What is Red Mite and how do I get rid of it?

What Is Red Mite?

Red mite is the common name for the parasite Dermanyssus gallinae which affects poultry, especially chickens. As an arachnoid related to spiders, this feisty beast has 8 legs and is easily visible with the naked eye. As a keeper of chickens, you are unlikely to see parasites as they are nocturnal, hiding away in corners of the roost during the day. Once your hens are in their coop roosting at night, their body heat attracts the mites which climb onto the skin of your birds and then drink blood. Although not deadly in themselves, red mite can carry disease or reduce the immunity of your hens, leaving them vulnerable to illness. Often, a mite infestation will seriously affect the mental well being of your hens, making them reluctant layers and irritable in their surroundings and with each other.

How Common Is Red Mite?

Red mite is a very common parasite and many chicken coops and hen houses will have mites lurking in nooks and crannies. Infestations usually begin in Spring and reach a crescendo during the height of summer when the warmth leads to rapid population expansion.

How Do I Control Red Mite?

There are several methods for removing and preventing infestations and often, a combination of methods produces the best results. The first thing to ensure is that the structure of your coop is as smooth and even as possible, reducing the number of places the mites can hide. Some chicken keepers will whitewash the inside of a coop or treat with fruit tree carbolineum which fills in any indentations and cracks.

Cleanliness is the next prerequisite - mites love to lurk under the bottom side of perches which is why it is essential to buy or make a chicken coop with a removable perch. Make sure the perch is scrubbed clean regularly.

Finally, a number of chemical preparations are available to treat both the chickens themselves and the coop and surroundings. Red mite is pretty resilient and so several applications of the anti-mite treatment may be necessary. This resilience to treatment is one reason why you should beware when buying a second hand coop - if you do, it is well worth treating the coop for mite before introducing your new flock. Some preparations tend to be supplied as concentrates which must be diluted before use according to the instructions for the particular treatment. With a consistent and methodical approach, it is possible to control and even eradicate red mite over the period of a few weeks.

Phil Melland is an expert in all things poultry. His company, Moorlands Poultry Supplies, is a leading provider of chicken coops, hybrid chickens, feeds and animal health care products. You can read more of Phil's wisdom on the Moorlands Poultry Blog Chicken Coop News
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Phil_Melland

click here to return from What is Red Mite to Chicken Problems
click here to return to My Chicken House Home Page

Oakdene Coops for Quality Chicken Coops and Hen Houses