The other day we needed to move some furniture from the house to the garage. I pinned open the storm door, then my husband and I heard it, a loud thump. A black capped chickadee had flown into the window. My husband scooped it up in his hands. It was laid out flat. It’s toes were curled and it’s neck was wobbly. My husband immediately feared it had broken its neck. I told him to quickly warm it in his hands as I fetched a dish towel. The poor thing’s toes were curling around my husband’s fingers. I took it and wrapped it snugly into the dish towel. It stared into my eyes and blinked. Still nestled in the towel, I propped it upright on the front step so that it could peer out into the world. It needed a moment to recover from the shock of the accident.
Did you know that there are mites that specifically love to live on your chickens’ legs and feet? They like to burrow underneath of the scales on the legs and feet and live in this moist environment. Unlike the mites that live on the chickens’ bodies, they cannot kill your chickens. However, they can make the chickens irritable, decrease or cease the production of eggs and lead to permanent leg deformities. They are important to treat once discovered in your flock.
The last few times when I have cleaned out the girls’ coop each week, I have discovered a couple of mites in the litter. I instantly got the heebee jeebees and thought that they were crawling all over me. Then I thought of the poor girls. How did they feel? In the little research that I had done, I knew that most mites like to feed off the chickens at night when the girls are fast asleep. A bad infestation can kill chickens due to anemia. So, I decided to do some research and share with you what I learned. I have blogged about mites in the past but never this quite extensive. I hope you find this information useful. Mind you, I have never seen one on my girls, probably due to my regular use preventatives, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have them from time to time. Two types of mites are the most prevalent in North America, the Northern Fowl Mite and the Chicken Mite. The Northern Fowl Mite is often mistaken for the red mite. For a few hours after feeding, it will appear red in color. Otherwise, it is black. This mite can be found on your chickens anytime of the day, where as the Chicken Mite is nocturnal. The life cycle of the Northern Fowl Mite is 7 days. Once eggs are laid, they hatch within 24 hours and the mites are fully grown at 4 days of age. This is a very rapid cycle that can lead to an infestation of mites with a matter of weeks. A bad enough mite infestation can lead to pale combs and even feathers can be soiled with mite excrement especially around their vents.