they first did it!
I washed out the coop again today, and cut off any tree branches touching the roof. I will wait a few days for any eggs to hatch and then do another Coopex spray. I don’t see any mites in there now, even when I check at night with a torch. But I cannot bring myself to even consider moving the chooks back until I am sure they’re totally gone. I wish I could get some plastic nesting boxes- I am not sure I will ever trust wood again.
I have found it so useful to use the ‘white cloth’ test. The first few nights, it was crawling with mites. Last night, there were none. I am determined to win this battle .
The white cloth test is definitely a smart move. Sounds like you are going to be the victor for sure, those mites didn't know what was coming to 'em! Wood is definitely tricky but I know plastic coops can still get them, but I guess are easier to treat. We keep our chickens in a big, old, wooden shed that my Grandad kept chickens in 50+ years ago and quite frankly, it's a mite paradise. I am determined not to give up on it though as it is a really comfortable and practical option for our chickens in many ways. I check for mites each week and do occasionally find a few and just kill them off right away.
How old are your girls? We just feed our grit and oyster shell in a separate dish. I know some people mix it with food but we have never had any problems offering it as free choice. My understanding is that young chicks who only eat crumble don't need grit but once you start introducing treats, pellets or other things to the diet then the grit is essential - I think the size depends on the age/breed of chickens. The shell is also really helpful for calcium and ours get through a lot of that (but we have 14 adult hens).