How to Deal with Red Mite Problems in Chickens & Their Housing
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How to Deal with Red Mite Problems in Chickens & Their Housing

Keeping chickens can be a lot of fun, but pretty hard work at times because there are a few parasites which can be extremely hard to get rid of and which are quite harmful to birds. One of these is red mite – a nasty tiny creature that comes out at night and sucks the blood out of chickens. It can be quite challenging getting rid of these pesky things without harming your birds or having to burn their coops to do so.

Over the years red mites have developed quite a resistance to a lot of chemicals commonly used to get rid of them. On top of this, some of these chemicals that were used to treat chicken houses have now been banned in the UK by the government.

Knowing which red mite products are safe to use not only around chickens but for their housing too, is a challenge that poultry keepers have to face every spring and summer. There are quite a few products on the market, but not all of them are eco-friendly because they contain a lot of nasty chemicals. However, over the last few years lots of natural products have appeared on the scene which are proving quite effective at getting rid of the red mite problem.

In the old days chicken coops and houses would have been annually creosoted and it's thought this prevented an infestation of red mite taking hold because there was far less of a problem back then. The creosote not only preserved the wood, but it also prevented red mite from getting into the nooks and crannies typically found in wooden chicken houses. On top of this, creosote was really effective at killing off any of the mites that were already present. Modern alternatives to creosote are just not as potent and therefore, red mite issues have become a real issue for poultry keepers all over the country.

The Different Types of Red Mite Products

Treating red mite means having to take care of your chickens and treating their coop or housing too. The mites only feed on the birds for a couple of hours at night but there are so many of them that over time, they can literally suck all the blood out of your birds and the result is birds becoming very anaemic. They live in dark crevices, nooks and crannies found in wood which means you have to focus on these areas when treating a coop or hen house.

Types of Products That Can be Used on Coops/Hen Houses

There are 3 methods you can use on a chicken house or coop in order to get rid of red mite which includes the following:

  • Liquids that will penetrate all the nooks and crannies found in the wood
  • Powders tend to have a lasting effected and are easily dusted around the hen house both in the bedding and nest boxes
  • Smoke is another method that can prove effective as it gets into the smallest of crevices and cracks

Types of ProductsYou Can Use on Your Chickens

There are quite a few products you can use on your birds and they work in various ways which includes the following:

  • They are formulated to discourage red mite from biting your chickens
  • A few of the products kill off the mites when they bite your birds
  • Quite a few products are not actually licensed for use with chickens, therefore if used chickens cannot be used for meat or egg production

The problem is that red mites are capable of multiplying very quickly and will survive through a single treatment which means these have to be repeated as necessary at 5 to 6 day intervals. By doing this, you effectively kill off any eggs that may have survived the first treatment and hatched out and this would be before they were old enough to lay more eggs of their own.

The Products Available

As previously mentioned, there are a number of products on the market that can be used to treat red mite problems whether for use on chickens themselves or their housing.

Products for Use on Chicken Housing

Poultry Shield

One of the most popular products that's formulated for use on chicken housing is Poultry Shield. Many people who keep poultry use it on a weekly basis to clean out their coops or chicken houses. It is a liquid detergent that keeps red mite under control. The best part is it's safe to use around chickens as it contains no pesticides or chemicals whatsoever. To clean out a house you suspect of having a red mite infestation, by diluting Poultry Shield with water using a ratio of 1:10 is sufficient to resolve the problem – although you may have to repeat the process a couple of times.

The product is effective because it removes the protective coating of wax that mites have on their bodies and this means they dry out and subsequently die. Because Poultry Shield is a liquid, it effectively gets into all the nooks and crannies where mites like to hide during the daylight hours.

Red Mite-X Concentrate

Made by Barrier, this is a safe product to use to clean and disinfect chicken houses and coops. It works because it boasts having a sticky consistency and it is this that stops red mite in their track killing them off very effectively. It is also one of the products that can be used if you want to stay organic.

Products That Can be Used on Both Chickens and Housing

Again, there are many products on the market that can be used both on birds and their housing but some are more effective than others and some are full of chemicals whereas others are safer to use around birds and which are a lot more eco-friendly.

Diatom

Diatom can be used both on birds and their housing and is one of the most popular products on the market. It can used in conjunction with Poultry Shield and once dry, chicken houses can be dusted with diatom focussing on the problem areas like nest boxes and perches. Once housing has been treated, you can then dust your chickens with the product but you can also add it to their dust baths so that chickens do the work themselves.

Diatom is made up of fossilised algae as such each minuscule particle has sharp edges and it is this that causes all the damage to the waxy coating that mites have on their bodies which means they dry up and die. It is a very safe product to use because it is purely natural.

Red Mite Powder

Red Mite powder is made by Barrier and it is quite similar to Diatom because it is made up of natural ingredients. This makes it is safe to use if you want to stay organic. It can be used to treat houses and chickens by dusting them with the powder. It contains tea tree which is a natural insect and parasite repellent and each treatment lasts a few weeks.

Smite Powder

Again, this is a product very similar to Diatom and is made out of fossilised algae so it works very much in the same way with mites drying up and dying. It is another product which is very safe to use and for those who like to use eco-friendly products around their chickens, it is an ideal choice for getting rid of red mites because it can be used on the birds and in their housing without harming the environment.

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