Chickens Coop Care Health Issues

Mite Prevention

I checked my chickens over for mites this past weekend.  Mites are nasty little things, almost microscopic to the eye, that can take both mental and physical tolls on your chickens.  As the weather warms, these tiny little invaders will take every chance they can to steal a meal from your chickens. When I first learned of them, I realized that I did indeed have a few little mite families living in the corners of my coop!  How dare they!  I never saw them on my chickens but I sprang to action and have continued on a prevention schedule.  I have not seen mites since!

Check your flock first.  Mites like to hang out on the fluffy bottoms of chickens.  You will most likely notice them at the base of the feathers closest to the skin.  My chickens do not have mites, but I did find these two pictures on the internet.  This is what to look for:

Chickens take dust baths to ward off pests and mites.  However, sometimes they need a little help.  I have chosen an organic method of  prevention and treatment.  I use organic food grade diatomaceous earth (DE).  Carefully avoiding their eyes, I dust my birds under their wings and on their fluffy bottoms on a biweekly basis.  I also dust the nooks and crannies of their coop with DE, and dust their perches and roosts inside too.  Sometimes I even add it directly into their dust bath pot holes in the run.

If you find that your flock is already afflicted with mites, I would suggest treating each chicken with the DE and then thoroughly cleaning out the inside of your coop.  The mites like to hide in corners and crevices.  Mites wait until the chickens are sleeping and then climb up their legs and feed on their blood at night!  Yuck!  Lock your flock out of the coop after you treated each chicken.  In a one gallon bucket create a soapy bleach solution by adding warm water, a couple of capfuls of bleach and a bit of Dawn dish detergent.  Scour the inside of the coop and all of the roosts.  If you can, remove the roosts and give them a good scrub.  Allow the coop to air dry and then apply DE to every nook and crannies that you see.  The Pest Pistol works great for this. Be sure to sprinkle some in the nesting boxes too.

Within a few days your chickens should be feeling better.  Be sure to continue to inspect your flock on a weekly basis if possible.  A little prevention goes a long way.

Photo Credits:  www.quickstep.eu, www.thenewgreenblog.com

Hello friends, welcome! Follow along on our chicken, beekeeping, gardening, crafting and cooking adventures from Cape Cod.

  • Thanks for the reminder — I'm going to check my girls today!

  • Hi Lauren! You are welcome. I get the heebie jeebies just thinking about them. How are the girls doing? I can't wait for your next story about them!

  • You might also try Poultry Protector – It's all natural, in fact it is what most organic chicken & egg producers use. The enzymes break down the exoskeleton of the mites, lice, fleas, etc. so that natural bacteria can get inside and kill the pest. It usually works within a few minutes.
    http://www.mannapro.com/products/poultry/carefree-enzymes/poultry-protector/

  • Thanks Suburban Sprouts for the great tip!

  • JGH

    Very useful — thank you! I'm afraid to look…but I know I must.

  • JGH-Hoping your girls are mite free!

  • When using DE be careful and minimize inhaling the dust. It can do serious damage to your lungs.. aka Potter's rot (silicosis).

  • Thanks Anne, a great point that I forgot to relay in my post! Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    would cedar chips help keep mites away….

    • Good idea, but cedar is toxic to chickens.

  • Anonymous

    We have had alot of rain this summer, so it's muddy and damp! I had what I think is a mite problem. I even had bites on me!! That's what I thought–POOR Chickens!! I have been spraying the roosts and nests with bleach water almost every day, and it seems to help a lot!! I do feed them DE. It has been so wet and muddy that they haven't been able to take dust baths, and I think that is the biggest problem!! It has been muddy since June!!!

    • Is there anyway for you to cover the run? I know some folks have had lots of success using sand inside and outside in the run. It drains really well. I hope you dry out soon!

  • Anonymous

    I think I have a mite problem too made worst by the constant rain. Done the deep clean, and dusting fingers crossed that will sort it as poor chickens have bald bottoms – not nice in the winter.

  • Kim

    Oh goodness! I’ve had hens all my life and this is my first problem with mites! I’ve been feeling out! I had a broody hen this week and finally made her get off the nest and the eggs had little bugs on them. Oh mylanta!!!! I cleaned out and sprayed all the nest boxes with Pro Poultry and dusted with DM. I then bought a small kiddie pool and put clean sand and DM in it. (I think part of the problem is that we’ve had so much rain, the hens haven’t had their dust baths.)
    Next I sprayed the inside of the nesting boxes and the roost and coop with the oil, water and dish soap mixture. I am ripping out their roost tomorrow and putting in a new one after I shovel out the coop.
    Is this enough?!
    I’m also petrified I will catch the mites and infest my house. Is this possible?