Rooster-infested- with Lice(?), to bathe or not to bathe?!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Debbienmousey, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. Debbienmousey

    Debbienmousey Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi, my 6 year old Columbian Wyandotte roo has a really bad infestation of what I think are lice. After I picked him up this morning I noticed he seemed to weigh a bit less than normal and his breastbone seemed on the barer side(flesh wise). I thought for a second that he might have mites so I checked his feathers and was horrified by what I saw..Tons of little bugs crawling all over him! I guess they're actually "lice" and not mites; they're pretty easy to see, a very light brown/tanish color, and move quite quickly. He can hardly stand or walk. I feel just awful that I didn't notice the lice sooner. I know you can treat with Sevin Dust, but I'm not 100% sure how to dust him correctly so that it removes all or most of the lice. Also, how fast does this work? Within a couple hours? Should I bathe him in warm soapy water or warm water with olive oil or something in it to smother the lice? I need to get them off him ASAP, as there are LOTS of them. It's been rainy and wet here so there really are no good dust bathing holes for my chickens to use [​IMG]. I have a dust box inside the coop but it's running out of dirt. When I refill it should I add Sevin Dust to it? How much should I add? Would DE work as well, or should I just use the Sevin Dust for now?

    Thanks very much.
  2. welasharon

    welasharon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 28, 2010
    North Florida
    If you dust him well with seven the mites will fall off him is very satisfying! I don't bathe mine. The dust will kill them and they fall off. You need to dust everything in the coop really well. Change out the bedding and put a little seven in it and do it all again in 10 may have to do a third time as well. Mites are the brownish ones you can see. I always know when mine have them...I can feel them tickling on my arm! YUCK!
  3. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Put a good bit of sevin dust in an old pillow case. Then put your roo in the pillow case with his head sticking out the top, use your hand to hold onto his neck...then shake and bake. Then put some of the dust on your fingers and rub it onto his neck and head, avoid the eyes and nostrils. Then release him, he'll shake himself off and go about his business. Make sure you wear chicken clothes and a mask. As Sharon said, repeat in 10 days as well as the coop.
  4. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 25, 2008
    You'd get faster, more thorough results by drowning the bugs.

    I had a rooster that I didn't notice had Northern Fowl Mites until the problem had gotten severe. It sounds just like your roo's situation--very thin with thousands of really tiny bugs skittering around on him.

    I used a Rubbermaid-type file box (the kind used for filing papers) & filled it almost to the brim with warm water. I used my had to scoop water onto the rooster's head before I put him in the water, to discourage the mites from seeking "higher ground" there when I started submerging the rooster. It might also be helpful to rub in a little Sevin around a chicken's upper neck just below its head.

    Then I lowered the rooster into the water until just his head was barely above the water. He seemed to find it very relaxing and soothing. I held him like that, almost completely underwater for a few minutes.

    The mites all died right away. Since there were literally thousands, I think this was the best way to treat in this situation because it worked so quickly and got them all. I then held him in the bathtub and used a hand shower spray to wash him with shampoo &/or dish soap (don't remember exactly) and rinse the dead mites off him. Then I worked at blow drying him.

    I bathed two hens that day who had lesser infestations. Just hand-showering them quite a long time & using dish soap &/or shampoo seemed to do a good job--lots of dead or dying mites rinsed off. I put Sevin dust on the hens after I dried them, & changed some of the bedding plus sprayed areas with mite killer.

    My rooster didn't make it, however. He had become so emaciated before I even noticed he had a problem that he could hardly stand. He died within an hour or two of when I treated him.

    I worried some that maybe because he was so barely surviving that so much relaxation during dipping & blow drying might have caused his body to relax on functioning and let him die. I doubt it, though--I think his body had just been too drained by the mites for him to live any longer.

    I felt so, so bad I hadn't noticed the problem earlier & he had suffered so much! I am grateful he at least got some relief from all that terrible biting before he passed, and got some soothing care.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012
  5. Debbienmousey

    Debbienmousey Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for the replies :)

    How do I really know if they're mites or lice? I found this website,, by looking at older posts about lice/mites on here; and the bugs (as best I could tell) look a lot like the Shaft Louse(Figure 1). I also read on older posts that for mites you need to treat bedding and coop since that's where they mostly live, but for lice you only really need to treat the bird because they spend most of their time on the bird only. I guess I'll be spending part of tomorrow checking other birds and all the bedding! I will put some Sevin dust down for sure.

    We decided to bathe him. He wasn't necessarily thrilled, but it definitely helped. First we bathed him in an oatmeal shampoo for dogs and then poured some Basic H water( over him as best we could and then rinsed that off. We didn't have a tub big enough to full submerge him in, but we managed. I like your idea of wetting his head before bathing him SpeckledHills, and the Sevin dust around the neck/head would probably have helped a lot too. I know we didn't get all the bugs though. He seemed really tired after the bath also. Do you think I should bathe him again tomorrow if I can find a big enough tub to fully submerge him in, or should I just try dusting now that a good bit of the bugs are off?

    It's been almost 4 hours since his bath and he's still alive, just sleeping. I'm going to try to offer him food & electrolyte water soon. Hopefully he'll survive the night [​IMG]..Thanks again for the help, I'll keep you updated :)
  6. Debbienmousey

    Debbienmousey Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well last night when I checked him before bed I offered him some food and he seemed very hungry so I decided to scramble him up an egg. He loved it, and ate most of the other food I gave him as well. He also drank a lot of his water :). A lot of dead bugs had fallen off of him just as he was sleeping and when he stood up. This morning he was still alive ([​IMG]) and more active than yesterday. Even more bugs had fallen off of him and he was again hungry and thirsty. He's been standing more, which I assume is a good sign, but he's still wobbly. Yesterday after we bathed him he had a very solid poo for a chicken, and so far today all he's pooed is some white liquidy stuff, which I think would be urate salts or something like that? He stands there like he's going to go but then just kinda grunts like it hurts him and won't come out. I've checked his vent and it's not blocked or anything, maybe he's just slightly dehydrated and that's causing constipation?

    A couple hours ago he ate another scrambled egg, a little banana, and some chicken feed. I'm so happy he's eating. I was going to dust him outside today with the Sevin but it's been raining all day. I checked a couple of the other birds outside and only saw a couple bugs on one of the roosters in the main coop, and I added Sevin to their dusting box. Once the rain stops for a couple days and things dry out I'll dust the bedding and dust holes and birds in the various runs.
  7. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 25, 2008
    It sounds like you are very good at taking care of chicken crises!
    I'm very glad to hear your rooster is coming around. [​IMG]

    I learned the trick about wetting the head when I used to work bathing dogs at a kennel. When we'd bathe for fleas, we'd first of all wet the dog's head and around its ears so the fleas didn't try to hide on its head or crawl down in its ears.

    I'm fairly ignorant about lice (How easily they die, how strongly they affect chickens, etc), but if you were dealing with mites, I'd say bathing him & then dusting him as soon as you can would probably handle the problem successfully.

    Please let us know how he does the next while.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2012
  8. barry750

    barry750 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 2, 2011
    Liberty, Texas
    I just noticed my flock had mites and I tried DE and sevin dust to no avail. What worked for me on every single bird was Permethrin-10. I mixed a bath of warm water a tad stronger than instructed 1.5oz/6gal water and dunked all of my birds and put them in their coop one by one after spraying it down thoroughly with the stronger mixture spray. After I caught them all and dunked em I let em out in the sun to dry and spread son scratch thinly throughout the yard to keep them busy. The next day I caught 8 out of 30 birds and didn't find one bug.
  9. Debbienmousey

    Debbienmousey Chillin' With My Peeps

    SpeckledHills, I've had to deal with our "fair share" of chicken crises I guess, lol. I try to take them as best I can and do all I can to help the sick bird, but sometimes not even that is enough. The good news is I'd say we're on the winning side right now with Fluffy. And I'm learning a lot through this, so that is good [​IMG].

    Sorry I didn't update y'all yesterday, but we were out most of the day. On the night of the 23rd before I went to bed I decided to try giving him some water with molasses in it, because I've heard this is a laxative and helps with digestion. During the night he made two deposits of poo, both abnormal looking, but no blood or anything like that. I gave him some more of the molasses water and he had another poo later that morning, still kinda runny but at least it wasn't hard. I didn't hear him grunt at all that day, and he really likes the molasses water, lol. In the morning he got another scrambled egg with some leftover oatmeal porridge, he liked that! He's been living in one of our bath tubs while he's been inside, but yesterday we put him out in a separate cage in the coop while we were gone, just to make sure he didn't get out of the tub. As far as today goes, his bowel movements seem like they're back to normal :). He had a nice breakfast and then we took him outside and my sister helped me dust him with the Sevin. Then he spent all afternoon outside in the sun, and he's back inside now. I gave him some wheat sprouts that I planted in a pot a couple weeks ago. They were about 3-4 inches long, he seemed to like them. He's getting a little bit more active and feisty every day, and I'm hoping he'll be "right as rain" in a week or two. Thanks again for all the help everyone [​IMG]

    Barry, thanks for the info about the Permethrin-10. If I notice that the Sevin is not killing the mites then I'll try that [​IMG]
  10. SpeckledHills

    SpeckledHills Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 25, 2008
    It sounds like he's been getting some excellent munchies. [​IMG]
    So very glad to hear your little rooster is doing well. Hooray! [​IMG]

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