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Red Mites

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Red mites

 

Red mites are small parasites, which live on the housing, coming out at night to feed on the resident animals – usually poultry. They like to live in crevices and on rough patches in the housing and can be difficult to get rid of if not found and treated early. So vigilance, good husbandry and regular preventative treatment are all vital.

 

If the infestation is left to grow, then the hens will become anaemic, stop laying, and in the case of any poorly or old hens, may even die, although this is rare.

 

Housing

Choosing your housing carefully can help prevent any bad infestations; if you are buying or building wooden housing, then try to use Onduline as a roofing cover rather than roofing felt. The felt is a favourite hiding place for red mites and they can lie dormant under there for months without a blood-feed.

 

Before you get your hens, fill all the nooks and crannies inside the house, then paint over with varnish or gloss paint, but be sure to air it well for a few days before putting the chooks in it.

 

Plastic housing is naturally easier to clean, and has fewer places for the mites to hide, but isn’t mite-proof… nothing is! The same principles apply for preventative and remedial cleaning as with wooden housing. Above all, vigilance is critical; a large infestation doesn’t ‘suddenly happen’, it will gradually build up over weeks.

 

Detection

Red mites are very rarely seen on the chickens, it’s not unknown for the odd few to remain on a bird after night-feeding; this is how they can get carried from one coop to another. Your birds may appear lethargic though, or be reluctant to go into the coop at night.

 

The mites can be found in the housing, in crevices and on the ends of the roosting bars, they look like clumps of small grey pinpricks, which will be red if they have recently had a blood-feed.

 

Laura_E_John-4.jpg

Photo courtesy of Terry Beebe

 

A quick test to see if you have them is to wipe a piece of white kitchen towel on the suspect areas; it will come away with bloody specks if you have any present.

 

Treatment

The treatment/eradication isn’t hard; you just need to be persistent and methodical.

 

Dismantle the housing to let UV light in (it kills red mites) and wash it thoroughly with something like Poultry Shield or Total Mite Kill (the latter contains Permethrin, so keep cats away from it). Either allow the house to dry in the sun, or towel dry before dusting carefully with either Diatom, Ant Powder (contains Permethrin) or a similar product. Then rebuild and replace the bedding/litter. This will need to be done weekly, or more often if you actually have an infestation. Jetwashing is always a good way to get rid of them, but you will still need to treat with Poultry Shield or Total Mite Kill afterwards.

 

If you do find any on your birds, then I suggest dosing with a Permethrin-based spray, but be aware that this is not licensed for use on poultry in the UK, and that an egg withdrawal period is required.

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I am very concerned, about this red mite problem that i am having, my Omlet Cube was infested, and I actually think it must have happened very quickly aqs i have been very good at cleaning and have always used Diatom everywhere.

I think that as the Cube has been designed to come to pieces so you can clean it has too many nooks and crannies making the whole cleaning thing counter productive, and those red mites hid in all the slidy channel areas and bolts.

Now I am certain after my 5 hour cleaning attempt thatthey are living on me, and I dont know what to do, I am constantly itchy and keep finding them on myself... Any suggestions welcome, also my hens have pretty much stopped laying, but they seem ok, and I am dusting them down with Diatom daily..

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They could be laying less due to the reduction in daylight hours, but then it could be due to an infestation of mites.

 

Is your cube near a wooden shed or pergola, which could have mites?

 

You don't mention what you are cleaning/spraying your cube with, but may I suggest tackling it with some Total Mite Kill Concentrate and then powering it with some Buz Busters - that has proved to be a winning combo for a few people now.

 

Do you treat your birds with a preventative? It might be time to get to the vet and get some.

 

As for yourself; you will have read warnings on here regarding taking care not to transport them into your house - so all clothing needs to be taken off and put into a hot wash before you have a hot shower yourself... do not stop on the way to the shower to sit down on the sofa, or you'll find them there too! I can't remember who, but someone on here used a permethrin based dog shampoo when they picked up red mites in their hair - couldn't possibly recommend that for human use, but they said that it worked.

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My cube is in a large wooden summer house.. I have sprayed with poultry shield but not the stuff you mentioned, I think I have already brought them into the house :( as I have seen them on me whilst I have been sitting in my lounge,, urgh.. what now? What is the preventative from the vets?.. and what can I use indoors? :roll:

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They might well be coming from the wooden summer house then - does the cube need to be in the summer house?

 

Preventatives from the vet usually take the form of Ivermectin or Ivomec Eprinex, neither of which are licensed for use on poultry in the UK, but are regularly recommended by vets. A quick trawl through the various threads currently running on this forum will give you all the answers.

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I think you have already answered my questions but am really just posting for a bit of moral support!

We only got our 3 chickens 3 weeks ago and in that time my husband has been working away, toddler had chickenpox, and chook house full of red mites - aahhh!!

Only seemed to be a few initially and was advised to use Duramitex spray after a good clean out. This seemed to reduce numbers for a couple of days but then they were back - fat and red.

Today have sprayed all of house with Poultry Shield solution and then used diatom when it was all dry (do you just sprinkle it around - I did this and then rubbed a handful into each chicken but not sure this is right?). I've also not filled up the nest boxes tonight, and blocked them off. They have always slept in there on top of eachother and someone mentioned trying to get them onto their perches for the night to help things.

Have just been out now and there are still quite a few mites around.

What do I do from here? How often can I respray with Poultry Shield? Are the eggs ok to consume during all this?

The chickens are still laying daily and seem well, although I still feel very new to this and not sure I would pick up on minor changes.

Also, the coop/run is on a sunken hard standing which we have filled to a few inches with wood chip. Could this be exacerbating things?

Thanks for reading - just feel a bit desperate, and don't want them to suffer! Sure I have a couple of bites myself and am paranoidly examining every fleck of dirt I can see!

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So long as you are spraying t he housing rather than the birds, the eggs will be fine to eat.

 

I'd find products which contain permethrin if you really want to get rid of the mites.

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Have just been to shut them up for the night and they are huddled on the floor of the coop - no perching here! and looking very grumpy at not having a nice fluffy bed for the night!

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Just pop them up on the roosting bars, they'll get the hang of it eventually. it's far healthier for them to have the air circulating around their nethers. Being hunched up and warm tend to encourage lice and mites to attack them.

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Thanks - will get them on the perches tonight. Off to source some Total Mite Kill today as yesterdays efforts seem to have been in vain as although much much fewer, there is a large clump of what look like tiny new mites in one corner of the roof. Going to pluck up courage to strip off roof as think it must all be going on under there. Also read somewhere about making DE into a paste to paint around gaps and perch ends etc so will give that a go too - they will not win!

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If you have a felt roof, then that will be the source of your problems; I'd recommend to strip it off and replace with Onduline.

 

onduline.jpg

 

A couple of years back an acquaintance of mine went through a succession of wooden shed for her medium sized flock, the hens were carrying the odd critter with them and then they were getting established under the roofing felt of the new shed each time. In the end she bit the bullet and bought two cubes, sprayed all the birds and took great delight in torching the sheds 8):lol:

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Anyone else found that an upside to the horrible weather has been less red mites? I have one area in my wooden house where they congregate, under the removable nest box and I spray that with Total mite Kill every week and I have been finding far less than last year when I was having to clean them out every few days.

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No problem here but that sounds good Liz. 8) you could also try sprinkling some Buz Busters powder from the same range; that really zaps them.

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I have just found red mites in the wooden coop. The girls have taken themselves in it and we closed the Eglu up. We had 2 new girls 4 weeks ago and I don't know if the red mite came in with them. The wooden coop had been empty for months and we used it again for the new girls. I have done what has been recommended but my husband wonders if we ought to burn the coop. I have been lucky as this is the 1st time in 4 years of hen keeping so I am having to find my way .We only use the wooden coop when we have new hens.

Jackie

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It is possible that they could have come with the new birds; it's been known. I'd always use a preventative and spray on all new birds as a matter of course. They can also live for ages without a blood-feed on a coop, wooden or otherwise, especially if it has felt roofing.

 

I'd strip it all back, wash thoroughly, get as much sunlight in as possible, then douse with Total Mite Kill Concentrate and powder with Buz Busters. Do that every 3-4 days for a couple of weeks and you should hit it on the head. It the housing has roofing felt then it might be worth replacing that.

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I will second what DM has said about felt roofing, that was our big mistake when we built our own coop. We stripped it off in the spring last year and it was thick with mites, we then filled all of the gaps and then painted it will a couple of coats of gloss paint, we also have a removable nest box which we have to take off and clean where it sits against the coop every few days, we also spray the joint with Total Mite Kill pink spray and leave it on. It was a tough struggle against them last year, but we are much more on top of it this year, the weather has also helped I think.

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Hello,

I wondered if you could advise me where I can get the onduline material for my coop? I've looked on a few of the

DIY stores but no joy. I've had to remove the original roof as it had two layers of wood and I couldn't ever be sure the roof was mite free so currently using plastic sheeting but would like something very secure like the onduline. Also another question. I spotted the mites 2 weeks ago and have treated the chickens/coops and am daily spraying etc. Is it building up a resistance to them and literally keeping them at bay? I have spotted 3 today, not red one's but its quite disheartening when I think i'm going wrong somewhere. Thinking of buying 2 cubes if all else fails!

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:lol: you wouldn't be the only one to torch the coops and get cubes!

 

There was Onduline in our local Wickes the other week when I looked. Countrywide stores often have it too. Just done a quick search online and there are loads of stockists including the roofing superstore.

 

It's unlikely that the mites will have built up a resistance but keep it powdered with Buz Busters and the housing dry.

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Hello,

Any advice gratefully received! Have just noticed a mite in the chicken house :(

I gave the house a deep clean wash about 2 weeks ago and didn't see any then so did I maybe

Wash away the powder/spray protection? Thought I wouldn't need to be worried about mites till it was warmer.

On a positive it's not affecting laying and our 6/7 months Perkins are starting to lay so should I just keep applying the powder and maybe the poultry shield or is this too late? I do have them on sawdust as I thought the straw was a factor last year. Many thanks in advance

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It depends on which products you are using; Total Mite Kill Concentrate leaves a coating residue so it's harder to wash off and provides a more lasting effect. I tend to wash the housing thoroughly with soapy water, dry it, then make up a spray of TMK and spray the lot before powdering with Buz Busters and putting it all back together.

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Hi ive just bought a second hand pink egglu classic . I have yet to purchase chickens. its being kept in my back garden. I was looking at in the daylight a few days ago and saw several really small {1mm max} }red coloured spider like insects crawling around on the outside.

I at first feared red mites but they are always red, not grey, very small, spider like, out in the daylight and do not resemble the images on the internet of mites

Any advice as to what they are?

I can e-mail an image if anyone has suggestions

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They're not red mites (which don't do daylight) they are just spider mites and fine. I'd still give it a good scrub though (you probably already have) and spray it with Total Mite Kill Concentrate.

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