What are feather lice and how do you treat them?
Most chicken owners are familiar with red mites in chickens. But did you know that there is another annoying louse/mite in chickens that causes a lot of irritation? Feather lice are also mites and are a common ectoparasite in chickens. Read in this blog what feather lice are and what the treatment against feather lice looks like.
What are feather lice?
Feather lice do not feed on blood like red mite, but feed on the protein that is in the feathers of chickens. They therefore do not suck blood and also remain on the chicken. Feather lice also remain on the chicken during the day and are easier to see with the naked eye than red mites. However, feather lice are difficult to see with an initial infestation, and it also takes a while before feather lice cause symptoms.
Chickens usually get feather lice from new chickens that are purchased and that are infected. But wild birds can also transmit this mite. Especially chickens that run loose in the garden and therefore have a greater chance of coming into contact with wild birds, have a higher chance of an infection.
Recognize feather lice in chickens
In contrast to red mites, feather lice are easy to see on chickens. But it usually starts with recognizing the symptoms:
– Chickens have obvious itching
– Scratch oneself with the beak between the feathers or start shaking the head
– Feather loss and flaky pieces of skin between the feathers
Feather lice are small, brownish critters that sit between and on the feathers. Feather lice are particularly visible in light-colored chickens. By brushing back the feathers at the cloaca, you can often easily see the feather lice. The feather lice can also be recognized by the packages with eggs that they lay at the foot of the feather shafts. This looks like a grayish lime layer at the bottom of the feathers.
Especially treat feather lice internally!
Feather lice are easily transferred to other chickens, so it is important to treat as soon as possible to prevent infestation to other chickens as much as possible. With external products, feather lice are more difficult to reach. A sand bath for chickens can have a repellent effect, but choose a mineral sand that has a uniform grain size, because it sticks best between the feathers.
In addition, it is important to start working with an internal supplement. A herbal preparation based on echinacea, astragalus, uncaria, gentiane, thymus, citronellol and citronallal has a repellent effect and ensures that the proteins of the feathers and the dander become indigestible for the feather lice. As a result, the feather louse can no longer reproduce and the population will become smaller and smaller. With feather lice it is therefore especially important to give an internal nutritional supplement, that will make the biggest difference. In addition, external products can then be used as extra support.