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Archive for the ‘mites’ Category

Why have my chickens lost their feathers on their underside?

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Could you tell me why my chickens have lost their under side feathers please? I have 9 birds and I had a mite problem last summer,I’ve been treating the coop ever since with shield. I haven’t seen any mites so far this summer,the birds are laying well,i feed them on layers and a small handfull of corn in the afternoon.I don’t know what the problem is and how to sort it out so please help me. Jason


Your chickens sound healthy enough and whilst the feather loss may make them look a bit messy, I don’t feel you have much to worry about.

If your hens are just coming up to a year old and went through their first moult last autumn, it could be their age playing a factor. Our older hens tend to maintain much better feather condition than the year-olds. If this is the case, time will be the best help in solving your problem as the next moult should see them re-grow much more fully.

Breed may also play a factor. Our hybrid Black Rocks and Black Rhodes tend to look much more tatty than our pure breed Marans and Barnevelders.

One thing that may cause feather loss on the underside of the bird is if they sleep on the floor rather than perch. If this is the case, you could try installing a perch in your chicken coop and encouraging your chickens to sleep up there instead – they may take some teaching though!

If your chickens won’t perch or your coop does not easily accommodate a perch, try changing their bedding. Chickens can be irritated by some types of bedding, particularly hay, so try replacing it with hempcore which is much less likely to cause such a reaction.

The other possibility is that your hens have lice or mites, though this is less likely as you are taking the right precautions by using Poultry Shield. Give your birds a thorough inspection, looking around the vent, under the wings and down the back of the neck in order to ascertain whether this is a relevant issue.

As well as Poultry Shield, I would recommend that you use Diatom also. This a 100% natural powder that you can dust your birds and coop with to help prevent infestations – as well as add to their water to improve nutrition.

It really is great stuff. Here are some of the things it can help with:

  • Residual Red Mite control
  • Natural Wormer
  • Increasing digestability of the feed
  • Helping in supplying adequate minerals
  • Aiding in greater utilisation of feed value. It will save on feed as less undigested feed passes through the large intestine as waste matter
  • Causing noticeably better health, less sickness and a faster growth gain
  • No Egg withdrawal period necessary.

Can you build a chicken coop out of bricks?

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Could you please tell me if it would be okay to build a chicken coop out of bricks. I am a bit worried it might cause a problem with red mites.

I brought a lovely strong wooden chicken coop which we put onto on concrete base, but unfortunately we have a very determined fox in the area. It has actually torn and chewed some of the wooden slates in half last night. we really need to build something much stronger. Tracey



Lots of people keep their chickens in brick chicken houses, occasionally custom built, but more often than not converted pig sties or outside latrines etc. Red mites will be a problem no matter what your chicken house is made from if you don’t keep up regular parasite control. However you can reduce the chances of mites if you treat the brickwork with a sealant.

Foxes are surprisingly strong, cunning, and relentless. Chicken houses need to be very very secure to be fox proof. The best fox deterrent in my opinion is an electric fence set about fox nose height (about a hand span high).

Once foxes have learnt about chickens and chicken coops they will continue to come back again and again. This fox in you neighbourhood may need to be controlled before your chickens are properly safe.

There ‘mite’ be trouble ahead

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011


As the summer has progressed, we’ve been noticing something of an explosion in the mite population. It has mostly affected the barn where we keep out chicken feed and general poultry accessories but did spread to the chicken coop which houses our Black Rocks and Barnevelder cockerel. They are not red mites but much smaller black mites which don’t seem attracted to the chickens but get absolutely everywhere. Not nice.

Whilst we have had small mite problems before which were easily solved by just thoroughly cleaning out the coop and putting some more powder down, this one seemed a bit more serious as it was affecting such a large area.

We spent the weekend spraying the whole of the barn in order to get the mite problem out of control, as well as dusting all the chickens with mite powder and spraying down the coops, putting more mite powder down and finally filling the coops with mite-free bedding.

A few days on, we have not seen any mites in the chicken coops or barn, which is great news.

On a slightly worrying note, we’ve been seeing a large bird of prey, possibly a buzzard, a few fields over from our chickens. Buzzards will easily take a chicken and as ours spend quite a lot of time wandering around outside, they are at risk of predation. There haven’t been any problems as yet though, and the chickens are pretty good at making a high-speed dash to underneath the coops if anything they perceive as threatening (including aeroplanes!) flies overhead.

How to kill mites in chicken coop?

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011


I am going to start keeping checkens and have managed to get a second hand coop. On inspection it has a lot of very tiny grey mites/fleas on it.

Have you any idea what these are, they sound similar to your experience in the barn.

Can you tell me what you have used to get rid of them? I have disinfected the coop twice but there are still some left, they seem very hard to kill.

Do not want to get the chickens until I know they are all gone. Thanks. Julie


We used a product called Poultry Shield. It comes in a concentrated formula that you dilute in water then you need a spray gun to apply it. I got both Poultry Shield and a spray gun from Scats for about £30 and that was enough to treat the barn attic I use as well as three large chicken coops. You need to make sure you spray all the hidey holes, those mites are very elusive during the day.

Another method used by breeders, especially of the older generation, to kill a coop infested in mites is to re-creosote the woodwork. This is a very effective method but not practical for a barn!

You could of course just hope for a harsh and early frost. Lots of people like to complain about the winter months, and even your chickens won’t appreciate the winter weather much, but a good frost will sure as hell fix a mite problem.

I’d also highly recommend Diatom powder to put down under the bedding for when you move your chickens in as it deters further infestations.

Lots and lots of people have been talking, mostly complaining, about mites this year. It has affected a lot of breeders around Sussex.

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