Monday, October 21, 2013

Do Your Chicken Have Mites!?!?!

I can honestly say we have never had mites, thank goodness. Well then why am I writing a piece about mites? Well because there is a lot of misinformation floating around the internet by "popular" sites that are pointing people in the wrong direction. That may sound harsh of me, but I am more concerned for people and their birds then someone else's ego. So here is the real information YOU need to know about food grade diatomaceous earth, mites, and your chickens.

So what is diatomaceous earth (DE)? DE is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that is ground to a powder. So how does it work on mites? DE absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects' exoskeletons, this causes the mites to dehydrate and die.

So why do some people have it out for DE? Honestly I don't know. Some people claim DE is bad for a chicken's respiratory system.... but chickens take DUST baths.... they like dust. Dust baths can be made up of simple dirt and sand along with wood ash and our friend DE. If it is a naturally occurring thing, well I will take it over the alternatives any day of the week.

Some sites say you should use Sevin Dust, which is the commercial name of the chemical insecticide Carbaryl. Yes, I said CHEMICAL and frankly I like to avoid toxic chemicals when it comes to my girls. While Sevin Dust does effectively kill mites it also kills non targeted insects, like the beneficial honey bee. Sorry but I like my honey bees too.

Here are some other suggested mite cures I have seen floating around the Internet, which makes me just want to slap my forehead (or someone else’s) because why in the world would you use these........

1.) Dog flea shampoo - One thing to say about this.... TOXIC. It is meant for dogs, not chickens and should NOT be used on them.

2.) Pyrethrum - It only kills adult mites, not eggs. This mean you will be making repeated application. Repeated applications means more chance of toxicity for your birds. If you are using this on meat birds, you will need to make sure to trim the fat as pesticides often concentrate in fat.

3.) Ivermectin - According to veterinary sources, this is usually limited to cases that prove to be resistant to topical treatments (like DE or Sevin Dust) or which present in an advanced state. You don't just use this stuff straight out of the gate. You should avoid eating eggs from chickens treated this way form seven days up to a month depending on the source.

So what does all this mean? Well a pound of prevention is well worth the time. By proving your chickens with DE in their dust bath, you may never be faced with having to use anything else. But if you do use something else..... well do your research, know the risks, and as always, do what is best for your birds.... but don't believe everything you read on the Internet. Well except this! LOL




13 comments:

  1. Great post Mindie. I agree with you. Sure maybe DE will cause lung issues at some point down the road, but honestly how many chickens are going to live that long to develop respiratory issues, possibly, at some time in the future? When compared to a KNOWN carcinogen or a product that warns me not to eat the eggs for a period of time? I'll take my chance with DE. DE does also kill bees - but I don't use it around flowers or the garden, so that's a non-issue for me.
    Lisa
    Fresh Eggs Daily

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    1. Yes DE can kill bees, Lisa, your right but puttting DE in the dust bath area versous wide spread use of Sevin Dust, be it on your polutry or plants.... I will take natural thank you.

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  2. Is this DE that your talking about the same DE that is used in the pool pump?

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    1. No Laura, it is not the same!! Anything you use for your chickens (or other animals or yourself) needs to be Food Grade DE. I use it with my chickens and cats all the time :) Kim Royal

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  3. Great post. Natural V. Chemical....duh.

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  4. Excellent post! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

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  5. I'm one who doesn't like DE. The DE I bought was a very fine dust that made me sneeze. Yes, chickens take dust baths but not all dust is created equal. Just like different types of dust particles are more apt to cause lung disease in humans, the same is probably true for other animals. I try to prevent mite infestations by keeping my coop very clean and dry and providing plenty of opportunity for dust bathing, and generally mites have not been much of a problem here. I think a lot of chickens have a light infestation, but as long as they dust bathe, it stays to a minimum and does not impact them much, if at all. Last August I had one hen who seemed to have mites around the vent (northern fowl mites, I think). I treated just that one hen with a few drops of Frontline for Cats on the back of the neck. The active ingredient is fipronil, which gets distributed through the glands of the skin but does not get absorbed into the blood stream. Therefore, there is theoretically no egg withdrawal period. But just in case, I intend to use this only around molting period, when birds are not laying much. Mites disappeared from the hen I treated with Frontline.

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    1. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but I stand by the fact that products made for other animals should not be used on poultry. As for your suggestion that a lot of chickens have a light infestation I disagree. And if one of your birds has mites, then you can bet they all do and should treat the situation as such. Prevent is key and yes, coops should be clean, dry and ventilated.

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    2. There just isn't as much research done on non-human animal treatments, and many treatments used for them are off label. It's a fact. Over the years, our vet has offered unapproved treatments for our cats when effectiveness is suggested by only anecdote, with no actual research on that treatment on cats. I agree that if one bird has mites, so does the rest of the flock, but mites are not an all or nothing situation. Dust bathing helps keep the problem to a minimum. This is why birds evolved that behavior. No one treats wild birds and animals for parasites, and you can bet they are not parasite free. There are studies documenting internal and external parasites on many species. Wild birds keep external parasites under control in same way chickens do: by dust bathing. The occasional wild bird who develops a heavy infestation may succumb. That occasional bird in my flock gets treated. If more than one or two had signs of obvious infestation, or if I saw mites in nestboxes or on roost, I would treat entire flock.

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  6. And what do you do if you've provided said dust bath of dirt, sand, wood ash and DE, plus put garlic in the water supply, scrubbed the coop with soap and bleach, left it empty for 6 months, sprayed it with vegetable or mineral oil (I don't remember which now.) and you still have mites?

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    1. You consult a vet who has poultry experience. Your local extention service will also be able to provide you with further help. In some hard to treat cases, sadly, you may have to use a chemical. Not my first choice as you know, but if it is that bad.... consult your vet.

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  7. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. You help to make it so much fun.♥

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  8. Good to know. I have a bag in the garage and need to add it to the dust under the coop where they like to bathe. Thanks for sharing this with us at the HomeAcre Hop. We'd love to have you back again tomorrow. :)

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