Par­a­sites may make flock re­luc­tant to re­turn home

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

Q For the past three nights I have had real prob­lems try­ing to get my flock into their coop at night — they sim­ply refuse to go in. I have to pick up each hen and put her in­side the coop, shut­ting the door so that she can’t es­cape be­fore catch­ing the next one. I have had the same flock for a year now and they al­ways used to go to roost with­out any intervention from me. I haven’t changed any­thing in­side the coop so why have they all sud­denly changed their be­hav­iour? A Julie Moore says: As your whole flock re­fuses to go into the coop at night, it may be pos­si­ble that they have been vis­ited by a preda­tor and are there­fore anx­ious about spend­ing time locked in­side. Check all open­ings to en­sure that your coop and run are both preda­tor proof. An­other ex­pla­na­tion is that the coop is in­fested with par­a­sites, for ex­am­ple red mites, which live in cracks in the coop, typ­i­cally un­der perch ends dur­ing the day and come out at night to feed on your birds. Red mites are ac­tive in coops dur­ing the warmer weather, typ­i­cally May to Oc­to­ber, and are dor­mant dur­ing the winter months. Take a piece of white kitchen roll and rub it along the un­der­side of the perches when your hens are roost­ing. If the tis­sue has streaks of red blood, it is the red mite head­ing back from their feed. In this sce­nario, thor­oughly clean and dis­in­fect the coop, dis­pos­ing of bed­ding ei­ther in a bin bag or burn­ing it. Treat the coop and your birds with an ap­pro­pri­ate red mite pow­der.

If you have red mite in the coop, it will need thor­oughly dis­in­fect­ing

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