My chickens have red mites, what can I do?
If you’ve spotted red mites with your naked eye on your chickens, it means you’re too late to treat. Red mites are not easy to spot and if you see one, you can assume that there are many more. Because red mites reproduce very quickly, it is important to start treating them right away. The best way to do that is explained in this blog.
Unscrew all parts from the chicken coop
Red mites make their nest where it is dark and where the chicken cannot eat them. They often go into cracks and seams or behind laying nests, for example. Often there are also wall shelves installed in a chicken coop and the red mites can be found in the shelf supports, for example. So don’t forget to unscrew all parts and take them out of the coop. You can burn away the nests with a weed burner or put the high pressure hose on them.
Reach the red mites in the coop as well as on the chickens
Reaching the red mites with a pesticide is essential for a good outcome. To apply the treatment correctly, you need to know the behavior of red mites. In fact, red mites only suck blood from chickens once every 6 days and they do this at night. When they are not on the chicken they hide in cracks and seams in places the chicken cannot reach. It is therefore important to treat both the coop and the chicken itself. 50% of all red mites in the coop suck blood, the other 50% do not. Hence, with just a spray or just a food supplement, you only treat half of them. With the combination you almost reach the total population, except for the eggs that have yet to hatch.
The proper way to treat the coop is to spray the path from the red mite’s hiding place to the perch and the chickens’ perch itself with a silica-based sticky spray so that it is effective both day and night. This causes the young red mites to scrub themselves to death and dry out.
Treat the chicken by mixing a nutritional supplement through the feed and/or water. This makes the blood of your chickens indigestible for red mites so they can no longer reproduce. In this way you can break the increasing number of red mites, which is essential if you have spotted red mites. Spray alone will not do the trick.
Steps to take when treating red mites.
The following step-by-step plan is one of the most effective methods to control a red mite infestation:
- Start using the food supplement for through the feed and/or water as soon as possible. Do this for at least 14 days, but preferably longer. You will see more red mites as a result first, because they will go crazy looking for food and can no longer eat the blood from the chicken. So this is the correct consequence.
- Unscrew all parts in the coop such as the laying nests, wall shelves, perches and wood-mounted windows.
- Clean the coop with plenty of water, preferably with a high pressure hose. This will already wash away some of the eggs and lice. Be sure to dry the coop well afterwards.
- Spray the perch, all seams and cracks and the way from these cracks and seams to the perch with the spray of silica. Repeat this every 2-4 weeks.
- Install red mite trays on the perches and fill them with a lemongrass-based oil. Note that these trays should be kept very clean, as red mites will walk over them if there is a layer of dust on the oil. Removable red mite trays are great for this purpose.
- Create a sandbox with fine sand for the chickens to bathe in. The sand between the feathers also provides natural defense. Choose a mineral-based bath sand with a uniform grain size. This sticks best between the feathers and can be eaten by the chicken.
- After 7 days, repeat cleaning with the high pressure hose if the infestation is very large.
Identifying red mites earlier
With the step-by-step plan above, you will apply the right method to treat both red mites in the coop and on the chicken. To prevent an outbreak of red mites in the future, it is wise to take measures for this. You can use a red mite test to check for red mites. Hang the two test tubes under the perch (and put one in the laying nest) and check for red mites every week. In addition, you can use the following preventive measures:
- Make a sandbox with bath sand for the chickens to bathe in
- Make sure you clean the coop regularly
- Ventilate the coop regularly
- Spray the coop with silicon spray every month
Why does an infestation seem to come back again and again?
Adult red mites lay as many as eight eggs a day. These eggs only hatch when conditions are optimal for them to do so. This can mean that the eggs may not hatch until a year later, or after two months, for example. This makes it seem as if none of the measures have worked. However, this is not true. What is important in treatment is that the number of red mites is brought under control. 100% removal of red mites is almost impossible. Once there are red mites in the coop, you can assume that there will still be eggs that will hatch. And if you have then stopped treating, these eggs have free rein and everything starts all over again. That’s why a red mite test is recommended. That way you know when the eggs have hatched and when you have to start treating again.
Chemical vs. natural
There are many types of remedies on the market, many of which are chemical. Besides being harmful to animals, humans and nature, red mites build up resistance easily. So you will find that it works at first, but if you already have a lot of red mites in the coop they will become resistant to that chemical over time. To prevent that, we recommend fighting red mites with natural remedies, a sandbox, oil trays on the perch and a high-pressure hose.
Due to laws and regulations, we are not allowed to mention here which products are involved. For questions, you can always contact us.