Parasite Control (external)
For those of you that are raising your flock organically or just want to stay away from some of the harsh chemicals, here are a few things that can help rid your flock of these buggers and keep them away.
Keeping a clean and dry environment for your poultry is paramount to controlling both internal and external parasites and maintaining a healthy flock. Parasites can be brought in by a number of sources, Wild birds and rodents are probably the most common so keeping on top of rodent control and minimizing access to your coop by wild birds will help. The following will help deter or eliminate external parasites on the bird and around the coop.
The two most common categories of external parasites in chickens are mites and poultry lice. Mites can be grey, dark brown or reddish in color and can often be seen along feather shafts and underneath roosts after dark. Mites are active at night when they venture out to leech blood from chickens. With its moist, rich blood supply, the vent area is a favorite feeding ground of mites. Poultry lice are fast-moving, 6 legged, flat insects with round heads that live only on the chicken and its feathers. They are beige or straw colored and are typically found at the base of feather shafts near the vent. Poultry lice feed on dead skin and other debris such as feather quill casings. Poultry lice are NOT the same as human head lice and people cannot contract lice from chickens.
• Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Diatomaceous Earth is a natural powder made of microscopic diatoms (fossilized seashells) that can be sprinkled around the coop and nest boxes to kill external parasites like mites, lice, and pretty much any kind of creepy crawler. Be careful not to over do it and make a dusty environment because even though feed grade DE is safe to ingest it can cause irritation to their respiratory system.
• Wormwood, Peppermint, Citronella, or Lemongrass plants
These natural plants may help repel parasites. Chickens will use as hiding and will peck at leaves and brush against which will help repel external parasites.
• Linseed oil or Mineral oil, and Petroleum jelly for Scaly Leg Mites
Scaly leg mites are microscopic insects that live underneath the scales on a chicken’s lower legs and feet. They dig tiny tunnels underneath the skin, eat the tissue and deposit crud in their wake. The result is thick, scabby, crusty-looking feet and legs. The longer the mites reside under the chicken’s leg scales, the more discomfort and damage they inflict; an unchecked infestation can result in pain, deformities, lameness and loss of toes.
1) soak the feet and legs in warm water
2) dry with a towel, gently exfoliating any dead, loose scales.
3) dip feet and legs in oil which suffocates the mites.
4) wipe off oil and slather affected area with petroleum jelly.
The petroleum jelly should be reapplied several times each week until the affected areas return to normal. It may take several months for mild to moderate cases to resolve.
Parasite Control (internal)
As with external parasites, keeping a clean dry living area is just as important with internal parasites (worms).
• Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
As long as you are using feed grade DE, you can add it to their food at a 2% ratio to control internal parasites (worms)
• Raw/Unfiltered/Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar acts as a tonic and aids in internal parasite elimination. Apple cider vinegar flushes out forming infections and supports immune system. It also improves the digestive health of the chickens by maintaining proper pH levels in the digestive tract, increases calcium absorption, kills germs that may cause respiratory illnesses, keeps water free of bacteria, disinfects chicken coop, and repels flies and ants. ACV can also act as an antiseptic and milk antibiotic. How much and how often varies but some people put 1 to 2 tablespoon of ACV to every gallon one week out of the month. It should be given in a plastic water container because the ACV will rust the metal and galvanized waterers.
Add 6-8 cloves of garlic in water overnight. Chickens won’t usually eat raw garlic but you can leave the chunks in the water and see if they start liking the taste, or leave crushed garlic as a free choice option. Take out any other waterers and place every few days. You can also add garlic powder to their feed daily (2% ratio). Using garlic in conjunction with other remedies might have better results. Garlic has anti-parasite and antibacterial properties.