Chicken mites is a common problem when raising poultry. These blood-sucking pests are carried to the coop via other birds commonly found in your back yard. It is also not uncommon to acquire such pests when attending events that feature other birds. (Mites-Chicken Pests-How To Protect Your Chickens From Mites, 2012). If a bird is ever taken off of the farm, it is highly recommended that it get inspected upon returning home. You may even want to keep the returning bird away from the flock for a few days to a week to make sure no eggs were on the bird and only just hatched before you introduced it back to the flock.
Types of Mites
- Chicken Mites (Red Mites or Red Roost Mites)
- Northern Fowl Mites
- Scaly Leg Mites
These mites are nocturnal, so they feed at night while the chicken is asleep. They are lighter colored. Some may describe them as more of a gray with a yellowish hue before they begin to feed, but as they quickly darken as they injest the bird’s blood. When birds are bothered by these mites, they become more lethargic and refuse to enter the coop at night.(Mites-Chicken Pests-How To Protect Your Chickens From Mites, 2012)
These tiny little mites are more aggressive and so they feed all day and all night, living exclusively on the bird. These mites have short life-cycles, so they lay eggs almost right away. These egg clumps cause a discoloration of the feathers, making it easier to see the presence of this parasite. When in the sunlight, masses of these mites will gather and move as quickly as possible to get into a darker area. You can often find these masses near the back-end of the bird.(Mites-Chicken Pests-How To Protect Your Chickens From Mites, 2012)
If you happen to notice the scales on the legs of your birds starting to peal away from the skin, it may be a good idea to check for scaly leg mites. Other symptoms are swelling and tenderness of the bird’s legs and feet. To prevent an infestation, apply petroleum jelly to their legs to suffocate the mites.(Mites-Chicken Pests-How To Protect Your Chickens From Mites, 2012).
Methods to Prevent or Get Rid of Mites
- Clean the coop and bedding regularly using soap and water.(Bird Mite Characteristics, n.d.).
- Since mites seem to be more active in warm and humid environments, install a device to cool or dehumidify the coop. (Bird Mite Characteristics, n.d.)
- Many chemicals on the market today suggest they have the ability to rid your flock of these mites, but with the possibility of decimating your flock, you would be wise to obtain an exterminator that has experience with mites and knows exactly what chemicals need to be used. (Bird Mite Characteristics, n.d.).
Early prevention and good sanitation is the key to controlling mites. Check your flock often, and if mites are found, treat them and the coop, where they sleep, and their nesting area immediately. The economic impacts of a mite infestation can be astronomical, so it is not only beneficial to the birds that this problem be prevented, but to the farmer as well.
1) April 26, 2012, “Mites-Chicken Pests-How to Protect Your Chicken From Mites.” Retrieved from: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/mites-chicken-pests-how-to-protect-your-chickens-from-mites.
2) n.d., “Bird Mite Characteristics.” Retrieved from: http://birdmites.org/mites.html.