The Omlet Blog

How to protect your chickens from red mite

Red mites are a sure way to put a damper on your flock’s coop life. Learning how to protect your chickens from red mites is essential for their overall health and happiness. While pesky and persistent, red mites can be prevented and treated – especially when you have the right setup. 

Looking inside wooden chicken coop

What are red mites? 

Red mites, or Dermanyssus gallinae, are small, red parasites that lie in wait in your chickens’ coop, ready to strike during the nighttime hours. Often known as one of a chicken keeper’s worst foes, these tricky little bugs can prove challenging to locate and eradicate. Being nocturnal, they hide in the nooks and crannies of wooden chicken coops and roosting bars, and sneak their meals of chicken blood while your flock sleeps. 

How do I know if it’s red mites? 

Red mites are most active in the warmer spring and summer months. The first symptoms of red mites infiltrating your flock will be distressed or lethargic behavior. Bites from red mites are itchy and uncomfortable, and since they prefer to feed through midnight snacks, your hens won’t be getting their required beauty rest. Your flock may appear sleepy, or display scratching or excessive preening behaviors. 

As the infestation progresses, your hens can become anemic through losing too much blood to the parasites. Their combs and wattles may appear pale rather than red. You may also notice a reluctance to go to roost at night, as they will have come to associate roost-time with painful bites. 

How to remove red mites from your coop 

If you’ve come to the conclusion that your flock’s coop is under attack from red mites, you’ll need to take quick, aggressive action against them. Clean the coop thoroughly, removing all bedding, nesting material, and all detachable components like roosts or racks. Scrub the coop thoroughly with warm water, and clean any feeders or waterers. If possible, use a pressure washer to clean the coop and its components. 

Once the coop is cleaned, leave it to air out in a well ventilated, sunny area. If you see mites making their escape, wait 10-15 minutes before pressure washing again. After any repeated washings, allow the coop to dry fully, and then treat it with a red mite product that is safe for chickens. There are powders or concentrates to mix with water and spray onto affected areas, so choose which you’re most comfortable working with. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is also an excellent choice for preventing and treating red mite infestations, and it’s perfectly safe for your flock. You can add this ingredient to your chickens’ dust baths, or sprinkle it directly into their feathers.  

How to treat chickens for red mites 

If your flock has been infested with red mites, you’ll need to treat any affected chickens along with their coop. DE will kill the existing red mites, but your chickens’ skin will likely be raw and sore from the bites. There are other homemade remedies like garlic or other herbal sprays that will kill mites, just be sure that all of the ingredients are safe for chickens. Apple cider vinegar and electrolytes in your flock’s water will help boost their energy and healing, as well as promote healthy feather growth. If your flock appears to be anemic, ask your veterinarian for advice on any other supplements that might be beneficial. Treat bare areas where feathers have been preened out with anti-peck and healing topicals for chickens

Preventing red mites 

It’s far easier to prevent red mites than it is to treat them. Choosing a plastic chicken coop eliminates the fine cracks and crevices that wood allows for red mites to hide in, and they can be pressure washed and cleaned in mere minutes with little dry-time afterward. Wooden chicken coops have far too many opportune hiding spots for red mites, making them hotspots for the offending parasites. 

In addition to having a plastic chicken coop instead of a wooden chicken coop, you can treat the inside of the coop and the ground around the coop with DE to act as a natural deterrent for red mites. Regular cleanings will help keep parasites of all varieties at bay, and will ensure that your flock stays comfortable during peak-pest season.  And, unlike wooden coops, plastic chicken coops don’t need to be treated with sprayed insecticides to prevent red mites. 

Omlet and your flock 

The smooth surfaces of Omlet’s plastic chicken coops prevents red mites from setting up shop, and will keep your flock comfortable all summer long. Worried about outside of the coop? Our chicken toys and perches are all made from mite-resistant materials to ensure that your flock can have their fun without the threat of parasites. Combined with a walk in chicken run for plenty of outdoor space, your chickens’ setup will be perfect and parasite-free for the summer, laying the groundwork for those leisurely days together.  

Chicken inside the run of the Eglu Pro walking up the ladder

 

 

This entry was posted in Chickens


One reply on “How to protect your chickens from red mite”

Terry Guthrie says:

I found red mites in my Eglu a year or 2 ago. I used a hose and dish soap to clean them off, then I liberally sprinkled diatomaceous earth throughout. It took a few weeks, but the mites never came back.

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