2. In­ad­e­quate clean­ing and dis­in­fec­tion

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Your Poultry -

At night, red mites are on birds, feed­ing. Dur­ing the day, they are liv­ing within cracks and crevices of the coop. Re­searchers found bad hy­giene prac­tices meant mite pop­u­la­tions could thrive, while good san­i­ta­tion prac­tices pre­vented build-up.

Note: wear a res­pi­ra­tor dur­ing the clean­ing process as dust in a coop car­ries disease. Damp­en­ing down the walls and lit­ter with a mist of wa­ter is also rec­om­mended. • ide­ally, birds need to be re­moved dur­ing the clean­ing process, so if you need a good rea­son to get an­other coop, this is it. Oth­er­wise, you need a tem­po­rary area where your birds will be safe and shel­tered for a day or two, and they will need to be treated to re­move any red mites on them to pre­vent those mites re­in­fest­ing the clean coop. • all ma­nure needs to be re­moved. • any de­tach­able in­ter­nal fit­tings should be re­moved to en­able ef­fec­tive clean­ing. • thor­ough clean­ing us­ing a power washer or steam cleaner should be car­ried out. • poul­try houses, equip­ment and sur­round­ing out­side ar­eas should then be dis­in­fected be­tween batches of birds, with par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to ar­eas which make a good habi­tat for the red mite such as joins in walls and the roof, and nest­ing boxes.

Good san­i­ta­tion will pre­vent the buildup of mite pop­u­la­tions. When com­mer­cial farm­ers in­tro­duce birds to a clean house, the level of mites is un­likely to build up to any sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect dur­ing the life­time of the flock (about 18 months).

How­ever, if there is carry over of in­fes­ta­tion from one flock to the next, red mites will con­tinue to be a prob­lem.

Thyme

The most con­sis­tent of all the es­sen­tials oil is thyme. In a study of 50 es­sen­tial oils, it was the only one to have a high level of tox­i­c­ity to all life stages of the red mite, but no ef­fect on the health and wel­fare of poul­try. It is also rel­a­tively non-toxic to non-tar­get species. It was also per­sis­tent, af­fect­ing mite pop­u­la­tion den­sity for up to 30 days.

Neem oil

One study into neem oil traps found they were ef­fec­tive at greatly re­duc­ing mite pop­u­la­tions. The tests in­volved plac­ing card­board traps con­tain­ing 20% neem oil in ar­eas where mite pop­u­la­tions were liv­ing (but out of reach of the flock). Traps were re­placed each week, over four weeks. The pop­u­la­tion was mon­i­tored and the study found a 92% re­duc­tion in red mite over that time.

More prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tions of neem are to use it as a spray on your coop’s in­te­rior walls. You want to choose a neem oil in­sec­ti­cide, mix it up to the cor­rect con­cen­tra­tion, then spray an in­fes­ta­tion three times in eight days, then fol­low up once a week.

An­other op­tion is to have con­tain­ers con­tain­ing a 20% so­lu­tion of neem oil to wa­ter. These need to be near to an in­fes­ta­tion, and in con­tain­ers that don’t al­low your flock to drink from them.

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