How to prevent and treat red mites
A familiar problem for both backyard chicken keepers and commercial farms lies in how to prevent and treat infestations of the birds’ environment with red (poultry) mites – also known as dermanyssus gallinae. Compared to other poultry parasites such as fowl ticks, lice and flies – mites are by far the most common, destructive and difficult to remove. Red mites are nocturnal parasites and hide themselves in gaps and cracks during the day, laying wait to wreak havoc on your flock at night.
Signs and diagnosis
Red mites are up to 1mm in size. The title “red” has been given to these mites because they turn from gray to red after they have had a blood meal. Infected hens will not be the picture of chicken health. Once the infestation becomes significant, your chickens will become anemic. Their wattles and the combs will appear pale and their egg production will drop significantly. Red mites also cause:
- Skin irritation
- Feather pecking
- Weight loss
- Restlessness in the flock
Your chickens will also probably be reluctant to go into their coop at night because that’s where the mites are lying in wait.
When checking your chicken coop for red mites, be sure to also check their perches or other chicken coop and run accessories. An easy way to check for red mites is by rubbing a white paper towel underneath the perches at night. If there are red mites, they will be on the underside of the perch after feeding on your chickens – you’ll see red streaks on your paper towel after coming into contact with them.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But, when it comes to red mites, that’s sometimes easier said than done. Wild birds or new chickens can transmit red mites to your flock. Check your chickens’ health regularly to make sure all flock members are feeling their best.
It’s also a good idea to check for red mites routinely when you clean your chicken coop and use some preventative measures. Diatomaceous earth as part of the weekly clean is helpful in preventing and killing mites (DE is a 100% natural powder which dehydrates parasites it comes into contact with). All types of chicken coops can get red mites – however wooden coops tend to experience the most infestations.
Unfortunately, red mites can survive for up to 10 months in an empty hen house, so leaving a coop empty for a while doesn’t usually fix the problem. Choosing your housing carefully can help prevent infestations Omlet’s Eglu chicken coops are made from plastic which makes it very difficult for red mites to make a home. And in the event that there is a red mite infestation, they are quick and easy to clean. A quick blast with a pressure washer will be enough to send the mites packing.
6 Ways to treat red mites
If you find lots of red mites in the coop, it’s time for a deep clean. This type of cleaning will take several hours with a wooden chicken coop, but significantly less time with a plastic chicken coop. Remove all hens from the coop and strip it down as much as possible. Clean each part individually and allow for the coop and parts to dry completely.
2. Mite disinfectant detergent
Mix a mite disinfectant detergent (such as Smite Professional Disinfectant 1L Concentrate or Barrier Red Mite X 500ml Concentrate) with water (using the manufacturer’s guidelines). Apply this to the coop, ensuring you get it in the cracks and crevices. Omlet’s Eglu chicken coops don’t have these awkward and accommodating spaces, making red mites much easier to control. Concentrate your efforts where there is the highest population of red mites. Leave for 15-20 minutes.
3. High-pressure hose
Use a hose (preferably a pressure washer) to hose down the coop and the parts. Try to get in every nook and cranny, as this is where the mites like to hide. Leave for 10-15 minutes to dry. After this, you will most probably see more agitated mites crawling out. Repeat this process until there are very few mites emerging after each wash. Eglu chicken coops are made of heavy-duty plastic and are designed to be pressure washed with ease. One pressure wash will be enough to eradicate any existing mite population.
Leave the coop to thoroughly dry. It’s ideal to perform coop cleanings on a sunny day where UV rays can kill some of the bacteria. Put the coop back together and add bedding. Dispose of the old bedding in a plastic bag in the garbage – red mites will happily find somewhere else to live if given the opportunity.
5. Red mite powder
Sprinkle your entire coop and your chickens with a red mite powder. Ensure you rub the powder onto the perches so that any remaining mites will have to crawl through it to reach your chickens.
6. Repeat red mite powder treatment
Re-apply the red mite powder every couple of days or when it has rubbed off. Red mites are primarily active during mild weather, making peak seasons the spring and fall. They will lie dormant throughout the rest of the year, waiting for their next opportunity to emerge.
Preventing red mites with Omlet
Any chicken coop can fall victim to red mites, but with any easy-to-clean plastic chicken coop, you’ll be able to nip infestations in the bud. Our chicken perches can be removed easily for a thorough cleaning, and our plastic Chicken Swing offers a mite-resistant place to find relief. Don’t fall prey to red mites – take control with Omlet’s chicken products.
This entry was posted in Chickens