Chicken Mites: Fast & All Natural Solutions

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
Why Are My Chicken’s Feathers Falling Out?

Why Are My Chicken’s Feathers Falling Out?

Why are my chicken’s feathers falling out?!?!? This is one of the biggest questions I get from concerned new chicken owners.

 

There are many reasons why your chicken’s feathers might be falling out. I’ll go through some of the main ones today and give you tips on what you should do.

 

The top reasons chickens lose feathers are:

  1. Molting
  2. Not enough protein
  3. Self-inflicted from stress
  4. Broodiness
  5. Picking by bullies
  6. Mites and lice
  7. Vent gleet
  8. Overmating by roosters

 

Molting

So, chickens molt. And it’s a very common reason why chickens lose feathers.

 

In case you don’t know, molting is when chickens lose feathers and then those feathers are replaced by new ones.

 

And luckily, it’s a natural and totally normal process. (Ducks molt, too!) that happens more or less once a year (normally in the fall), and it can be ugly. (Not always, but sometimes you’ll wonder what happened to your once beautiful hens!)

 

I love chickens, but they just aren’t that good looking when they’re going through a rough molt. It’s messy, ugly, and a little bit uncomfortable as the feathers grow back.

 

The molting process can be scary for first time chicken owners, but realize that your chickens losing their feathers in a molt is a normal process.

 

If you want, you can feed them a high protein treat (like BEE A Happy Hen, which we sell in the store) to help them stay healthy and regrow their feathers.

 


Freaked out over feather loss?

 

Not enough protein

Another reason your chickens could be losing their feathers is because they aren’t getting enough protein. This can happen if you’re feeding your chickens scratch or letting them forage for their food

 

Even if you allow your chickens to roam around the yard and they’re finding and eating bugs as they do so, you need to make sure that you are also providing them with access to feed that is nutritionally balanced and has the appropriate amount of protein.

 

If your chickens start losing their feathers without an explanation (such as molting), then evaluate their diet and feed that you are providing.

black soldier fly larvae backyard chicken treat

What to do:

Provide more protein!!! Start incorporating black soldier fly larvae (we sell them in the store right here – use coupon code FEATHERS to save 10%) or mealworms (use coupon code FEATHERS to save 10%) into your chickens diet – you can mix it with their feed or give it as a treat (we have lots of treats in the store with dried insects for just this reason!).

 

Plus chickens LOVE them  (like….really love them, LOL!) so they will eat it happily! If you want to raise them yourself, it’s easy to start a mealworm or black soldier fly larvae farm

 

Self-inflicted picking or picking by other chickens

One reason your chickens might lose their feathers is from picking, which is usually caused by environmental stress such as over crowding or bullying. Think of it as a reaction to anxiety.

 

Bullying among chickens CAN happen (personally, we’ve been lucky and not experienced this in our coop, but yours might have an alpha hen who picks on a more subservient hen).

 

Every coop has a social order and particularly if the flock as a whole is stressed or the “picked on” hen is new, chickens will sometimes peck the victim until she’s lost her feathers.

 

Or your chickens could also be stressed and so they begin picking feathers of other hens in the coop to deal with that stress.

 

What to do:

The simplest thing to do in this case is figure out why your chickens are stressed and try to remove the problem. If they’re over crowded (10 square feet per chicken in a coop is a good guideline), then give them more room.

 

If they’re bored, then provide environmental enrichment such as treats they have to “hunt” for, swings, branches for them to fly up to (this can also give them more room), places to hide, etc.

 

One popular idea is to put a treat such as cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, or cucumbers on a string and allow your flock to peck at it.

 

If your flock has a bully, then you can remove the bullied chicken from the coop and isolate her from the flock (give her a friend since 2 chickens together are likely to bond since they only have each other for company). You can then try to reintroduce everyone a few days later or continue to keep them separate.

 

If your chickens lose feathers still, then you should figure out if the problem is something else.

 

Broodiness

Chicken’s may also be picking their feathers due to broodiness. Some chickens get broody (i.e they really want their eggs to hatch) and so they’ll sit on their eggs for long periods of time and often pick their own feathers and lay them around their eggs for warmth.

 

If you want your hen to hatch the eggs, then let her do it, and understand she’ll stop picking her feathers after the chicks hatch.

 

If you don’t want her to hatch chicks, then break her broodiness. She should stop losing feathers because she’ll stop picking at herself.

 

Mites & Lice

Yuck. I hate lice and chicken mites, and they can definitely cause your chickens to lose feathers. Now, you might say “I don’t see any mites on my chickens” and assume the issue is something else.

 

I hear this a LOT from chicken owners trying to figure out feather loss. Even though you might not see mites on your chickens, they can still be the source of your trouble.

 

Mites are sneaky. They hide in corners of your coop and then come out at night and infest your flock. And eventually, they can cause more than feather loss – they can cause your chickens to lose the scales on their legs and eventually death as they rob your hens of nutrients.

Chicken losing feathers completely? Here's what to do!

What to do:

Even if you don’t think mites are why your chickens are losing feathers, you can still preemptively clean your coop and use herbs such as peppermint and cinnamon and diatomaceous earth to keep mites and lice away.

 

If you don’t know, diatomaceous earth is a powder that your chickens can bathe in. It has been shown in scientific studies to reduce the number of mites and lice in chickens because it’s sharp edges cut the exoskeletons of insects, causing them to die.

 

However, I highly recommend that you only use DE in well ventilated areas, and keep your flock out of the coop while you’re spreading it about (a little goes a long way)! Chickens have a very delicate respiratory system, so you want to be careful that they don’t inhale it on a regular basis.

 

If you don’t want to bother with DE, you can just use herbs. Mint repels insects, so hanging peppermint around the coop or nesting box is a great way to get rid of or prevent a mite infestation.

 

Another option is to provide garlic for your flock (we sell shelf-stable garlic granules in the store, which I’ve found hens prefer over fresh garlic). Because of the spicy nature of garlic, it repels external parasites (and it’ll help your flock’s immune system as well!)

 

Vent gleet

Another reason your chickens could be losing their feathers is vent gleet, which is a fungal infection in the vent (where your chicken expels waste and eggs) and it can cause some pretty nasty whitish/yellowish discharge along with a loss of feathers.

 

Think of it like a yeast infection. It’s gross and it’s definitely not good for your chicken!

 

What to do:

If you think your chicken has vent gleet, then the best thing to do is take her to the vet, who can give you medications or make recommendations for all natural solutions.

 

One way you can help prevent vent gleet is to ensure your chickens have good gut health! You can do this by adding some apple cider vinegar (about a tablespoon per gallon) to your chicken’s water. We sell apple cider vinegar granules in the store – they’re shelf stable and easy to add to water or feed.

 

 

Rowdy roosters 

So roosters like to mate. A LOT. It’s normal and part of a flock’s social dynamics. If you notice your hens are losing feathers on their back (and only their back) and you have a rooster, you can be pretty sure the issue is overmating.

 

This isn’t to be taken lightly – I’ve seen cases where roosters were overmating hens to the point where the hens lost not just their feathers, but the skin on their chests – which, of course, is a much bigger issue than losing feathers. 

 

In summer, this can end in a bad case of fly strike, and you might have to put your hen down if it’s bad enough.

 

Fly strike is notoriously difficult to get rid of, and treatment – which consists of picking maggots off your hen’s body and removing dead tissue – is painful and difficult, and a lot of animals simply die of shock).

 

Roosters stand on top of hens backs while they are mating and they can cut your hens or cause them to lose feathers.

 

If this happens you might need to separate the roosters from your hens to keep your girls safe. If the issue is only feather loss (and not skin loss), you can also use a chicken saddle, which will cover the bald area.

 

If you have multiple roosters and see them excessively bickering over the hens, then it’s time to either give each rooster his own flock of hens, or re-home one of the roosters.

 

If you have multiple roosters and notice one rooster is losing feathers on his back, then it’s time to separate him from his “prison buddy” if you get my drift. (Yes, this is a real thing that can happen because it’s about social dominance and their pecking order).

 

 

Chicken Emergency Kits: Making Stressful Situations Less Intimidating!

Chicken Emergency Kits: Making Stressful Situations Less Intimidating!

It’s always a very good idea to create your own chicken emergency kit – and in this article, I’m going to give you ideas about what to keep in it.

 

While we all might like to think our chicken-keeping experience will be bucolic and without any trouble, the straight truth is you will likely come up against some sort of trouble at some point.

 

Mites, worms, cuts, or infections tend to rear their ugly head at the most inconvenient times (like when you plan to be out of town for a week – chickens have great timing like that) and having an emergency kit on hand will make a stressful situation easier.

 

The items in this article are just a suggestion – you can add or subtract or include your own items as you find what works for your particular backyard chicken flock.

 

There’s also links where you can buy these items directly from Amazon, so you have them on hand.

What should you add in the chicken emergency kit?

 

The first thing you may want to purchase is a plastic container that also has a cover, like this one. You will want to clearly mark it (write “Chicken Emergency Kit” on it with a marker, for example) so you can easily locate it, and your family doesn’t raid it for supplies for other projects.

Once you have the plastic container ready, you will have to think about the items to include.

Here’s some that are easy to source and can save your butt (and possibly your hen’s life):

 

Nutri drench

Click here to get it on Amazon

This is powdered electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals that you mix with water. You can offer it to your chicken when they’re hurt to keep them hydrated and healthy enough to combat their illness or trauma. If they’re stressed and in pain, they’re less likely to eat and drink. Very important!

 

Saline solution

Click here to get it on Amazon

If your chicken has dust or dirt in her eyes or an open wound, saline solution will help you flush it clean.

 

Triple antibiotic ointment or natural alternative

Click here to get antibiotic ointment on Amazon

Click here to get a natural alternative on Amazon

If your chicken get an open wound, you will need to put something on it after flushing it clean. If you use over-the-counter drugs with your flock then triple antibiotic ointment is great, or a natural alternative if you’re raising them 100% natural.

 

Blu-Kote

Click here to buy it on Amazon

Another topical antiseptic alternative. I don’t personally use it, but a lot of people like Blu-Kote because it’s blue, and deters other chickens from picking at open wounds. (However, if you use an all-natural thick salve, you will have the same effect)

 

Pure organic honey

Click here to buy it on Amazon

(Check the label that there’s ONLY honey in it – no corn syrup or other additives). Honey is great for wounds, especially if the sores are wet and gooey. It can be hard to put salve or ointments on wet wounds, and honey has natural antibacterial qualities and gets into tiny crevices to battle bacteria.

 

Poultry VetRX

Click here to buy it on Amazon

This is based on an all-natural formula that’s been around since the 19th century. It’s particularly great for colds or upper-respiratory infections, and can come in handy for eye worms, scaly legs as well. Ingredients include Canada balsam, camphor, oil origanum, oil rosemary, all blended in a corn oil base.

 

Diatomaceous Earth

Click here to buy it on Amazon

Just keep a small bag around for emergencies. It’s great for scaly leg mites, but be sure to apply it on a windy day or at least in a breezy area so neither you nor your chicken inhale it. Food-grade only!

 

Coconut oil

Click here to buy it on Amazon

If you plant to use essential oils to support a healthy hen, then you can dilute it in the oil. Also great for adding moisture to excessively dry skin.

 

Heat lamp or heating pad

Click here to buy a heat lamp on Amazon

Click here to buy a heating pad on Amazon

Even if your chicken isn’t a chick, when they’re sick, keeping them warm is a good idea, as long as the ambient temperature in the room isn’t too hot. Also be sure to give them an area to get out of the heat, if your chicken wants to.

 

Penicillin or Tylan 50

It’s best to get this through a vet or from your local feed store

If you’re using Western medicine to treat your flock then having injectible antibiotics on hand is a good idea. Check with a poultry vet for the correct dosage.

 

Probiotics

Click here to buy it on Amazon

If you have a sick or injured chicken, giving them probiotics will help ensure their body has good gut health to help them heal (it won’t heal a broken leg, for example, but it WILL ensure your chicken has good gut health to maintain SOME standard of health – a wonky gut will only make healing more difficult).

 

Some standard chicken emergency kit items also include:

 

  • Gauze pads
  • A first aid tape
  • Cotton swabs
  • Wooden popsicle sticks to act as a splint for legs or wings
  • Syringes for dosing or helping a hen stay hydrated – Click here to buy syringes on Amazon

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you have a chicken emergency kit created yet? What do you keep in yours? Leave a comment below!

Diatomaceous Earth & Chickens: What’s The Deal?

Diatomaceous Earth & Chickens: What’s The Deal?

[brid autoplay=”true” video=”453660″ player=”19074″ title=”Diatomaceous Earth & Chickens” description=”Been hearing the buzz about diatomaceous earth and it’s health benefits for chickens but not sure what the excitement is about? Here’s how to use diatomaceous earth in your coop and why it keeps chickens healthy.” duration=”417″ uploaddate=”2019-08-21 17:18:33″ thumbnailurl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/14575/thumb/453660_t_1566407583.png”]

What is diatomaceous earth? And what’s the benefits to chickens?

 

 

No worries. I had no clue either.

 

We started using DE on our farm a while ago, and haven’t looked back since. We had a number of Cornish Cross chickens which had gotten so large they couldn’t clean themselves very well any more. 

 

 

But they liked to roll!

Ever since we started offering diatomaceous earth to our chickens, they've been so much healthier. Here's what it is and how to use it in the coop! From FrugalChicken

To help them keep bug free, we started offering boxes of diatomaceous earth with regular sand dirt for them to use. And it was a hit!

 

 

The other chickens LOVED it, and the amount of mites and lice on them began to reduce. So we were sold.

 

 

You can find diatomaceous earth in any feed store. If you want to purchase it over Amazon, here’s a great option:

 

 

But what is this stuff anyway?

 

Diatomaceous earth is the crushed shells of diatoms (aquatic alge) that have fossilized into substrate in aquatic sites.

 

 

Those sites are mined, and boom! Powdered diatomaceous earth is born (okay, that’s a very quick boom, but I’m not going to bore you with details.)

 

The upshot is that diatomaceous earth is mostly silica, clay minerals, and iron oxide – all good, natural stuff.

 

Ever since we started offering diatomaceous earth to our chickens, they've been so much healthier. Here's what it is and how to use it in the coop! From FrugalChicken

Image from Wikipedia

 

It’s also great to use in your soil since it kills soft-body insects by eliminating necessary oils from their body, causing the bugs to dry out.

 

Yup, kind of gross, but good for your chickens.

 

Food grade vs. non-food grade diatomaceous earth

 

First things first. If you want to offer diatomaceous earth to your chickens, you need to make sure it’s FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth.

 

Ever since we started offering diatomaceous earth to our chickens, they've been so much healthier. Here's what it is and how to use it in the coop! From FrugalChicken

 

Here’s the deal:

 

That little food grade label means it’s safe for anyone, even people, to eat. Without that stamp, you’re taking a chance.

 

Chickens that bathe in diatomaceous earth will likely try tasting it too. As long as you offer food grade diatomaceous earth to your chickens, it’s okay if they eat it.

 

It’s unclear whether chickens derive any health benefits from eating it, but at the worst, it’ll do nothing.

 

Ok, so what good is diatomaceous earth?

Great question. There’s a couple answers.   Diatomaceous earth is proven to be effective in controlling external parasites on your chickens, such as mites, fleas, lice and other external parasites that might infest near feather follicles or your hen’s vent.

Ever since we started offering diatomaceous earth to our chickens, they've been so much healthier. Here's what it is and how to use it in the coop! From FrugalChicken

A good place to look for mites is around your chicken’s vent.

In a study performed by the University of California Riverside, chickens that rolled in a dust bath of sand and diatomaceous earth showed a huge reduction in the amount of external parasites after just a week – pretty powerful stuff.           If you have chickens that aren’t laying as well, it might possibly be caused by mites. If your chickens have to fight of an infestation, they have less energy for egg production.

So what’s the bad news?

 

As great as it is for external parasites like mites, diatomaceous earth has spotty results when it comes to internal parasites.

 

One study performed in Vancouver showed that diatomaceous earth is effective in controlling internal parasites, and the chickens were heavier and laid more eggs when fed diatomaceous earth.

 

However, studies in the US have been largely unsuccessful.

 

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, just that some studies show it works while other studies show diatomaceous earth does nothing to reduce internal parasites (like worms) in chickens.

 

It’s inconclusive.

 

The bottom line?

 

I would venture to say we really don’t know how effective diatomaceous earth is when it comes to internal parasites.

 

But here’s the thing:

 

We know it isn’t likely to do anything bad, and the bottom line is that if your chickens are bathing it it, chances are they’ll sample it too. They’re curious creatures like that.

 

So, whether it’s effective or not, they’re likely getting it anyway.

 

How to use diatomaceous earth

 

Making a diatomaceous earth box

 

The easiest way to incorporate DE into your coop is by offering a dust box loaded with a diatomaceous earth/sand or dirt mix. There’s really no formula for how much of either to offer, so I go with a 1:1 ratio. 

 

I found when I offered a box with diatomaceous earth alone, the chickens looked at me like I’d grown a second head, and they didn’t use it. So, I recommend mixing it with dirt so your chickens get the idea.

 

I first line the box with dirt, then add the diatomaceous earth and mix slightly so the chickens get the idea that it’s not just this weird grey stuff.

 

If you plan to offer your DE box in a run, you will need to remove it when it rains, otherwise you’ll be left with a gloppy mess. If you offer it in the coop, then you’re golden. 

 

 

Sprinkling it in dirt

 

Another option, if you don’t want to make a DE box is to simply sprinkle the diatomaceous earth in an area where your chickens already habitually roll. 

 

 

This is a good option for chickens who aren’t quite getting the idea of using a DE box or who just prefer a good roll in the dirt.

 

 

Simply sprinkle DE in their favorite roll area and let them use it at will. The diatomaceous earth will still be effective.

 

Offering diatomaceous earth in food

 

While the effects of diatomaceous earth in controlling internal parasites is inconclusive, you can still offer it to your chickens in their feed. 

 

 

An added benefit is that DE is proven to control insects in livestock feed since it dries the little buggers out, and there are chicken farmers out there who mix DE with their chicken feed, especially if they buy a lot of it and store it. 

 

 

Nothing is worse than feed that’s gotten infested (ask me how I know.)

 

 

There’s no proven formula for mixing DE in their food. One good option is to simply sprinkle a dusting on their dinner and mixing before offering it to your chickens. 

 

 

The advantage to mixing the DE into the feed is the diatomaceous earth will cling to the feed (whether you feed a grain, scraps, corn, etc.) and your chickens are more likely to get it into their system than if you simply sprinkle it on top.

 

 

You can also offer it separately. Remember, also, your chickens will likely sample it as they roll in it, but if you want more control over the amount of diatomaceous earth they consume, mixing it into their feed is a great option.

 

 

If you use my homemade organic chicken feed recipe, another option is to sprinkle it on the fodder. It will stick to the wheat (or barley) sprouts and your chickens can eat it that way. 

 

The effects of diatomaceous earth are still being studied, but with the mounting evidence that it’s effective in controlling mites, lice, and other external bugs, it’s something you should try in your own coop!

 

I’d love to hear from you!

 

Do you think you’ll give diatomaceous earth a shot? Let me know by email or leave a comment below!

 

 

References:

Housing and dustbathing effects on northern fowl mites (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) and chicken body lice (Menacanthus stramineus) on hens.” Department of Entomology, University of California Riverside. PubMed.

 

Effect of diatomaceous earth on parasite load, egg production, and egg quality of free-range organic laying hens.” Avian Research Centre, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia. PubMed.

 

Ever since we started offering diatomaceous earth to our chickens, they've been so much healthier. Here's what it is and how to use it in the coop!

 

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