What do you do to keep your flock healthy (mite/lice free)?

jennkretz

Songster
Apr 24, 2017
65
32
101
Lake Orion, MI
What do you do to keep your flock healthy?

I am not a huge fan of using lots of chemicals and things like that to keep my flock healthy. I am also a believer that keeping the flock healthy is the best preventative for bugs, disease, etc...

My questions are:
Do I need to give the girls regular dustings of some kind of anti-mite/lice product? Or is keeping them clean, dry, and healthy and giving them a dust bath (with barn lyme, play sand and wood ash) sufficient?

I feed them a high quality layer feed (with grit and oyster shells), they have a flock block, and get treats daily (veggie trimmings, scratch, dried mealworms, rice, etc). Do I need to still add in supplements?

Do I need to add anything to their water?

They are allowed time outside every day - but due to the winter weather they don't like to come out in the snow as much... But they do get fresh air, sunshine, and access to a yard with some grass/dirt, plants, etc.

I would love to know what you guys do!

If it helps - I'm in SE Michigan - right now weather is between about 20 and 40.

Thank you!
Jenn
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Suffering Succotash
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jul 16, 2015
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Dust baths should be enough to keep external parasites under control. Sick birds and broody hens can get overrun with them. Otherwise I don't dust unless necessary.

A good ration should provide all the nutrients your chickens need. I don't add vitamins or anything to their food or water. I personally like to feed a higher ration feed so I can give my birds scratch daily without causing deficiencies. I feed an All Flock ration with a separate bowl of oyster shells which should always be available no matter what you are feeding. Make sure they have access to grit, either purchased or natural.

Chickens tend to be healthy up until they are not. In general I have not had any luck fixing a sick chicken long term. Feed them a good ration, clean fresh water daily, fresh air, a clean coop, and some dirt to scratch in and they are generally happy and healthy. Don't crowd, or stress them out, they are pretty easy to keep.
 

Chickens_4Life

Chirping
Mar 19, 2018
50
36
51
Dust baths are supposed to suffocate mites. If you want to add extra stuff, add diatomaceous dirt (a chemical, so you might not like it), lavender, or some other herbs. Ashes from fires are also good for them.
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
27,076
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
DE has been proven to be totally ineffective for dealing with mites. It is also a lung irritant. I would skip it in the dust bath. Wood ash is helpful

To keep my birds healthy, I give them fermented feed, sprouts in the winter, keep deep litter in the coop and run. I have not had a single mite issue since converting to deep litter in coop and run.

While you can put a bit of permethrin on the perches and under the litter as a deterrent, spraying the birds with an insecticide (as a preventive) is IMO akin to taking an antibiotic so you won't get a cold. Don't use an insecticide on the bird unless you have insects that need to be killed.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
99,755
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My Coop
My Coop
add diatomaceous dirt (a chemical, so you might not like it),
It's not a chemical, it's mined from the earth.

DE has been proven to be totally ineffective for dealing with mites. It is also a lung irritant. I would skip it in the dust bath.
Ditto Dat^^^


I have the same basic outlook as OHLD...good feed, clean water, 'treats' balanced with feed, and no regular supplements. Know your feed nutrients, fine print on the tag sewn into bottom of bag.
Do regular checks for external parasites, treat with permethrin dust or spray if you find some, don't screw around with herbs and spices.


Bugs check
Best done well after dark with a strong flashlight/headlight, easier to 'catch' bird and also to check for the mites that live in structure and only come out at night to feed off roosting birds.

Google images of lice/mites and their eggs before the inspection so you'll know what you're looking for.

Wipe a white paper towel along the underside of roost to look for red smears(smashed well fed mites).

Part the feathers right down to the skin around vent, head/neck and under wings.
 

MuffMom

Chirping
Feb 4, 2016
58
32
76

andreanar

Crowing
5 Years
May 16, 2014
2,832
4,900
437
Finger Lakes, NY
I agree with the others...good food, few treats, fresh water, clean coop, spots for dust bathing are all things I do to keep my flock healthy. My girls had some mites/lice this winter, and I dusted them a few times and cleaned out and treated the coop and they have been good since.

I also give electrolytes in their water during the heat of summer. I rub Neem oil on their roost bar also to repel mites and bumblefoot.
 

andreanar

Crowing
5 Years
May 16, 2014
2,832
4,900
437
Finger Lakes, NY
Don't think neem oil will 'repel' bumblefoot.
'Bumblefoot' is a staph infection in a foot wound....staph is everywhere.

Neem afains its antimicrobial activity through direct toxicity to the bacteria, including MRSA.9,10 Neem has been shown in animal studies to effectively lower blood sugar, which starves the invasive microbes that thrive on high glucose; furthermore, it changes DNA expression of cells to increase the activity of immune cells.

One of the most promising medicinal uses for neem is for treating ‘Staph infections’ produced by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium.

Those are just a few of the things Ive read about Neem. Ive also read in some physician journal papers, that Neem is effective against MRSA.

I used it on my dog, who was suffering a skin staph infection, and he was cleared up within 3 weeks. And without having to use steroids.

I'm not one that usually goes the herbal treatment way, but there are a few, like Neem, that I think truly works.
 

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