Are your chickens acting itchy? Here are several natural and chemical-free ways to deal with the dreaded chicken mites…
If you’re lucky, you’ll never have to deal with chicken mites! Unfortunately, many homesteaders and urban farmers do have to deal with this annoying issue. Poultry mites are tiny, crawling parasites that can infect your flock and become an ongoing problem. Their life cycle is short (only 5-7 days), but each one can lay more than 100,000 eggs, so you can see why it may be difficult to get rid of them!
Mites can live not only on your chickens, but also in bedding, as well as cracks in the walls or floor of your coop. They are biting insects, similar to fleas, lice, or ticks, and can make your chickens’ lives miserable, especially with a heavy infestation. Your chickens may peck at themselves and pull out feathers, leading to potential infection – and possibly even death in extreme cases.
The most common way to spread chicken mites to your flock is by bringing in new, infected birds. However, wild birds can also carry them, and you can also transport them on your shoes or clothing if you have recently visited an infested area.
Regular dust baths can help keep your chickens mite-free (especially if you include some wood ashes and diatomaceous earth), but in hot and humid areas, or periods when your chickens may not have the opportunity to bathe as often, mites may be more prevalent.
While chemical insecticides may be used to treat mites, most are not approved for use on chickens, and may not be safe to use.
Instead, try these natural options for controlling poultry mites, keeping in mind that treating your coop and chickens simultaneously is necessary to completely get rid of a mite infestation:
1.) Coop Mite Spray
Spraying your coop and roosts for several days in a row with a mixture of 2 cups water, 1 cup cooking oil and 1 tablespoon dish washing liquid will help kill off the mites that leave the hens by suffocating them. Shake well before using because the mixture will separate.
The coop should be sprayed at least once or twice a week for several weeks in conjunction with treating your hens directly.
2.) Coop Treatment
Sprinkling food-grade Diatomaceous Earth onto the floor of the coop and nesting boxes and rubbing it into the roosts is another option that can be used in conjunction with the oil spray and reapplied as needed.
Wormwood (artemesia) can also help repel mites.
Tie bouquets of wormwood to the roosts, make sachets for your nesting boxes or hang cuttings in your coop as an ongoing mite repellent.
3.) Chicken Mite Spray
To treat the chickens themselves, spray them with a garlic juice mixture. This treatment has been found by poultry scientists in the UK to have a 100% kill rate over 24 hours.
This can be used as a treatment and also as an ongoing preventative.
Natural Mite Garlic Juice Spray
- 10 ounces of water
- 1 ounce of garlic juice (you can find it here)
- >1 teaspoon (total) any combination of these essential oils – bay, cinnamon, clove, coriander, lavender, spearmint and/or thyme
Mix in a spray bottle and spray hens bi-weekly as a preventative or every other day for two to three weeks in the case of an infestation. Concentrate around the vent and under the wings.
Dusting your chickens with food-grade DE after spraying them is also recommended, taking care not to get the dust in their (or your) eyes or lungs.