2. Inadequate cleaning and disinfection
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.
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.
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.