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8 Ways to Fight Back Against Ticks for your Backyard Chickens

We pulled these immediately after a walk in the woods from our dog. We learned fast!

This year has been a very bad year for ticks on Cape Cod and it seems the rest of the country too.  Spring time’s weather was optimal for their population’s expansion.  We now have three types of confirmed ticks on Cape Cod including deer ticks, dog ticks and now sporadic reports of lone star ticks.  Did you know that there are over 800 species of ticks? The species of ticks that we have on Cape Cod can carry many diseases including Lyme disease, Erhlichiosis (Anaplasmosis), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, and Babesiosis.

Unfortunately, ticks thrive on Cape Cod as we seem to always have the highest rates of Lyme than anywhere else in the state.  Even our poor little dog, Sara, was recently treated for Lyme.  When she was fixed, we had her blood drawn and she was already exposed at 6 months of age!  The vet told me that half of the dogs on Cape Cod are positive for Lyme disease.  Chickens are no exceptions, ticks love their warm bodies too. So what can you do for your flock?

There are many techniques that you can use to help keep your family, pets, and poultry safe during the summer months when ticks are at their height of existence.  Organic and non-organic methods are available.  We use a combination of a few of these in our household.

Permethrin Powder or Spray– This chemical option is a popular treatment for livestock including chickens.  It comes in powder, spray and dip.  You might recall the name of this medicine because we use it to treat human lice and scabies.  According to researchers this is one of the best defenses against ticks. However, it’s use is not without possible side effects.  One study did show that after application on poultry, Permethrin was still detected in the eggs at 21 days and at 42 days for meat, so do use caution and enforce an egg and meat withdrawal periods for you own safety.

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (FGDE)– Chickens can be dusted with FGDE avoiding their eyes and nostrils. It can also be used in their coop and run. In my not so scientific study, I found it effective against dog ticks. I am inferring that it most likely works for other varieties as well. This is an organic technique that requires no egg withdrawal period.  Be sure to wear a mask yourself when using FGDE and only apply it in a well-ventilated area.

Poultry ProtectorCan be used in the coop and directly on the chickens to prevent and treat ticks.

Organic spray/repellent- I must give credit to our wonderful dog groomer, Barks and Bubbles, for sharing their wonderful tick/flea/mosquito repelling spray recipe.  If you live nearby, they sell it at their store. This too is organic and smells wonderful.  We now spray this on Sara just before heading outside for walks in the woods.  You can spray this on your chickens before they venture out to free-range.  Be sure to pay attention to their “under carriage”, feet and legs.  Avoid their eyes. Store this solution in a spray bottle that the light cannot penetrate. You can apply it daily.

Barks and Bubbles  Natural Insect Repellent Spray
8 oz of distilled water
5 drops of lavender oil
10 drops of citronella oil
Combine ingredients well.  Remember to shake bottle prior to application. 

Garlic– By ingesting garlic, pests are naturally deterred from your skin.  You can add garlic powder (not garlic salt) to the chicken feed up to 3% and you can also add a few cloves of fresh garlic to your flock’s water supply.  Don’t worry, their eggs will not taste like garlic.

Sprinkle dried herbs in the coop and nesting boxes– You can make your own if you like with a little research.  However, Treats for Chickens takes the guess work out for you and combines a wonderful dried herbal mix that deters not only ticks but lice and mites as well.  We’ve been using their product for years. It is awesome!

Keep lawn mowed and eliminate tall grasses– Tall grasses are perfect places for ticks to hide, so trim them down around your home and your chicken’s home.  It can make a huge difference.

Tick Tubes– You can scatter these little tubes around your yard.  Small animals such as chipmunks and rodents that are carriers of ticks will bring the Permethrin soaked cotton back to their homes for bedding. You can purchase them pre-made or you can make your own.  Cut some 2″- 3″ diameter PVC piping into 6 inch sections. Wear gloves. Soak cotton balls in Permethrin and stuff them into the PVC pipes.  Place the tubes around the perimeter of your property.

Guinea Hens-All chickens will eat ticks.  However, guinea hens are especially good at it.  Guinea hens are very effective but know that they are a very noisy breed and they also prefer to roost in trees over a coop. They certainly are not for everyone.You can read more about them here in these two studies:

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

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