Di­atoma­ceous earth is good for pre­vent­ing red mite

Your Chickens - - Ask The Vet -

QI am new to hen keep­ing and have heard about the dan­gers of red mite. I don’t know what to look for to es­tab­lish if my birds have this. Can you help?

AVic­to­ria says: The main dan­ger of red mite is their abil­ity to cause anaemia by their blood-suck­ing ac­tiv­i­ties on hens at night. The mites crawl out of hid­ing (they hate day­light and so you will not see them on the hens in the day) and along the perches to the birds. This is ir­ri­tat­ing and can make the hens re­luc­tant to go in the coop. How­ever, if they stay out­side at night they are, of course, vul­ner­a­ble to preda­tors. The mite fae­ces look like pale dust or cig­a­rette ash in the crevices of the hut. Spray­ing the coop with a long-act­ing in­sec­ti­cide (eg RIP, but it must be dry be­fore the hens go back in) works well. Us­ing Di­atom (di­atoma­ceous earth) all year round in the hut and nest­box is help­ful as this fos­silised al­gae dries out the ex­ter­nal skele­ton (chitin) of the mites, slowly but surely pre­vent­ing the es­ca­la­tion of mite num­bers as their life­cy­cle is a mere 10 days in warm weather, but they do still breed in the win­ter.

Us­ing di­atoma­ceous earth all year round in the coop and nest­box is help­ful as this fos­silised al­gae dries out the ex­ter­nal skele­ton of the mites

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