Mites are a common problem for poultry keepers, especially in the summer months. There are various types of mites – with the most notorious being red mite – and treatments vary depending on the type of mite and how you choose to treat you flock.
I’ve always been a fan of Diatomaceous Earth (DE), for the chooks, cats, and us, however as of 1st September 2015 DE will fall within the scope of the Diatomaceous Earth and EU BPR (Biocidal Product Regulation). This means that to be sold as mite control DE will need to comply with these regulations, DE that doesn’t reference mite control will fall outside of the regulations.
What does this mean to the back garden keeper? In reality very little. DE can still be bought easily and the only difference is some brands such as Diatom will still reference the use for mite control, and others such as Smite won’t. They will still do the same jobs they always have, only the labeling will change.
Keeping your Flock Healthy
In order to keep our flock in good condition, which keeps costs down and egg production and quality up, I have a little rota of health related jobs I do each month.
First off the coop. This is cleaned out fully every other week, and poop picked in between clean outs. When I had a larger flock I cleaned out weekly, but didn’t daily poop pick. I use a combination of Stalosan F for cleaning and DE brushed into all the nooks and crannies. I then have a lovely big layer of aubiouse or similar under the roosting bars and in the next box, and straw too in the nests. If you grow your own veg and have a compost bin make sure you add the used bedding to the heap.
The hens are checked over at least once a week for any sign of mites and we will give them a quick dusting with DE. I tend to do this when they are sleepy as it makes it easier for me and less stressful for them. If they have an obvious infestation I will use Ivermectin/Frontline as prescribed by our vet, this does have an egg withdrawal period and should only be used after seeing your local poultry friendly vet.
For worms we used Flubenvet premix pellets every three months. These are easy to give, just swap your normal pellets to the premixed pellets for a week. Don’t give any treats during this period, just a plentiful supply of fresh water. There is no egg withdrawal so you can keep eating the girls’ eggs whilst treating them.
Finally for general gut health I use apple cider vinegar in their water for five days once a month. I find this especially helpful when they are coming up to a moult. When moulting I also find for some of my flock a liquid vitamin supplement added to their water is rather helpful.