Whether the poultry you own keep you entertained while gardening or supply the local village their breakfast, I think we can agree that the red mite is not an ideal coop companion for your chickens.
If you are not familiar with the beastly creature, it is a tiny parasite similar to the flea in that it spends the majority of its life cycle hiding in dark places, using the animal of choice as its dinner. Before feeding they are grey in colour but turn bright red when they have feasted on your chickens. This is usually when we can spot them. If you are unable to inspect your birds keep an eye out for:
• The birds avoiding the coop
• Tiny spots of blood on the shell of the eggs.
• The birds may look pale, anaemic or irritated
If this all sounds familiar or you are starting to itch just thinking about it, then here is a short summary of the steps you can take to prevent or reduce infestations, keeping your feathered friends feeling fine.
- Start by, completely disinfecting the coop, using an animal safe product; take apart the coop if you can. Leave the coop out in the sun, the UV light will sterilise and kill any stubborn mites still alive.
- Once dry, use an insecticide spray to coat the inside of the coop, helping kill any red mites still around. Aerosol products are good as it can force the product into any tiny gaps.
- Again, once dry, a louse powder ideally containing Diatomaceous Earth can be used in the coop, in a dust bath for the birds and directly on the animals. (ensure you read the label before applying it to your birds) A layer of powder added to nest boxes can also be advantageous.
- Finally, pop a tonic or vitamin booster into the water to help the birds to bounce back from the infestation.
If the infestation is bad you may need to repeat these steps. It is best to keep on top of red mite populations as an adult mite can survive without a blood meal for a few months, their whole life cycle can be completed over seven days and each adult can lay thousands of eggs. Once under control use the steps above to prevent further infestations.
Pop into your local store today to obtain advice and products to help keep your feathered friends in tip top condition. You will also find a selection of feeders, drinkers and bedding in stock.