Chicken Mites – Symptoms & Treatments

Chicken mite control is essential for every chicken raiser because these parasites can cause trouble in your flock. Besides sucking blood from chickens, these nasty pests can also spread diseases. Chickens with heavy mite infestations are at risk of anemia and even death. Identifying the symptoms of chicken mites and treating mite infestations in your flock is crucial.

chicken mites

What do Chicken Mites Look Like?

Adult chicken mites have long, flat, and oval bodies. These mites measure around one and a half inches long. Unfed mites look white, although they become red when they suck on your chickens’ blood. Chicken mites turn black to gray upon digesting the blood meal.

Symptoms of Chicken Mites

Identifying chicken mites’ symptoms is crucial because you will figure out how to get rid of these pests. It is easy to recognize the signs of chicken mites. For instance, chickens with mites have dirty-looking vent feathers. Chickens with heavy mite infestations also have pale combs and wattles.

Bald spots and redness on the skin can also indicate your chickens could be having mites. Chickens with severe mite infestations also show symptoms like rapid reduction in egg production and loss of appetite.

You may also notice crawling mites on your chickens’ feathers and skins. Ragged and dull-looking feathers are a common symptom of chicken mites.

Treating Mites on Chickens

While you can use several methods to keep chicken mites at bay, you may still need to successfully stop these pests from attacking your flock. That’s why it is vital to treat mites on your fowl.

Chicken farmers have trouble repelling mites, especially using herbs and other natural methods. Thankfully, you can treat mites on your birds with little effort. Below are a few ideas to help you start treating mites on your chickens.

Treating the Chickens

Mites primarily live on chicken bodies, so you should treat your flock immediately if you observe any mite infestations. You can use an array of natural methods to treat your chickens if they have a mite infestation.

For instance, you can use dust baths to treat your mite-infested chickens. Chickens will naturally take dust baths to get rid of parasites. However, this treatment option is only suitable for backyard chickens because the birds will take dust baths out there. You can make a simple dust bath for your indoor chickens.

You can put some soil or wood ash in a container to make a simple dust bath area for your flock. Your birds will be eager to take dust baths in turns, ultimately removing mites from their skins and feathers.

You can treat mites on your flock with diatomaceous earth, a natural sedimentary rock that offers a natural treatment for external parasites on chickens. Grind up some diatomaceous earth to form a white powder. Dust the chickens with the powder, paying attention to the feathers with heavy infestations.

You can also sprinkle the powder all over the chickens’ dust bathing area, although using the powder directly on the chickens’ feathers will offer a more effective treatment for mites.

However, be cautious when using diatomaceous earth on your chickens because it can irritate their eyes. Also, avoid breathing the diatomaceous powder. Furthermore, keep the powder away from your eyes because it can cause eye irritations.

Use natural herbs like garlic cloves to repel and treat mites on chickens. Garlic cloves are perfect for repelling blood-sucking mites on chickens. Such mites will find the chickens’ blood unpleasant and won’t dare suck on the blood. Add garlic powder or cloves to your flock’s drinking water to help repel those nasty blood-sucking parasites on your chickens.

Disinfecting the Coop

Disinfecting the coop can also help treat mites on your chickens. Mites and lice usually live in dirty coops, and cleaning and disinfecting your coop is the first step to keeping these parasites at bay. Disinfect your cage thoroughly, particularly during warmer months, because mites thrive in warmer seasons.

You can disinfect the cage using coop mite spray. Coop mite sprays are readily available and do an excellent job disinfecting mite-infested coops. However, the coop mite spray you pick for repelling mites on your flock should strictly have natural ingredients that won’t affect your fowl.

Coop mite sprays can work wonders, mainly if you use them alongside other preventative treatments.

Garlic juice can be a cost-effective disinfectant for mite-laden chicken coops. You can blend some garlic and mix the juice with water to make sufficient disinfectant for your coop. Parasites like chicken mites don’t like the taste and smell of garlic juice, and they will immediately move out of the cage when you disinfect it with garlic juice.

Types of Chicken Mites

Chickens are prone to different types of mites. Here are some common chicken mites you should know about when raising domestic fowl.

  • Northern fowl mites– These are the most common mites on chickens and other domestic fowl. They are also among the most challenging mites to detect. They are the most prevalent chicken mites in the Americas. Northern fowl mites are also serious poultry pests throughout different temperate zones. These obligate blood-sucking mites have a life cycle of between 5 and 12 days. They can live on chickens, turkeys, ducks, and other domestic fowl for around four weeks. You can detect these mites on your chickens by parting their feathers, particularly around the vent areas. You will notice these mites thanks to their crusty and thick appearance. They also make chickens have dirty feathers and severe scabbing. The Northern fowl mites cause reduced feed conversion and egg production in chickens.
  • Red roost mites– These mites are almost invisible blood-suckers that chickens get from wild birds. They are common in chickens, pigeons, and other caged fowl. Red roost mites get their name from their red appearance after a blood meal. Otherwise, these mites look white, black, or gray when unfed. Unlike other chicken mites, red roost mites are strictly nocturnal and will only appear at night to suck on your chickens’ blood. They usually don’t hide on a chicken’s body but on nests, crevices, roosts, and cribs. You can occasionally find these chicken mites in clusters. Red roost mites cause a loss of vitality in hens, leading to reduced egg production.
  • Furthermore, these mites can transmit many chicken diseases, including Newcastle disease, Avian Influenza, and fowl pox. Flocks with red roost mites usually suffer from skin irritation, stress, suppressed sleep patterns, feather plucking, and anemia. These chicken mites can cause death in extreme instances.
  • Scaly leg mites– Scaly leg mites are tiny and spherical mites that usually live on the tissues around the scales of a chicken’s legs. These chicken mites are rare in today’s modern facilities. They are, however, common in backyard flocks. They are prevalent in older chickens. Scaly leg mites cause exudation and irritation in a chicken’s legs, leading to the thickening of the legs. Chickens with these mites have raised leg scales and feet, resulting in lameness. Scaly leg mites can also attack a chicken’s comb and wattles.
  • Depluming mites– Depluming mites are prevalent worldwide. These mites usually burrow at the bottom of a chicken’s feather shafts, ultimately causing feather plucking and intense irritation to chickens. Depluming mites also affects pigeons, geese, and pheasants, especially during the summer and spring.
  • Tropical fowl mites-Tropical fowl mites are prevalent in warmer regions worldwide. States like Texas, Florida, Illinois, and Hawaii have the most cases of tropical fowl mites. These mites almost look similar to northern fowl mites in their habits and biology, although they lay many eggs. They usually attack turkeys, ducks, starlings, sparrows, chickens, and pigeons. Chickens with these mites suffer from reduced egg production and feed conversion. Tropical fowl mites also spread several viral diseases, including the deadly Western equine encephalomyelitis.

Prevention of Chicken Mites

Chicken mites are some of the worst chicken parasites to keep at bay, particularly if the birds have nasty infestations. You can control chicken mites by adhering to some preventive measures to keep these parasites away from your flock. These are some of the preventative measures you can take to protect your birds from chicken mites.

  • Always keep the chicken coop clean– Chicken mites live in dirty coops because dirt attracts these parasites. Cleaning the cage regularly is the first preventive measure to protect your chickens from mites.
  • Have a dust bath for the flock-Chickens usually dust themselves when they have mites to get rid of the irritating parasites. Having a dust bath spot in your yard will help your chickens get occasional dust baths that will rid them of these nasty parasites.
  • Limit your flock’s interaction with other birds- Chicken mites can spread from one flock to another. It’s thus crucial to prevent your flock from coming into contact with other birds, especially wild birds because they carry several mites that can devastate your flock. Kindly follow biosecurity measures once your flock visits other flocks or fowl.
  • Disinfect the coop– Disinfecting your chicken coop can help combat the spread of chicken mites in your flock. You can disinfect using coop sprays and other herbs to help kill mites’ eggs, stopping them from hatching and spreading among your flock. You can spray dusting powders and spray concentrates in the coop to disinfect it further and prevent possible future mite outbreaks.

Can Chicken Mites Get on Humans?

Chicken mites can’t get on humans because they live under the chickens’ feathers. However, you can get occasional bites from these parasites if you handle a chicken with mites.

Usage of Ivermectin for Chicken Mites

Ivermectin is a potent anti-parasite medication that effectively stops mite infestations on poultry birds. It can be helpful in the treatment of many chicken mites, including northern fowl mites and scaly leg mites. A 1% drop in this medication can help treat a severe mite infestation in your flock. You can also use it to treat other parasites, such as lice.

Chicken Mites vs. Lice – How to Tell the Difference?

Knowing the difference between lice and mites is essential because it can help you take action to safeguard your flock from these two nasty external parasites. These parasites are pretty similar.

However, mites thrive on feeding on chickens’ blood. On the other hand, lice feed on chickens’ scales and skins and the debris on their feathers. Mites are tiny moving specks that look like dirty spots at first glance. Nonetheless, mites are wingless arachnids. On the other hand, lice are straw-colored parasites that are prevalent throughout the year.

Conclusion

Mites are pretty nasty parasites that can wreak havoc in your flock. They are also challenging to deal with and can cause serious problems such as anemia and other diseases in chickens. Happily enough, you can prevent these parasites from attacking your chickens with little effort.

Chicken Health   Chickens   Updated: December 14, 2022
avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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