Recurrent mites

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by cortner1195, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. cortner1195

    cortner1195 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good morning, and thanks for reading this thread,
    We have 15 hens of various breeds, and one rooster. Last March they started looking a little rough. At first we thought they were molting. Eventually some filled their feathers in, but a few had large patches of bare skin. Never any sign of new feathers growing in. One has large areas of broken feathers on her back. Several have few if any feathers on their neck and head. Also large bare spots on their lower back, including the base of the tail, and including most of the tail feathers.

    I eventually read a post about mites, and thought this may be the issue. About six weeks ago we cleaned out the coop thoroughly. Then treated all the chickens with the dust Big R recommended. We repeated this process weekly for a total of three weeks. By the second treatment we had new feather growth on most of the hens. They looked SO much better! The hen with the completely bare chest now looks completely normal!

    However my EE hen with bare head, many broken back feathers, and bare spots on the bony areas on her wings has never improved. Now we are noticing recurrent bare spots on several of the hens. Their appetite has slowed down again. I feel this may be a sign of mites that live in the wood. Or such a severe mite problem that three clean out, and dustings just weren't enough.

    Yesterday we cleaned out the coop, and sprayed with a chemical that Big R recommended, placed heaters and fans to get the coop dry. It was something to catch everyone that got caught out as it started to get dark. Their coop was not completely dry. I left heat lamps on to continue the drying process over night. It is above freezing here, but just barely. Then we re treated with the dust.

    My question is: do we need to spray the wood weekly for three weeks as well? We will change the bedding, and nest box straw, and re dust weekly for four weeks total. But if we get the expected cold weather it will be very hard to get the coop dry.

    The coop is three years old, and made of cedar. The floor is linoleum tile. We use a deep bedding method with pine shavings. We feed feather fixer with mite prevention.

    Thanks again for any help. It can get really cold here. Last year we lost a hen to frost bite. I would like to give them the best chance for a safe comfortable winter.
     
  2. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've never had a problem with mites. I attribute this to subfreezing temps my coop frequently has in the winter. Next time you've have a major cold front coming in, treat your birds, put them in a carrier for the night. Tuck them in garage. Strip the coop and open everything up so it gets below freezing for the night. Just put down a fine layer of shavings instead of the deep layer. That's probably prime breeding ground and what's keeping the cycle going. What are they dust bathing in? I'm not a fan of DE but this is one place it might not hurt to try.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    You may be dealing with lice, or you may have feather loss due to the other chickens picking feathers or rooster damage. I would first try to find proof of what exactly is going on--mites, lice, or whatever--before treating unnecessarily. Lice can affect several parts of the body, and leave white egg clusters at the base of feathers. Mites leave behind dark specs or dirty areas. The red chicken mite only feeds on the chicken at night, and may be found in the daytime in crevices of the coop. Northern fowl mites may be present on chickens day or night. Both permethrin and Sevin dust are excellent for treating lice and mites, but mites have to be dusted every 7 days while a chicken with lice needs treated every 10 days to get the eggs. Don't waste money on DE. Complete coop clean out, spraying of walls, roosts, nests, and floors must be done before adding clean pine shavings. Bedding such as hay and straw can bring in mites in the hollow centers. Here are a couple of excellent links to read with pictures:
    http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8162.pdf
    http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/poultry-lice-and-mites-identification.html
    http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/laura_e_john/
     
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  4. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    Have you actually SEEN mites on your birds? Is your rooster over treading his favorite hens? Are your birds in molt? Got any feather pickers in your flock? Here are pics of mites on chickens:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
  5. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    X2. By reading over Cortner1195's post, it seemed more likely that birds were in moult. If not, Cortner, what I do is treat my coops once every 3-4 months with a good Rabon, Malathion, or Permethrin emulsified concentrate. I vacate the birds from the coop, remove all litter and dust, spray Oxine & let dry, then spray down the walls, all sides of roosts, nest boxes, floors, cracks and crevices inside the coops with Rabon/Permethrin. After it is mostly dry, I lay a thick layer of pine shavings on the floors, and nest boxes, then let birds have access to coops. I never have to treat birds for mites, besides the occasional scaly leg on a few older birds, since following this regiment. I make a roost paint out of Rabon 50 WP/ Ravap EC/Permethrin and paint/spray roosts every month or two. just follow label instructions for safety. Most poultry dusts like Sevin and Permethrin do not have a residual on birds, and unless you are very thorough, you won't get 'em all.. Emulsified concentrates labeled for use on poultry as well as premises have a 30 day residual. I hope that info helps. Keeping coops dry and well ventilated prevent a hospitable environment for ectoparasites, endoparasites, and disease.
     
  6. cortner1195

    cortner1195 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the responses. I don't think I am dealing with a nice simple moult. It has been going on too long. Over seven months.I do have some hens that show excessive attention by my rooster, but that is usually on the back of the thighs. I had one hen that had the entire right chest bare and red. She seemed to be doing this to herself. I have three or four others that have picked at their lower back and base of tail area. So half of my flock is now tail less. I had been feeding them Nutrena Feather Fixer as originally I thought moult that was just lasting a long time.
    Then I read some articles here about mites, and lice. The damage fits the pictures and descriptions. The treatment seemed appropriate so we decided to try it. The results were miraculous. My Australorp that had the large 3x4" bare chest showed new feather growth in just a few days. Within a month the area was completely filled in. She still has no tail, but the bare skin is all covered. I had one EE that showed the most wide range damage to her feathers. Broken and sparse back feathers, with the bony prominences on her wings bare, and her neck and head are Charley Brown Christmas tree like. She has never resolved so her issue may be that she is being picked on. Either way 90% of the birds showed complete healing and feather regrowth after the three weekly treatments.

    Now we are seeing the same bare areas, and tail feather loss on several birds again. While we are not having extreme cold right now, it is coming our way. So we are concerned that we have recurrent mites. We did have some single degree (f) temps a month or so ago, so the coop was certainly below freezing at that time.

    The birds get free range time every day that we are home. They dust bathe wherever the mood strikes them, but we try to keep some areas with wood ash for them to play in.

    Having the issue seem to resolve so completely then recur is the reason we thought wood mites. We did not treat the wood the first time, just weekly clean out of the entire coop, replace bedding and dust the birds. So it seemed to make sense to treat the wood, and the birds this time. We completely stripped the coop again, sprayed all surfaces and used heat lamps and fans to dry the coop. Then dusted the birds. We plan to re dust weekly for a total of four times this time, with a weekly clean out each time. But, do we have to re spray the wood each time? We are having trouble getting the wood dry with the short days, and cold temps.

    Our coop is designed with south facing open windows for proper circulation. Below 15-20 degrees we hang a blanket to cut the wind but still allow air, over the big window.
     
  7. BayBay Peepers

    BayBay Peepers Overrun With Chickens

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    We too had a mite issue last year into the spring. It was not easy getting rid of them. The pictures do not show what all mites look like. Ours had teeny tiny black ones you could barely see with the naked eye. They do strike during the cold, but also during wet seasons.

    This is what I've started to do this year.

    *Leave out a dust bath. One area with DE (I don't have as much faith in this as some) and one with wood ash.
    *Dust their favorite hangout spot with permethrin every 3 weeks
    *Spray the coop with permethrin concentrate or use the dust every 2 weeks
    *Spray the birds with permethrin concentrate every 3 weeks

    In the colder months I do not spray as much as in summer because, well it's just cold. I am paranoid about mites now. We lost a few hens and I refuse to lose one more to something I view as avoidable. I had tried to "wipe out" and wait, but I learned it's just easier to keep up on it. We also tried the natural ways first, but again I learned it was easier to just go chemical.
     
  8. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    Have you physically picked up one of your "mite infested" hens and visually seen mites?
    If it's feather picking and you're NOT seeing feathers on the ground, it means they are eating the feathers indicating a lack of, or not enough protein in their diet. You can purchase gamebird feed which is higher in protein content and give it to them to eat for a couple of months. It will help with feather regrowth and curb feather picking. Then once feathers are regrown, wean them off the gamebird feed back to regular layer feed. Dont continue to feed them gamebird feed, too much protein will eventually cause gout.
    Here's a link with PICS to help you ID external parasites of poultry:
    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig140
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2014
  9. cortner1195

    cortner1195 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When we first noted the bare spots, and they were bare too long to be moult, we supplemented their diet with meat bird food, and other sources of protein daily. Like cottage cheese. We can only examine just after they go to roost, while their light is still on. We used a flashlight, and usually I see "dirt" and clumpy bases of feathers. I have not seen live mites. However, once again within four days of treatment we have the start of feather growth on all but one of the hens.

    I am just not sure if I need to re spray again this weekend, or just re dust (with coop and nest box cleanout).
     
  10. BayBay Peepers

    BayBay Peepers Overrun With Chickens

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    I would re-dust just to be sure, but I would hold off on the spray for like a week or two. If you don't see live mites and you think they were there then you want to make sure you catch any new hatchlings. One mite can lay many, many eggs unfortunately.
     

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