Our experience with chicken lice and chicken mites
We have had chickens for several years now and have read stories of people having the dreaded chicken lice and chicken mites take over their fluffy butts. Luckily we had never had either…until this Fall. We bought some chicks and juveniles, brought them home and then discovered they were COVERED in tiny bugs! Ew!
If you notice your chickens are losing feathers – it could be chicken lice or chicken mites. However, it may also be that you have molting chickens.
What are Chicken Lice and Chicken Mites?
Having never had chicken mites or lice before, we first wanted to figure out what the bugs actually were. After lots of research we determined them to be poultry lice. Turns out, like pasty butt, mites and lice are not super uncommon for baby chicks.
Essentially, chicken mites are usually round bugs that are black or red. And chicken lice are usually thin, long, straw colored bugs that run quickly when you separate the feathers/fluff.
We took a two-fold approach to getting rid of the icky, creepy crawlies:
(Disclaimer: we are not vets or licensed to treat poultry in any way. This is what worked for us, some of the products used are not labeled for use in poultry. Use at your own risk/discretion.)
1) DE – DE or Diatomaceous Earth is a powder substance. We dusted the chickens with the DE around their vent areas as well as adding DE to their bedding.
2) Frontline – this is a common flea, tick, lice medicine for dogs. We got the dose for the smallest dog 5 – 22 pounds and then put just ONE drop on each juvenile under their wings. After 24 hours all of the lice were gone.
After the above treatment, we made sure to clean their bedding out, adding more DE. We also added some vitamins and electrolytes to their water to be sure they stayed nice and healthy.
If the infestation had not been so extreme, we probably would have done the DE for a week or so before trying any chemicals. Additionally, we have read/seen people using wood ash mixed in with the DE, so that is another option to try.
Want to see what it looks like to treat chicken lice?
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