Chicken Mites: Fast & All Natural Solutions

Chicken mites can literally suck the life out of your hens. They’re pests that can cause a lot of health issues. You need to eliminate them from your coop as fast as possible.

In this article, you’ll discover how to spot these tiny insects on your chicken AND in your coop. You’ll also find options to get rid of them, and when it’s time to call the vet. 

chicken mites

What Are Chicken Mites?

Chicken mites is a generic term for:

  • Red Mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) aka Roost Mite or Poultry Mite
  • Northern Fowl Mites (Ornithonyssus sylviarum)
  • Tropical fowl mite (Ornithonyssus bursa)
  • Knemidocoptes mutans (the mites that cause scaly leg mites) 
  • Feather mites (25+ different species)
  • Depluming mite (Neocnemidocoptes gallinae)

(In this article, we’ll discuss these mites together, with a separate section for scaly leg mites. Each breed above can cause the same health issues, and you can deal with them the same way.)

Mites are tiny insects that crawl on your flock’s skin and feathers. They can also inhabit the scales on your chickens’ legs. They bite chickens, and suck their blood (yes, like miniature vampires). They can also cause skin irritation, resulting in red, flaky skin.

In extreme cases, they can actually kill your chicken. How? Well, as the mites feed on your hen, she can lose iron. Over time, anemia can set in, and potentially cause death. 

Given the right conditions, mites can complete a life cycle in as little as 7 days, potentially exploding their population in your coop.

Mites can also transmit:

  • Salmonella Enteritidis(2)
  • Pasteurella multocida
  • Coxiella burnetii
  • Borrelia anserina
  • Eastern, Western, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis viruses(1)
  • Fowl poxvirus(1)
  • avian spirochaetosis
  • Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae(3)

between birds. At the very least, chicken mites might cause your hens to slow down their rate of egg laying, or just stop laying altogether – not good stuff. 

A single mite can live up to 10 months in your coop. 

chicken mites lifecycle graphic

How Do Chickens Get Mites?

Mites are all around us. Once you start raising chickens, they’ll eventually try to inhabit your coop – especially if you don’t clean it regularly. Soon, they’ll start looking for a food source – your chickens.

Mites like to hide in corners and crevices. Since nesting boxes tend to have lots of great places for mites to hide, they’ll soon make their way there. When your hens visit their boxes to lay eggs, the mites will jump onto your chickens.

Mites can jump from chicken to chicken as well. Pretty soon, your whole flock could be infected!

Can Chickens Die From Mites? 

A lot of people wonder whether their flock can die from a mite infestation. The short answer is “yes.” If left untreated, mites can cause many health issues. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, chicken mites might cause anemia, leading to death(1). It’s possible mites can eat up to 5% of a chicken’s blood in one night.

How To Know If Your Chicken Has Mites

Signs your chickens might have mites include:

  • Mite poop around the base of feathers (especially the vent)
  • Feather loss 
  • Excessive preening
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Raised scales or loss of scales on your flock’s legs 
  • Pale combs
  • Blood spots on eggshells 

However, the only way to know for sure if your chickens have mites is:

  • When you see the pests themselves on your chickens
  • You identify their eggs
  • Mite feces 

Mite Feces

When checking your chickens, you might notice a greyish black substance at the base of their feathers and/or on their skin. In my experience, you also might notice this greyish black substance around your chickens’ vents (both hens AND roosters). This substance is likely mite poop, and it’s a pretty definite indicator your flock has mites.

chicken mites on rooster

Loss of Feathers

One sign of mites you’re likely to notice is feather loss (just remember that feather loss can indicate a LOT of things, including molting and very active roosters). Some areas to pay attention to are the:

  • Back
  • Vent
  • Tail feathers

You might see patches of open skin, or even raw or red skin. 

Raised Scales (Scaly Leg Mites)

The simplest way to explain what raised scales looks like is to share a picture: 

chicken mites and lice on legs

The scales on their legs lift up as the waste from the mites starts to build up under the scales. Eventually, the chicken will start to lose their scales, which can lead to other secondary issues such as bacterial infections. The legs might even bleed. Once the mites are eliminated, the scales usually grow back. (Don’t confuse this with bumblefoot, which is a bacterial infection that causes lumps on the bottom of your flock’s feet).

Pale Combs

Pale combs can indicate a lot of health issues, including mites. As your chicken loses blood to the mites, she’ll start to lose iron. Eventually, she might become anemic, since iron is important for circulating oxygen. As she becomes sicker, her comb might turn from a bright, healthy red into a pale pink or peach color. In extreme cases, your chicken might die.

Blood spots on eggshells

When mites bite your chickens, they can sometimes leave an open wound. It might be very tiny, or, especially if your chicken picks at it, the wound can be pretty significant. If your chicken has these wounds around her vent, then you might start to notice blood on her eggshells. 

While this doesn’t definitively prove your hen has a mite infestation, you should still double check her for mites. You should also remember that your hens can have mites even if you don’t see any blood on their eggshells.

When To Contact The Vet 

If your chicken:

  • Has dry, itchy skin
  • Feather loss
  • Raised scales
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Seems unwell or depressed
  • Is opening/closing her beak as if gasping for air, and/or
  • You see mites, their feces, and/or their eggs

Then you should seek the advice of your vet, especially if you’ve tried treating it on your own, but have been unsuccessful.

How Do You Get Rid Of Mites on Chickens?

Now that we know what chicken mites are, why they’re a health issue, and when to contact your veterinarian, let’s talk about how to get rid of mites and keep them out.

Your basic options include:

  • Pharmaceutical Options (best to talk to your vet)
  • Natural options like herbs and diatomaceous earth
  • Extreme heat
  • Extreme cold

Pharmaceutical Options

It’s always best to speak to your veterinarian to determine the best pharmaceutical option. The chemical and pharmaceutical options can be toxic, expensive, and/or ineffective in the long term, however.(1)(5)

How To Kill Chicken Mites Naturally (And Prevent Them From Returning)

There’s a few different options to kill mites naturally. Some work great for your chickens, others are better for your coop, and some (like herbs) serve dual purposes. These are just options, and you’ll have to decide for yourself which options are right for your coop.

For your chickens, your options include:

  • Herbs
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Wood ash

For your coop:

  • Herbs
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Heat/cold
  • Vinegar

Herbs & Herbal Blends

Humans have used herbs for generations to deter pests. In modern times, recent studies indicate that herbs show promise to repel pests. One government agency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even lists certain herbs as safe to repel pests (they call herbs “minimum risk ingredients”, meaning a minimum risk to the environment). 

In our experience, herbal blends are far better than a single herb, which is why we don’t discuss single herbs in this article. Sometimes, readers try to use a single herb, and don’t have the results they desire. Because of this, we now only recommend herbal blends we use ourselves

We used to try using single herbs, but they never worked as well. So, we started mixing herbs together, with a much better outcome. This blend became our product MitesBGone.

We love MitesBGone because it’s an all-natural herbal product for dust baths. To use it, we just sprinkle the herbs in our flock’s nesting boxes and dust bath areas. You can use just the herbs, or mix it with diatomaceous earth. Chickens love exploring MitesBGone.

You can view more about this herbal blend here. The blend is 100% non-GMO and all natural, and makes it so easy to use herbs for mite control.

chicken mites

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is the fossilized shells of diatoms, which are prehistoric aquatic algae. These fossilized diatoms are then crushed, making a powdery substance. DE is also comprised of silica, clay minerals, and iron oxide.

Diatomaceous earth can help treat mites because the particles have sharp edges, which slice the exoskeletons of mites. The mites then die.

In one study which was run by the University of California Riverside, birds were given a dust bath of sand and diatomaceous earth. These hens showed a huge reduction in the amount of chicken mites and lice after just seven days.

Many people avoid using DE because it can lead to respiratory issues for both chickens and humans (unlike herbs, which is why we use herbs). When inhaled, over time, there’s the potential the DE will damage both human and poultry respiratory systems.

If you decide to use DE, however, it’s important to use masks.

You can find diatomaceous earth in any feed store or on Amazon. You can find it on Amazon at TheFrugalChicken.com/DE

Just remember that when it comes to DE, you always want to use food grade diatomaceous earth. Construction grade isn’t usually pure, and could be mixed with anything. Just check the label to be sure. 

If you want to use herbs AND diatomaceous earth, you can try this product. The diatomaceous earth and herbs come pre-mixed. 

How To Use Diatomaceous Earth

The easiest way to incorporate DE into your coop is by offering a dust box with a diatomaceous earth/sand or dirt mix. There’s really no formula for how much of either to offer. Personally, I use a 1:1 ratio. If you plan to offer your DE bath in a run, you will need to remove it when it rains, otherwise you’ll be left with a gloppy mess.

Wood Ash

Another option is wood ash. There’s fewer studies regarding wood ash, so personally, I would use it with herbs and/or diatomaceous earth. Otherwise, you might not have the results you want. 

What is wood ash? It’s the residue from burning wood. Yes, you can use ash from your wood-burning stove. Just make sure you use wood that’s not treated with chemicals in any way. 

Steer clear of ash that’s made from any other substance besides wood. It’s not the same thing, and it won’t be as effective and it might harm your chicken. Wood ash is between 25 and 45 percent calcium carbonate. Wood ash can work against chicken mites because it potentially smothers them.

How Often Should You Treat Chickens For Mites?

Mites can live up to 10 months in your coop, and it only takes 7 days for a mite to complete its life cycle. If you want, you can consistently use natural options (such as herbs or diatomaceous earth). It certainly won’t hurt. To consistently use herbs or diatomaceous earth, adding them to your flock’s dust bath is easiest.

If you and your vet determine a pharmaceutical course of treatment, then it’s best to discuss those details with your vet.

How To Apply Natural Options To Your Chickens

Applying products to your chickens can be a bit daunting at first. They’re live animals that tend to flap their wings and startle easily. Here’s some ideas to make it a bit easier.

Apply treatments at night

It’s easiest to apply any treatments at night. Your chickens are naturally quieter, less likely to startle, and less likely to run (and if they do, lock your coop to keep them contained). Simply pick them up from their roost and use your herbs, diatomaceous earth, etc.

Hold them firmly, but gently

To dust your chicken, hold him or her firmly. First, pick your chicken up. Next, hold her so her wings lay flat against her body. She might squawk and sound unhappy, but she’s fine. Finally, apply your treatment to the area of concern.

Applying treatments to legs

If you need to apply treatments for scaly leg mites, then make sure the legs are exposed. You can do this a few ways. You can wrap your chicken in a towel (like a burrito), making sure to leave the legs exposed. If your chicken is being very difficult, you can hold your chicken by the legs. She will be upside down, which will calm her. You can then apply the treatment as needed. I use this option only as a last resort.

Cleaning Your Coop

If your flock has mites, you’ll want to treat their coop as well. I have a full step-by-step breakdown of how to clean a coop here

The idea is you want to eliminate mites from all the nooks and crannies possible. It can be difficult to ensure the whole coop is clean, but it can be done. I would personally use more than one option from this list, such as power washing, then adding herbs to the coop bedding.

Some options include:

  • Heat/cold
  • Power Washing
  • Diatomaceous Earth
  • Herbs

Heat/Cold

If possible, you can heat treat your coop and/or nesting boxes. In studies, temperatures of 113 degrees or higher (45 degrees C) have been shown to kill mites. If possible, you can remove the nesting boxes and place them under a heat source to raise temperatures to 113+ degrees. Very hot water might also work. In some areas of the United States, summer temperatures can provide all the heat necessary. 

Similarly, temperatures below -4 °F (-20 degrees C), have been shown to kill mites. If you live in a Northern climate, and your temperatures get far below -4 degrees F, then it’s unlikely any mites will last the winter (at least mites in the coop. Mites on your chickens might last longer because your chickens provide heat.)

Power Washing

Similar to using heat to rid your coop of mites, if you can get very hot water (over 113 degrees), you can try power washing the mites away. Just make sure to get into all the crevices. 

Diatomaceous Earth

You can apply DE to your coop floors, including any crevices where mites can hide out. Adding it to the nesting boxes will also help those areas. It’s best to follow the directions on the packaging for the proper amount of DE. Just make sure your flock isn’t in the coop so they don’t inhale it. You should wear a mask as well. 

Herbs

As I said above, I’ve had good results with power washing and using herbs. Both ideas are less caustic than diatomaceous earth, and easy to execute. The herbs we use come pre-mixed in MitesBGone Coop Herbs. First, we powerwash the coop. Then add new bedding and MitesBGone Coop Herbs. I have a 10 foot by 12 foot coop, and use 1 cup in each corner, and then 2 cups sprinkled around the rest of the coop. I also add ½ cup to each nesting box, after they’ve been cleaned.

Bleach

So, will bleach kill chicken mites? In short, yes, bleach will kill mites. It’s used to treat clothing and other fabrics to rid them of mites such as scabies. However, I don’t personally use it in my coop. Bleach is a harsh chemical, and it’s hard to know how much to dilute it so your chickens stay safe. If you do want to use bleach, make sure it’s heavily diluted. Keep your chickens out of the coop for a few hours as well. Since peer-reviewed studies show that high/low temperatures and herbs are effective against mites, those are the methods I personally use.

Does Vinegar Kill Chicken Mites?

There are no studies that show whether vinegar made from grapes will kill chicken mites specifically. However, vinegar is a commonly used all-natural household cleaner, and it’s certainly effective to get rid of poop and other grease. It certainly won’t hurt your flock.

In one study, researchers used wood vinegar(6) to rid a coop of mites. It was successful. There aren’t very many studies, however. If you can find wood vinegar in your area, it’s certainly worth a shot.

Does Lime Kill Chicken Mites?

Lime is essentially calcium carbonate (the same thing that comprises oyster shells). It might kill mites, and according to the USDA, it’s an old timey method to kill scabies on sheep. It certainly won’t hurt your chickens. 

Can Chicken Mites Live On Humans?

While chicken mites won’t necessarily infest your body as long as you bathe and wash your clothes regularly, you can still carry them around(4), so if you handle your hens to treat them, make sure to wash yourself and your clothes in hot water. Also be sure to practice good biosecurity, and scrub your shoes in a bleach or citrus vinegar solution so you don’t re-infect your flock.

Sources

  1. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/poultry/ectoparasites/mites-of-poultry
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281568697_The_poultry_red_mite_Dermanyssus_gallinae_A_potential_vector_of_pathogenic_agents
  3. Chirico, J.; Eriksson, H.; Fossum, O.; Jansson, D. (2003). “The poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, a potential vector of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae causing erysipelas in hens”. Medical and Veterinary Entomology. 17 (2): 232–234. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2915.2003.00428.x. PMID 12823843.
  4. Rosen, S.; Yeruham, I.; Braverman, Y. (2002). “Dermatitis in humans associated with the mites Pyemotes tritici, Dermanyssus gallinae, Ornithonyssus bacoti and Androlaelaps casalis in Israel”. Medical and Veterinary Entomology. 16 (4): 442–444. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2915.2002.00386.x. PMID 12510897
  5. Sparagano OAE, George DR, Harrington DWJ, Giangasparo A. Significance and control of the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae. Annu Rev Entomol 2014; 59:447-466 
  6. Kohsyo Yamauchi, Noboru Manabe, Yoshiki Matsumoto and Koh-en Yamauchi. (2014). “Exterminating Effect of Wood Vinegar to Red Mites and its Safety to Chickens.” Japan Poultry Science Association. doi:10.2141/ jpsa.0130170
  7. Photo of red mite: by Gilles San Martin from Namur, Belgium – Dermanyssus cfr gallinaeUploaded by Jacopo Werther, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24610992

Final Thoughts

Treating your flock for chicken mites is necessary in order for them to have healthy, happy lives. And luckily, there’s a lot of options for all natural treatments – for your flock AND their coop. Hopefully, one or two ideas in this article will help you out! If you’ve successfully used any of the ideas above, let us know!

chicken mites

The Best Herbs For Chickens To Eat? These Are Them (Plus One For First Aid!) [Podcast]

While a lot of herbs are great for chickens, there’s a few that I feel are the best herbs for chickens to eat.

There’s also a couple on my list that are perfect for other uses, such as first aid and as natural cleaners (make sure you grab my free reference sheet).

 

In this episode of What The Cluck?! we look at my favorite herbs for chickens to eat, as well as how to actually incorporate these herbs into your daily life with your flock. 

 

 

You’ll learn:

 

  • Which are the best herbs for chickens to eat
  • Why I recommend avoiding cinnamon
  • My favorite way to clean a chicken coop

 

Where to Buy:

herbs for hens

Chicken Farms Try Oregano As Antibiotic Substitute

Boy In Kentucky Dies From Cinnamon Inhalation

 

what herbs can chickens eat content upgrade-min

Transcript:

 

So, first let’s talk about the whys, meaning why bother being concerned about the best herbs for chickens to eat, as well as using herbs in the first place, and there’s some good reasons, as well as scientific reasons, why herbs are a good idea.

 

When it comes to chickens and their eggs, withdrawal times is a big deal, more so than with dogs and cats, for example.

 

And this is for obvious reasons, we eat eggs and we eat chicken, and many modern medicines will come out in their eggs and meat, we know this for a fact, so unless you want a mouthful of antibiotics, which I don’t think any doctor out there would recommend unless you’re sick, then withdrawal times play a really important role when making decisions for your flock.

 

Herbs, on the other hand, don’t have withdrawal times, so the advantage in certain situations is pretty clear.

 

As an aside, if you end up raising goats for their milk, for example, you can avoid wasting milk if you’re able to treat them with herbal remedies since medicines can come out in their milk.

 

But getting back to chickens, you can also use herbs to promote better laying and to get your hens to lay in their nests, if they don’t already do that. I do get questions frequently from readers and listeners whose hens won’t lay in nests, and there herbs I do recommend for that.

 

So, lets get into the best herbs for chickens to eat and how to use them!


Hens love nesting herbs!

nesting box herbs

Yes, I want to SPOIL my hens with nesting herbs!


Oregano

So we’re going to start off with my favorite herb to use in my coop, and that’s oregano. Oregano is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat and there’s a couple reasons for that.

 

Oregano is well-known for its antibacterial properties, and it’s becoming the darling of the egg industry because studies are showing that it’s more potent than antibiotics for keeping chickens healthy.

 

And these are large farms with hundreds of thousands of chickens, so disease tends to run rampant at those places just because of living conditions and overpopulation.

 

But these farms in New York State found that when they fed oregano, that their death rates and illness rates declined quite extensively.

 

And I’ll put a link in the show notes where you can read an article from the New York Times about it.

 

So, the way I like to offer oregano is dried or fresh in bunches, and the nice thing about this is that the chickens can peck at it, and it keeps them busy and not forming negative behaviors in addition to keeping them healthy.

 

Another great thing to do with oregano is to use it in their nesting boxes, and you can do this by just putting fresh leaves into the boxes themselves.

 

The hens will love the scent and it will help deter pathogens. Another nice thing is it will help keep the eggs clean because your hens will have a clean place to nest, and the scent will give them a boost and stimulate egg laying.

 

At the end of the day, happy hens lay better and if they have healthy food in their systems, like oregano, their eggs will be healthier, so offering them a nesting box with oregano leaves will help them lay better eggs.

 

So, like I said, oregano is really one of the best herbs for chickens to eat.

herbs for hens lavender

Lavender

While lavender has some antibacterial properties, and it is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat, it’s better known and better used as a calming agent.

 

So, lavender is well known to be a way to calm people and animals, and that means chickens too.

 

I like to use lavender in nesting boxes to help create a peaceful environment for chickens to lay in.

 

While it doesn’t outright promote laying, meaning you can’t feed a hen lavender and out pops an egg, you can create an environment that promotes calmness that will help your hen feel secure enough to lay.

 

Laying eggs is one of the most vulnerable times for a hen because she needs to stay still, and since hens are a prey animal, in the wild, not moving could mean death.

 

So, a hen that’s stressed or worried is not likely to lay, or at the minimum, she won’t lay a good, healthy egg.

 

So offering an environment that lets her feel safe is a great way to encourage her to lay, and if she feels secure, she’ll lay better eggs, assuming you’re also feeding her an adequate diet.

 

You can incorporate it into their feed as well, either fresh or dry, and like I said, it is one of the best herbs for chickens to eat because it does have antibacterial properties, so your hens will derive some benefit from it that way too.

 

You can also add lavender to cleaners to give them a calming scent your hens will appreciate.

 

Now when it comes to using herbs in your chicken’s nesting boxes, be sure to change them frequently so they don’t mold or breed other pathogens, especially if you use fresh herbs. Switching them out every other day or so will work well.

 

The other thing about lavender is it repels insects, and I’ve found it useful against flies, so including it in your nesting box will help repel flies, which of course, spread disease.

 

Mint

Mint is extraordinarily useful for many things when it comes to your chickens and I always keep a ton of it around the homestead. I like to use peppermint for a lot of things, and so that’s what I mostly grow, and it’s one of best herbs for chickens to eat.

 

Mint is great to put in nesting boxes along with lavender to stimulate laying, and it will create a fresh, good smelling environment for your chickens.

 

But what I really like using mint for is as a repellent. On our farm, because we have so many animals, we have a lot of flies, and I can tell you that mint is great for repelling flies.

 

I have a natural fly repellent I made here on the farm, and it works great.

 

You can read the exact recipe to make it on the blog, but to recap, you boil the herbs, I like to use both mint and lavender since both repel flies, and allow them to steep in the boiling water, just as if you were making a tea.

 

You then mix it with witch hazel to formulate your fly repellent.

 

The witch hazel does have a bit of a scent, but because water is absorbed really quickly into things while witch hazel isn’t, it works better for ensuring the lavender and mint stick around longer.

 

Once you make the repellent, you’ll have herbs left over, and you can feed them to your chickens for an additional immune booster.

herbs for hens calendula

Calendula

So next on our list of the best herbs for chickens to eat is calendula, and there’s a good reason for that.

 

Calendula have long been known to repel insects in gardens, and they’re considered to be one of the best companion plants out there.

 

So, using them in your chicken coop, in nesting boxes, for example, will help repel bugs and keep them out of your nesting boxes.

 

Calendula is also edible for both people and chickens, and they’re said to make your chicken’s egg yolks more orange, so if you want, you can offer the petals to your chickens in their feed.

 

 

Grow herbs in herb boxes

Now, if you want to do something fun and entertaining, you can grow the best herbs for chickens to eat in a grow box, which is a raised bed, 4 to 6 inches high is a good height, that also has a top made of hardware cloth.

 

So, as the herbs grow, they reach the top of the hardware cloth.

 

Chickens can peck the herbs above the hardware cloth or a little below it, but they can’t get to the roots of the herbs, so once the tops of the plant is gone, it has the ability to grow back.

 

It’s a great way to offer herbs to your chickens in a way that’s also interesting to them.

 

You can either grow the herbs straight in the ground or make the grow box like a container garden for them.

 

Now, if you’re interested in giving your hens herbs and want a handy reference sheet, you can grab my free tip sheet on the blog at TheFrugalChicken.com/chickenherbs.

 


Hens Love Nesting Herbs!

nesting box herbs

YES, I WANT TO SPOIL MY HENS WITH NESTING HERBS!


 

Chicken Breeds For Children [Podcast]

While there are many chicken breeds for children out there, I think some are better than others.

 

We’ve had a lot of chickens on our farm over the years, and I believe some breeds are better for children. Although everyone has their own opinion, I’ve found that smaller and more colorful breeds are more attractive to small children.

 

If one of your goals with raising chickens are to teach your children about animals and life lessons, starting with a breed that might interest them is one way to go.

 

You also need to be sure that the breed will be safe and that your children will enjoy spending time with them.

 

In this episode of What The Cluck?! we talk about 5 chicken breeds for children as well as reasons to keep a flock when you have a family.

 

You’ll learn:

  • Which 5 chicken breeds for children I recommend
  • Which breeds I don’t recommend
  • How chickens can also be a teaching tool
  • How to bring chickens into your life so your children enjoy them

 

(LIKE THIS PODCAST? LISTEN TO THE REST HERE)

Transcript

 

Hi there, and welcome to session 15 of What the Cluck?!, a podcast devoted to keeping chickens for fun and self-sufficiency. I’m Maat from FrugalChicken, and in this episode we’ll talk about chicken breeds that are good choices if you have children, and advantages to keeping chickens if you have children.

 

If you have children, or just wonder which breeds I recommend, you’ll love this episode. Just as a reminder, you can access this episodes show notes at TheFrugalChicken.com/podcast15 that’s podcast one five all one word.

 

Now, over the years as we’ve had children, I’ve noticed that some breeds are better than others with small children. So, we’re only covering five breeds today, and this list is certainly not exhaustive.

 

I had to trim it down for the sake of time, and I’ve chosen breeds that I have personal experience with, and that I’ve seen interact with children.

 

I also tried to take into mind the things that are attractive to children, since part of raising chickens with children is to actively get children involved.

 

I’m not a child development specialist, I’m a chicken expert, but I know from raising two small children that there are certain things that get them more excited than other things, and things that they’ll respond to better than others.

 

I also tried to take temperament into consideration, and to choose breeds that aren’t known for being flighty or that are too antisocial.

 

I also took size into consideration, because we keep all kinds of breeds on our homestead, and I noticed that our children respond better to young chickens and smaller breeds because they’re less intimidating, especially the roosters.

 

So, that’s pretty much what’s reflected in my list of chicken breeds for children.

 

Now the other thing I should mention is in this podcast, I’m using the term “breeds” loosely. Some of these breeds are hybrids, and purists will shout that they’re not really breeds because they’re not recognized by the American Poultry Association, and I get that.

 

But until we come up with a different word in English for chicken breeds that are really hybrids, we’re going to continue to use the word breeds. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

 

So, there are many breeds that work well with children, and I can’t for the sake of time discuss them all, so I’ve just included five. These are good breeds for children, and are reflective of my opinion.

 

Your list might differ, but I think these five are a good starting point for someone wanting to bring chickens into their family that includes small children.

 

First on my list of chicken breeds for children are Cornish Crosses. And these are not your typical pet chicken breed, and if you don’t know what they are, they’re large meat chickens, often referred to as “frankenchickens” because they’re bred to grow freakishly large very quickly.

 

Now, if you hate Cornish Crosses or think they’re freaks of nature, just stay with me here. Cornish Crosses, because they’re bred to grow quickly, are quiet birds that don’t do much except lumber around.

 

They do enjoy human company though, more so than other breeds I’ve owned, and they’re happy to just sit quietly with people.

 

While they do have a tendency to die quicker than other breeds, if they’re well managed and not overfed, they can live quite a while. If you do decide to raise a Cornish cross, you need to remember they are not fully feathered and have a hard time regulating their own body temperature.

 

So, they’re more susceptible to temperature extremes, unlike other breeds that are fully feathered and can regulate their temperature better.

 

Cornish crosses do get quite large but they’re quiet birds and the roosters are placid giants that are not very territorial. We kept two Cornish crosses here as pet chickens, and both lost their lives to weather extremes, one to very hot weather and the other to weather that was too cold for her during tornado weather.

 

But because they’re not flighty, Cornish Crosses typically won’t scare children, and don’t really run away when approached. Like I said, they tolerate being held better than other breeds, and especially if you want to use chickens as a natural sciences teaching tool, then Cornish crosses are a good option.

 

They lay white eggs, and they lay much less frequently than other breeds. We had one hen that laid an egg every 3-4 days but her personality made up for the lack of egg laying.

 

Next on my list of chicken breeds for children are polish bantams. We’ve had a couple of these birds over the years, both hens and roosters.

 

READ NEXT: 10 ABNORMAL CHICKEN EGGS & WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!

 

One of the reasons I personally like them is that they look funny and have tufts of feathers on their heads that look like a puff ball. They’re eye catching, and I think because of that, and also because they look like cartoon characters, children can relate to them.

 

Our children liked them because they look like cartoon characters, and they’re placid, easy to get along with birds that don’t grow too big. They’re bantams, but our rooster did grow to the size of a large breed hen, he was about the same size as our rhode island red hens, but he wasn’t territorial and didn’t ever make a move to attack us. He just did his thing and minded his own business.

 

Polish bantams come in a variety of colors, our rooster was mostly black with red tipped feathers, and of course his pom-pom on the top of his head was black with red tipped feathers.

 

Polish bantams are not really excitable birds, I’m sure given the right circumstance they would be, but for the most part, movement didn’t bother them, which is good for small children because they tend to make sudden movements. Our Blue Copper Marans hens, for example, run away from our children because the sudden movements make them uncomfortable.

 

Polish bantams lay white eggs, and they’re good layers. Of course, the roosters don’t lay eggs, but they’re nice, easy to get along with birds that children love to watch.

 

The third chicken breed on our list today of chicken breeds for children are silkies. Now, for full disclosure, we don’t currently have any Silkes, but I wanted to mention them largely for the same reason I mentioned Polish bantams which is that they’re comical to look at and they look a little like cartoon characters.

 

To me, they look a bit like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

 

Now, at this time I want to address that you shouldn’t choose a chicken breed for your children just because they’re funny looking.

 

I know I’ve mentioned that I like Polish Bantams and Silkies as a breed for children because they’re cute, but by and large, you should choose a chicken breed for children because they’re a good fit on your farm and your kids want to raise them.

 

That being said, with this list, I’ve chosen breeds that I think are eye catching and that children can easily relate to. Since many people want to raise chickens as pets, or to teach their children about the world, or to teach them responsibility, choosing a breed that’s interesting to your children is the place to start.

 

Of course, you should always take the well-being of your chickens and your kids into mind, since both are living, breathing organisms. Both chickens and children should be kept in a safe environment and cared for accordingly.

 

So, getting back to Silkies.

 

Their feathers are also fluffier and finer than other chicken feathers, so small children are attracted to how they feel, and since their feathers are similar to mammal hair, I think children can relate to them. Children also like soft things, such as soft stuffed animals, so the texture of Silkie feathers are more attractive to small children.

 

There’s some debate out there about whether Silkies are a breed of bantam, and according to the American Poultry Association they’re considered a bantam breed.

 

Out of all the chicken breeds, Silkies are best known for their even, friendly temperaments, and some silkies are even used as therapy chickens for special-needs children because they’re so good with people.

 

One woman actually fought her city ordinances after she was made to get rid of her autistic son’s therapy chickens. She was told that she wasn’t allowed to have chickens, and would be fined $10,000 if she didn’t get rid of them.

 

But when her son’s health declined after the chickens were gone, she successfully got the city to alter the rules to allow her son’s therapy silkies, and was able to bring them back to her property.

 

So, a bit of history about the breed. Silkies originated in China, and made their way over to Western cultures via the Silk Route as well as on merchant ships.

 

Silkies were recognized officially by the Standard of Perfection in 1874. Unlike other chicken breeds, Silkies have 5 toes on their feet. They have all black skin, but their feathers can be different colors, including black, white, and buff.

 

They’re fluffy creatures that like Polish Bantams, they have a tuft on their head. Silkies also have feathers on their feet, and overall, their appearance is more attractive to small children than other chicken breeds.

 

One reason I mention silkies is because they’re small, adult males get around 4 pounds, so they not intimidating for children, and a good size for children to hold. Silkies roosters aren’t territorial so they’re less likely to attack your children.

 

Silkie chickens lay white eggs, and although they don’t lay as well as other breeds, they tend to go broody easily, and they will hatch eggs other than their own, so some people keep them as live incubators. Of course, a lot of people keep them as companions, as well.

 

READ NEXT: 5 CHICKEN BREEDS TO RAISE FOR COLORED EGGS

 

The fourth breed on our list are Easter eggers, and largely that’s because they lay colored eggs, and I think kids are fascinated by this. While most chickens lay brown or white eggs, Easter Eggers can lay blue, green, and even pink eggs.

 

We have one Easter Egger that lays pink eggs. I think kids get a kick out of the different colors, and it’s a little like Christmas or Easter every day for kids.

 

Unlike other breeds we’ve talked about in this podcast, Easter Eggers lay frequently, ours lay just about every day, so there’s always eggs for the kids to look for.

 

Easter Eggers are also effectively mixed breed birds, they’re a combination of chickens with the blue egg laying gene and other breeds, so they have hybrid vigor, and are generally healthy chickens to raise.

 

Easter eggers grow to a good size, around 6 pounds, but we haven’t personally had any Easter Egger roosters that were territorial. But that being said, because they do get bigger, Easter Eggers can be intimidating for small children simply because they grow to be the same size as small children.

 

Now one disadvantage of Easter Eggers is they’re more standoffish than other breeds we’ve discussed today, and generally don’t like to be held. So, if you’re looking for more of a lap chicken, then Silkies might be a better choice.

 

Last on our list of chicken breeds for children breeds for children are Cuckoo marans, and in this case, I recommend the hens only. We’ll talk in a minute about why that is.

 

As far as Cuckoo Marans hens go, we’ve had a few of them on the homestead, and they’ve been very friendly birds that enjoy human interaction. Ours would willingly be held, and as chicks, they would happily sit on our shoulders and take a snooze under my hair.

 

They were never aggressive and seemed to really enjoy human company, as long as there no sudden loud noises.

 

They’re a type of Marans, which are the dark brown egg layers. They’re also called chocolate egg layers.

 

Cuckoo marans also lay eggs frequently, every other day or so depending on the season and their diet. Cuckoo marans are barred chickens, mostly black with white barring. I think children enjoy the color of Cuckoo marans.

 

Like I said they’re more friendly birds than other breeds, and the ones we’ve had were willing to be held. They get larger than Silkies, for example, but the hens don’t get overwhelmingly large, 5 or so pounds. They have long, elegant-looking toes, and are just really nice birds to raise.

 

Now one disadvantage of cuckoo marans is they can move quickly when they’re scared or intimidated, and although they’re more scared of us than we are of them, so to speak, for children who get overwhelmed easily, a cuckoo maran might not be the best choice.

 

But like I said, cuckoo marans do enjoy human company, so if your child tends to be more in their head than you’d like them to be, cuckoo marans might help with that.

 

Now let’s talk for a minute about why I don’t recommend Marans roosters and other breeds of Marans.

 

I don’t recommend other breeds of Marans, we’ve had Black Copper and Blue Copper Marans here, and that’s because they tend to be flighty and run away from people. For children that want a pet or that are overwhelmed easily, they’re not the best idea.

 

Other breeds of Marans tend to be standoffish, and they don’t seem to like interacting with people too much, unlike the Cuckoo Marans.

 

I don’t recommend any Marans roosters in particular. We’ve had several Marans roosters here, both black copper and blue copper, and although we had a couple of exceptions, as a whole they were more territorial than the Marans hens and other roosters in general that we’ve had here on the homestead.

 

Our one Blue Copper Marans rooster, Lavender, is a quiet guy that won’t hurt anything, but he’s not your average rooster. The other Marans roosters we have are quite territorial, and one in particular likes to come after people.

 

This is good for a rooster who need to protect hens, but it’s not good for pet roosters, as it can frighten small children. For a while, our son was afraid of all chickens because this rooster would try to intimidate him by charging him, and this particular rooster has tried to charge me as well.

 

He’s never actually flogged anyone and it’s more about bravado than actually trying to hurt anyone, but children can’t tell the difference, and are easily intimidated by roosters like this.

 

The other rooster breeds we’ve had here have not been as territorial, and given the amount of Marans we’ve kept, I feel comfortable saying this is a breed trait.

 

Marans also grow to be large. The males can weigh as much as 8 pounds, and the hens 6, so they can grow as large and as tall as a 1 year old human.

 

My recommendation is to look at other breeds, or if you really want Marans, to keep them in a coop if they seem to present a problem for your children.

 

And that’s not saying that every Marans out there will be territorial, but by and large in my experience, they tend towards it more than other breeds I’ve seen.

 

So, let’s talk for a minute about why you might want to raise chicken breeds for children, and some of the advantages. Now again, I’m not a child development specialist, but I’ve noticed over the years that chickens are a gateway to teaching children about all sort of subjects, such as anatomy, natural sciences, and pretty much almost anything.

 

I like to think with chickens you can use a Montessori approach to teaching, for example, if your child is fascinated by the eggs your hens lay, you can use that as a springboard to teach about anatomy, biology, math, reproduction, colors (if your chickens are all one color), you get the point.

 

READ NEXT: WHAT ARE LASH EGGS?

 

You can also use your chickens as a way to teach kids where their food comes from, and to have respect for the life that yields that food.

 

With many people out there becoming more divorced from where their food comes from, there are people out there that don’t realize meat comes from animals, chickens are a healthy way to teach your kids where their food originates.

 

Chickens are also a way to teach kids about custodial duty and how to care for other living beings. Having to care for a live animal, regardless of the time of day, temperature, weather, etc teaches life skills in a more meaningful way. I think it also shapes kids into productive adults.

 

For example, someone I know, who now I wish I didn’t know, decided to throw a live rabbit he bought for his daughter to his dogs simply because he didn’t want to care for it anymore. What kind of lesson did that man teach his children?

 

So, raising chickens is one way to teach your children to value life and to be responsible for other living beings.

 

You can also use your chickens to teach about sharing. During the height of egg season, if you get more eggs than you can eat, giving them away to friends or family is one way to use chickens to teach your children that when they have too much of something, they can give it to someone who might not have any.

 

Or, you might prefer to teach your children about business and industry. For example, if you decide to sell your eggs, you children can help you take care of the chickens, or if they’re older, they can help you calculate how much your spending on feed and housing, and how that effects the price you sell your eggs for and any potential profits. You get the point.

 

You can also use your chickens to teach geography. For example, Silkies originated in China, and that’s a gateway to teaching about world cultures. They came to Western cultures via the Silk Trade route.

 

That’s a way to start talking to kids about human history and how different cultures historically interacted.

 

You can also teach US history, since breeds like Delawares originated in the US and are part of US history.

 

Chickens are also a way to get your children involved with programs like 4H and FFA, which stands for Future Farmers of America. Both of these programs work to shape the personalities of children and to teach them responsibility.

 

As an aside, FFA has scholarship programs and other opportunities available, perhaps 4H does as well, but I’m not as familiar with 4H. There’s many opportunities there, however, and I know chickens are a large part of FFA in our area.

 

One teenager I got my Blue Copper Marans from in our area was breeding them as part of his FFA scholastic credit, so that right there is telling you something. And like I said, both of these programs work to instill values in children and teach them skills they might not learn otherwise.

 

So, if you want to raise chicken breeds for children, but aren’t sure where to begin, you should first check your local ordinances to make sure you’re allowed to keep chickens.

 

Each area is different, but a good place to start is City Hall, to see if you’re allowed to have chickens in your backyard. Nothing is worse than getting attached to them only to have to find new homes for them.

 

Once you know you can have them, you’ll need to provide housing, so you’ll have to build or buy a coop. You can read one of my articles about how to build a coop at TheFrugalChicken.com/Tractor or you can buy one I recommend at TheFrugalChicken.com/Coop.

 

Just remember that you need to provide 10 square feet of space per chicken if they will be cooped all the time or 4 square feet if they will be allowed to free range.

 

They’ll also need feed and water.

 

If you’re looking for a good book to help your children learn to raise chickens, head over to Pantry Paratus, which is an online homesteading store.

 

There’s a wonderful book there called A Kid’s Guide To Keeping Chickens, which I highly recommend. It’s a step-by-step guide that kids can easily read to learn how to take care of their feathered friends.

 

You can find that book at TheFrugalChicken.com/KidGuide, that’s K-I-D-G-U-I-D-E, all one word.

 

Although I’m not an affiliate of Pantry Paratus, I talked to the owner, who is a wonderful woman named Chaya, and she agreed just for What The Cluck?! listeners to offer a special free shipping discount for orders over $100, and I think once you head over to the Pantry Paratus site, you’ll be super excited about all the awesome tools and books you’ll find over there.

 

Right now their books are 10%-40% off in the “How-Tos & Why-Tos” section, so I know I’ll be stocking up on some of their books.

 

So to use that free shipping opportunity, just use the code FrugalChicken, that’s F-R-U-G-A-L-C-H-I-C-K-E-N all one word. But you need to use it this month, because the coupon expires January 31.

 

Of course, I’ll also put that information as well as a link to Pantry Paratus in the show notes, which you can view at TheFrugalChicken.com/podcast15, that’s podcast one five all one word.

 

Well, I hope this podcast gives you a good idea of chicken breeds for children, and maybe it’s given you some ideas for breeds you can raise.

 

I’d love to hear about your experiences with chicken breeds for children or even if you have questions, so there’s something I want you to do. I would love it if you dropped me a line at [email protected]. I do respond to every email I get.

 

Now, if you have raise any chicken breeds for children, and you think their diet might be a problem, then you’ll be interested in my course Feeding Your Hens Right which comes out in January, which you can see at feedingyourhensright.com.

 

In this course, you’ll learn how to feed your chickens so they get an optimal diet, lead healthy happy lives, and lay the most nourishing eggs possible.

 

As we grow increasingly sophisticated in understanding where our food comes from and the repercussions of eating poor quality food, it’s important to understand how your hens diet effects the quality of her eggs.

 

Anyone who has a wheat allergy and can’t eat store bought eggs will understand what I mean. A friend recently told me that if she feeds her chickens a wheat based diet, her son, who is wheat intolerant, will get sick.

 

So, that right there is proof that your hen’s diet does effect the quality of her eggs, and studies have shown the exact same thing.

 

I’m not making this up, researchers have proven it in several studies.

 

If feeding your family the most nutritious food possible is important to you, then you’ll want to check out my course. It’s 5 video workshops, that you can access at any time. There’s specific recipes for homemade feed that can be tailored to your particular needs, and you’ll learn how to raise a happy, healthy flock of chickens.

 

The URL for that course is FeedingYourHensRight.Com, all one word.

 

Thanks for listening to this episode of What the Cluck?! about chicken breeds for children, and I’ll see you next time!

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Save Money With A Backyard Chicken Fall Garden [Podcast]

Although it’s still the middle of summer, starting a fall garden for your chickens means when cooler weather rolls around, your flock can still enjoy fresh, organic treats.

 

In cooler weather, your chickens are more likely to suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiency, especially if you rely heavily on foraging to supplement your flock’s diet.

 

Cooler weather means less plants are available for your flock to scrounge up, and when there’s snow or wet weather, many chickens stop foraging altogether.

 

But as a smart owner, you can beat poor nutrition to the punch by starting now with a fall garden.

 

In this podcast, you’ll learn about 7 vegetables you can start so your hens can enjoy fresh produce even when nature works against you.
 

 

You’ll learn:

  • The 7 vegetables we’ve had the best success with
  • Why each vegetable helps your flock combat nutrient loss
  • How to extend your growing season into snowy weather
  • Why putting other animals in your greenhouse means a longer growing season

 

Links we discuss:

Butcher Box 

Where to buy raised beds

7 Best Herbs for Chickens to Eat

 

 

 

Butcher Box square

 

I’d like to hear from you!

What are you going to grow for your chickens in your fall garden? Leave a comment below!

Fall In Love With Feeding Pumpkins To Your Chickens + Fall Coop Spray Recipe! [Podcast]

T’is the season for pumpkins…but do you know why they’re so healthy for chickens?

 

Do you know how to safely feed them? How about how to get them for next to nothing?

 

Well, get ready and get on the edge of your seat, because you’re about to discover just how beneficial pumpkin can be to your coop AND your wallet this season.

 

In this podcast, you’ll learn:

  • Why pumpkins are a great addition to your flock’s diet (but why they shouldn’t REPLACE their diet)
  • How to safely feed pumpkin so your flock gets the most benefit
  • Where to find pumpkins for free and how to ask for them
  • My recipe for a fall spray to help keep your coop clean and smelling fresh

 

Links we discuss:

These are the essential oils I use

 

Wondering if you can feed pumpkins to your backyard chickens? You can, and here's why you should!

 

Can Chickens Eat Algae? Combating Iron Deficiency For Better Eggs [Podcast]

Can chickens eat algae? Yes. Yes, they can.

 

You might already that kelp is something healthy to feed your hens, but what about spirulina?

 

And did you know that soaking wheat can actually improve your flock’s iron absorption?

 

We’ve dealt with iron deficiency in a couple hens on our farm, and it’s not fun. 

 

And I’ve learned over the years that it can easily happen if you’re not watching what your flock is eating—and whether other chickens are preventing a hen from eating (which is why it’s so important to put more than one feeder in your coop).

 

Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, which can lead to death, so you definitely don’t want to overlook it!

 

In this episode of What The Cluck?!we geek out a bit on iron-rich supplements for your hens that might help them recover if they’re suffering from low iron or that can help prevent a deficiency.

 

And after this episode, I think you’ll look at wheat berries a little differently, too.

 

You’ll learn:

  • What you can feed your chickens to make sure they don’t become iron deficient
  • What iron deficiency means for your hens’ health
  • Why wheat might play an important role in helping hens suffering from low iron
  • Why I’m going to start giving my flock spirulina

 

Links we discuss:

Where to buy kelp

Where to buy spirulina

Where to buy wheat berries

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you think you’ll try feeding your hens kelp or spirulina? Leave a comment below!