There are a number of chicken health problems that can crop up seemingly overnight. Common chicken health problems include chicken fleas and mites which can suck the life out of your chickens. Many people commonly misdiagnose the two.
I have a friend who has been raising chickens for years. She called me the other day completely freaked out and said there were tiny parasites in her hen house and she didn’t know what they were. When she went out to clean the bedding out, the parasites were crawling all over her, her kids and upon close examination, her chickens.
She doesn’t do well with bugs so she asked me to run out there and take a look at them and help her out because she was so grossed out by the parasites. When I got there, we caught a few of the chickens and we figured out that they were covered with chicken fleas, not mites as she first suspected. So we had to figure out how to get rid of them.
The important distinction here was that these parasites were chicken fleas because they live on the birds themselves, not just in the hen house and chicken run. Red mites only come out when it gets dark to feed and they pretty much hide out in the hen house. Where as chicken fleas crawl around all over the place and will crawl all over you when you get within range which is how they spread. I had to be very careful that I didn’t take them home to my flock!
After some research, we found out that we had to do a complete kill of everything; the hen house, the chicken feeders, chicken waters, the perches, the chicken run, etc. with malathion. We used a flea bomb first in the chicken house and we gave the chickens a malathion bath. This is just what we decided to use however, there are several products that you can use to kill the chicken fleas. They have a lifecycle that you have to interrupt so you have to treat for them every four days until they are gone.
She was lucky in that her husband is very handy and it was warm outside. He put up a quick, ugly temporary “shed” for the birds for a few weeks. It was made out of some old plywood and chicken wire that he had. Then he tore it down after the chickens were moved back to their original home.
The key to preventing chicken health problems is to regularly dust your hen house, chicken run and your birds so that you don’t get this type of infestation.
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