Preventing Red Mite!

Red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) is parasitic mite that feeds on your chicken’s blood while they roost at night. After taking a blood meal the mites return to the cracks and crevices of your hen house where they live, reproduce and lay eggs. They are less than 1mm in length and appear a light grey/brown colour, until they have taken a blood meal at which point they turn red. Although tiny, in large numbers they can significantly impact on the welfare of your hens, causing pain, irritation, a drop in egg production, anaemia and even death.

Red mites are generally dormant during winter and become most active in the warmer months where their population size can explode as their reproductive cycle can be completed in as little as 7 days. Red mites are also very persistent and can live off of their chicken hosts for a year in a dormant state.

Red mites can be spread by wild birds, or be introduced to your flock through the addition of new hens and new equipment.

Signs of red mites:

  • The presence of tiny red or grey mites in the house – particularly at night.
  • A whitish/grey ash-like deposit from the mites on perches and around crevices in the hen house
  • Chickens unwilling to go into the house to roost at night
  • Chickens unsettled at night, scratching, ruffling of feathers etc
  • Pale combs and wattles on your chickens
  • A drop in egg production
  • Tiny red blood spots on eggs

How to deal with red mites:

We need to tackle red mite from multiple angles….

Hygeine: regularly cleaning out the hen house, removing soiled litter and refreshing nest boxes will help to reduce numbers of mites buy physically removing them. Make sure the litter is taken far away from the hen house if you are composting it at home, so that the mites don’t travel straight back!

Washing down the inside of the hen house with detergent: this helps by breaking down the waxy cuticle of the mite and also improves general hygeine of the hen house by removing organic matter.

Diatomaceous earth (DME): Generously applying diatomaceous earth to perches, nest boxes, dust baths, cracks and crevices in the hen house, and even on your birds is a safe way to help keep mite numbers low. The DME desiccates the mites when they come into contact with it.

Chemical sprays/powders: There are various sprays and powders that can be applied to perches, nest boxes etc which can help reduce mite numbers.

All of these measures combined will go a long way to reduce mite numbers in the hen house and improve the welfare of you hens, however, none will eradicate the problem entirely.

We now have a new treatment that can tip the balance in our favour; Exzolt; a medicine that is put in the drinking water and makes your chicken’s blood poisonous to the mites, in much the same way that flea treatments work for our cats and dogs. Just two doses, 7 days apart, will massively reduce, if not eradicate the mite problem, when combined with the measures above. There is no need to throw away any eggs laid during treatment times either.

If you suspect red mite in your flock, please ask us for more info on this new and effective approach to parasite control.

Register Now

If you would like to register your pets with us at Fairfield House then please give us a call now, or follow the link to fill in a registration form and one of our friendly members of staff will be in touch.

Follow us