Give your Chooks a Red Mite check this January

chickensRed mite season is upon us!

These tiny little red spiders will drive your chook nuts (imagining being crawled over all night long). Do check. Simply pull back the bedding in the egg box in the morning and you’ll see them scamper away, or you’ll see them on the eggs. Another check is to run your finger along the perches in the morning and your finger will be covered in little red and black dots. You’ll also see an ashlike looking sheen on the walls.

Mites live in the house during the day and come out and suck on the chooks at night time.

Step one is to get your chooks out of the house (which is why I always recommend having another house!) Before you get them into their clean surroundings make sure the new place is clean as a whistle with fresh bedding and give all your chooks a dusting of diatomaceous earth before arriving.

Diatom (must be food grade) is fab for animals. It’ll clean up internal and external parasites. Mine get a daily dose in their food and a spring and autumn dusting. The fine particles are terrible for your lungs so wear a mask. Get someone to hold the chook upside down while you work the diatom in especially around the vent and underneath. If you put a sheet of newspaper underneath then you can catch the diatom and keep using it.

Once the chooks are on fresh ground and in a fresh house you need to clean out the old one. In the face of an infestation I recommend using Poultry Shield. Get it into every little crack (a good reason to have ply walls in your house – less places for parasites to hide in) and remove the perches and clean them as well.

Mites are a pain – once you got ’em they can live for up to 6 months without the chooks around. Prevention is the thing. Clean ground; moving house every now and then; dust baths; wormwood, southernwood and tansy grown at the doorways and put in their bedding; garlic and cider vinegar internally once a month at least; and if mites are a regular problem at your house Neem or teatree regularly sprayed in the house as a preventative.

I’ll be talking backyard chooks at the Summer Gathering.  Chooks are so useful in the home garden, but you need a good set up to prevent problems like mites. Come along and learn how!